A Nearly Religious Experience

Redemption wasn't on our minds when we hit the Falcon House

Before I could work out the contradictions of that statement, she was joined by Brant, who casually wrapped an arm around her.

"She's being too cute for me to meet anyone. Everyone thinks we're together," Brant complained, his arm still around her. I might have suggested that draping himself on a pretty lady isn't the best way to meet another one, but perhaps that's because I wasn't privy to the secrets of picking up in a nonpickup place.

After midnight, when my friend Kim arrived, the two of us claimed a high top next to Reggie, 35, a computer support technician, and his 30-year-old buddy Justin, a mortgage broker from Tennessee. Through some half-yelled, half-understood conversation, I learned they had attended a high school basketball game.

Tony Gleeson

"My cousin's really good," Reggie boasted. "He's gonna be pro." I nodded politely.

"No, really, he's gonna be a pro," Reggie repeated emphatically.

When he gestured to a group of black guys who had been loitering, empty-handed, outside and indicated they were with him, I figured they were the high school ballers, too young to come inside.

"Nope, not enough black people in the club," he corrected.

I bounced outside to meet the up-and-coming sports icon.

"So which one of you is the basketball star?" I asked.

But in a flash, Reggie was there reprimanding me: "Why you gotta stereotype? Why not ask which one is the future programming genius?"

Uh, my bad?

In the dance music's din, I'd misunderstood. None of these guys was his cousin; they were just his buddies.

Before Reggie and his crew rolled out, he performed a spoken-word piece he'd composed about "the almighty true and living King." Afterward, he proselytized some more: "You can only 'metamorph' if you know Jesus Christ. And I bet you thought I was just gonna hit on you."

Religious spiel in the nightclub? Hadn't I heard this somewhere before? Wait, he couldn't be blowing me off?

"I'm in hell," I concluded when I reported back to Kim, who offered another drink to dull the pain of my damnation.

As little flames danced in the votives on the tables, I noticed that Brant had finally met a woman who wasn't Stacey and that Stacey had met a man who wasn't Brant. At the end of the bar, a group of women lost their religion while following 2 Live Crew's instructions: "Just shake that ass, bitch, and let me see what you got."

I sipped my salvation as Dan, a 31-year-old vegetarian and Falcon House chef, gave his confession: "I don't eat meat, but I do have to taste it." He said it like he was rationalizing his sin in the manner of sexually active teenagers who consider themselves virgins because blowjobs and backdoor action, in their minds, don't count.

It was a blessing when the lights came up at 2 a.m. and the bar's signature closing song — Tenacious D's "Fuck Her Gently" — offered the bliss of original sin as a recessional.

I never heard an amen.

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