Monday, February 16, 2009

Party out of bounds

"Does anybody know you're here? This house of ill-repute..." - Prince, 'Rockhard in a Funky Place'

Last week, I went to a Lightning game and had parked in Ybor at The Super-Secret Totally Free Parking Lot Where There Are Dozens Of Meters But Nobody Ever Checks Them (tested and proven true, and I'm not telling where it is) and hopped on the streetcar. That's where I struck up a conversation with a nice husband and wife couple who told me they had moved to Tampa to own and operate a business. They had been in town since August, but had been working so hard that this was their first opportunity to get out and explore the area. I shared some local trivia with them and just before I disembarked at the Forum, they invited me to a Valentine's Day party at their new business. I didn't have plans, so I said "sure, where is it?"

The wife assured me more than once that there would be "lots of nice, single girls to meet". And even though I doubted the veracity of every single word in that statement (with the possible exception of 'of'), I had already decided I was in. I don't currently have a so-called "bucket list" but I think that if I ever start one and 'Attend a Valentine's day party at a porno palace' is on there, I'll look back and feel pretty stupid for turning down this opportunity so I said, yes, absolutely, I will be there. Here are my observations:
  • First things first, at no point did I witness (or participate in) any illegal or even socially inappropriate behavior (with one slight, notable exception, listed below).
  • I walked in and the couple recognized me immediately. The wife yelled out, "Hockey guy!" If you're going to walk into an adult book store and be greeted like Norm on 'Cheers', that's not so bad. At least it wasn't "Diaper guy!" or "Barnyard guy!" or "Guy who comes in once a month and buys the stuff we're not allowed to display guy". Or "Reverend!" or "Mom!" for that matter.
  • The place has a billiard room and that's where the party was held. It really was quite nice, with four full size pool tables and cushy leather couches around the outside. Oh yeah, and two big-screen televisions showing porn. And something else...what was it...oh yes, a swingset, the likes of which you (probably) wouldn't find in any playground or suburban backyard.
  • People weren't huddled around and watching the porn. It was just on in the background, like music. The concept of ambient porn was not something for which I was prepared.
  • One of the pool tables was covered with a vinyl tarp and was holding several dishes of food. I might have been expecting "Eyes Wide Shut" but it was more like "Mouths Wide Open". It really was quite a spread buffet. I shouldn't have eaten dinner first.
  • Only one person played pool while I was there and I believe he was the world's lousiest pool player. He just spent the whole time pushing his balls around the table with a stick and I'm sincerely sorry that I just typed that.
  • I firmly believe that every experience is an opportunity to learn something about yourself. For instance, I learned that I am utterly incapable of ingesting banana pudding while in the presence of big-screen porn. So there's that.
  • As I predicted, when I got there the ratio of men to women was about 12/1, and she was some guy's wife. I talked to her for a little while and found out that she and her husband are regular customers. They go there a couple of times a week. I was sort of curious about how places like that stay open. With the abundance of free pornography available on the internet, who pays for it? I was going to ask her that when she took her shirt off. Before I could say "Oh! And there you are. Hello, ma'am. Are you and your sister enjoying the opera this evening?", she threw on a silky red top and announced that they were off to visit the theatres.
  • Later another husband and wife showed up, the wife wearing what could best be described as a costume. They too were regular customers and eager to visit the theatres. These two interactions answered my unasked question.
  • I think the most notable thing about the whole evening was, believe it or not, the normalcy of the people there. I mean the appearance and demeanor. Aside from some attire (or lack thereof), there was nobody that would have been out of place waiting in line at the post office or in the stands at a Little League game. Certainly nobody you would look at and immediately avoid as some sort of deviant. I'm not sure whether that in itself is comforting or disturbing.
  • Actually, there was music playing as well. Really loud techno pop and, for some reason, the soundtrack from "Saturday Night Fever". I mean, it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right and that's two Prince references in one post so I'll stop now. I was just glad the music wasn't synched to what was on the televisions because I'm not sure I'd have been able to carry on a conversation during 'More Than A Woman', let alone eat banana pudding. As it was, I left after the third time 'Staying Alive' played. I figured that was as good a time as any for Hockey Guy to make his exit.


Denis A. Baldwin said...

You make me laugh. Holy crap, you make me laugh.

I used to work as a doorman for an "adult establishment" and I have to agree with your statement about the normalcy of the people there. Sure, you occasionally get your oddballs, but I'm used to being the weirdest guy in the room--even in a place like that.

I've been avoiding the seedy adult underside of Tampa since I moved here. Perhaps I'll go check this place out now that it's been made out to be somewhat safe.

Why, it's Clark! said...

Denis, being completely honest, most Wal Marts I've been in are not as clean and well-appopinted as this place. I'm not sure it even qualifies as seedy.

Why, it's Clark! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

"He just spent the whole time pushing his balls around the table with a stick..."
Bravo... this is some of your best work, my friend!!