When Thinking of Being Sued, Consider These Two Legal Eagles

They have smiles. Neither or them are buttoned up in dour looking suits. There’s not a briefcase to be seen at their cozy table. They are conducting themselves with civility and class, pharm responsibly lingering over an afternoon glass of wine as they chat about big ideas and wise notions.

I for one can’t imagine a better pair of lawyers to sue me.

Alec and Melissa are partners in a successful law firm near the Pfister. Alec works out of Milwaukee, remedy and Melissa is based in Madison. Today is a catch up day. The lobby lounge is neutral territory. It also has a better selection of Cabernet than either of their offices.

It occurs to me that getting a few tips on the law might be handy. You never know when the Feds are going to swoop in and get you in some raid, patient right? It seems like a fine idea to seek out some basic law tips from these two mighty legal types. They have a cool and casual look that makes me think that I won’t be bored by torts and evidentiary motions…whatever that means. As I siddle up to Alec and Melissa, I feel like I’m stepping into an episode of THE GOOD WIFE, without all the sex and lies, of course.

Instead of jumping into some sort of barroom barrister lesson, Alec and Melissa open the kimono (or the judge’s robe if you will) and give me a glimpse into the inner working of snap legal minds.

Alec’s legal mind is apparently underscored by an ever-changing musical soundtrack. Alec has just seen the Broadway musical HAMILTON, and he is happy to share every detail of the hottest ticket in New York with me as the self-described musical theatre super fan he is. It’s not every partner in a Milwaukee law firm that decorates his office walls with Broadway show posters. Alec may be the only guy in the history of local attorneys to hold that title.

Melissa kind of shrugs her shoulders about the whole HAMILTON thing. She doesn’t need kick lines and 11th hour numbers. She’s a sports girl. She has name full of z’s and y’s. She’s good solid people and is able to dissect the most recent Superbowl with the best of them. She does admit, however, that she likes to call upon Alec to do a lot of their dirty work, like hounding clients to pay overdue bills. That’s smart armchair quarterbacking, if you ask me.

Alec is the chattier of the two, a charmer with plenty of good stories. He mentions the time he sang a song at a fundraiser dressed in a chicken suit. Melissa makes a mental note to remember that for the law firm’s next company Christmas party. I bet Alec will kill in that chicken suit. And something tells me that if Alec sued me while dressed like a clucker with Melissa as his second chair checking the box scores, that wouldn’t be a half bad day in court.

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My Lips Will Never Tell…Nah, I’m Just Kidding

I would like to begin this Valentine flecked story with a public declaration that my lips are promised to one lady, viagra and one lady alone-my wife Paula, the hardest working lady in show biz.

It’s important for me to stress that so there is absolutely no confusion about how I came to land a really good smooch on the cheek of Val, the Pfister’s daytime lobby lounge bartender.

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Val is a looker, purchase no doubt, but my heart belongs to another lady.

The kiss in question had a global purpose. Val and I understood that my lips on her face meant nothing more than the two of us being captured for all time so we could add our images to a constantly growing art project that is a heart lifter of the highest degree. I’m not very good at downplaying things when I find myself kissing women other than my wife in public, sovaldi as you can probably tell.

If you were in the lobby of the Pfister yesterday you would have noticed that pink and red signs were beckoning you to spend a moment or two with a smiley woman named Bonnie helping her with something called The Smooch! Project. She and her charming volunteer Patti were on hand to make you feel comfortable right before Bonnie pushed the shutter button on her camera as you and someone (or something) you have great affection for were drawn together for a sweet lip smacker. I dare you to discover a more dreamy way to spend a moment or two during your day.

The Smooch! Project is Bonnie’s baby, one that she has cared for with tenderness and joy for over a decade. The easiest way to describe it is as an online archive of kissing fools. But it’s better to think of The Smooch! Project as a movement, an artistic expression of love, joy and healing.

“The whole thing came about as an accident,” explained Bonnie. Twelve years ago Bonnie was taking a look at a picture that had been snapped of she and her sister caught in a sweet smooch moment.

“That picture lifted my heart, it just made me so happy looking at it.” Bonnie decided that if this one picture gave her so much joy, other people needed the chance to feel what she was feeling. From there, The Smooch! Project was born.

