This is one of the most entertaining and provocative short stories that I have ever read and my hope is that if you appreciate it as much as I do, that you share it with like-minded friends. I must warn that if being politically correct is your religion, read no further, but if truth is your aspiration you have arrived. PK
The New Rat Pack by TC http://www.t-nation.com
I feel like an absolute sheepdog, and not one of those Westminster Kennel Club sheepdogs, mind you, but one that’s been herding farm animals all day and smells of mouse shit from sleeping in the barn.
It’s the incongruity that’s making me feel a little self-conscious.
I’ve just walked into this beautiful, expansive house and except for my friend, I’m the only one who’s not wearing a suit; I’m the only one whose hair isn’t Marine issue.
No, I’m wearing ripped jeans, a T-shirt, and my comparatively long hair is lying on top of my head in its normal Dutch Boy paint-can fashion.
“Who invited Bon Jovi?” is what they must be thinking.
Regardless, the 8 men in attendance are all courteous to a fault. Two beautiful young women in cocktail dresses offer me a glass of wine. And there’s Sinatra music playing on the stereo, Sinatra!
The truth is that I didn’t know what to expect; all I knew is that my friend and I had been invited to this house on top of the hill in La Jolla to teach poker.
But these aren’t rich, arrogant fops who’ve decided it’d be a hoot to rub elbows with the unwashed. No, these men are largely Marine officers and they, along with a couple of Navy men and a few enlightened civilians, constitute the Richardson Society.
It started in Iraq, just north of Fallujah, explained Richardson Society co-founder Lieutenant Alexander Martin. He and three other Marines were sitting down next to a tank in the hot sun and while they didn’t exactly complain (it’s unseemly for Marines to complain), they noted how they missed the amenities of life; you know, the wine, the cigars, and of course, the women.
Lieutenant Alexander Martin.
It was then the four of them vowed that when they got stateside, they’d meet once a month to sample those missing amenities: the best food, the best cigars, the best wine and scotch, and of course, the best women. And none of this civilian slacker wear crap with butt-crack pants and backwards baseball caps — they’d wear suits, damn it.
Furthermore, they decided their meetings would have some sort of agenda other than just sampling hedonistic delights. They decided they’d learn something every month, invite some expert in some field to teach them something; teach them how to be better men.
One month it may be someone teaching them about finance, or clothes, fine watches, wine, ballroom dancing, how to meet and treat a lady, or even poker.
And the name, the Richardson Society? The goddam Aussies get credit for that one. On the way back from Iraq, Lieutenant Martin’s ship docked in Perth. He and his friends decided to grab some of those long-missed amenities by staying at the 5-star Richardson Hotel.
Some of the Marines — not Lieutenant Martin or his companions — went Great Santini at the hotel with a bit of standard-issue, high-grade, unbridled Marine testosterone and all its resultant drinking and rambunctiousness. Hotel management expressed its disapproval by deciding to roust not just the individual perps, but every single Marine out of the hotel; dispose of the “riff-raff” in one vile, fell swoop.
So at 2 AM, when Lieutenant Martin and his inner circle were quietly relaxing in their rooms in bathrobes, management knocked on their doors and asked them to leave; asked a leader of over 200 men to leave; asked a Marine surgeon to leave; asked a Marine with a law degree to leave!
“You know, we saved Australia from Imperial Japan in World War II…” they reasoned.
“I don’t care,” sniffed the hotel manager, “I’m German.”
The only other hotel in Perth with vacancies was some fleabag dump on the outskirts of town where the Marines were forced to bivouac. “Right then and there,” explained Lieutenant Martin, “we decided to name our men’s group the ‘Richardson Society’ as sort of a ‘fuck you’ to the Richardson Hotel.”
The Richardson Hotel, Perth, Australia.
So here sits the Richardson Society, an idea made real. Athena popping out of Zeus’ head.
We’ve moved on to Scotch now, and the girls make sure our glasses are never empty. The men are all good students, and they seem to get excited over the idea that Texas Hold ’em has, in a sense, military applications; things like bluffing and the concept of “coming over the top,” where you counter an opponent’s aggressiveness by coming back at him twice as hard.
After poker school, the men invite us to share a good cigar. But you don’t just light the thing; you have to learn about it; you have to know the cigar so you can appreciate it more. That’s Richardson Society dogma.
One of the men, a Marine captain who’s a month away from becoming a full-blown major, describes the origins of this particular blend of cigar as the hostesses clip the ends off and hand them out.
The conversation then turns to issues of masculinity, like “When is a man too old to wear a sports jersey?” (The general consensus is high school.) But then it switches to something a bit meatier when I ask them about the war.
