There is an expression in Las Vegas. Sometimes when a gambler wins a hand, someone (usually the gambler himself) shouts out loud for all to hear, “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner.” The origins of this idiom are not completely clear, but if you click here you can read about it. Several years ago I was involved in a bet that included dinner, but was I a winner? That, I will let you decide.
My wife Emily is fairly straight-laced. I mean this only in the very best way possible. Her social history consists of: one boyfriend in high school that ended very badly, one boyfriend in college who is now a priest… and me. Of course there is more to each of these stories, but facts are facts, right?
As many of you know, my wife is an Intensive Care Pediatrician, and when you work overnight shifts in a hospital, you often end up in some pretty strange and revealing conversations in the wee hours of the night.
One day after a run of 3 + days in a row, Emily came home and said, “you know that hospital wedding we’re going to next week? Well I made a bet, and we’re gonna get a free dinner out of it, but I need your help.”
It turns out, in the pre-dawn hours one of the mornings, she found herself in a conversation with several nurses, and a surgeon friend named Jay. The subject of the chatter wound its way around, and ended up on the topic of tattoos. While all those present were discussing their varied tattoo stories, my wife chimes in with, “I could get a tattoo.”
This statement was met with both stunned silence and (briefly held back) gut busting laughter/snorting/guffawing. Offended by the idea that a tattoo was beyond her scope of coolness, Emily wound up betting the surgeon a dinner out, that she could get a temporary tattoo and place it in such a location that his wife Bonnie (a similarly straight-laced lawyer) would both notice, and be shocked by at the wedding.
The terms of the bet were simple:
- Emily would get the tattoo
- Neither of us were to speak of it
- Bonnie would have to both notice, and remark about it to Jay before the end of the evening
With only two days to go before the wedding, Emily put me in charge of obtaining the tattoo that would do the job.
The wedding was on a Saturday, so on Friday evening I headed to the mall to get a new sport coat for myself, and the bet-winning tattoo. I first went and purchased the jacket, since my “albatross arms” usually require some alteration. I was right, and the tailor at Men’s Warehouse said he’d have it done in an hour. Perfect, just the right amount of time for an Orange Julius, and tattoo shopping.
It is important to picture that this is summer time in Rochester NY, and I am wearing pleated khaki shorts, some kind of polo shirt and loafers with no socks.
The basic suburban preppy white guy summer uniform.
First I went to Spencer Gifts where among the strobe lights and soft-core sex toys I found several temporary tattoo options. Looking through them, not one screamed “winner,” so I moved on, knowing I could return if I failed elsewhere.
Traversing the mall, I purchased the Orange Julius I’d promised myself and continued my search. I walked up and down every spoke of the mall, and then through the spray of a rainbow fountain I saw it… Hot Topic.
Truth be told, I’d never darkened the doorway of a Hot Topic in my life… not because I was afraid or anything like that, but rather because I hadn’t had the need, until now.
I entered the store and started looking around. It was clear to me I was in the right place given what I was seeing, but after sifting through all the racks of, um, products, I saw no temporary tattoos.
So I did what any other self-respecting man should never do, I stood in line to inquire with the clerk behind the counter.
There was only one person in line ahead of me so, I stood patiently sucking on my straw of frozen cream-sicley goodness, waiting for my turn. Just as I inhaled a particularly large mouthful of Julius, the transaction ahead of me concluded and it was my turn.
I began to experience a horrific brain freeze, finding myself face to face with an early twenty-something young lady, with facial adornments that amounted to a TSA agent’s worst nightmare. Trying not to tear up, I guess I took too long to say something and having no items in my hands to purchase, she gave me a pretty hairy eye roll and said, “can I like help you… or something?”
Regaining my ability to speak, I eeked out “Um, yeah. Do you guys have temporary tattoos?”
In a look that quickly shifted from indifference to hostile, she pulled up one of here sleeves and said “Um, our customers have like real tattoos, sooo, No.”
Although not heard by my ears I did pick up a secondary vibe from her that sounded something like “go back to the Apple store preppy boy.” I quickly left.
By now an hour had gone by so I picked up my jacket, and headed back to Spencer’s where I purchased a sheet of temporary tattoos all in that faded dark purple color that all black tattoos eventually become.
The next morning, Emily applied a mystical looking sun to her calf just above the ankle.
The wedding was great, and we went with some friends who don’t drink, so we did our level best to make sure the father of the bride got his money’s worth out of the open bar he was paying for.
Sometime between dinner and dancing, Jay came over to our table and said, “not sure how you did it, but Bonnie saw the tattoo and couldn’t believe it. You guys win!”
For a fake it was pretty convincing, but about six months later, Jay and Bonnie moved to Virginia and I’m still waiting for my winnings.
So, the free dinner was as fraudulent as the tattoo. Jay is an excellent surgeon, and I would bet my kid’s life on his skills, but it looks like I’ll starve waiting for him to produce my “Winner-Winner, Chicken Dinner.”
Copyright © 2018 – Stephen S. Nazarian – All rights reserved