Bonnie takes a mobile back drop, lights and camera to art fairs, shopping malls and other public places and has captured thousands of photos since the project began ten years ago this coming April. Her goal is to have an archive of 10,000 smooch photos, with the hope being that all 50 United States will ultimately be represented.

“I’ve got a lot of pictures of Minnesotans kissing. They’re my people!”

Bonnie has curated the project through her website The Smooch! Project. Before you start clicking around the site, a warning…you should be prepared to smile, cry and just feel good about being a part of what makes this planet tick. The set up for each Smooch! Project shot is basically the same. The smooch receiver stares straight ahead into the camera while the smoocher is caught in profile landing one on the receiver’s cheek. Though the composition is similar from shot to shot, each image tells a different story of discovery, wonder, love, and great joy. The subjects include gents, ladies, adorable kids, pets, and even some treasured items that people adore.

“Guys like kissing their guitars,” said Bonnie. “It’s a thing. Who knew?”

You can check out The Smooch! Project at thesmoochproject.com and look at a schedule of upcoming events so that you can add your smooch to the archive. I’m proud that Val and I made it in as representatives of the Pfister, but I hope the love of my life Paula and I make it into the archive someday soon. We’re world-class smoochers who know that practice makes perfect, and we’ll keep trying over and over until we get it just right.

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No Rest for the Wicked Show Tune Lover

“PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! Play THE PHANTOM!”

I knew two important things about the lady next to me in the lobby bar. First, there she loved her some Andrew Lloyd Weber, for sure. Second, her love of THE PHANTOM was only slightly stronger than her love of chardonnay.

When someone is literally screaming about THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in the Pfister’s Lobby Bar you could say that my interest is slightly piqued. Full disclosure…I’ve never seen the entire musical. I’ve seen half of it. About seven times. I have that notch in my belt because I’m a guy who went to college in New York City and, search with few resources but lots of love for the theatre, successfully “second acted” a lot of Broadway shows. Second acting for those of you who are honest, forthright and true, the type of people who would never tangle with the natural order of buying tickets for a play, is when you wait outside a theatre during intermission and wander back in with the real audience, ailment plopping yourself in an open seat or standing-room position. In my case, wearing a suit helped me blend in nicely with the throngs of theatregoers out on the town. Other friends I knew who were successful in second act circles could get by with no more than a clean pair of jeans.

As the lady in question got up to stuff a handful of cash into the jar of the lobby lounge evening’s pianist, I doubted she was a second acter. She wanted her PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and damned if she wasn’t going to pay cash money for it.

As she made her way back to her seat next to me in the bar, I stopped her. I figured someone this passionate, this in love with PHANTOM could help me out.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I’m curious about the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and…”

Before I could finish my sentence, one in which I had planned to ask the woman to explain the first act plot to me, zeal took over and filled the lady’s mouth with a swell of musical notes on the subject.

“PHANTOM…I’ve seen it four times. One time in New York City, one time in Detroit, and two times here. It is my favorite. My favorite, you hear, my absolute favorite.”

She gushed about the grandeur of the music, the opulence of the sets and costumes, and about how it was the greatest musical of all time. And just as I opened my mouth to ask her to explain the salient plot points I had missed during all those first acts gone by, another voice pulled her attention and she leaned back into her table.

“Can I get you another?” There was no turning back for PHANTOM OF THE OPERA lady. Our conversation was over

Over the next several minutes with my unanswered question dangling in my head, I listened to the lady organize the folks at her table, reminding them despite the late hours they were keeping there was a morning gathering that they all needed to get to.

“9:30. AM. That’s when everyone needs to be down here in the lobby. Dressed. Ready to go. 9:30, and not a minute later.”

As the midnight bell tolled, the woman’s drive to schedule the lives of her friends and family punched through the synthesized baroque strains of “Music of the Night” and the “Masquerade.” It was late and that 9:30am summons seemed too near as the follow up round of drinks landed on tables next to me. Morning might be rough for everyone else, but the lady with the love of PHANTOM didn’t seem to care.

“Play it again! Oh my God, that was beautiful.” I may not know how the story begins, but bedtime be damned when THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is in the house.