“We don’t look at it the way most civilians do,” is what I’m told. They explain that they played soldier when they were kids, dreamed of being soldiers all their lives, trained to be soldiers all their lives. And if they never got to use those skills? Well, they’d be as disappointed as any athlete who never got to run a race, any musical virtuoso who never got to play a concert. So they fight, and for the most part, they don’t question.
Similarly, when one of their comrades dies, it’s a damn shame, but it’s part of the job; it’s part of what they signed up for.
And all during these conversations there’s Sinatra playing in the background. They relate to him, as he’s emblematic of a time when masculinity was more clearly defined.
They dig the suit thing, and seemingly the whole “Rat Pack” philosophy: Treat a dame like a lady and a lady like a dame. Make sure your trousers break just above the shoes. You gotta tip big and tip quietly — fold the bills three times into a small square and pass them in a handshake; never drink a drink immediately after it’s poured; better a carton of milk than a serving of warm vodka. Sex is great, but you gotta have style, you gotta have class.
The original Rat Pack.
Flash forward three weeks. This new “Rat Pack” is throwing a Valentine’s Day party. This time, I’m wearing a jacket and tie and while I’m still a little sheepdoggish, it’s okay; I can pass.
As I approach the entrance to the house, there’s an enormous ice sculpture on the lawn in the shape of a heart. Nice touch, but that’s nothing compared to what’s inside.
There are four hostesses at the door in matching black dresses with luscious red pumps and flaming red lips. The dresses are form fitting little numbers that show lots of cleavage, but the hemlines are pure asymmetrical devilry! They’re sinfully short, of course, but the designer must be wearing the other half of this amulet I wear around my neck because the hemlines angle up severely in the back so you get an eyeful of panties and ass!
I DON’T KNOW BUT I’VE BEEN TOLD…
HOSTESS PUSSY AIN’T THE LEAST BIT COLD!
I worry all that beautiful ass cleavage might exacerbate PTSD in some of the Marines as those rifts between the girls’ delicious butt cheeks might somehow remind them of the rift between the Sunni and Shia in the Sandbox, but my lust quells my concern.
The hostesses have bottles of champagne in one hand and champagne flutes in the other. They’re all toothy smiles, cleavage, and loamy loined hospitality! They hand me a glass as soon as I enter.
And then, then, this 6-foot blond vision comes walking towards me carrying a tray of cigars and matches! Did these bastards tap into my subconscious to find my weakness? Her name’s Jessica, Jessica Morgan (“Like the rum,” she coos), and she is — get this — a model! What are the odds?
The author’s idea of heaven: a beautiful woman carrying a tray of cigars.
I sidle up to her and whisper in her ear, “Excuse me, Jessica, I don’t mean to embarrasses you, but I can see your ass.” She laughs sweetly. Of course she does! I’ve died and gone straight to hebben where de angels am! I’m a funny fuck! Everything I say is funny! It’s almost as if she were being paid or something!
It’s all I can do to light the cigar instead of my nose.
And the house is full of these hostesses, along with what must be 80 or 90 non-hostess babes, all wearing cocktail dresses. The Rat Pack is there, of course, along with a number of other Marines and assorted civilians, but there are far more women than men.
Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) enjoys the view.
The floor is covered with rose petals, as are the beds in the various rooms. The tables and are adorned with huge, ostentatious candelabra filled with oversized red candles that drip gobs of hot, bloody wax impertinently onto the tables and floor.
There’s a sushi spread and not one of those lousy beer and cheap wine bars, but a full bar. You want a Manhattan? You want olives in your shaken not stirred martini? You want Stoli instead of Grey Goose? No problem! Ask either one of the two bartenders or their assistants.
And if you meet a girl and want to get away from the pounding music and the dancing? Take her to the hookah room! Push aside the gauze curtains, get comfy on some of the giant pillows, and toke on any one of the five hookahs while you get to know your new friend, who, because of her high heels and short cocktail dress, is made completely vulnerable by the awkwardness of the pillow that’s engulfed her. She can’t even get up without doing a Britney-getting-out-of-the-cab move! But she doesn’t seem to mind, though, because she’s buzzing on her 6th glass of champagne.
The Hookah room, Pictured are a Turkish opium dealer and his courtesans. (Not really.)
Not surprisingly, the men of the Richardson Society don’t just see this is as a party; it’s a drill, a war game of a sort where they practice the skills they’ve learned. Sure, the wine, the scotch, the cigar, the dancing, the women… they’ve studied it all and trained for it all.
These things can’t just be experienced, but conquered. But that’s how they view everything. It’s Thoreau meets the marines:
I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
So raise a glass to the Richardson society, but do them the courtesy of learning a little something about that scotch you’re drinking, okay