Merry Xmas !
I am coming back to you with a follow up post, as I have helped many people cash out this year and I have streamlined the process. After my original post
, I received many requests to be more specific and provide more details. I thought that after the amazing rally we have been attending over the last few months, and the volatility of the last few days, it would be interesting to revisit more extensively.
The attitude of banks around crypto is changing slowly, but it is still a tough stance. For the first partial cash out I operated around a year ago for a client, it took me months to find a bank. They wouldn’t want to even consider the case and we had to knock at each and every door. Despite all my contacts it was very difficult back in the days. This has changed now, and banks have started to open their doors, but there is a process, a set of best practices and codes one has to follow.
I often get requests from crypto guys who are very privacy-oriented, and it takes me months to have them understand that I am bound by Swiss law on banking secrecy, and I am their ally in this onboarding process. It’s funny how I have to convince people that banks are legit, while on the other side, banks ask me to show that crypto millionaires are legit. I have a solid background in both banking and in crypto so I manage to make the bridge, but yeah sometimes it is tough to reconcile the two worlds. I am a crypto enthusiast myself and I can say that after years of work in the banking industry I have grown disillusioned towards banks as well, like many of you. Still an account in a Private bank is convenient and powerful. So let’s get started.
- A. What is required to open an account in a Private bank when you made your fortune through crypto.
There are two different aspects to your onboarding in a Swiss Private bank, compliance-wise.
*The origin of your crypto wealth
*Your background (residence, citizenship and probity)
These two aspects must be documented in-depth. How to document your crypto wealth.
Each new crypto millionaire has a different story. I may detail a few fun stories later in this post, but at the end of the day, most of crypto rich I have met can be categorized within the following profiles: the miner, the early adopter, the trader, the corporate entity, the black market, the libertarian/OTC buyer. The real question is how you prove your wealth is legit. 1. Context around the original amount/investment
Generally speaking, your first crypto purchase may not be documented. But the context around this acquisition can be. I have had many cases where the original amount was bought through Mtgox, and no proof of purchase could be provided, nor could be documented any Mtgox claim. That’s perfectly fine. At some point Mtgox amounted 70% of the bitcoin transactions globally, and people who bought there and managed to withdraw and keep hold of their bitcoins do not have any Mtgox claim. This is absolutely fine. However, if you can show me the record of a wire from your bank to Tisbane (Mtgox's parent company) it's a great way to start.
Otherwise, what I am trying to document here is the following: I need context. If you made your first purchase by saving from summer jobs, show me a payroll. Even if it was USD 2k. If you acquired your first bitcoins from mining, show me the bills of your mining equipment from 2012 or if it was through a pool mine, give me your slushpool account ref for instance. If you were given bitcoin against a service you charged, show me an invoice. 2. Tracking your wealth until today and making sense of it.
What I have been doing over the last few months was basically educating compliance officers. Thanks God, the blockchain is a global digital ledger! I have been telling my auditors and compliance officers they have the best tool at their disposal to lead a proper investigation. Whether you like it or not, your wealth can be tracked, from address to address. You may have thought all along this was a bad feature, but I am telling you, if you want to cash out, in the context of Private Banking onboarding, tracking your wealth through the block explorer is a boon. We can see the inflows, outflows. We can see the age behind an address. An early adopter who bought 1000 BTC in 2010, and let his bitcoin behind one address and held thus far is legit, whether or not he has a proof of purchase to show. That’s just common sense. My job is to explain that to the banks in a language they understand.
Let’s have a look at a few examples and how to document the few profiles I mentioned earlier. The trader.
I love traders. These are easy cases. I have a ton of respect for them. Being a trader myself in investment banks for a decade earlier in my career has taught me that controlling one’s emotions and having the discipline to impose oneself some proper risk management system is really really hard. Further, being able to avoid the exchange bankruptcy and hacks throughout crypto history is outstanding. It shows real survival instinct, or just plain blissed ignorance. In any cases traders at exchange are easy cases to corroborate since their whole track record is potentially available. Some traders I have met have automated their trading and have shown me more than 500k trades done over the span of 4 years. Obviously in this kind of scenario I don’t show everything to the bank to avoid information overload, and prefer to do some snacking here and there. My strategy is to show the early trades, the most profitable ones, explain the trading strategy and (partially expose) the situation as of now with id pages of the exchanges and current balance. Many traders have become insensitive to the risk of parking their crypto at exchange as they want to be able to trade or to grasp an occasion any minute, so they generally do not secure a substantial portion on the blockchain which tends to make me very nervous. The early adopter.
Provided that he has not mixed his coin, the early adopter or “hodler” is not a difficult case either. Who cares how you bought your first 10k btc if you bought them below 3$ ? Even if you do not have a purchase proof, I would generally manage to find ways. We just have to corroborate the original 30’000 USD investment in this case. I mainly focus on three things here:
*proof of early adoption I have managed to educate some banks on a few evidences specifically related to crypto markets. For instance with me, an old bitcointalk account can serve as a proof of early adoption. Even an old reddit post from a few years ago where you say how much you despise this Ripple premined scam can prove to be a treasure readily available to show you were early.