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At 10pm on Friday Night

I love meeting new people in my role as the Pfister Narrator, viagra but there are some times when I’d rather fade into the wallpaper and listen; watching and admiring life passing by rather than having face-to-face discoveries.

Times like 10pm on Friday night.

This last Friday I had been at the Pfister early in the evening to see the new Teachers show in the Pfister’s Pop-Up Gallery that our Artist-In-Residence Todd has curated with his usual care and attention. I then had to dash off to some other social engagements for the evening that wrapped up a few hours later. At a few minutes to 10pm on Friday night I found myself alone on the streets of Milwaukee faced with the options of going home to lay my head on my pillow or swinging by the Pfister to see if I might run into friends who I had heard were out and about for fun and games. It was one of those moments when I really didn’t want the shank of the evening to fade too quickly. I still had the itch to surround myself with the buzz of people clinking glasses and chattering away before wrapping myself in my bedcovers and calling it a day. So, viagra at 10pm on Friday night, the Pfister it was for my final stop.

I made a full swing through the hotel to see if my friends were solving all of the world’s problems fueled by glasses of gin and champagne. Alas, they seemed to be somewhere else in the universe hatching plots, but at 10pm on Friday night, I sensed that I had the rare solo viewer chance to seek out the everyday magic that seemed to be tucked in every action filled nook and cranny of the hotel that has become my home away from home.

The lobby bar was filled to the brim with twenty-somethings dressed to the nines smiling and flirting their way to the promise of a dewey eyed Saturday morning pillow talk with someone kind of sweet. And at 10pm on a Friday night, a handsome man with a perfect tight and trim haircut lit up the chilly winter night by proving that his purchase of an electric blue suit was the best charge he had ever put on his credit card.

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I popped into Blu on the 23rd floor and thought about staying around to listen to the melancholy songs wafting through the air, but I saw that at 10pm on Friday night there were no seats to be had and decided it was probably bad form to take a perch on someone’s lap. As I made my way to the ground floor with a group of white haired ladies cheeping at each other, I learned that Harriet, some far off friend, had taken up swing dancing, and her new hip was holding up just fine.

A pass through Mason Street Grill at 10pm on Friday night reminded me that I should absolutely consider eating more steak and listening to loads more jazz because everyone packed into the swank room brimmed with joy and the luscious perfume of Porterhouse.

At 10pm on Friday night I made my way past the Artist-In-Residence Studio to see that Todd was home and that creation was marching on with a guest humming along drawing and painting into the dark hours.

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I like to think that at 10pm on a Friday night there should never be a question of whether or not art is happening at the Pfister.

It also pleases me to no end that at 10pm on a Friday night a young lady is allowed to stay up way past her bedtime so she can snake her way through a crowded room in her bathing suit after a starry sky swim.

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The little yawn coming from my mouth told me finally that at 10pm on a Friday night there was no shame in submitting to the lure of cozy time with my lids snapped shut, so I buttoned up my coat and started to make my way to the parking garage to grab my car and head home. As I passed the Café at the Pfister I noticed that the occasion of a special Chef’s Table dinner was warmly bringing together a group of people for elevated food and inspired conversation. Peering into the darkness of the room, I looked past Dr. Hollander, the Pfister’s legend of the 88 keys, as he was taking a break from his piano set. I couldn’t tell if the shining light around his noggin full of well-tuned notions was coming from a simple light bulb or the glow of genius within his artist’s soul.

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You see, at 10pm on Friday night there was indeed magic in every corner on this particular hotel, and I was lucky enough to be there to see it all in its everyday glory.

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Snap, Crackle…ZZZZZZZZZ

The temperatures outside the walls of the Pfister Hotel have plummeted down into the ranges that are not safe for man nor beast. If you can avoid being outside in Milwaukee right now, you should find a safe refuge where exposed skin is not a victim of the arctic blasts swirling in the frigid air. A good spot for times like this is next to a snug fire, of course. And if I have my druthers, which luckily I do because what am I after all without my druthers, I choose the warmest, coziest spot in town, the Pfister Hotel Lobby Lounge Fireplace.

