Thursday, March 01, 2007

Chutes and Ladders

When we got into the elevator to go up to McDougal's suite on the top floor of the Bellagio, the car's cables groaned excessively. I hate riding on elevators with the big man, since he always flirts with the weight limit all on his own. Another would-be passenger was waiting nearby, and I tried to discreetly wave him off, but he apparently didn't see, because he squeezed into the elevator with us.

He was a rumpled little balding man in his mid-50s. The type of guy who works long days and spends his evenings in his Bible study group, but he saves up his money so that once a year he can travel to Las Vegas with his wife to really cut loose. By which, I mean eat at the free buffet every night, spend his days photographing all the big hotels on the strip and maybe catch Wayne Newton's show.

As the elevator began its trip up, the little man cleared his throat. I cringed and tried to signal him again, let him know that McDougal is not the type of guy you make small talk with. But since we were on opposite sides of the big man, his view of my gestures was completely obscured.

I tried to will him into silence. "Please don't talk. Please don't talk. Please -- "

"Boy, it's a hot one out there, huh?" he posited.

McDougal turned slowly, gazed down at him and retorted with, "When God comes back to judge the living and the dead, he will judge them on one thing. Do you know what that is?"

He guessed, "Religious piety?"

"Nope," McDougal said.

The man fidgeted for a moment and moved as if to respond again, but McDougal cut him off.

"The size of their cocks."

What seemed like an eternity of silence passed. The man shifted uncomfortably. I could tell he was trying to work up a response. It seemed silence was too much to ask for from this one.

Finally, he looked up at McDougal and asked, "What about the women?"

"They can burn in hell."

I felt like I had to do something. At that moment I was the only person who could save that man. Otherwise, this one elevator encounter would leave him a ruined shell of his former self. I looked up at McDougal, and by the expression on his face I could tell that he was done with this little fellow. I seized the opportunity and leaned forward, peering around McDougal's prodigious belly, and spoke.

"Boy, it's a hot one out there, huh?"

The man looked right into my eyes and with the same stoic delivery we'd just heard from McDougal, he said, "When God comes back to judge the living and the dead, he will judge them on one thing. Do you know what that is?"

It was too late. Oh God, no.

I swallowed hard and said, "Religious piety?"

"Nope," he said.

"Where is he going with this?" I wondered. Then out of left field, came his response ...

"Ejaculate velocity." He announced this sternly just as the bell rang and the door slid open. He exited confidently, shoulders back and head held high.

Jesus Christ, this guy had a pair. I had no idea how McDougal might respond. The man had just deftly countered McDougal's shock line with his own healthy dose of profane banter.

As the doors slid back closed, McDougal chuckled softly.

He turned to me and whispered, "At first I thought he said 'viscosity.' Now THAT would have been awkward."

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