It started when I asked Dealin' Doug to my recent housewarming party -- in this very column. I said he should come by, maybe don the Superman outfit he occasionally rocks in commercials, sign a few autographs, have a few beers and a few laughs, chat about the Rockies, what have you. It was an open invite.
The party went great. We absolutely murdered a keg, ripped through numerous bottles of the hard stuff -- and the house did not burn to the ground. Outside of my drunken kleptomaniac friend stealing my red Mexican wrestler mask and guiltily confessing to it three days later, the bash was an unbridled success. Except that Dealin' Doug didn't show. And that embarrassed me. Everywhere I turned at my party, people were asking, "Where's Doug?" "How come you couldn't get Dealin' Doug to come?" "I only came to get an autograph from Dealin' Doug." "That mural you painted on the fence of kittens skiing on cotton-candy mountains is not only retarded, but quite poorly done." Until I was like, "Enough. I get it. I don't have enough pull in this city to land Dealin' Doug. I'm a fake. I'm a liar. And when I want your critique of my kitten mural, I'll ask for it."
But then I came to work the Monday after my party, and what should appear in my inbox? An e-mail from Dealin' Doug himself. Were I able to afford a band of mariachi trumpeters to herald momentous times in my life, I would have summoned them. As it was, I had to celebrate with Mentos. In the letter, Doug thanked me for the invite but informed me that I should know better than to expect him at a party scheduled the same night as a Rockies game. Touché, Doug, touché. He also said that he enjoyed the piece and would like to buy me a drink sometime. It took me all of six and a half seconds -- I timed it -- to write back, "Fuck yes. When? How?" Doug then followed up with a voice-mail message, in which he explained that he's not an e-mail guy, "more of a phone man," that he would be having drinks after the Rockies' final home game last Thursday at the Keg, and that I was welcome to swing by.
What do you wear when meeting Dealin' Doug for the first time? If you've been at work all day, should you go home and shower? Should you wear cologne? Would he think it funny if you showed up in a Superman outfit? These thoughts raced through my mind, but eventually I realized that no effort would be enough, so I just headed for the Keg and hoped for the best.
Doug was seated at a table with four of his friends, longtime buddies who are also business associates. One guy was mid-story, so I hovered awkwardly for a moment or two before introducing myself to Doug. He stood up, shook my hand -- and all I could see were the gold rings. Ten gold rings, one on every dealin' finger. If Doug ever got angry, those things would leave somebody's face little more than a dimpled golf ball. But Doug wasn't angry, he was jovial, and he welcomed me to the table. His friends gave him the standard shit about the column, laughing at their boy, and then one of them said to me, "Hell, I didn't realize you were so young. If we had known you were a young guy, we would have gone to your housewarming party for the ladies!" This brought the house down, needless to say, with guffaws and back slaps all around -- and like that, the ice was broken. Doug and I chatted about his family, baseball, a trip to Chicago, but you never remember the details in these situations. Ask anyone who met the Dalai Lama at PeaceJam, and they'll tell you that what they remember most is not what was said, but the aura of the man. Ditto Dealin' Doug.
But like that, it was over. After fifteen minutes, Doug excused himself, said he and I should try to catch a game next season (expect a call one month prior to opening day), and then left me with half a Fat Tire and his four drinking buddies. The conversation after that was awkward at times, I'll admit it. Three of these guys were fifty-something men with enough money to buy and sell me wearing whatever superhero outfit they deemed appropriate, and I was a moppy-haired hipster who paints kitten murals. Our love of Doug was our only common ground. But that was enough.
And as I sat there in the Keg with Doug's buddies, drinking a beer and stuffing down nachos, I thought to myself, man, this is living. Nobody beats that Dealin' Doug. Nobody.