Wednesday, June 13, 2012

OF BASEBALL AND BUTT CHEEKS: MY NIGHT AT THE CLEVELANDER



"There a score?"

The gray-haired gentlemen sitting across the table was looking for an answer I was ill-equipped to give, my attention momentarily fixated on the butt cheeks of two bikini-clad women sitting poolside. Not that it mattered where, exactly, I was looking, since butt cheeks were pretty much everywhere. Turn your head towards the stage? Butt cheeks. The pool? Butt cheeks. Waitresses, bartenders, Logan Morrison…butt cheeks, butt cheeks, butt cheeks!

The Clevelander is butt cheeks.

I sipped my drink, a $12 mixture of alcohol and slushy, then looked over at one of the TVs above the bar, squinting to make out the numbers.

"No score, looks like."

He nodded, eyes wandering back to his dinner, mine to the butt cheeks.

If there were a more perfect way to describe an evening at the Clevelander, I'm at a loss. There's music, food, drinks, a pool, women, and any number of other attractions to hold your attention. And then, somewhere in the periphery, there's a baseball game or something.

Lady SCWS and I got to the ballpark around 5:30 p.m. and quickly made our way to the Clevelander. It wasn't full yet, but it definitely wasn't empty, so we grabbed ourselves one of the remaining high tops, ordered our first drinks and watched a batting practice home run almost decimate a completely oblivious patron standing next to the Marlins bullpen. How the crack of the ball on the concrete floor just a few feet away from his feet didn't cause him to shit his pants is beyond me.

A few minutes later, Butt Cheeks 1 came out, a tiny blond with a tiny frame in an even tinier bikini. She laid her towel out along the side of the pool—as women are wont to do at baseball games, obviously—and posed for the handful of men now fumbling with their cell phone cameras. She was joined a few minutes later by Butt Cheeks 2, a brunette whose barely-there top could hardly contain the boobs inside. This was their job, Butt Cheeks 1 and 2: to be attractive and occasionally engaging, but mostly, just be there.

The same could be said of the dancers who spend their nights on stage, donned in headdresses, shaking their hips and their—what else—exposed butt cheeks. Or the ladies dressed as life guards, who later became ladies dressed as nothing at all. Except body paint. Walking billboards who serve only to remind you, and simultaneously help you forget, that you're at a Marlins game.

At some point during the evening, a Red Sox fan in his mid-to-late 30's decided to join Twin Cheeks in the pool. He had been trying to strike up a conversation with one of them earlier; she was polite enough to oblige, but standoffish enough to make it clear she wasn't there to flirt. Always the consummate professional. He, of course, didn't pick up on that, swimming right up next to her, hanging on her inner tube like a child in a water park. Lady SCWS says Butt Cheeks 1 looked horrified by the man's clueless advances, but I thought she handled it nicely, flashing a fake smile and casually floating away as if she weren't afraid he might murder her and stuff her in a duffle bag later that night.

Truthfully, it wasn't hard to tell who was from out of town and who was local, and that guy was a prime example. Half-naked women in a pool? People from Miami noticed it. People from Boston couldn't whip their cameras out fast enough. For once, we were the savvy veterans shaking our heads at the young stars. Act like you've been there before, rookies.

One young lady from Boston tried to act like she'd been there before, ditching her t-shirt and shorts and sliding into the pool in a blue bikini, but she was kindly asked to put her shirt back on and leave the pool once she and the charming lad she was with began getting excessively gropey in the water. When the security guard walked away, she swam over to the ladder to climb out of the pool and—wouldn't ya know it—butt cheeks.

Lady SCWS chimed in, "I kinda think the Clevelander is like an awkward social experiment."

As for the Marlins game itself, I mean, who knows? Boston scored two runs at some point, but I was too busy watching Gropey McGroperson molest his girlfriend in the pool to really know how or when it happened. And Jenny Dell from NESN showed up, and I was distracted by that. And then the Heat game popped up on the TVs, and I was distracted by that. At one point during the ninth inning of a one-run game, LeBron James threw down a monster dunk and the entire bar erupted. I'd bet that half of them didn't even realize there was a Marlins game still happening.

John Buck grounded out to end the game—completely shocking, I know—a 2-1 loss that dropped the Marlins to just two games over .500 and fourth place in the NL East, but you wouldn't know it from inside the Clevelander. Liquor was flowing and music was bumping as more fans-turned-party-goers arrived to see just what the fuss was all about. The party here wasn't winding down, it was just beginning. And I wanted no part of that. I'm 30 and practically married. Really, I just wanted my bed.

Walking out of the Clevelander after spending the entirety of a baseball game there is a strange feeling, sort of like being in a club till the lights come on and you realize it's morning. I knew I had fun, a lot of fun actually, but I just didn't necessarily remember any of it. By the end of the night, I had spent $25 on parking, $65 on food, and I wasn't even sure I had seen a baseball game. And I don't know that there's anything wrong with that.

A lot of people will tell you that the Clevelander isn't for die-hard baseball fans, but that's crazy talk. It's as much for die-hard baseball fans as it is for a group of women who just want to get dressed up and have a good time. And everyone in between, to be honest. It's a sports bar. A sports bar with half-naked women and a pool. And a big screen TV that isn't so much a big screen TV as it is a transparent left field wall. It's everything I love about this city neatly tucked into one tiny corner of the outfield. It's flashy. It's loud. It's obnoxious. It's Miami.

More than anything, though, it's butt cheeks.

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