Do you ever step back and wonder how you got into a certain situation? I do, constantly. I review and analyze, and, yet, it keeps happening.
Here I am now - sitting at a 12-top table in the Rangeman first floor conference room, surrounded by a seemingly random group of Trenton's finest and not-so-finest.
Why, you might ask? Well, that's a long story. The senior center was hosting a poker tournament at the VFW tonight, and lots of people agreed to play. It had a shockingly high turnout. I agreed to play, despite my pitiful bank account balance, because Rangeman bought 10 seats and had extras. I was holding my own, having survived the first consolidation and then the second. Drinks, donated by - you guessed it - Rangeman, were flowing. People were having fun, those still in the game and those losers lingering for free drinks.
Then, out of nowhere, the seniors put on an unannounced show, one that was supposed to mirror a kind of cabaret show. One of them dropped a cigarette, igniting a small fire, causing the overhead sprinklers to turn on, and the fire department to come rushing in with giant hoses.
The cascade of water washed away all the cards and chips, making it impossible to continue the tournament. Most people went home, some disappointed and some too drunk to care. But a small group, still in awe of the night's events, stayed.
That was my group. I stood there with Joe, Eddie, Mary Lou, Valerie, Mooner, Sally, Ranger, Tank, Lula, Lester, Cal, and a blonde I didn't know but supposedly came with Les.
Someone suggested playing some more poker, and we ended up walking the two blocks to Rangeman. Everyone knows Ranger guards his privacy, including his building, carefully, but he did agree to let our group onto the first floor and to open up the well-stocked conference room bar.
We all helped ourselves, and took a seat. Fortunately, for all of us except Tank, Lula decided to sit ON Tank, giving the rest of us each a seat.
Lack of poker chips thwarted our game, and I'm not sure how we ended up playing Truth or Dare. But we did. And here we are now.
I must be getting old and mellow. Or I'm drunk. I'm sitting in Ranger's building - not serving him with a fucking warrant - but playing Truth or Dare. And drinking what I'm sure is $100 a bottle vodka. Weirder shit has happened in my life, but this will hover around the top of the list.
I tried not to cringe when I heard Steph's sister Valerie say my name.
"Okay, Joe. You're up. Truth or Dare?"
Well, shit. The Morelli family is always the subject of gossip, and we don't have a lot of secrets left. Answering a question seems easy enough.
Tapping her finger against her lips, as though she was thinking deep thoughts, Val finally gave me my question. "How many people in this room have you engaged in some sexual act with?"
What? For real? "What counts as a sexual act? Kissing?"
"If you do it right."
Okay. Bitch. "Four."
I see Stephanie looking around the room, counting. She looks perplexed.
"Now you pick someone, Joe."
Great. I'm still up.
"Mooner. Truth or Dare?"
"Dude. I'll take truth. It's the way of the universe."
"How high are you? Geez."
"High as the moon. I pick Lula."
What? That was my turn? Oh fuck it.
"I pick Dare, because I can do anything!"
Mooner told me to spin around 10 times, lift my arms in the air over my head like a ballerina, and then do a somersault.
"No problem. I'm real flexible." Off I went, spinning, arms up, and over and around on the ground.
"Whew! That was something!" I looked around and noticed everyone's mouth was hanging opened. It must have really been something!
"I pick White Girl."
I'm still in shock over Lula's acrobatics. I don't think she knows her spandex skirt ripped in the back when she was positioning herself for her somersault, or that her left boob briefly popped out.
"Ummm, wow, Lula, that was really good."
But no way am I doing that. "I'll take Truth."
"Damn straight! Okay, if you had one night left before the world exploded, who would you want to spend it with?"
Ugh. "One person?"
"Yep, unless you're into them orgies."
"No. Well ... if I had one person and it was the last night, I'd pick ..."
"Come on, Beautiful, go ahead and say it - it's me, isn't it?"
"No, Les, it's not you. Although I'm sure I'd miss you." And you earned that smack from your "date," I thought.
"I'd pick Ranger." I wasn't surprised my admission was met with hoots and hollers from around the table.