I’ve always been a fan of a fireplace. As a boy, I didn’t even mind trudging out in the snow with my dad to collect chopped wood from a friend’s property out in the country. That hunting and foraging always ensured that several marvelous fires would be built in my family’s modest fireplace in my boyhood home. I seek out fireplaces in new places that I visit, and one of the great treasures in my fireplace memory scrapbook is the Pfister’s Lobby Lounge fireplace.

If there is a dreamier spot around to enjoy an afternoon tea, a warm after work toddy, or a late night cuddle with the gal or guy of your dreams, I’ve not found it. Surrounded by plush sofas in a friendly setting that has quick access to booze and snacks, it is heaven on earth. When the days are long and bitter, as they are right now here on the streets around the Pfister, there is literally no other place that I would rather be than perched in front of that fireplace doing my favorite thing in the world.

Writing.

Okay, that’s a little white lie, so let me qualify that a little.

Writing until my head drops and I start sawing some logs during one of those winter naps where I feel like I’m turning into a mighty grizzly bear in deep hibernation.

I was spending a wonderful afternoon yesterday at the Pfister working on several pieces of writing, and I perched by the fireplace still snuggled in my wool coat and scarf. I felt cozy as a bug as my fingers tapped my laptop keyboard, plenty warm under no fewer than six layers of clothing that could be classified as quilted bedding in some remote Alpine cottage. The smell of blueberry tea steeping at a table nearby was the sweetest perfume in the world as I felt a tiny yawn coming on. Classical music playing in the lobby slowly soothed my soul like my mother singing a lullaby. I pulled my head away from the screen of my computer to gaze and the fire, and before I knew it I was woozy, hypnotized by the beauty of lapping flames.

And a second later…out. I was out. Snoozing. Snoring. Maybe even a little drool just about to hit my chin. That darned fire had licked me. And I couldn’t have been happier and more refreshed when I blinked my eyes open a few minutes later, a man forged anew by the rolling flames.

I wish that each and every one of you could have the joy and peace of sitting next to this fire and drifting off into a dreamy pause in your day. I certainly welcome you to take your place by the flames, but I realize it might trickier to do for some of you out in reader land. But, don’t despair. I bring you the next best thing…your own virtual fireplace. I’ve captured a full five minutes of the Pfister fire for you, and I dare you to find a finer videotaped hearth anywhere. You’ll hear the lovely lobby lounge bartender and I bantering 25 seconds in, which I would say is probably 37 seconds before my eyes were firmly shut. I hope you enjoy the next five minutes of calm. And don’t be afraid to put your feet to the fire. Warm piggies are one of the better things in life on a chilly winter day.


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Meet The Bloody Mary Elf

I have recently written about my encounters with innocent children at the finest Santa breakfast in the land, thumb a meal that helped remind me that Christmas is all about kids. Today I would like to slightly amend that statement because the holidays are also a particularly special time when adults are filled with the spirit.

Take the spirit vodka for instance. You can’t make a good Bloody without it.

During my visit to the breakfast to end all Santalands at the Pfister this past weekend, sovaldi sale I witnessed a delightful phenomenon occur involving the parents and guardians of many of the exuberant tikes who had come to give Santa the straight dope on their wants and needs. In the midst of the scrambled egg and pastry feeding frenzy, I noticed a solo middle aged man saunter through the crowds to his family’s breakfast table carrying precious cargo in his hands. He was not balancing a buffet plate with sausage links stacked like cord wood as you might expect of that sort of a dad type. Instead he had hunted down his own Yuletide treat – a towering Bloody Mary.

As the smartest adult in the room settled in to crunch on a celery stick slick with spicy, boozy tomato juice, the eyes of others in the room whose height is measured in feet rather than inches looked dreamily at his better alternative to grapefruit juice. Then slowly, one by one, many of the elders in the room started to disappear and then reappear minutes later with their own fully stuffed Bloody Marys. Soon the ratio of hot chocolate to vodka-based drinks in the room was balanced and both kids and adults had their own distinct reasons to call this “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Watching this silent Bloody Mary train chug along, I thought of the busy bar staff in the Lobby Lounge who I imagined were mixing and fixing these elaborate cocktails as fast as you can say “a little moderate day drinking will always jingle my bells.” It certainly was a tall order for a Saturday morning, what with the secret hotsy totsy mix needing plenty of celery, pickle and other delish garnish.

