Houston, We Have a Problem

Two summers ago, I had to travel to Houston, TX for work. It was a miserable trip. It was hot, it was long, and I didn’t know anyone. However, the first night of the trip took a very interesting turn after having my dinner in the hotel bar. I realized today that I have never written about that night. It was so unbelievable, I figured I should document it for posterity here.

As for any work trip, the best place to start to figure out your new home city for the next few days is to chat up the hotel bartender. They know everything you need to know about the town as well as the business trip regulars who frequent their bartops. Being a single woman who often goes out on her own, I can say that the bartender is always your best friend. You can’t go wrong. Just be sure to tip well, and you are gold. Trust me – their knowledge is worth the extra money.

After my first cocktail, a nice guy sat down next to me. The bartender knew him as he comes to town about once a month for a contracting gig. After striking up a conversation, he offered to take me to a really good Tex-Mex restaurant. I was hesitant at first, but the bartender indicated that he was harmless, so I agreed. We arrived at the restaurant the the owner greeted him quickly with an enthusiastic greeting. I took that as a good sign. Food and drinks flowed and it was a very enjoyable meal. When the time came to close out the bill, I was informed that it was on the house and he would not accept any payment.

He asked if I would like to go to a local club with him. I was pretty tipsy at this point, and a bit hesitant to continue the evening. But, I decided one drink can’t hurt. We arrived at the “club” but it really looked like just a building. No real sign, no advertisement, just a parking lot and a blank white door. After we entered the front entrance way, there was a little booth. He approached the glass window and exchanged some words with the woman running admission. We were then ushered through another doorway into the club.

I was taken aback immediately as it appeared to be some underground strip club. I had never been to a strip club before, let alone some speakeasy type of place, so I was a little nervous. Yet, everyone seemed to be very comfortable with him so I relaxed a little bit. It was fun for the most part. I got to talk to some of the waitresses who were exceptionally friendly. The dancers were really entertaining and put on a good show.

I was trying to enjoy myself and not focus on the fact that this was becoming much more uncomfortable as the night continued. But then, things quickly escalated. He apparently got “nosy” and “pushy” trying to get into a back room where some high stakes poker game was going on. I’ve seen Good Fellas. I’ve had “uncles” that weren’t really my uncles at all of my various events growing up. I KNOW the code. But all of a sudden, I saw a bunch of angry Italian men speaking like my Great Grandpa did when he didn’t want us to know what he was saying and I knew – It was time to save yourself. I ingratiated myself to the waitresses and explained that I didn’t really know this man. They took up for me and he was ejected, while the kind waitresses and bartenders called me a cab to go back to my hotel.

It could have turned out better or worse, but either way, it was an adventure and I can still look back on it and laugh.

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