"Babe." I'm totally sure that means he'd pick me too.
"Okay, I pick Eddie. Truth or Dare?"
I'm off duty, drunk, and sitting at a conference table between a cross dresser and Batman. Steph must be rubbing off on me.
What the hell. "Dare."
"Take your pants off and run to the park across the street, go down the slide, and run back."
"That's a kids park."
"It's 11:00. No kids are out. Chicken?"
So that's why I'm standing and shivering in the lobby in my boxer shorts about to jog to a playground to go down a slide, while a group of ass clowns watched.
Five minutes later, I'm back in my seat but now I just have jeans on and no boxers because I slid in dog shit at the park.
"I pick Mary Lou."
Mary Lou -
"Oooh. I pick Dare! Fun!" I downed my shot in celebration!
And I got a scavenger hunt of sorts! Eddie gave me 10 minutes to find 3 items in the building - not in this room - that didn't belong to either Rangeman or a building resident. And I got to talk to one person before my time started for one minute, and then I was on my own.
I picked Ranger, of course, because he owns the building! He gave me his key fob and told me a few things, and gave me a stern direction to stay off the 5th floor where actual work was occurring.
I managed to use the fob to go to the 7th floor and was greeted by a scary guy when I stepped out of the elevator. I almost peed my pants!
I told Scary Guy that Ranger gave me his fob and waved it around for him to see. He nodded and went back down the stairs.
I only saw one other door so I scanned the fob over the thing, and tried the door. I did a little booty shake when it opened.
I looked around in awe and envy at this place! It was soooo nice! And it smelled soooo good!
I looked down at the timer watch Eddie had given me and yelped when I saw half my time gone.
Moving it, I headed toward what I assumed was the bedroom, allowing myself only 10 seconds to stare at the bed and dream, before searching out the closet. I hit jackpot in the closer dresser, finding a Rangeman thong, and in the bathroom, finding strawberry shampoo and a hot pink razor.
Grabbing my stuff, and pausing again for 10 more seconds of dreams, I ran out, into the elevator, and crossed the conference room threshold with 20 seconds to spare.
"I'm here! I did it!"
Eddie said, "Hang on; let's see what you got."
I showed off my 3 items. Everyone looked at Steph, who just shrugged.
Joe had to pipe in, "Wait, how do we know the underwear doesn't belong to Ranger? I never saw those on Stephanie before."
Ranger, not taking the bait, just snorted.
"Okay, okay. Mary Lou passes."
I looked around the room. "I pick Sally!"
"I pick Dare!"
Mary Lou gave me my dare, and I was pumped. I've been meaning to do this anyways!
So I gathered up the shampoo and razor and went to the first floor bathroom. Ten minutes later, I emerged freshly shaven, with legs as smooth as a baby's.
"Rock on, dudes!"
I picked Cal, because he has a giant skull on his head and looks like a badass!
I couldn't take my eyes off of Sally's glistening legs. I'm not gay, but they sure are sparkly. I wasn't taking the chance that I'd have to shave my legs - I'd NEVER live that down. And it would screw up my badass persona.
"Here goes - did you cry when you got that tattoo on your forehead done?"
Ha! Suckers. "Nope." I was so drunk, I didn't feel a thing. But they don't need to know that.
"Okay, Bambi. You're up." Yep, Lester brought a date named Bambi.
I smiled, and a giggle escaped. "Oooh. I'll do a dare." I hope it involves Lester.
After looking around the room, Cal gave me my task. And it requires Lester's participation! Yay!
I waited for Lester to put Steph's Rangeman thong on - over his pants - and got ready. I had one minute to get them off him without using my hands. Well, duh, I'm using my teeth!
I got down on my knees and gently tugged with my teeth. After about 10 seconds, I realized dainty wasn't getting it done, so I started really clamping down and pulling. After a few good pulls, they tore apart. I'm pretty sure Cal intended for me to pull them down, but I accomplished the dare in my own way.
I smile up at Lester, who is looking at Ranger strangely. Ranger smirked back.
I am sooo picking Lester.
