This story, I originally posted on Medium, and I laugh about this during the holidays. So, this is a repost, with updates….
There are three instances so far in my life that apply to those words:
FIRST: The Half Moon Grill Ban
1st: There was the 12 Irish Car Bomb ejection of 2007 from this now defunct bar called the Half Moon Grill. Yes, I had 12 Irish Car Bombs, got smashed during the USC/Nebraska game (did a car bomb for every TD, then for end of the quarter/halftime…you get the point). Needless to say, I got kicked out midway through the fourth quarter after they stopped scoring, for “Having too much fun.” That’s what they told me when they kicked me out. USC Won 49–31. Also, they told my friends I was never allowed back there.
SECOND: The Jack Rabbit Ejection.
2nd: Then just about 3 years later at my 30th birthday party at this swanky club in Scottsdale. Jack Rabbit Lounge. My friends had got me a table, bottle service, etc. I’m not gonna lie. I don’t remember it. I don’t know who’s hat I’m wearing in that picture. Or that shirt. I was told that at some point I started drinking from the bottle, dancing on tables, and many other crazy things during the night. I got kicked out around 11:15, we still had the table for another 2.5 hours. I got 86’d from my own party. Was super fun, at least that’s what the pictures say. I wasn’t really into clubs anyway, so I never went back.
THIRD: The White Barn Ban of 2015
Of the three places I’ve been ejected/banned from, this is the most embarrassing, because at least in the other two I got to have fun.
3rd: December 23, 2015 Let’s set the scene shall we.
First off, maybe I set myself up for this. You see I had waited to get gifts for a few people, and my then Fiancee was at work. So I said, sure, I’ll take our three daughters to the mall. We will get some ice cream at the end. It will be great. At this particular moment in my life, there are four children. Finn, was about a year away from being conceived. I thought that it would be great. This moment in time happened to be one of those…
What’s the worst that can happen. Moments.
I actually said that phrase, out loud. Like my voice actually said Whats the worst that can happen.” That phrase exactly. I know, I hate myself for it too. So as it stands, we went to the mall. I warned the girls that it would be busy, and that we just needed two things and then we could go. Mostly stocking stuffers for their brother, and a few things for their Mom.
First stop: Spencer’s Gifts. Things were great. Socks for Jordan, and some t-shirts. He, much like me, loves superheroes, so we got him some stuff from there.
Second stop: Hot Topic. Shut up, they have some cool shirts, and other nerd stuff.
Third: Bath and Body works. Okay, this was actually our intended stop. My girls, love lotion. So our intent was to get mom a ton of them, and some samples for them.
Now, this is where the story goes haywire. The point when the audience is like, “Ohhhh baby no, don’t go in there.
BAM, something happens.
Audience member is like “Oh girl, I told you not to go in there.” (Read that in a sassy voice, and it will make sense).
Here is where the story gets jacked up, and I know I should’ve left the mall and went back later alone. Did I do that?
They are and will always be curious. So, they wanted to smell lotions. Great. Smell them. Flip the cap, smell them.
Did that go smooth? No. That hindsight is 20/20 thing.
Samples. They started to smell the samples. The oldest, Sophie, squeezed one of the bottles, and lotion got in her eye. Yes, you read that right.
In her eye.
What happened next, was typical. Screaming. Crying. Yelling from her. The other two, Addison and Nora, as I tended to her in the midst of the screaming and crying, basically took this opportunity to go off to try other things.
The middle and youngest of the trio, well they are very handsy. Like to touch everything. So smelling lotions went to trying hand sanitizer. One even squirted the other on the mouth, and I was still tending to the other one trying to get the lotion out of her eye.
Hand sanitizer in the mouth, at least it was apple-y. Still did not change the fact, that it was just going off the rails, fast.
Oh, I failed to mention. The store was busy. Packed. Like a herd of cattle. Somehow through lotion in the eye, hand sanitizer on the mouth, WE still did not leave.
I hate myself thinking about it, even now, three years later, I hate thinking about it.
Still, like Matthew Henson at the North Pole, we forged ahead. We managed to get all of the stuff. Lotions. Body Wash. Success.
Only then I looked up at the line. This sonofabitch wrapped around the store. I AM NOT LYING ABOUT THAT. From the register, down the right side wall, and to the entrance, and across. I hadn’t noticed it before, partially because I was wrangling three young kids who thought it was the perfect time to be, as the kids say, cray.
