After the excitement with Keaton and the dude who decided to play fight the bouncer, Carter and his friends drank up at last call and left me to order a last beer from Dani. The Germans had all seemed nice, although the attack dog you had to say ‘Sie’ to was kinda creepy. After the bar cleared out and the lights were on, I went and sat in my usual out of the way seat and Keaton gave me a Short Story. He gave one to Jesse as well, but the new guy behind the bar wasn’t interested in having a cigar.
“Just be careful with the ash…or you’re not gonna be so pretty no more,” Jesse then told me with a laugh.
“See, bubba, just like old times almost.”
They cleaned up so the cleaning crew could clean pretty quickly, so we were ready to leave before 2:30. Me and Keaton headed for the De Lacey garage, where the truck was parked, and, sure enough, Keaton peeled his jacket off and there was the gun in a holster.
“I knew you had that,” I said.
“Good thing you didn’t mention it to anyone.”
“I wonder if the dude who picked the fight would have started it if he knew you had a gun.”
“He was dumb enough to have started it thinking all I had was my fists.” With that, Keaton had the gun locked in the back of the truck and I went around to climb in.
The good news for my stomach is that the IHOP has gotten back to its 24/7 schedule, although Alicia wasn’t there the last couple of times me and Keaton went to grab something to eat at 3 in the morning. So it was a super nice surprise when we got there to see that Alicia was working. It was the first time I’d seen her since COVID, believe it or not, so she hugged me and gave me a kiss and it was el guapo here and el guapo there for a while. She explained to us that she’s changed her schedule mostly so she’s no longer working graveyard. It means less time with her kids, but, then, most of the time she had during the day she used to spend sleeping rather than with her kids.
She gave me and Keaton our usual table with its view of Arroyo and the occasional car driving by. The restaurant was pretty quiet.
“See, the problem with you gym guys is you all think you’re tough when you don’t even know how to make a fist,” Keaton said, going back to the mini-fight earlier in the evening.
“First of all, fuck you…you know I know how to make a fist and, since you’ve sparred with me I don’t know how many times, you know dang well that I can hit. So don’t lump me in with your gayass gym guys.”
“What about your buddy Luke?,” Keaton asked.
“Ok, Luke probably couldn’t make a fist, but he’s got no illusions about being tough. He just likes looking like an underwear model.”
“Just like the hshred boy.”
“Fuck you again for starters, and, man, it’s kind of my career for the time being. Dani told me again that I should parlay my TV fame into something, but I’m not sure what. Gracias,” I said to Alicia as she brought our chicken fried steak, eggs and pancakes. “Did I tell you that one of those ripoffass vitamin companies approached me about a spokesman job?”
“Bubba, if you turn yourself into the second coming of that vshred dude for real, I’m not gonna be seen in public with you.”
“Don’t worry, I said no. I have to. I have a contract with the show that says I can’t endorse any products. Besides, if I was going to endorse products, it’d be products that I use and believe in. And you know how I feel about vitamins and shit. I mean, they obviously worked for Lucas…but do you remember Slater, my roommate back in Hickory? His crazyass mom had him on tons of shit like that…and it turned out the magic potion he needed was ice cream.”
“It wasn’t just ice cream,” he then said. “Didn’t you get his ass laid for the first time too?”
I nodded and tore into my pancakes. I gave the blueberry syrup a try, just for a change of pace. It wasn’t a huge mistake, but I’m going back to regular maple syrup next time lol.
“And I’m not in competition with Vince Sant,” I said, using the vshred dude’s proper name. (I wonder if he knows mine lol.) “He’s way bigger on things like Facebook, even if he’s not on TV.”
“He also probably doesn’t pick up dog shit for a living,” Keaton said.
“See? We’re not in competition…”
“Not if you keep eating like that. And please don’t say something totally gay like this is your cheat day.”
“Fuck that. And that’s why I don’t give nutritional advice. They tried to get us to endorse these new blenders they’re selling to show how Maya’s beauty secret is celery juice or some shit like that. And then I could show how I blend beets or some other grossass shit. But Maya refused. Yeah, I know, there’s product placement on the show, but it’s pretty carefully chosen. And I can tell you this: Maya Bedrossian’s beauty secret isn’t celery juice.”
“Did I ask what it was?,” asked Keaton with a smirk.
“Hey, you’re not so young anymore,” I said. “Maybe you need a beauty secret.”
“I’m not the one who’s turning 30 in November,” Keaton said.
“Fuck you,” I said, with another laugh, although he’s right and I am gonna be 30…but it’s not something I want to think about at 3 in the morning lol.
Truth is I was getting tired, and not because I’m going to turn 30. I’m kept pretty dang busy, between the my duties to the show and taking care of the boys…and I just don’t stay up until 3 in the morning anymore. It’s hard when you have a dog to take care of who gets up with the sun…and doesn’t get the whole concept of weekends.
So we ate up and got back in the truck and Keaton drove me back home. It had been a fun night out…maybe not as fun as if I’d been out with the guys from the team, but Carter’s friends were plenty nice, and definitely a change of pace, which was probably what I needed. I’ve learned that, when you live at your place of business, you get drawn into some kind of work most of the time, even when you just want to chill and not think about next week’s segments or keeping the boys from doing some kind of super dumbass TikTok challenge…
…or keeping the dog from crapping all over the carpet. Maybe that vshred dude’s life is more glamorous than mine after all lol.