I want to know where Ranger got that thong. I'm considering what he and Steph do up on 7, and getting turned on. They just tore apart - with her teeth. That's a 'must have' item.
"Alright, Bambi. Truth!"
She giggled again. I like a little giggling, in moderation. But she's stacked, so she has some leeway.
"Soooo, Lester. What's your biggest sexual fantasy?"
What? For real? I'm going to have to lie at the Truth game; otherwise, I'll be dead. I cut my eyes to Ranger, who is staring at me - hard. Does he know my recurring fantasy about Beautiful? No way.
"Well, Bambi, why don't we take this upstairs in a little while and we can act it out?"
That was met with a chorus of "cheater!" and "that's not fair!" complaints.
"Okay. My fantasy involves a woman, whipped cream, peanut butter, handcuffs, and two pillows. Then, you take the peanut butter and ... "
That was met with another chorus of "enough!" and "stop!"
Whew, I survived that. Live to see another day. And maybe a day with Beautiful and peanut butter ...
My turn. I'm picking Valerie because she looks kind of hot tonight.
"Truth or Dare, Sister Plum?"
Valerie, not used to Lester-quality flirtation, stumbled a little. "Dare."
I can't get the image of me and Lester rolling around a bed covered in peanut butter and whipped cream out of my head. So I said "dare" and now I'm stuck with it.
Lester's dare required me to give one guy a striptease, down to my bra and underwear. I know I turned beet red at the thought.
Most of the guys were either paired up (whether they admitted it or not) or related to me, leaving Cal, Joe, of Sally. And I have a hard time thinking of Sally as a guy since he so often wears skirts. That left me with Joe or Cal.
Downing my whiskey, I decided to take on a childhood crush and strip for Joe Morelli. I did get them to agree for everyone but us to leave the room.
Lester looked a little dejected, but surely that wasn't right. Was he expecting me to pick him? Hmm.
They filtered out. Lester left his phone playing some song I'd never heard before, and I stood there staring at the floor.
Joe looked a little uncomfortable too, which gave me courage. "I've got a lot of layers on. It's cold out."
He smiled and pushed his chair out and back some. I started with my sweater, and he tugged me closer by the loops of my jeans. That gave me more courage and, before I knew it, I was straddling Joe in my bra and thong. He seemed okay with it, as his hands were cupping my ass. He was just leaning in - to kiss me, I'm think! - when Lester knocked and stuck his head in.
He hooted, and yelled I had 30 seconds to get my clothes on before they all came in!
Well, this was one for the books!
Once everyone was seated again, I looked around the room. I was too chicken to pick Ranger, so I picked Tank.
I picked Truth. I'm not shaving, or biting, or stripping.
Valerie asked me to share my real name. Shit - I might have rather shaved my legs. Only a handful of people knew this information, and Ranger and Les were two of them.
Someone choked. If I find out who, I'm gonna kill them.
"You're up, Boss."
I looked at Pierre...er, Tank, to analyze and try to predict his next actions. He'd had some drinks, but wasn't drunk.
He was studying me, too.
"Truth or Dare, Ranger?"
I raised an eyebrow at him. He squinted slightly.
He nodded. "I dare you to pick one person - any person - and get down on one knee and propose."
I heard little gasps around me, but I didn't break eye contact with Tank. That asshole - my best friend - knows there's a 50/50 shot I've got a diamond ring in my pocket. After a few seconds, I stood up and started to walk around the table.
When I got to Babe, I knelt by her chair and looked up at her smiling face. I know she thinks this is fun and games. I kept my eyes on her when I reached into my pocket and pulled out a box, and saw her eyes widen. "Stephanie, Babe, I love you, enough to do this during a stupid game, in front of your idiot friends. This is real. You're it for me, and I've known it since we met. Will you marry me?"
I waited, because this Babe I'm dealing with, and she'll want to process it and make sure it's real. It didn't take long, and she sprung towards me. "Yes!"
What just happened? Ranger and I weren't even officially dating, but now we're getting married?! It's perfect, because we've danced around this for so long.
I guess strange situations work out every once in a while. No need to review and analyze. A truth and a dare got us to where we need to be.