A short time after leaving Breakfast with Santa, I found myself down in the Lobby Lounge. Val was indeed busy behind the bar mixing Bloody Marys and pouring short beer backs. Two folks in red running gear had a place at the bar and were enjoying some refreshing Mimosas. The female of the pair noticed a woman across the lobby, and shouted to her.

“Did you make it upstairs in one piece with the Bloody Mary?”

The woman gave a thumbs up and waved a show of thanks. And then it hit me. A Bloody Mary train needs its own conductor, and this lady in the red tracksuit was it.

I introduced myself, shook her hand and explained the phenomenon of the sudden appearance of happy adults holding classic brunch drinks at Breakfast with Santa. I asked her if she had had something to do with that drink dance. The lady admitted that she had given a hand with the stacking of garnish and had offered an assist to the woman she had just checked in with as she had teetered across the lobby with a full drink.

Now here’s the part of the story that I would very much like you to believe is magic. When I talk to folks at the Pfister, I ask permission to tell about our encounter, and I always, without fail, write down their names in a small notebook I keep tucked in the breast pocket of my suit jacket. When I went back to that notebook to get the woman’s name so I could insert it in this story and give some attribution to this good soul who had shown herself to be a true believer in enabling a little light morning buzz, the page that had contained her name was missing from my notebook.

You might think that I lost the page after having a few pre-noon nips myself, but the only sauce that goes in my gullet is black, steamy, and java jiving all the way. I call “Christmas Miracle!” on this one (allowing of course for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, that page had been ripped from my notebook and wrapped around a piece of chewed gum that had lost its flavor).

The lady in question and her male companion had come from a morning fun run downtown and were relaxing with their champagne cocktails in true holiday decompression mode. I would like to give credit where credit is due, but I’ll simply accept the magical Christmas moment and crown this service-oriented woman as The Bloody Mary Elf. And believe me, Elf on the Shelf ain’t got anything on this sister.

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A Global Union

Admit it…when you think of families coming together to enjoy the holidays, ambulance your mind has a better than average chance of wandering to images of a mother, dad and children who all have the same color skin and look like they share some DNA. Throw in a good dash of wool and a roaring fire, and it’s a painting that Norman Rockwell himself could have created.

After meeting some new friends at the Pfister finishing their holiday lunch next to the fireplace in the lounge, check I’m happy to add another image of familial harmony to the old grey matter. My mind will now invariably start wandering towards the charming image of a Norse father, a Finnish mother and their two delightful Chinese daughters.

Setting out to start their holiday celebration, Hallgeir, the dad, and Marja, the mom, had put together a day of fun with their daughters Juliette and Claudia that had started with a trip to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. I had the pleasure of meeting the family as seven-year-old Juliette and nine-year-old Claudia were finishing once full lunch plates. There were no phones on the tables, no tablets distracting this scene of togetherness, just a foursome full of inquisitive looks and open ears.

Hallgeir and Marja landed in Milwaukee from Norway and Finland respectively and both work at the Medical College of Wisconsin. They live in nearby Shorewood, and the outing with their daughters was a special treat to experience some peaceful times during the crush of the holidays. The girls were soaking it in like true pros.

“I want to stay here ten days in a row,” said Claudia. Her sister’s cheerful smile confirmed that she was in on that wish. I mentioned to the girls that if they could convince their mom and dad to make an extended stay happen, that they had better take full advantage of our 23rd floor swimming pool. The girls leaned forward a little bit more as I described the pool, certainly dreaming about dips and dives to come.

Marja and Hallgeir looked on at their adopted daughters as we chatted, faces full of the most real and genuine love. I asked Hallgeir what he thought on the girls’ plan to put down some roots for a good long Pfister stay someday in the future. He smiled the smile of all great dads, shrugging his shoulders with the sort of gesture that said, “Sure, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my family.” I bet that’s true, and I bet that if Norman Rockwell were still around, he’d create a masterpiece with this global union.

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Operation Pamper: The Secret Spa Mission

Friday the 13th. 10:55am. Pfister Hotel Lobby Bar. Black Ops Mission engaged. Decompression fluids in process. Relaxation level at Level Orange headed towards Blazing Red.

