How Otis got his T-Pain back

The weird part isn’t that I have a friend named F-Train. The weird part is that he and I were both sober and having a semi-intelligent conversation about the vagaries of home ownership, professional aspirations, and the world economy. F-Train sipped on a cup of coffee and engaged me as if we were sitting in an Italian cafe instead of an Italian themed casino that boasted a row of slot machines with Bo and Luke Duke on them. It was actually a good conversation and had lasted about five minutes when my phone rang.

I looked at the caller ID. It read, “Unknown.”

“I don’t know who this is,” I said, “so, I have to take it.”

The sentence seemed so incongruous, but F-Train got it. He nodded and wandered in the direction of the red carpet. He didn’t steal a peek at Christian Slater, Tito Ortiz, Orel Hershiser, or Slash, despite the fact they were all ten feet away from us and sitting at the same table.

“Brad,” said the silky British voice on the other end of the ethereal line, “I’ve just gotten off the phone with T-Pain.”

There was more, but I couldn’t hear it over the slot machines. I’d heard all I needed to hear anyway. It was my job, it was the duty for which I was actually being paid at that moment, to drop everything I was doing and run the direction of some metal-toothed creature they called “T-Pain.”

The paparazzi were camped out in a dogrun along the red carpet. They looked simultaneously bored and energized by what was about to happen. I was lost. I hadn’t slept in a very long time and was fighting a cold. I stood there feeling inadequate (read: normal) for a few minutes before wandering outside for a breath of fresh air.

That’s when I saw the entourage coming. It was lead by a dandy in a red scarf, and caboosed by a skinny light-skinned black man in whiteface. Nothing made sense, but it didn’t matter, because it all signaled the arrival of–

“T-Pain! Over here! Give us a pose! Let’s see your eyes. Just like that. Right. T-Pain!”

“You wanna see these eyes,” said the man with the grill. He leaned over and looked deep into the telephoto. There was a skunk in the air and T-Pain’s peepers told the story.

This, I thought, is what I do. Five years ago I was interviewing leaders, noblemen, and newsmakers. Now I was stalking a man whose greatest claim to fame was either that he’s “in a boat” or “in luv wit a stripper.” I looked at the ink hitting my notepad and wondered why I was writing, “My favorite thing to do in Vegas is get naked in my room and open up all the windows. Nothing to be ashamed of.”

But that’s what T-Pain was saying, and that’s what I was writing. When I put a period on it, I walked out of the dogrun and looked into F-Train’s face. “T-Pain likes to get naked and stand in his hotel window.”

F-Train nodded, because he knew it wasn’t odd that I have a friend named F-Train. And he knew it wasn’t even exceptionally odd that I dropped everything I was doing because someone called me and told me that T-Pain was coming. And he knew it wasn’t odd that I honestly couldn’t have picked T-Pain out of a police line-up. It was, simply, what is was. It was T-Pain.

Later F-Train and I walked into a club and came face to face with two tall women dressed as angels.

“Want some candy?” they asked and Price Is Right-gestured in the direction of a table covered in Milky Way Bars, licorice, and Pixie Stix. I wrote later “it’s like a 1970s Studio 54 that’s been taken over by Willy Wonka.” An hour or two later, two girls walked in wearing bath robes, disrobed, climbed into a big tub together, and washed themselves in rose petals.

All of this happened within a three-hour period. During that time, the man I came to recognize as T-Pain stood in front of a crowd and announced, “I have an averaged size penis. First impressions are everything.”

Despite the fact it’s been a week since it happened, it seemed to speak to everything that followed, everything that I have come to represent, and everything that John Prine sang about the great compromise….average penis and all.