Every time I hang out with my friend John Michael I end up in an odd situation that takes a surprising amount of time to exit. Friday was no exception.
I had gone over to his house mid-evening. He was watching a football game. I nearly died of boredom the moment I arrived. Because sports. And so after an excessive amount of complaining, the sports were turned off and we ventured on to Main Street to a place called Keys on Main.
Keys on Main is a piano bar that just happens to be one of our favorite spots in Salt Lake City because for some reason the moment we walk through those doors the filters that normally stop us from engaging in embarrassing behavior completely shut down.
I'm not sure exactly why this is. I think it must be partly because we never ever see anyone there we know. The place is usually full of bachlorette parties and groups of people who came in from the suburbs for their semi-annual night on the town. The people who live among us, our neighbors, don't go to the piano bar. I'm not sure what my neighbors are doing instead of going to the piano bar because they apparently don't invite us to their things. But they are definitely not at Keys on Main.
So we, comfortable that we'll never see any of these people again, turn the relatively mellow place into a raucous dance club by the end of the night.
I'm not kidding you about this. We find a table full of people who are politely watching the performances of popular music. We sit down and start talking to anyone who will listen. And within minutes, we basically force everyone at that table to get up and start dancing. Then we move onto the next table and the next and the next, doing the same thing over and over, until areas are cleared near the stage and swarms of people are busting a move and singing at the top of their lungs like its their last night on Earth.
We can never tell if the people who work there love or hate us. But so far they keep letting us come back.
This Friday was perhaps the most fun Friday we've ever brought to Keys on Main. And we blew the roof off that place. And we were proud of our efforts. The amount of energy with which we danced probably moved people to tears. In China. If the president of the United States of God Bless America called me tomorrow to thank me for what I did at Keys on Main on Friday, I wouldn't even be surprised. I would just politely say, "thank you, sir. I was just doing my duty."
And as if our heroic partying efforts were not enough, we also make it a point to set strangers up with each other. We wander the place and meet everyone, decide who looks like they would go well together, and then we get them to meet. And I don't mean to brag, but we have a 100% success rate on this. (Assuming that one of them doesn't later murder the other when they go out the following week. We never follow up.).
And that's sort of how we ended up in a mess on Friday.
We had found an early-twentyish young lady and an early-twentyish young man who seemed like a match. We got them to meet. They hit it off. They exchanged numbers as the place closed down and kicked us out. And they both seemed really grateful for the matchmaking.
John Michael and I began to make our way home when we noticed that the young man, whom I'll call "Winston," was heading toward his car despite being incredibly intoxicated. Or, as he put it, "imnoximnated."
NOT THAT WE KNOW WHAT INTOXICATED MEANS.
We now felt some social responsibility since we had interjected ourselves into his life.
John Michael: We can't let him go to his car.
Eli: No. We can't.
John Michael: But do we have enough authority to stop him?
Eli: Yes. We're basically old enough to be his father. We can tell him what to do and he has to listen.
John Michael: Do you practice law with that logic?
We stopped Winston and engaged in a very confusing conversation about why he couldn't drive.
Eli: YOU CAN'T DRIVE!
Winston: You're not my dad!
Eli: I'm worse than your dad. I'm an uptight attorney and I don't love you.
Ten minutes later we were walking him into John Michael's house where we planned to feed him water.
It was now nearly 2:00 in the morning. I was exhausted. Because nobody should be up at 2:00 in the morning. But the kids stay up so late these days!
Winston was engaged in a very absurd text conversation with the young lady we had just introduced him to and he was not "killing it," as the kids say.
We had basically kidnapped him by this point and forced him into the home of a stranger while he was intoxicated so I no longer felt like there were any boundaries in my relationship with Winston.
And so, FOR HIS OWN GOOD, I took his phone away and continued the conversation for him, using complete sentences with appropriate punctuation and saying things like, "it was very lovely to meet you and I look forward to the opportunity to get to know you better" which was a HUGE improvement from his many texts that read "UR HOTTTTT!!!!!!! [followed by eleventy emoticons I didn't understand]."
I also took 10 or 15 selfies of my disappointed face for him to happen upon at a later time.
Winston seemed harmless. And actually really polite, although very 21 and socially awkward.
He fell asleep, while sitting up, sometime in the middle of John Michael's very moving intervention about the importance of not drinking and driving. And around 3:00, John Michael offered me an exit strategy, explaining that he would help Winston get back to his car near Keys on Main if ever Winston awoke.
He apparently did awake. Near sunrise. In a stranger's apartment. And probably with new text messages from a very pretty lady who was so impressed with his remarkable ability to use punctuation properly.
You're welcome, Winston.
~It Just Gets Stranger