steak and the city
last night a good friend of mine took me out to dinner. he runs the money side of a startup vodka company called p.i.n.k. -- a beverage that i'd be willing to wager none of my readership is likely to have sampled. p.i.n.k. is an, ahem, upscale answer to the red-bull-and-vodka craze among panty-less beaver-flashing west-coast socialites. it is caffeinated vodka. it is very tasty vodka. and it is very caffeinated. it will confuse your body and sully your soul.
anyway, part of my friend's job -- i will call him Dirk -- is to go out to clubs and drink all night, buy people p.i.n.k. vodka, and drink. also, it's his job to drink. oh sure, he deals with shady distributors and sketchy club owners. but did i mention that it's his job to drink? and to get other people to drink?
that's the interesting part. for his get-others-to-drink evenings, he tends to invite backup. he tends to invite other enthusiastic imbibers. he tends to invite me. i, having a 23-month-old, tend not to go. on the rare occasion, i will be able to make it for a quick p.i.n.k. martini at some TAG body-spray-reeking joint before heading home to the fam. but rarely do i make it out for the full monty.
ladies and gentlemen, last night i made it out for the full monty.
dirk sent me a text early in the week asking if i wanted to go to dinner on thursday night. as it happens, my charming spouse has booked FOUR nights this week. so i said "hell yes, i have officially earned a hall pass." and then i groveled to my wife for a night out. she granted it and i was stoked -- free steak dinner, free drinks, one string attached: drink vodka as enthusiastically as possible. i ask you: does awesome get any more awesome than this?
i answer you: YES IT DOES. on thursday dirk tells me where we will be dining. it's at a restaurant that is a big purveyor of p.i.n.k. vodka. it's at a steakhouse. it's at robert's steakhouse. robert's is a critically raved-about steakhouse that was recently given the full-frontal bruni in the new york times. aaaand it happens to be inside the Penthouse magazine strip club on manhattan's far west side.
i was officially terrified by the awesome.
mr nice guy, sophisticated cad that he is, is not a big strip club connoisseur. i have been to one or two in my life and i completely fail to get the appeal. grim, bleak, unsexy and depressing. strip steak, yes, toally on board. strip club, no. naturally, i agreed to go, certain that this would be a singular flesh-infused experience.
i took a cab to the club and when the guy pulled up in front of the giant lurid PENTHOUSE EXECUTIVE CLUB sign he giggled. "when i give you change, do you want lots of singles?" he asked. "dude!" i responded. "i am going to a very respectable restaurant upstairs. highly regarded in culinary circles." he winked. "have fun."
i crutched in, they ushered me upstairs where the p.i.n.k. account was waiting. dirk was standing at the bar, talking to a seven-foot tall pneumatically aggressive (fully clothed, at the moment) brunette employee named "natalie." he introduced me to her. she asked me why i was on crutches with an acceptable amount of sexy-pity. i told the truth: "i was rescuing a small child from a burning orphanage when a crossbeam fell on my leg." she said "i don't like liars." then, i kid you not, she grabbed my left nipple and twisted it. hard.
mercifully, our table was ready shortly thereafter. dirk and i headed over with our caffeinated cosmos (manly, right?) and sat down. i looked around. average customer: 43-year-old banking lizard sporting a very expensive suit (complete with chunky cufflinks) and greasy receding hair. by way of contrast, let me describe myself: i am unbathed, wearing a 30-year-old courduroy sportcoat and chuck taylors. my hair is curly and Sideshow Bob-ish. i have a beard and crutches. i look fantastically like a guy who got into a car accident on his way to audition as the newest member of Boston.
anyway, dirk and i sit down. as we peruse the menu a petite blonde meanders over and says. "hello. my name inga. would you like dance?" as appealing as fake stranger-tits in my placesetting sounds, i say ... "nnnnnnhhhhhhhuuuuguuh?" dirk intervenes with "no thanks, inga. maybe after dinner. can i interest you in a p.i.n.k. vodka?" she accepts a drink. he's good.
at this point i look around and notice that every third Gordon Gecko in the room has a woman grinding herself into his lap, like some human mortar-and-pestle. less interesting than the women is the look on these couch-slouching dudes' faces: slimy little smiles. my stomach turns a little.
then! the food arrives. oh my stars. my stomach unturns. the shrimp cocktail is scrumptious. the grilled lamb chops--each one bigger than my swollen knee, we're talking double D lambchops--are dripping with juicy goodness. i sample dirk's melt-in-your-mouth bone-in steak, resisting every urge to make an easy joke about his delicious meaty bone. i roll my eyes in ecstacy.
perhaps mistaking herself as the source of my occularly-conveyed pleasure, "lana" saunters over and asks "would you like massage from lana?" i am not kidding: russian stripper massage at dinner. does stranger-dinnertable-rubdown sound appealing to you? it probably does, you sick freak. somehow, i manage to turn her down. "no thanks, lana! i do try to keep unsanctioned lubricants away from my meat. maybe after dinner." dirk: "can i interest you in a p.i.n.k. vodka?"
i should note that the restaurant is upstairs. if you are advantageously seated, you can see the floor below. i could not. i saw it on my way upstairs, though, and there were a fair number of guys sitting on divans, awaiting private dances (*shudder*). from where i sat at dinner, i had only a view of the men's room -- a place i am certain contains some of the most horrifying DNA samples on earth. dirk had a view of the opposite wall: bedecked with large blown-up photographs from penthouse magazine's salad days of the late-80s. we agree that the best one is of a farmer's daughter in the middle of a field at sunset, wearing only her cowboy boots. clearly she is bending over for some very important agricultural reasons.
so that's about it. dinner was freaking fabulous. the location was just freaky. the clientele was horrifying. the ladies, perhaps unsurprisingly, were quite charming and even funny. it's their job, after all, to make you think "hey. she really likes me. no, for real -- she's into me. it'd be perfectly rational to pay her $20 to show me her breasts." thank god my relationship with the food wasn't as complicated.
this morning i told mrs nice guy where we ate. she rolled her eyes. then she said "all those strippers were once our daughter's age." oof. talk about hitting below the belt. may she remain two forever. look. scout's honor: i think i saw like one matching set of exposed silicone-pumped breasts set all night. maybe two. or sixteen. and the ladies by and large seemed happy, untormented--perfectly content in their own visible skin. and yet. suddenly i feel slimy. i feel complicit in the whole pathetic fallacy of "gentlemen's" entertainment. ugh. i was a tourist there, yes, but i'd be lying if i said it wasn't a little fun.
oh, lana, where is your comforting lotion and soothing touch now? i thought you really liked me!