I panicked, cause I knew there was no way in hell that they would be sane waiting in the DMV like line. Then I saw it. The white light coming from the White Barn sign next door. It was one of those stores where Bath and Body works is connected, and you can go in and make your purchases. I was like “RUN KIDS, RUN.”
I mean, in essence, this is sort of my fault, but not really. I BLAME THE KIDS FOR THE ENSUING EVENTS.
For those that do not know, or live under a rock, White Barn sells expensive candles.
Evading that line, I was proud of myself. I thought that, hey, I can save us about 45 minutes and get us home and have some hot cocoa and all that nonsense.
Again, the next part makes me hate myself.
From there, two people in line ahead of us, we almost made it. Remember when I said two of the kids are handsy? Addison, and Nora. The two fight each other a lot, but I swear they are the sweetest kids ever. So, we are in the line, and they decided to smell the candles. I said it was okay, just the ones on the lower rack and for Goodness sake “Do not touch.” You can smell them from a distance, that’s why they are so expensive.
I turned back to the register just as the lady in front of me was leaving. It was our turn. We could be like Snake Pliskin and Escape from Hell (I’m not a fan of shopping). I turn back to say “Let’s go gi..” and thats all I got out.
Addison and Nora had reached two shelves higher for a candle to smell, even though those were the exact same candles in front of them. Well, next thing made my stomach churn.
One candle fell.
Then two more.
Then another 20.
Not cheap candles. 3-wick candles. Those cost 22.50 per candle. Do the math of 44 candles.
Let’s Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting math this:
44 x 22.50 = 990.
I was frozen. I couldn’t move. My heart sank. I am not a rich man. Quite the opposite actually. I’m a stay at home dad. My net worth at any moment is half a stick of gum, and whatever change I can find under the couch. I remember thinking exactly how much money I had in my account before I entered the mall. 147.42 cents. You see when you don’t work, you count every cent. I started counting the second the first candle fell, then the second, and so forth, and it was like a cash register sound, but also the devil was laughing too, so it was giving me anxiety.
I don’t embarrass easily. However, I started sweating. I didn’t say a word to them. I stood there counting how much money I was about to spend, and then I looked between the youngest two to see which of them could fetch the most money on the black market.
This is not a lie, that is one hundred percent truth. I heard this ringing sound in my head as I watched the tidal wave of glass cascade out of the store.
Again, not making that up. So much glass, it spilled from the register out into the hallway.
Then I heard the youngest ones voice. “Sorry.”
Me: Shhhhh, just don’t say a word. Don’t move a muscle. I am going to cry for a second.
Now, in case you don’t know, I’m black. My wonderful daughters are white. I’m used to stares. I really am. We get them as a family all of the time. I’ve even been called the “nanny,” “manny” and pretty much every other thing. Butler, indentured servant. This was new though. The stares were like, “Oh hell this black guy is going to flip.”
I did not. I was calm.
Then the store manager appeared. Jessica. She asked the girls if they were okay, and then she turned to me. I was like a deer in like, 44 headlights. I was terrified. She did that weird “follow me” gesture and I turned absentmindedly and did that. She went to the register. I put my stuff down. She started to punch numbers. Not gonna lie, I was sweating like that fat dude from the Gangsta’s Paradise Coolio video.
“Ma’am how much do I owe.” (I’m not gonna lie, I sounded polite as hell, not that I’m not like that, but a brotha was scared).
She didn’t say anything. She just kept typing. She took my items, rung them up, and then she spoke.
Excuse me, I said.
“94.13,” she repeated.
Me, inside: Surely you must be mistaken as these three devils disguised as girls just knocked over a months worth of pay in candles.
I didn’t hesitate, I whipped out my debit card, handed it to her as quickly as possible. Then she handed it back, I checked my banking app to make sure she wasn’t joking. Yep, 94.13.
As she bagged up the items, she casually mentioned. “Don’t worry about that. We will deal with the glass. (She took a long pause as she handed me my bag). I will ask you not to come back to the store again.”
“YOU GOT IT,” I yelled as I scooped up the girls and ran out of the store.
Like, Toby in Roots ran. I was GONE.
The girls, well they sat in their rooms for a while, then mom punished them later. They didn’t say another word to me for much of the afternoon as I was pretty upset with them. Glad we escaped.
We walk by White Barn from time to time, and the oldest just two weeks ago said “Ah, the crazy candle place of 2015.”
Yes, dear Sophie. It was crazy, and until you grow up, none of the four of us are allowed back into the store.
And that’s how we got banned from White Barn in 2015.