A year ago, the company I worked at was having its team members nation wide visit the head office in NYC for a week. The demographic was mostly people in their twenties and early thirties who were single and open to trying out new things. We had a week of team building exercises overall with people all across the country.
I had been paired up a lot with four people, one who is someone I already worked with at the office and his name was Brad. One was a girl named Alex from Minnesota who was a cheerleader personality with good looks. One other was a guy named Mark from Florida, a cool laid back guy who looked a lot like Boyd Holbrook (plays Agent Murphy on the first season of Narcos). Then we had a guy named Gage, a kid from suburban Georgia who was not a bad looking guy at all and even played sports in high school.
So Mark, Alex, and Gage saw me often during the week and we chatted a bit about the places to go out to in the city. Mark seemed to be very open to listening and learning from me, he had a good sense of humor but was always all ears. Alex was a ball of energy to say the least and she was hot too which worked well for her. Gage was trying to convince all of us how his life growing up in suburban Atlanta as a football player was the greatest and talked about how bad the city smelled.
Friday comes and the three of us have some drinks at the office while a couple others from a group, both blonde girls from California, join in. We chat and have a decent enough time, Alex is being silly and Mark is just soaking it all in. Brad seemed to make a few jokes while I just laid back listening to the commotion and conversations. Gage seems a bit distant and then talks about how partying was actually fun when you were 16 but after that, you “have to grow up”.
“Come on Gage, have a sip,” said Mark.
“No thanks, I already lived that life,” replied Gage.
We all decide to kind of ignore Gage for the time being and have a good time, Gage starts to look up at us from a distance to where it almost feels creepy. Then as we are chatting after a few drinks, Gage comes in to brag more about his past achievements. One of the California girls sarcastically mocks him to which Gage rolls his eyes, I am laying back and seeing it all unfold.
I decide with Brad to take the party to a bar a few blocks down, there are plenty of good ones in Manhattan. Brad gathers the troops, Mark willingly comes as one of the California girls seems to be really digging him. Alex seems to want to fuck Brad and the other California girl named Lauren is taking an interest in me, or so it seems. We all go and I ask Gage if he wants to check out the city with me, he can.
“I mean hell, it’s either that or boring myself to sleep in a hotel,” replies Gage, coming along, how respectful huh.
We go out and go to a rooftop which has great views, we even start to get more drinks in us. Then, finally, we notice that Gage gives in and orders a drink. Mark starts to notice and so do the rest of us, then Lauren makes an off-hand comment at Gage’s expense.
“Everyone, it’s so cute, let me snap this, he is having his first drink!” she says, as the other girls laugh. Gage drinks the drink anyways, he was actually kind of prideful now that I think about it.
Then we start to notice that the bar is more crowded, a lot of us are a few drinks deep, I am only on my third. We start to see that with the way Mark is acting, a couple of girls nearby notice and ask him to take a picture of them. Mark is probably on his fourth drink now but he has a vibe that seems to be drawing attention, even though he is not loud.
“So are you two a couple?” asks one of the girls to the California girl Mark is with.
“Yes, been married 30 years, we’re getting a divorce after this,” replies Mark.
“Shut up!” replies the girl, in a playful way, laughing at them. It’s Mark and three blondes, if we count Mark then its four blondes in a group, as both me and Brad look at how he seems to draw people in. Gage is looking with us and we start to notice a difference in his voice.
“They must think he is gay or something, girls love giving gay guys attention,” says Gage, on his third drink now.
“Then why are you not getting any attention Gage?” asks Brad. I think Brad went a bit too far with this, like come on man, the dude is clearly struggling.
“What did you call me pussy? Call me gay one more fucking time!” replies Gage, getting in Brad’s face. Brad is a few inches taller than Gage and trains MMA, if it is a fight from here, Gage is fucked.
“Chill out dude,” says Brad, smiling.
“I played football and I will put you on your fucking back pussy!” said Gage, already having emptied out two beer bottles and now on his third drink.
“Okay Gage,” said Brad, smiling. Mark and the blondes are looking on as Alex is looking in shock while Lauren leans on me.
“Dude Gage, Brad is just being an ass, you’re straight man we know you’re not gay,” I say, trying to calm him down.
“Ya damn right bitch,” says Gage, angry.
Well, that was out of nowhere for sure, while Mark and the blondes go back to talking to each other. One of the blondes is leaning on Mark while the California girl we were with, I have mentioned her so many times but her name was Irene, is almost competing with the other blonde for Mark. We all look on as the one blonde’s friend comes over to us trying to make small talk, Alex entertains her.
An hour passes and the bar is just packed, there is another one that is also good nearby, it is where the party really happens. Brad and I are chatting with the girls while Gage is once again all alone, about to go and get another drink. I believe at this point, he is on drink number four but could have been more.
“What did you call me pussy?” asks Brad, playfully shoving me.
“Yeah what was that about?” asks one of the blondes who had walked over, her name was Allie.
“Brad was being a dick to one of our coworkers,” I replied.
“Would you fuck him?” asks Brad to Allie.
“No, actually when we were at the bar he looked at us a couple times and tried to talk to us, he seems really creepy to be honest,” said Allie, leaning to us as she whispered.
“Shiiiiiiii” replies Brad, almost drunk himself. Meanwhile, Gage walks over to the group having what seems to be a Long Island with him.
“Dude Gage, those things are strong,” I say.
“Unlike him,” says Brad, leaning into my ear and whispering.