*story telling Compliance officers like to know when, why and how. They are human being looking for simple answers to simple questions and they don’t want like to be played fool. Telling the truth, even without a proof can do wonders, and even though bluffing might still work because banks don’t fully understand bitcoin yet, it is a risky strategy that is less and less likely to pay off as they are getting more sophisticated by the day.
*micro transaction from an old address you control This is the killer feature. Send a $20 worth transaction from an old address to my company wallet and to one of my partner bank’s wallet and you are all set ! This is gold and considered a very solid piece of evidence. You can also do a microtransaction to your own wallet, but banks generally prefer transfer to their own wallet. Patience with them please. they are still learning.
*signature message Why do a micro transaction when you can sign a message and avoid potentially tainting your coins ?
*ICO millionaire Some clients made their wealth participating in ETH crowdsale or IOTA ICO. They were very easy to deal with obviously and the account opening was very smooth since we could evidence the GENESIS TxHash flow. The miner
Not so easy to proof the wealth is legit in that case. Most early miners never took screenshot of the blocks on bitcoin core, nor did they note down the block number of each block they mined. Until the the Slashdot article from August 2010 anyone could mine on his laptop, let his computer run overnight and wake up to a freshly minted block containing 50 bitcoins back in the days. Not many people were structured enough to store and secure these coins, avoid malwares while syncing the blockchain continuously, let alone document the mined blocks in the process. What was 50 BTC worth really for the early miners ? dust of dollars, games and magic cards… Even miners post 2010 are generally difficult to deal with in terms of compliance onboarding. Many pool mining are long dead. Deepbit is down for instance and the founders are MIA. So my strategy to proof mining activity is as follow:
*Focusing on IT background whenever possible. An IT background does help a lot to bring some substance to the fact you had the technical ability to operate a mining rig.
*Showing mining equipment receipts. If you mined on your own you must have bought the hardware to do so. For instance mining equipment receipts from butterfly lab from 2012-2013 could help document your case. Similarly, high electricity bill from your household on a consistent basis back in the day could help. I have already unlocked a tricky case in the past with such documents when the bank was doubtful.
*Wallet.dat files with block mining transactions from 2011 thereafter This obviously is a fantastic piece of evidence for both you and me if you have an old wallet and if you control an address that received original mined blocks, (even if the wallet is now empty). I will make sure compliance officers understand what it means, and as for the early adopter, you can prove your control over these wallet through a microtransaction. With these kind of addresses, I can show on the block explorer the mined block rewards hitting at regular time interval, and I can even spot when difficulty level increased or when halvening process happened.
*Poolmining account. Here again I have educated my partner bank to understand that a slush account opened in 2013 or an OnionTip presence was enough to corroborate mining activity. The block explorer then helps me to do the bridge with your current wallet.
*Describing your set up and putting it in context In the history of mining we had CPU, GPU, FPG and ASICs mining. I will describe your technical set up and explain why and how your set up was competitive at that time. The corporate entity
Remember 2012 when we were all convinced bitcoin would take over the world, and soon everyone would pay his coffee in bitcoin? How naïve we were to think transaction fees would remain low forever. I don’t blame bitcoin cash supporters; I once shared this dream as well. Remember when we thought global adoption was right around the corner and some brick and mortar would soon accept bitcoin transaction as a common mean of payment? Well, some shop actually did accept payment and held. I had a few cases as such of shops holders, who made it to the multi million mark holding and had invoices or receipts to proof the transactions. If you are organized enough to keep a record for these trades and are willing to cooperate for the documentation, you are making your life easy. The digital advertising business is also a big market for the bitcoin industry, and affiliates partner compensated in btc are common. It is good to show an invoice, it is better to show a contract. If you do not have a contract (which is common since all advertising deals are about ticking a check box on the website to accept terms and conditions), there are ways around that. If you are in that case, pm me. The black market
Sorry guys, I can’t do much for you officially. Not that I am judging you. I am a libertarian myself. It’s just already very difficult to onboard legit btc adopters, so the black market is a market I cannot afford to consider. My company is regulated so KYC and compliance are key for me if I want to stay in business. Behind each case I push forward I am risking the credibility and reputation I have built over the years. So I am sorry guys I am not risking it to make an extra buck. Your best hope is that crypto will eventually take over the world and you won’t need to cash out anyway. Or go find a Lithuanian bank that is light on compliance and cooperative. The OTC buyer and the libertarian.
Generally a very difficult case. If you bought your stack during your journey in Japan 5 years ago to a guy you never met again; or if you accumulated on https://localbitcoins.com/
and kept no record or lost your account, it is going to be difficult. Not impossible but difficult. We will try to build a case with everything else we have, and I may be able to onboard you. However I am risking a lot here so I need to be 100% confident you are legit, before I defend you. Come & see me in Geneva, and we will talk. I will run forensic services like elliptic
, or scorechain
on an extract of your wallet. If this scan does not raise too many red flags, then maybe we can work together ! If you mixed your coins all along your crypto history, and shredded your seeds because you were paranoid, or if you made your wealth mining professionally monero over the last 3 years but never opened an account at an exchange. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ I am not a magician and don’t get me wrong, I love monero, it’s not the point. Cashing out ICOs
Private companies or foundations who have ran an ICO generally have a very hard time opening a bank account. The few banks that accept such projects would generally look at 4 criteria:
*Seriousness of the project Extensive study of the whitepaper to limit the reputation risk
*AML of the onboarding process ICOs 1.0 have no chance basically if a background check of the investors has not been conducted
*Structure of the moral entity List of signatories, certificate of incumbency, work contract, premises...
