Sound easy? It never is. Maybe I’m just not dangerous enough. I could probably get a gang of guys together if I said we were going to book a day-long trip to Pittsburgh’s best strip clubs.
But that’s never been my idea of cool because I’m a fairly chatty guy. If a naked woman slides up to me in a bar that’s pulsing with music by the artist who was formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince, she’s likely to pose me the question, “Are you feeling hot?”
Most guys will pant, “Yeah, baby!”
I’ll say, “Well, this print shirt is a comfortable cotton-polyester blend. Today’s forecast calls for mild temperatures with low humidity, so, no, I’m not hot. If you, wearing nothing but that immodest little G-string flossing your tattooed derriere, are feeling warm then you might be coming down with Swine Flu.”
I already have access to a fine naked woman. She’d probably agree with the stripper that I talk too much and do too little, but my wife would be referring to common household chores and not randy action.
At least I hope that’d be her only complaint.
My idea of a really cool time is a long day in downtown Pittsburgh cheering the home teams, hitting lively bars and enjoying a really fine cigar with my buddies.
So I was disappointed when none of my friends agreed to join me Saturday for a day that involved a crucial Pittsburgh Penguin playoff game and the NFL draft. The excuses were universally lame and reminded me of my songwriting buddy Quinn Fallon and his lyrical lament about the sad decline of guys who used to be nothing but fun.
“These are dark days for black sheep.”
I was undaunted. If I lived in any city in the planet, I could find a Pittsburgh bar and make friends the way Detroit used to make sports cars.
I know I can make them in the city that has thousands of great Pittsburgh bars filled with great Pittsburghers.
I thought I’d start with the cigar in a little place that would certainly be on the list when anyone’s debating the coolest places in the city. On Saturdays the regulars fill maybe a dozen donated refugee easy chairs and cloud the room with thick aromatic smoke.
I stepped into the enormous humidor and nosed around until I found a robust Dominican that looked like a policeman’s night stick. It would occupy me for an hour’s worth of idleness. Upon returning to the smoke-filled sitting room, I blinked through the haze. There off in the distance I spied something surprising.
Could it be? Were those what I thought they were?
There were four of them (breasts, not women). It caught me by surprise because I’ve been going there on and off for years and have never once seen a single boob in the place -- and by boob I’m extending the definition to the customers. Doctors, judges, executives -- cigar stores attract a classy clientele.
It would be wrong to say the two girls were strippers, at least they weren’t for this sunny afternoon. They weren’t performing. They weren’t dancers either. The Pens were on TV and only the most creative dancers could writhe suggestively to the color commentary of guys like Eddie Olczyk.
It was a harmonious coincidence that during this Earth Day week these girls were hybrids. They made friendly with the customers. They walked around suggestively. They didn’t hold lit cigars, but they were truly smoking.
They wore short tight black dresses from which they would capriciously liberate their breasts as if to give them a good airing out. But I’m sure that was not their purpose. Who in the world would go to a smoke-filled cigar store to air out breasts?
There were a bunch of men’s magazines on the tables and I thought about telling the girls I’ve written for Playboy and Maxim, but knew I couldn’t prove it without looking pathetic. So I thought it best for me to just sit there quietly and, well, be observant.
So I sat and listened while the girls talked about pedicures, farm animals and whether men would prefer three breasts on a woman or one really big one (most of the men were traditionalists, but if forced to choose, we opted for the singleton over the trio).
It was a splendid afternoon. As I smoked my cigar down to its bitter butt, I set it in the ashtray and pulled two $10s from my wallet. I gave one to each of the smiling girls.
I turned to the store owner and made a snap judgement, “Thanks for a great afternoon. You, sir, have the coolest place in Pittsburgh.”
And that’s coming from an expert who understands how fabric and meteorology can affect a man’s feel for when things start getting really hot.