Like most of my brilliant ideas, this one was stolen. I can’t recall whether the story ran in Esquire or Southern Lumberman, but some guy wrote about going around, trying to bribe his way past doormen and maitre d’s and the like with a $20 bill. But the other guy did it with the old $20 bill. Now we’ve got the new peach-colored twenty, which is what I used. So, yes, I stole the idea. But I also radically improved it.
My first attempt did not go well. I wanted to see if I could gain access to the Platinum Level at the American Airlines Center during a Mavericks game. I picked an older gentleman guarding an escalator that led to the hallowed halls upstairs. He had a bearing that suggested military training or that special Mormon underwear. As I approached, he greeted me with an unfriendly stare.
“Here ya go,” I said, offering him the folded $20 bill between my index and middle finger.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“My friend Andrew said I wouldn’t have any trouble.”
“You don’t have a ticket?”
“Nope. Just my good friend Andrew,” I said, holding it a bit higher, thinking maybe I hadn’t made myself clear.
“That’s not going to do it,” he said.
Whatever. The Platinum Level is for losers. I wouldn’t sit there if you paid me.
A couple of nights later, a buddy and I went to Candle Room, which, if you don’t know, is a fancy club off Henderson. When Bobby De Niro is in town, that’s where he trolls for erring sisters. It was Thursday, about midnight. No line at the velvet rope.
“Are you guys members?” asked a short guy with a wire stuck in his ear.
This time, I got a little more aggressive with the offer. I held the twenty at waist level and snapped it. “My friend Mr. Jackson”—snap—”said we’d be on the list.”
“That’s a good one,” he said, chuckling. “You know it’s a private club.”
“Oh, I know it’s a private club,” I told him, now bringing the twenty up to eye level. “But I believe Mr. Jackson”—snap-snap—”is a member. And we are very close personal friends of his.”
“I’m sorry. That’s very generous of you to offer, but we can’t take money.”
Candle Room sucks. I wouldn’t hang out in that place if De Niro did Jell-O shots out of my navel.
Next stop: Target. I had bought a three-pack of undershirts at the Medallion location, and I had opened the package before I realized I’d gotten the wrong kind. So, after waiting in line, I told my problem to the 17-year-old kid behind the returns counter.
“I got these shirts here, but they’re crew neck, and that’s no good. I’m transitioning my entire stock of undershirts to the superior v-neck design. But I don’t have a receipt. Can I just exchange them?”
I can’t describe the level of consternation this caused him. There followed much hmming and hurfing on his part as I explained how I’d opened the package of shirts and thrown the cellophane away. I just had the shirts. Nothing else.
“Is that a problem?” I finally asked.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Well,” I said, looking over my shoulder at the others in line, then sliding a twenty across the counter to him, “what does this do for me?”
The kid laughed nervously.
“Aw, I can’t take that,” he said. “I don’t want to get fired. I need this job to graduate.”
Bear in mind that the three-pack of undershirts cost $9.99. A little math suggests that whatever school that kid attends, it sucks more than Candle Room.
You can see where this is headed. I’ve got this $20 bill that no one wants. The next Girl Scout I see is going to get it.