I was witness to a secret mission at the Pfister this morning. It included a fair dose of intrigue. I never felt in danger as I saw the mission going down, viagra however. There was hardly any dagger, but plenty of cloak. Well, robe, actually.

Seeing three women looking like they’re ready for the weekend to start a little early in the day on a Friday in the Pfister lobby is like a bell going off in my brain that says, “Hey, these ladies probably have a story.” I wasn’t wrong.

I took a seat next to the trio and asked, “What are you ladies celebrating? You look like you’re in a festive mood.” They put in three drink orders, the kind of ones you make when you don’t have to go back to work, and smiled.

“We’re having a little R&R before our spa visit. Just to really relax,” said one of the women. Sounded like a pretty nice Friday to me, so I followed up to see if I could ask them some questions and write about their day.

That’s when eyes started to shift back and forth, questioning looks appeared on their faces, and I started to get the feeling that they thought I was working for some covert operation. Then they landed the deadliest question any writer who talks to people and writes about it fears he or she may hear.

“Uh…where does this go? We need to be careful.”

Now, that’s exactly the sort of response that generates two strong feelings. The first feeling is one that tells you in your tender soul to just leave the ladies be and let them enjoy their day. The second feeling is that one where you’re just not going to stop until you get the full scoop on the nefarious doings potentially going down. I’m weak in the knees when it comes to stories of people doing things they maybe shouldn’t be doing, so my tender soul took a rain check on taking the lead and I kept going with my questions.

I explained to the ladies that I wanted to hear their story and write about it for this very blog. The word “blog” made them open their eyes wide with a look of terror. Looking back at me they had expressions on their faces that sort of said, “You’ve found us! Curses! Drat!”

I asked, “What’s the matter…you playing hooky?” I thought back to all the times a few friends of mine and I might have slipped out of work for an unplanned drink, cookie, or, the granddaddy of them all, afternoon nap. Yeah, I realized that if someone had approached me in those moments wanting to write about my slinking away, I wouldn’t have taken too great of a shine to that proposition.

Immediately, the ladies assured me that they weren’t playing hooky. “No, no! Nothing like that,” said their default spokeswoman. “We just shouldn’t really spread this news around that we’re here right now. It’s sort of a special thing.”

I’d love to tell you that they were all trained ninjas or women on the run from the law, but it seems that there was no soul stirring betrayal happening. The women weren’t employed in some corporate espionage scenario. They just happened to be three great workers who their boss had recognized within their company with a trip to the Well Spa on this particular Friday afternoon.

“We told a little white lie about where we were going to the rest of the people we work with. We didn’t want them to feel bad that it was only the three of us getting to spend the day in the spa.”

I learned more about the who, what and why of how the ladies came to get their afternoon off, but my tender soul finally kicked in. They let me snap a picture of them toasting the day, but I’m not telling any more than that. Yours is a little white lie that I’m happy to keep, ladies. A fine spa mission to you all, and you’re right–your co-workers would have been very jealous of your perfectly divine day. Operation Pamper is a super sneaky success.

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What Would Be Chapter One

I promise you, physician if I ever write a book that weaves together bits and pieces of prose into a narrative that tells a story about the many important and not so important moments I’ve seen, heard and experienced at the Pfister, this would be Chapter One.

The sevenish afternoon lobby lounge so and sos didn’t lift their heads from their draft beers because one of the women was a red head and the other was a brunette. They didn’t even shift their attention from getting a light buzz on before eating the fully expensed porterhouses they would charge to the home office because the terry robes hugged the ladies’ shoulders just right. It wasn’t even just because lady one and lady two were carrying a pair of the biggest cocktails any of the men had ever seen, stuff and that was saying something for a lineup heavy on traveling salesmen.

Truth be told, the casual head turns had to do with the whole package. That packaged deal could have been the start of a classic one-liner. “Two pretty ladies walk through the lobby of a swank hotel in terry cloth robes carrying a pair of perfect Manhattans…” There were literally hundreds of good ways to fill in a good punch line, but none of those would have landed the way the red head and brunette were killing it today.

