Drew from Oklahoma, Part One
This following story now contains a homosexual, gorgeous blonde with an English accent, and homophobic man from Oklahoma City.
After a quick shuttle bus to the Strip, Valentina and I’s plans for the day were sabotaged by two million sparkling crystals and four dirty martinis at the Chandelier bar in the Cosmopolitan hotel. Downing back the last sips of vodka and gin, we reasoned that twelve olives did not a dinner make. And so, leaving one expensive bar tab behind, we stumbled across Las Vegas Boulevard in search of dinner.
Rumour had it there was an Italian restaurant east of Flamingo and north of Bally’s that served free bottomless house wine if you sat down at a table. Naturally it was our first stop.
Opening the front door to the restaurant, the story checked out when the line-up spilled on to the parking lot. Pushing and prodding our way to the hostess stand, Valentina made a b-line to the bar as soon as we learned the wait for a table was pushing ninety minutes.
“For two please,” I asked the hostess, politely.
“Fox, Rugged Fox,” I said, handsomely.
“Just when you thought you’d heard it all.”
Arriving at the bar, I was delighted to find my gorgeous date with an empty seat beside her and a bottle of Pinot Grigio chilling in front. Inspired by such miraculous efficiency, I paused for a moment to let a single tear run down my cheek.
The story of Valentina and I began four years ago at the Meatball Hut. Dressed in manager clothes at the time, I was pleased as fruit punch to meet the newest addition to our serving team. Half-Italian, half-British and absolutely fabulous, Valentina was new to Vancouver after living in every other major city on the planet. Dazzled by her charm and blinded by her wit, I knew the two of us would kick it off as soon as I discovered we both loved: shiny objects, drinking bubbles and living life like we were always on a stage. There was no question in my mind that she would make the perfect date to Vegas.
Taking a seat and a toast, the two of us decided to make friends with complete strangers (as one does) and introduced ourselves to Drew from Oklahoma, who at this point in the story, was simply known as the man to our right.
“This place is nuts!” I shouted to him.
“It is the best Italian food I have ever had!” he exclaimed.
“Where are you from?” Valentina yelled over the noise.
“Oklahoma City, and you?”
“Vancouver!” the two of us replied in unison.
Dressed in a blue-collar grey business suit with a mahogany tie and sipping a Bud Lite, Drew turned out to be just as harmless as his outfit. Engrossing ourselves in conversation, Valentina and I invited him to join us for dinner when we heard our names called over the loud speaker.
“I would love that,” he acquiesced.
Squeezing into a four-top dressed in red and white checkered table cloth, two bottomless carafes of wine appeared like magic before us. Raising a toast to new friends and free wine, we sat back and listened to Drew as he lit up describing his favourite dishes on the menu. Never before have you seen a man go into such depth about a chicken parmesan and surprise dessert.
When the breadsticks and appetizers arrived, we picked up our conversation from where we had left off. It turned out that Drew was roughly our age and married with two children. He had an aversion to lasagna, a love for practicing law and an underlying feeling that Oklahoma City was too small. When the tables turned and it was our turn to dish, our casual banter came to a screeching halt.
“So how long have you two been married?” Drew asked.
“Us? Married? Heck no!” I replied taking a bite from my starter green salad. “Val here has got a handsome man back at home and I am as gay as they come.”
If at that moment, ten-thousand dinner plates smashed and the kitchen set on fire you would never know it by the deafening silence that just joined our table.
Looking slowly up to Drew, I watched as the cordial smile on his lips twisted into disgust and fear.
“You know Rugged, these tomatoes are really quite sad,” Valentina said, oblivious to what was going on. “Now pass me another breadstick won’t you, this lettuce is drowning in oil.”
“Val love,” I said, placing my hand gently on her arm, “I think our friend Drew here might be just about to leave us.”
“But whatever for? We are much too fabulous to be left.”
“I suspect that is the point. I don’t think Drew here is too fond of the gays.”
“Well now that is ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as this salad.”