The rain kept me in the house on Saturday. It was a blissfully unproductive day in which I mainlined college football – props to USF, Stanford, VaTech, and a few other squads that made the day especially interesting – and generally ignored all manner of adult responsibilities.
About the time that I finally accepted that this would be that rare Saturday evening when I would stay in the house, my phone rang with a blocked number. As is my custom when receiving such calls, I let it go to voicemail. It rang again and was ignored again. The third ring in three minutes made answering an annoying imperative.
“Good evening, this is Refugee” I said with a hint of annoyance. I could barely hear the voice on the other end, the caller clearly at a party with loud music in the background.
“[garbled, garbled, garbled] what’s your 20” the voice commanded.
“I can’t hear you, who is this?”
“Moving outside, stand by” my mystery caller said and suddenly became less mysterious. It almost had to be an old grad school friend, Dave, who else do I know that consistently speaks in clipped borderline militaristic commands. Dave and I met on the first day of our MBA program – we argued about the practical implications of the financial principle of Opportunity Cost in Advanced corporate finance class. Our argument continued after class, escalated to a bit of yelling and we became fast friends. He was a 29 year old former Lieutenant Commander in Navy Special Forces but only threatened to kill me with his pinky finger a couple of times.
“You can hear me know, right” he asked without bothering to wait for an answer before continuing “I expected to see you at this dinner; where are you?” Dave was referencing the gala that concludes the week of partying under the color of politics otherwise known as Congressional Black Caucus week. He and I routinely catch up on this night when he flies in from the left coast and I mosey down the street to see and be watch the scene with the Black glitterati of politics and entertainment.
“I couldn’t do it this year, my friend, something about them giving an award to that step-n-fetch-it clown Tyler Perry” I replied in a generally true but equally lame explanation.
“Fuck that, fuck him – you need to double time it down here because I need a wingman” Dave replied. “Hold one” he said quickly.
I could hear him on his other phone but couldn’t decipher the words. A minute later he returns to our call and states plainly “I’ve sent the car to your place; Tony is our driver and he has instructions to ring your bell every two minutes until you come downstairs in a tuxedo.” With barely a breath, he continued “and Tony is an old [Navy] Chief so he knows how to follow orders.” The line goes quiet.
I know that every word of Dave’s entreaties is true. Factoring the distance and traffic, I guesstimate that I have about 25minutes to shower and get dressed. I swallow hard, strip off my pajamas and get in the shower. Still affixing my cufflinks when I get the first ring, I indicate that I’ll be down in a minute. I grab bowtie and cummerbund, pat my pockets for the wallet, cigars, handkerchiefs, business cards, Crackberry, lighter, and pen. I emerge from my place not yet fully dressed and Tony is at the door of the limo.
“Good evening, Mr. Refugee, there’s champagne in the cooler, Coltrane on the stereo and a party waiting for you.”
To be continued…