The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

After the Party

As the hype surrounding Caron Butler’s birthday built I read enough to know I wanted to attend.  Through a series of phone calls and the grace of a 35 year old guy in eye shadow, the doorguy a friend knew, I got in.  The scene on 14th St. wasn’t quite a madhouse but headed that way, people flashing invitations, a growing frustration both with the wait and the crowd, I was quite happy to side-step that process. 

I had never been to Park and I thought it was a reasonably cool venue.  I liked the multi floor approach to a club, although couldn’t shake the feeling I was in a hotel lobby.  The music was good, old school hip hop mixed with current hits and the occasional classic rock song.  The awkward meter must have broken the first time the DJ went from Flo Rida to Guns and Roses, a majority young urban crowd did not know what to make of Slash and Axl. 

My initial reaction was I would not be there long.  People were packed in like the Orange line at rush hour, getting a drink was near impossible, and the bartender we got stuck with was either baked or real dumb.  His method of serving drinks was to ask the entire bar what they needed, get the glasses ready for the order, then go back around and ask people what to put in the glasses.  This process was trying, on top of four Vodka Red Bulls costing $45. 

Double fisting cocktails my buddy and I got away from the bar.  We headed to the window looking out over K Street, watching people try everything to get in the club.  Regardless if this is self aggrandizing, there is an innate satisfaction to being inside when hundreds of people outside desire your position.   

The night was going reasonably well to this point, then our big stroke of luck hit, a high roller buddy walks off the elevator and invites us to his table.  One thing I have learned in my 26 years is a table is the only way to have fun in a club.  I guess this is different for good looking young ladies, but for a big eared dude a table is a must.  Upon reaching the promised land, er table, Grey Goose was abundant, my social accelerator fully pressed.  Women approached; talking, flirting, vague attempts at dancing, all while the club slowly filled with athletes.  I noticed Antawn Jamison walk in, later Lavar Arrington and Ray Lewis.  Upon Murder Ray’s arrival I said to everyone and nobody in particular, “The odds of somebody getting stabbed just went off the board in Vegas.” 

Our high roller buddy was leaving, and we thought we were too.  A bathroom stop led us to a back stairwell, the entrance for the Wiz players who were still arriving.  Intrigued, we loitered on the stairwell for a minute, telling Brenda Haywood and Oleksiy Pecherov to head up another flight of stairs.  Pecherov’s gear was delightfully European — dude was rocking black pleated pants, a white shirt and a black vest.  He looked like an extra at The Max while Zach and Slater plotted over burgers. 

Realizing all the athletes were one floor up, up the stairs we went.  A compliment to Park was there was never an overbearing security presence; some bars/clubs/lounges front like national security is an issue, Park allowed people to have a good time and in turn behavior was appropriate.  The upstairs scene was live, the intimacy of the team on full display —  Gil with his protégé Nick Young, Songailia with Pecherov, Dom McGuire doing his best Omar impression, standing solo, needing no mentor.  Women flocked to the players, but, hell, so did I.   

Hanging out with the players made the night, Nick Young the highlight.  His combination of California cool and Fabolous’ lisp is quite charismatic.  The room was small enough the athletes were as crowded as the rest of us, any false barriers that society builds were removed, just a lot of people having a great time.  The dance floor boomed with bass, the OutKast song Two Dope Boys allowing everybody to feel their dopest.   

In an ironic twist, the only player I didn’t see was Caron.  I hope he enjoyed his birthday near as much as I did.


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