Uptown Love: A True Story About a Harrowing Night at the VFW

Last night Ben and I went to the VFW in Uptown. Not as glamorous as the W Minneapolis, but there you have it: we are temp workers and no captains of industry. This evening karaoke is on the docket and the crowd is rowdy, a Friday hipster war veteran crowd, and we’re lucky to snatch a booth because this means that as the bar gets more and more packed two tired girls who just want to sit down, at any cost, will eventually ask to join us in the booth. And when this happens the four of us proceed to get drunk on cheap pitchers of domestic beer and the later it gets the more beautiful everyone becomes and the better the karaoke singers sound and when someone near the front of the VFW begins crooning “Sweet Caroline” (a karaoke staple as inevitable as death) I find myself up on my feet and propelled across the room toward the popcorn machine.

On my way to the popcorn I notice an enormous man, a 400-pound man, sitting at a table with his girlfriend. My drunken heart is suddenly filled with love for this enormous rounded man, who may or may not be of Pacific Islander descent, and I drop into the empty chair beside him and say hello. We nod back and forth for a few minutes, all speech rendered inaudible by the screaming karaoke crowd, and when the song ends I challenge the Islander to a friendly arm wrestling match. This is a thing I do, an obnoxious drunk guy thing, and to my delight he accepts the challenge. Using valuable insights from the Sylvester Stallone movie Over the Top I somehow defeat the Islander and, myself incredulous that I’ve just beaten a man twice my size, look to my booth for confirmation that this event has been witnessed. Of course, Ben has eyes only for the girls and even as I shout for his attention I know it is hopeless, that I’ve just done the impossible and no one will ever believe me. The Islander’s girlfriend is laughing at my victory and when I ask the Islander if he’d like to wrestle a second time he leans toward me, very slowly, and informs me that he has a knife. I ask him if he means that in a metaphorical way and he just stares at me and that’s when I decide to head back to the booth. The girls ask me where is the damn popcorn and I tell them to look deep, the popcorn is in their souls.

Later, when we’ve all been whisked out of the VFW and we’re waiting with the girls while they wait for their cab, Ben and one of the girls start hugging about ten yards distant. It’s a sweet hug, as if they are two children in love. I make small talk with the second girl, who looks bored and does not seem on the verge of hugging anything. She tells me that she and her friend both work at a local pizza joint. When the taxi finally comes Ben and the girl break apart as the cab’s headlights fall upon them. Ben says something about not getting the girl’s phone number and I shout don’t worry, man, they work at Sally’s Pizza and Ben’s girl wheels and screams at her friend, YOU TOLD HIM WHERE WE WORK?

Yes, sir. That’s Uptown love for you.


Alexandra Jones said...

That is the greatest thing I've ever read in my whole life, and I already read The Suicide Collectors. A true congrats David!!

Blogagaard said...

Thanks, Ali!

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