“Yeah well, your boy can take on anything, I mean back in the day I used to down stronger shit than this man. Hell, even Brad seems scared,” says Gage.
“Oh god, he is gonna kill me, help me ref help me!” says Brad, leaning on me.
“Unnecessary roughness! Flag!” I reply, as Gage looks on.
“I’d rough him up more than that ref,” says Gage, looking at me.
“Oh my, violent,” says Allie.
Wow, Gage is angry and at this point, I am trying to prevent a fight. Always happens at company events when a large number of people get together for a retreat or such that a fight breaks out or someone finds themselves getting fired. I decide to try and convince Gage that maybe he should go home for the night since we have an early morning.
“Hey man, we got an early morning tomorrow, you good?” I ask.
“Oh brother, I am just getting started,” he replies, as I hope Brad’s smartass does not say a word.
“Don’t listen to this loser Gage, get 3 more of those in you MVP!” says Brad.
“Shut up pussy, you can’t even handle one,” says Gage, almost yelling. Meanwhile, we notice a bouncer in a suit, a big black guy heading towards us.
“Sir, I need you to get your friend to leave,” he says, looking at Gage.
“I have this handled,” I say.
“Okay but I gotta come back here? You’re all gone,” says the bouncer.
Meanwhile, we look at Mark who is making out with one of the blondes as the other is trying to practically eat the side of his face. Brad gives an approving look as I notice that Alex is now feeling on Brad’s bicep. Meanwhile, Lauren starts to get a bit intimate with me. Then, the door guy comes out to tell us that our tables are actually reserved and it is night time, people have paid and we need to go elsewhere.
The two blondes get Mark’s number and bounce while Irene seems like she could fuck him then and there. We decide to head to a local bar which has more space, Gage is drunk. Then we decide to go in and I am hoping the bouncer lets Gage in, it would be entertaining to see the goody two-shoe from Georgia in action. The bouncer lets us in and we wander about.
Somehow, as Mark is making out with Irene at the new bar which did not take long, he bumps into an Asian girl and her tall blonde friend. The blonde spills her drink and shoves Mark who immediately says it was Irene’s fault.
“Blaming a woman?” asks the blonde.
“Okay, it was actually his fault,” says Mark, pointing to Brad.
“He is over there dude, how dumb do you think I am?” asks the blonde.
“It was the fuckin pigeon,” he says, as the blonde cracks a smile and rolls her eyes. Wow Mark, wow.
Then, we see our man of the hour, Gage in action. I look around, he is sipping his drink as he looks in the direction of two blondes and then looks away. After that, he looks in their direction again and looks away. I start to notice that Gage is trying to almost catch his breath as both me and Lauren look on, he even looks at the sky.
“Oh praise ya Jesus, let me get in that good ole peach tonight yessa sir,” says Brad, in a very funny southern accent that has me and Lauren laughing so hard that I almost choke on my drink. I let out a very loud laugh and Lauren collapses to the nearby couch in laughter.
To our surprise, Gage does go up to the two blondes to approach them. We find that Gage is trying to butt into their conversation as one of the blondes flat out ignores him. Then, we see him leaning in to extend his hand for a handshake as another blonde looks at him, shakes his head only to go back to talking to her friend.
“Oh father, I done sinned and you done sent me down this rejection, lawd almighty, have some mercy on muh soul,” says Brad, as I try to contain a laugh and Lauren is collapsing on me laughing. We see Gage unfolding and walking away with his face pink, as soon as he makes eye contact, Brad nods at him only to get flipped off.
What a different guy after some drinks, this was the same guy who was talking about Jesus through the week and acting like he was already too grown up for this debauchery. Meanwhile, we see the tall blonde getting very bubbly with Mark and Irene.
Gage bumps into a group of guys, one spills his drink, and shoves Gage. Gage pushes back and it starts a scuffle, only for the bouncers to intervene and throw Gage out of the bar. Brad continues to mock Gage in his southern preacher accent which me and Lauren cannot get enough of, laughing hard. In many ways, Gage was the prototypical self-righteous Atlanta area Bible Thumper, put him in front of alcohol and he breaks. Then the same guy who gets rejected will be preaching about how unholy sex before marriage is after that night.
In many ways, Gage reminded me of the kinds of kids I had grown to meet in my youth in Georgia. All self-righteous in front of others and judgmental but when the pressure is on and no one is looking, will happily throw themselves at the same devious acts they accuse others of. I somehow knew from the moment I met the guy that something about him was always a bit off, that you could not take him at face value. Gage brought me back to the many goody two-shoe fake Christian types I knew all too well in Georgia.
Meanwhile, Mark was the definition of a smooth operator. No agenda, no calculating, he was just there. Mark made you feel relaxed around him, like you could tell him anything. I really feel like he could have easily pulled a threesome that night if he wanted.
I went to go check on Gage outside along with Lauren, he had not closed out his tab so I went to close it out for him. We ended up giving him his card back and made sure he could order an Uber back to the hotel. Meanwhile, Mark had walked out with Irene over his shoulder as the tall blonde tried to go home with him too, only for her Asian friend to hold her back. We found the situation comedic, the Asian friend could barely hold the tall blonde reaching for Mark back.
Irene and Mark probably fucked that night, as did me and Lauren. I am not sure what happened with Brad and Alex but I would wager the fucked too. Poor ole Gage went home lonely and the next week, had complained to the company about how “toxic” the culture on our team was. We got pulled into a meeting and Brad had to see HR.
As for what unfolded next, well stay tuned.