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From Behind the Bar: Head-Crushing Dates and Soul-Crushing Drinks

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve recently made an unusual life choice for myself — I’ve given up total bachelorhood and the string of terrible dates that comes along with it. I really hate meeting new people, but I finally found one that I really like. She’s actually from New Orleans (a rarity these days), she eats sea urchin, she hates Drake — she’s pretty perfect. When it comes to basketball, she’s like me at a doom metal (which could be considered her basketball) show — she knows it exists and if drug into it she can appreciate the aesthetic in a live setting.

She also didn’t grow up with television and as soon as a screen of any sort starts emitting lights or sounds aimed at her giant eyes they immediately shut and her head crashes into my armpit. It’s cute, but it makes keeping up with Game of Thrones and Louie very difficult. On the plus side, she has no frame of reference, so I can just say a bunch of witty things from TV shows she’s never seen and she thinks they are KB originals (I don’t do that, but I could).

I’ve slowly been corrupting her mind with basketball games, short sketch comedy clips and it’s been four days since we’ve started it but we only have eleven minutes left in the first episode of Daredevil. We should get to episode six by the time the second season is released. It’s cool though; I need less TV and more drool in my armpit.

Last week she expressed interest in attending a Pelicans’ game. I figured it was a stretch, but I called my amazingly wonderful and always eager to help season ticket agent with a task I didn’t think would bear any fruit. I was asking for an extra ticket next to me or two tickets anywhere else in the lower bowl for what would become the biggest game in Pelicans’ history. Surprisingly, I was given two tickets free of charge a few rows up from my season tickets. Travis was able to bring a work buddy and I was able to look like a guy with some real connections.

Travis and I are super superstitious even though we are both atheists. It’s that old New Orleans’ Catholic grandmaw burying statues of St. Peter in the backyard routine that is still stamped into our DNA despite years of reading science books. So I was pretty nervous about shaking up our game day routine. She was as excited as she was scared that a loss would drive a wedge in our relationship. I wasn’t worried about that (like I said, she hates Drake), but I was worried about disturbing the balance of the universe.

I was especially concerned because I believe in tip karma. I always have, but now that I’m a bartender it’s rare that I tip below 40%. That morning we hit my new favorite coffeeshop — Arrow Cafe — where the barista (who happens to be a huge Pels fan and was attending the game herself) told me that her friend had waited on Gregg Popovich the night before and he gave her a $1,000 tip and two courtside seats. That was a lot of karma to battle. Then came the hail and the rain and the gusts of wind. I tried not to let my anxiety show, but she could feel it. The storm clouds would break in time for us to walk to the game — her in a newly bought red dress, blue shoes and a black and gold retro New Orleans jacket (it was the first time I had seen her in anything that wasn’t black, grey or white), me in my custom made Pelicans’ Adidas and custom silk-screened Anthony Davis screaming zombie face tshirt. Things were looking a little better.

On our walk up Julia St. a stranger decked out in Pelicans garb raised his rain-soaked fist skyward at us in approval of our attire and possibly our tattoos. We were almost to the arena when I remembered that she may have a knife on her. We both work at bars and she sometimes bikes home late at night if I can’t fetch her, so she carries a Pensacola Beach knife whose handle has, "Jesus" engraved on it for a little bit of protection. I told her to just bury it in her bag and let’s hope New Orleans laziness will let it slip through security undetected — total success.

Once inside we sought out my ticket agent to heave tons of gratitude towards her and then we sipped my pre-game ritual black coffee. We were there really early and watched a very awkwardly performed dance routine from a middle school dance group. Travis came by to deliver the news, "We are losing this game." I told him to get out of my sight with all that negativity. He went back to our regular seats. The sea of red began to flow in and you could just feel the nervous energy building.

The Spurs entered the court and I told her about my intense hatred for Marco Belinelli. In his Hornets’ days he was a regular at my workplace. Two days after he missed a million wide-open threes and we lost our playoff series to the Lakers he dared to show his stupid face in Travis and I’s area. We thumb wrestled to see who was going to be the one that got to stab him in the big dumb face. Obviously, these are all jokes, but we both hate him a lot. Anyway, I was able to overhear him ask his friend how much he was supposed to tip — I couldn’t help myself and I said, "20%, just like your field goal percentage." Needless to say, Carl Landry got a much warmer welcome when he showed up the next day — I still love you, Carl.

We both tried not to laugh as Cupid flubbed three words to, "The Star-Spangled Banner." Then I told her about the new, "True Detective" player introduction video. I was shocked that she knew what I was talking about, but it’s one of the two television shows she’s seen. She’s taken to calling Anthony Davis, "Big Frida" which is a great reference to Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows and New Orleans own sissy-bounce queen, Big Freedia. She marveled at how tall he was in real life. Her excitement began to crush the angry wasps’ nest that was the anxiety in my gut into a blood diamond.

This past Sunday I had attended a shockingly sparsely attended reading of the Brain Candy script that actually featured Kevin McDonald of the Kids in the Hall and an improv troupe at the New Movement Theater on St. Claude. In preparation for this I’ve begun integrating Kids in the Hall clips into our hangouts. We even watched the entire film (it took us two tries) in the days leading up to the reading. She took a real liking to the "Headcrusher" sketches.

She began crushing the heads of every Spurs player shooting free throws. My heart melted. Earlier in the day we watched Froggy Fresh’s, "Dunked On" to get hyped. At one point she looked at me and asked, "Why’s Ginobili crying?" She responded, "‘Cause he just got dunked on!!" She replaced Tyreke Evans in the shit canal that was my heart.

Tyreke was going nuts until he picked up his 2nd foul and was sent to the bench, still we had a 20 point lead and the crowd was mind-blowingly ecstatic. I felt good, but doubt would creep in. I knew during halftime the best coach in the history of the NBA sporting some real strong tip karma would adjust. I also knew we wouldn’t have John Salmons to give some inspiring curse words to keep this level of play going. As the Spurs made their run my nerves were getting the best of me. I was biting my nails and hunching forward in my seat.

Usually, I would just have Travis slapping me in the leg and talking about conspiracy theories making me even more stressed, but she’d give a timely rub on my knee or shoulder to settle me down. Our whole section stood for the final six minutes. The crowd was great. My partner was better. Anthony Davis is a legend. We walked over to Travis and our other friend from work and just stood there for 15 minutes after the game had ended soaking up the greatest moment to date in Pelicans’ history.

Today we were supposed to drive to Pensacola for a day on the beach, but the weather didn’t cooperate. We went to the aquarium instead for the masturbation equivalent of swimming with sea life. We shared headphones and listened to ambient noise rock while staring at the Gulf of Mexico exhibit. Tonight we are going out for oysters, tomorrow I’ll try to figure out how to sneak my new good luck charm into the playoffs.