One Friday night in the not-too-distant past, 9 p.m.-ish
That a girlfriend came through with last-minute tickets to Onerepublic at the Palms … as we say at Passover, Dayenu! It would have been enough. When local band Otherwise promoted us from floor seats to a private sky box—Dayenu! When, after the concert, we attended the meet-n-greet—Dayenu! But when midnight came and we were dining with the band …
“Want some Captain Morgan?” Wingman Rustyn pours a healthy shot from his flask into an empty beer cup. We missed the first opener, caught the second and drink to kill the time until headliner Onerepublic. I take an equally healthy sip.
“Moh my bob!” I sputter and swallow. “It’s warm! Where was that flask?" He lifts up his shirt to reveal his secret hiding place. “Crotch booze? You gave me crotch booze?!” He nods, alarmingly proud. “98.6 degrees, baby!” I roll my eyes and explain that he’s very handsome and if he flirts with the bartender just a skotch, we can probably get a glass of ice.
Now-frosty Captain in-hand we take in the show and—in a word—it’s good. Outside afterwards deciding what to do next, we are pulled back in by a friend of Rustyn, and drawn into the meet-n-greet, which for me is more of, as Onerepublic sings, a “Stop and Stare.” But then, it’s like a plug is pulled. As the floor is cleared for load-out, what’s left of the crowd, now just personal friends of the band and us, is swept backstage.
The hallway quickly fills with friends, female hangers-on and even a four-year-old toddler. The women curry favor by courting the little man, whomever he is. Rustyn, his flask now dry, is immediately handed a coffee cup filled to the brim with Johnny Walker Black Label, which we pass back and forth while waiting for someone to kick us out; at least it will hurt less. But that moment never comes. We play with the child, drink the proffered Scotch and wait for whatever’s next.
“Let’s eat!” someone calls out, and flanked by this crew, lead singer Ryan Tedder takes off through the maze-like Palms back-of-house. The final door bursts open and we 20 or so are delivered to the casino floor. Someone is leading the charge though I don’t know who. Tedder could have made straight for the men’s room and we all would have followed him right up to the urinal like lemmings. We wave to friends with bewildered looks on their faces and instead duck into N9NE Steakhouse. Now stalled at the hostess stand, fear creeps in once more.
“Right this way,” the hostess says, after a few agonizing moments, and we are escorted en masse to a long table in the private dining room. Seated at table with the band, we are now beyond mere meet-n-greet status, we have become Entourage!
Everyone already seems to know everyone so Rustyn and I kibbutz to ourselves and come up with a plan: lay low, order cheap, make nice and offer to pay our share.
“I’ll have the filet,” he says, completely ignoring the aforementioned plan, “and a Johnny Black on the rocks.” I look at him, aghast and near tears. My phone has died, so I can’t take notes. My camera battery is gone, too. This will be the night I can never prove happened! So, resigned, I order a glass of wine and a salad and offer guitarist Drew Brown (above, far left) a scallop from the communal appetizers.
Tedder is at the opposite end of the table, eating oysters, drinking hot tea and probably thinking, “Who the hell are those two?!” If he cares, he doesn’t show it. Birthday cake arrives for someone, so there is singing and as would be expected, better than your average.
Then the bill arrives.
Here we go, I think to myself, this is when the embarrassing scene occurs. Someone will pull me aside and ask, “And you are….?” I will flush, panic and say something dumb, like “I’m a writer!” and will be summarily tossed on my ass. I steel myself against the idea and ready for a brisk exit. Rustyn polishes off my wine.
“Anyone bring cash or plastic?” Tedder holds the check up and looks around, all smiles. My hand shoots up like the Statue of Liberty’s, debit card gripped tightly. Tedder’s eyes meet mine as the card is handed down the table to be pressed inside the checkbook with his. When it reaches him he addresses me directly: “So, how much on … Zzzzzannnyaaah?”
“Uh, [cough] … would $100 work, Ryan?”