It was a cold Sunday night and I was craving a glass of red and a change of scenery. Grabbing a fashion magazine to occupy myself, I ventured into the abyss to find my usual cozy spot next to a roaring fireplace. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the fireplace armchairs were occupied and I was forced to take up residence at the bar. This is what they call a turning point – this is the moment my night went from serene to strange.
The bar was occupied by three men. One, at least 15 years older than the others, had a magnanimous presence, both in weight and personality. The two younger men were exact opposites of each other – a rough around the edges, dark and muscular man versus a lean, clean cut blonde haired beau. The only thing they shared on the surface was a glint of mischief in the eyes.
Nearing the end of my glass of red and with my nose in my page, I was startled out of a fashion trance by the older gentleman, Bruce, who offered me a top up of wine from his bottle. Appreciating a nice bottle and a kind gesture, I received his offer with a thank you. Door was now open.
Bruce leaned over to peer at my magazine, pointing out fashions he liked with a well trained eye, while comparing designers with far more knowledge than the average Joe. Knowing when to give me my space back, he returned to his friends, but now I was intrigued. My ear was tuned to eavesdrop and I heard snippets of conversation about sports cars, cigars, vacation spots, and alcohol. Clearly, a man’s conversation.
Bruce, suddenly including me in the conversation (did he sense my nosy ears?), turned to ask if I enjoyed Cognac. His recoil vibrated around the room when I explained my only experience came in the form of Hennessy. He promptly ordered a glass of Hennessy and two glasses of LOUIS XIII de Rémy Martin (one single and one double).
For those of you who have never heard of Louis XIII, it’s a $2,000 bottle of Cognac and a single glass at this particular bar was $180. I was told to take a sip of the Hennessy then compare it to the Remy. As the Remy passed my lips, I knew it was the best bad move I had ever made. I could’ve sipped it all night and forever more. Unfortunately, the price tag made my wallet scream in horror.
As I finished my new found amber love, I made motions to pack up my belongings to return home for dinner and a bath. Bruce would have nothing of it and insisted I join them for dinner at Joe Fortes, one of the best seafood and steak houses in Vancouver. Granted, I didn’t know these guys, but I was up for an adventure and, seriously, how much trouble could I get into on a Sunday night?
They pulled out all the stops at dinner – the $150 3-tiered seafood tower to start, $55 steaks all round and a couple bottles of $400 wine. Who on earth were these men? Producers? Princes? Gangsters? I had to ask the question that I hated most, but my curiosity won.
Bruce was a financial adviser of some sort, Sean (dark and handsome) was his “bodyguard” and Paul (clean cut) was an “employee”. Having these details out of the way, Bruce really opened up to his personal life and regaled me with tales of his wife and daughter, their $20,000 a month clothing allowance, and the number of Ferrari’s he had parked in his garage. I was both appalled and awed. It was a different world than I had ever known.
Suffice it to say, after the wine and cognac at the bar and more wine at the restaurant, I was getting quite tipsy. When Bruce asked, and against better judgement, I gave him my number. While we were enjoying dessert, he sent me a text laced with unfavorable innuendos that didn’t sit well in my stomach with my still undigested food. I ignored it but I now had my guard up and my senses about me. Had he not noticed that it was Paul and Sean who I had been flirting with throughout dinner?
As it does, dinner came to an end and I was prepared to say my thank yous and good byes. The boys had other plans. How about a final round of drinks at Glowbal? It was getting late and I had to work in the morning but the alcohol had removed all common sense and responsibility from my body. They had evaporated into the air. Whoosh. Gone. So despite my growing distaste with Bruce, and because of my reigning adventurous and curious spirit, I went.
We arrived to an empty lounge – it was a Sunday night after all – except for one lone girl sitting at the bar chatting with the bartender. We stationed ourselves in a corner and drinks quickly followed. Paul, getting cozy with me, asked for my number, and I obliged too quickly. He immediately sent me a saucy text, but with him I was keen to play and sent a coy response back. Game on.
The boys soon invited Rachel, the girl at the bar, to join our party. I was grateful for some sane female company and she rapidly got up to my same level of intrigue towards the gentlemen. It was well past the witching hour and thoughts of my bed were a hazy dream. At some point, sitting there, I knew that I was sticking it out for the long haul. Like clockwork, the boys got restless and we gathered our now larger troupe to hold court at a nearby club, Republic. Why there? To meet up with Paul’s girlfriend of course. Minor detail he forgot to mention when he sent me that salacious text earlier.
We were waved through the doors at Republic and took over the VIP section, where bottles of Grey Goose and mixes were sent over before we even sat down. Our party had tripled in size like magic. I suppose that happens when someone else is picking up the tab. I was in a daze. Alcohol was flowing through my veins. I was holding conversations but wasn’t present. We weren’t there for more than 45 minutes when the boys’ ADHD kicked in again and a new destination was decided upon.
Next stop: Paul’s penthouse in Coal Harbour. At some point, before getting in that taxi to the penthouse, the thought did cross my mind that it could be a bad idea to leave the public eye and go to a stranger’s apartment with a bunch of guys who were possibly a little bit shady and certainly mysterious. But it was that thrill of the unknown that teased me.
Upon arriving, and after some exploration, I found myself on the rooftop deck, hundreds of feet up and standing alone at the railing. Simply feeling alive. I don’t know how long I stood there before Rachel brought me back to earth. Once back in the living room, I sank into a leather couch and as I spoke with Sean, I heard myself slur my words and I could feel myself losing control. The last thing I wanted was to pass out amongst these men and have god knows what happen. Reality had struck and it was finally time to leave.
I often wonder about those men. What their deal really was. I never saw them again, despite this small city, it’s as though they simply disappeared into the shadows. How one seemingly innocent evening can turn into an adventure. Adventures happen everywhere.
Here are my Lessons From a Bar Stool:
Lessons for the Ladies:
1. Curiosity is important, but don’t let it get you into trouble. Exercise some caution. Just a little…
2. Use common sense. Is it really safe to go to a stranger’s pad at 3am after a gazillion cocktails with three kind of shady guys you just met? Not really.
3. It is completely acceptable to call in sick after a night like this one.
Lessons for the Men:
1. You haven’t experienced alcohol until you’ve tried LOUIS XIII de Rémy Martin.
2. Sending sexy texts to a woman can certainly set the scene, but don’t do it if you are going to introduce her to your girlfriend in a couple of hours. Scratch that, don’t do it if you have a girlfriend. Period.
3. Want to impress? Read about everything so you can hold a conversation with anyone
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