There are those of us in this great, big world, this city of smell, who are of the belief that all moments contain all things, that a moment of grief contains an aspect of beauty, that a moment of levity contains a seed of tragedy.
I am one of those people. It’s a belief I cherish, but one that’s hard to defend in a room full of Robert Goulets.
Where is the poetry in a room full of Goulets? Where is the touch of tragedy? Where is the memento mori or the breeze of nostalgia from the passing memory of a long-lost love?
How is a bar full of men and women dressed as Robert Goulet anything but effing awesome?
My roommate Dan, the keeper of all odd knowledge and strange hobbies, knew of the event, of course. Knowledge of dress-as-Robert-Goulet cancer fundraisers simply fell under the carrom-playing geocache hunter’s purview.
The roommate Lorne came as well, which was exciting for me because this was in the months between the football and concert seasons. We could hang out without me having to see a band I had never heard of or, worse, watch football.
Dan brought the knowledge, Lorne brought the excitement and I brought the ’70s clothes.
As we slurped beers and readied, my closet full of tacky clothes and old Halloween costumes came increasingly to the fore. Dan the skinny was the major beneficiary, donning the red velour shirt my father was too embarrassed to wear in the ’70s but never threw out, a red leisure suit jacket from my Halloween 1999 (it was the Invisible Man’s smoking jacket) and a medallion made from an old I Ching trinket of mine hanging from an old work lanyard, also mine. Lorne the buff wore a shearling jacket my parents gave me that was juuuust too big. And I wore this embroidered linen shirt I picked up in Bangkok, my father’s “Marlboro Man” jacket and a mustache I cobbled from stubble and crayon. I looked like a Moody Blue, Dan like a date-raping used car salesman and Lorne like a guy in a shearling jacket. He was a bit mad because my fake mustache looked better than his real one.
Our motley pseudo-70s crew walked into the bar, straight into a staring crowd of pitch-perfect Robert Goulets. There had been instructions.
Turtlenecks? How did we not think of turtlenecks? And sports jackets? The room was clogged like a South Sider’s artery with Robert Goulets in sports jackets over turtlenecks, aviator sunglasses, helmet hair and mustaches so full and lush you could hang tire swings for the children to fill their endless summer afternoons. It was a glut of Goulets. Short ones, tall ones, fit Goulets, fat Goulets. Goulets of all creeds and colors.
Some Goulets clustered in sipping groups of civil chit-chat. Other Goulets were there to get sloppy, to yuk it up and get nekkid with some of the lady-Goulets. Most of the women were dressed in vaguely 1970ish clothing rather than full-on Goulette. Based on their choices, the 1970s was a better decade for cleavage than the old TV shows would make it seem.
It was a bar crammed, just clotted with pitch-perfect, dead-on, 100-percent, A-OK Robert Goulets. And a Moody Blue, a car salesman and a guy in a shearling jacket. Elvis would have shot out the TV when we came on.
We partied. We rallied. Many Goulets complimented my crayon mustache. Dan and I got Lorne, the only single one at the time, to hit on girls. As he does at every bar, Dan fell for the waitress. I asked if a couple girls wanted to dance, taking drunken and slurred pains to explain that Dan and I had girlfriends we loved very much so really it was more about dancing than about trying to touch them.
Dan told me later the “we won’t try to touch you” part was where I lost them.
But back to the initial question: If all moments contain all things, if you can find joy and solace at a funeral and upset at a children’s birthday party, where’s the poetry in a room full of Robert Goulets?
That bar had a hundred Goulets, each with his or her own Goulety story. Although that night I was a crayon-nosed Moody Blue, I had a story too. It was about the simple joy of a silly night with friends.
Written February 2010