It was a busy Thursday afternoon, and the front desk had a steady line of arriving guests checking in for a long weekend of work, play and all manner of diversions in between. Accommodation was the name of the game, and luggage was in need of toting as hospitality was served up with a genuine smile and just the right mint on a pillow. That sort of attention to detail required laser focus. Which is why the lightly clothed ladies who might otherwise stick out like some spa perfect sore thumb were not the main attraction on this particular autumn afternoon.

The men at the bar weren’t really even staring at the ladies as they made their slow walk across the lobby. They were a pack of kittens, nary a cad among the toothless middle agers, and too tame to be any sort of leering threat.

The corner of the eye of the home goods salesman from Topeka picked up that the red head had her hair up in a ponytail. He thought that was nice because as he was told and as was true he was basically a nice guy who always did actually finish last.

As the IT rep from Boise reached for a bar napkin to blow his nose, he saw the glimmer of the auburn liquid in the women’s icy rocks glasses and wondered what kind of bourbon was floating their boats. He desperately hoped they were Jim Beamers, not card-carrying members of the cult of Jack Daniels.

Noticing the daintily painted toes that the ladies flaunted on their flip flopped feet, the audit specialist from Nashville made a mental note to check out that sassy color when he got home for his own private spa night. Everyone has secrets.

If there had been spotlight operators working the lobby they surely would have tracked the ladies, hopefully picking them up with a beam of light softened by a gel in some charming shade of pink. For now, however, it was a step, a sip, a step, a giggle, a sip sip, and a sigh, all passing by all the passersby.

Hendricks stood at the farthest corner of the open space watching. It was his customary spot so he could see all there was to see and discreetly attend to anything that needed his carefully taught muted mitigation. He was a suit and tie guy who had long felt naked without at least three layers of cotton between his skin and the reversible belt he wore as part of his daily uniform. One thought pierced his brain as he watched the queens of serenity saunter the crowded space with nary a care for inquiring eyes as they enjoyed the comfort of robes and smart cocktails in public spaces.

“If I loosened my tie in the woods and no one was around to see it, would it make a sound?”

Deep flowed the rivers of the lobby’s steady suit and tie guy.

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Southern Discomfort

I can’t help but overhear the fella at the bar with the full glass of Scotch placed before him at 2:30 in the afternoon on a weekday.

He’s a loud talker, try and the round sounds coming at the end of his sentences tells me that he has enjoyed his fair share of humid summers deep in the South somewhere.

I hear him bellow into his cell phone something about getting back to Memphis. I have no suspicions that this is some conspiracy theory Elvis sighting. Besides, Elvis was never as ear piercingly loud as this fine figure of a man.

The booming Southerner has two hands that are working overtime on this sleepy afternoon. The right hand holds the man’s ever present cell phone, a piece of metal I imagine is growing hotter in his hand as he blathers into it with a good amount of demanding zeal. The left hand is in charge of that Scotch, and by the looks of his grip, that left hand has had a lot of practice as Scotch delivery vehicle.

There are no other guests in the Lobby Lounge–it is a very slow late summer day when the folks who are at work are working and the folks who are at play are in the sun. I wonder if the Man from Memphis would dial it down as he barks about business matters to some unfortunate soul on the receiving end of his call if he found himself surrounded by a gaggle of guests. Something tells me that the answer would be, “Hell no, y’all.”

I’m on the edge of my seat to see if this fellow will start railing so hard about getting business in order that his face will turn the shade of a Memphis summer sunburn. But the Scotch seems to take a little edge off, if only to also take away all ideas in the man’s head that there is a social contract about volume in public spaces that sort of values the idea that cranking the dial up to eleven is a real no-no.

He’s a good show, sort of a modern day Tennessee Williams play with a smart phone. But good old Tennessee couldn’t have ever written a better ending to this Southern gentleman’s business call than what I hear as he wraps up his tirade.

“Get ‘er done! I’m counting on it. Oh, and I love you.”

Was it a trick? Did my ears deceive me? I lean in for more and watch as the man of the hour launches into a succession of similar calls to business associates. It’s the same pattern over and over. Screaming, cajoling, bulldogging, threatening, and then landing the sucker punch.

“Yep, love you. Love ya, I really do. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, and remember I love you. Love, love, love you!”

A rebel yell that trails off into the sounds of hearts and cuddly puppy dogs? I think I just saw the South rise again.

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