Maybe it was because there were so many dirty stories blueing the air that night that Chris decided that he needed to sanitise The Bitter End.
You could see his point. The story of one wife's twenty-six minute birthday treat to her husband (think TiVo, whipped cream and a seriously craned neck) was nothing compared to the profanities being spilled between the acts. This was New York's most popular story-telling night, but after some of the lasciviously-charming hostess' tales I'm sure not all the audience members were sitting entirely comfortably. After all, the bare-brick bar is only just round the corner from NYU, and the collective adolescent hormones were bucking and grinding despite the cool-shower effect of the fierce air conditioning. I sipped my coke and watched the room flirt. It's scary how quickly after graduation that students become just a punchline to you.
The jokes of the tellers were landing and missing and getting stuttered over, but it was the stories with - and I can only type it with an apologetic smirk on my face - heart that really worked. There was the girl whose deaf, scrappy father ratted her out to the prison warden after she smuggled him some birthday Juicy Fruit. There was the Jewish kid who wondered over to his neighbour's house drunk, and got mistaken for a "dangerous little Mexican" loose in his upper-middle class suburb. Best of all, there was the red-bearded, musical-obsessed guy remembering how on his sixteenth birthday the guy of his dreams told him he only thought of him, "as a little brother - one who I let give me blow jobs".
It was after Red II won that Chris gave a shout of disgust. His back pocket bloomed dark. The hand sanitiser that was meant to ward of swine flu had been busy sanitising his boxer shorts. When he reached for it, the slippery little customer fell through his hands and squirted out across the club's floor, spraying the feet of the twittering girls at the table in front of us. Quietly, he picked it up, wiped it down, and put it back in his pocket. It was nice to think that we, too, had at last shared something intimate with the good people at the Bitter End.