Friday, February 10, 2012

267. Piano Man

I don't know if I've told y'all this yet, but I hate New Years Eve. I always have. There's so much pressure to go balls-to-the-wall and party like it's 1999. But it's always a let down. At the bars you have to pay an insane cover charge, only to get inside to fight your way through the crowd of sparkly dresses, 5-inch heels and top hats to reach the bar. The drinks are overpriced, the bars are overcrowded and the entire night is overhyped.

So this year I set out to find the perfect New Years Eve plans for my group of friends. I wanted to rent a cabin with a firepit in the backyard on a lake. We could ring in the new year with s'mores, wine and our favorite people. But there were 10 of us. It wasn't easy to find a cabin that sleeps 10 and allows dogs. At least not an affordable one, anyway. So we scratched that idea.

Then it hit me. Every time I went to Pete's Dueling Piano Bar, I thought "I've got to bring Cayden here." There was something so Texas about it, especially when the two pianists broke out with Garth Brooke's 'Friends in Low Places' and the whole crowd erupted into song, swinging their beers in the air. I could just picture Cayden standing there, soaking it all in and thinking, "Holy shit. This is Texas." And every time we went to Pete's, we ended up drunk off our asses with hoarse voices from singing along with the pianists completely off key. If that didn't sound like the perfect New Year's outing, I didn't know what did. Problem was, they were charging a $50 cover. So we'd each have to pay $50 and then buy our drinks on top of that and pay for a few cab rides home. New Years Eve is one of those nights where you wish one of your friends was knocked up so you'd have a designated driver.

"Let's just throw a party at our house," Joyce suggested. I had a flashback to last year's party. And by "party" I mean "ten people wearing party hats and drinking wine and then we all passed out just after midnight." We'd just had Friendsgiving and Friendsmas and a few other holiday parties that all ended up the same: we eat, we drink, we play Taboo and then we all pass out. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy our get togethers, but it was New Years and I wanted to do something different.

Carson had forwarded me an email with a list of New Years Eve events in the Dallas area, and one of them caught my eye. Casino Night at Champps in Addison. For $20, they give you $6,000 of casino money for you to play with and a chance to win prizes in an auction after midnight. The $3 drink specials sealed the deal. Everyone agreed. Our Saturday night plans were set.

New Years Eve was still two days away, so that Thursday night we took Cayden out for his first Pete's experience. Sure enough, less than an hour after we got there, he turned to me and said, "Wow, I really feel like I'm in Texas!"

We sang and drank and swung out beers in the air. We had one round of beers. Two rounds of beers. A round of Vegas bombs. Another round of beers. At one point, Rae, Carson and I filled out a request slip that said, "Our British friend is in town. We'd like you to dedicate a song to him. London Bridge is Falling Down." We dropped the slip in the suggestion bowl on one of the pianos and waited eagerly.

"Ladies in gentleman, we have a Brit in the house tonight!" one of the pianists announced. "Can Cayden come up here? Cayden, come up to the stage!"

Cayden looked around, his eyes big. "Me?" he asked, pointing to himself. The rest of us cheered and pushed him toward the stage. They made him sing along as they serenaded him with a showtunes version of London Bridge is Falling Down.

"Oh, no. You're not off the hook yet," the other pianist said as Cayden tried to sneak off the stage. "Let's get a few more guys up here. We have something fun in store."

A handful of drunken male volunteers scrambled up on stage.

"OK, now all of you turn around so your backs face the audience," he instructed.

They all turned, giving the rest of us a nice view of their backsides. I could pick Cayden's tight little butt out of any crowd. Then I heard the intro music for "Baby Got Back." All the guys heard it, too. They looked around with drunk eyes and smiles on their faces. There wasn't a person in that room that didn't perk up when they heard that song.

"It's a shake off!"

I rushed the stage to get a front-row seat and hit the record button on my phone.

In what I can only assume was an act of revenge, Cayden ordered a round of Sambuca shots for our table.

After piecing the rest of the night back together the next day through Chaz's memory, a stream of text messages and a lot of photo evidence, we all concluded that the round of Sambuca shots was the turning point in the evening. No one remembers much after that. Chaz was the most sober, so we had to take his word for it. His memories included me trying to rub my butt on random people, tables and chairs; all of us photo bombing random people; and me demanding that we cheers to "bitches and 40s."

And this gem of a photo explains how the night ended. I just wanted to go home and play with the puppies.

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