*Fiscal conformity Did the company informed the authorities and seek a fiscal ruling.
- B. The tax issue I am not a tax specialist, but I can say that this year I have seen it all. Again I am not judging. You made $100m hodling, and still wouldn’t pay your taxes ? Your decision.I personally advise everyone to pay their taxes, but also to be generous, to give to charities. I mean you eventually made it. Good for you. What about you contribute to make the world a better place now? I will stop patronizing you. It’s just my 2cts, and it’s your money.
For the record, I am not into the tax avoidance business, so people come to me with a set up and I see if I can make it work within the legal framework imposed to me.
First, stop thinking Switzerland is a “offshore heaven” Swiss banks have made deals with many governments for the exchange of fiscal information. If you are a French citizen, resident in France and want to open an account in a Private Bank in Switzerland to cash out your bitcoins, you will get slaughtered (>60%). There are ways around that, and I could refer you to good tax specialists for fiscal optimization, but I cannot organize it myself. It would be illegal for me. Swiss private banks makes it easy for you to keep a good your relation with your retail bank and continue paying your bills without headaches. They are integrated to SEPA, provide ebanking and credit cards.
For information, these are the kind of set up some of my clients came up with. It’s all legal; obviously I do not onboard clients that are not tax compliant. Further disclaimer: I did not contribute myself to these set up. Do not ask me to organize it for you. I won’t. EU tricks Swiss lump sum taxation
Foreign nationals resident in Switzerland can be taxed on a lump-sum basis if they are not gainfully employed in our country. Under the lump-sum tax regime, foreign nationals taking residence in Switzerland may choose to pay an expense-based tax instead of ordinary income and wealth tax. Attractive cantons for the lump sum taxation are Zug, Vaud, Valais, Grisons, Lucerne and Berne. To make it short, you will be paying somewhere between 200 and 400k a year and all expenses will be deductible.
Switzerland has adopted a very friendly attitude towards crypto currency in general. There is a whole crypto valley in Zug now. 30% of ICOs are operated in Switzerland. The reason is that Switzerland has thrived for centuries on banking secrecy, and today with FATCA and exchange of fiscal info with EU, banking secrecy is dead. Regulators in Switzerland have understood that digital ledger technologies were a way to roll over this competitive advantage for the generations to come. Switzerland does not tax capital gains on crypto profits. The Finma has a very pragmatic approach. They have issued guidance
- updated guidelines here
. They let the business get organized and operate their analysis on a case per case basis. Only after getting a deep understanding of the market will they issue a global fintech license in 2019. This approach is much more realistic than legislations which try to regulate everything beforehand. Italy new tax exemption.
It’s a brand new fiscal exemption. Go to Aoste, get residency and you could be taxed a 100k/year for 10years. Yes, really
What’s crazy in Europe is the lack of fiscal harmonization. Even if no one in Brussels dares admit it, every other country is doing fiscal dumping. Portugal is such a country and has proved very friendly fiscally speaking. I personally have a hard time trusting Europe. I have witnessed what happened in Greece over the last few years. Some of our ultra high net worth clients got stuck with capital controls. I mean no way you got out of crypto to have your funds confiscated at the next financial crisis! Anyway. FYI Malta
Generally speaking, if you get a residence somewhere you have to live there for a certain period of time. Being stuck in Italy is no big deal with Schengen Agreement, but in Malta it is a different story. In Malta, the ordinary residence scheme is more attractive than the HNWI residence scheme. Being an individual, you can hold a residence permit under this scheme and pay zero income tax in Malta in a completely legal way. Monaco
Not suitable for French citizens, but for other Ultra High Net worth individual, Monaco is worth considering. You need an account at a local bank as a proof of fortune, and this account generally has to be seeded with at least EUR500k. You also need a proof of residence. I do mean UHNI because if you don’t cash out minimum 30m it’s not interesting. Everything is expensive in Monaco. Real Estate is EUR 50k per square meter. A breakfast at Monte Carlo Bay hotel is 70 EUR. Monaco is sunny but sometimes it feels like a golden jail. Do you really want that for your kids? Dubaï
- Set up a company in Dubaï, get your resident card.
- Spend one day every 6 month there
- Be tax free
Some Private banks in Geneva do have the license to manage the assets of US persons and U.S citizens. However, do not think it is a way to avoid paying taxes in the US. Opening an account at an authorized Swiss Private banks is literally the same tax-wise as opening an account at Fidelity or at Bank of America in the US. The only difference is that you will avoid all the horror stories. Horror stories are all real by the way. In Switzerland, if you build a decent case and answer all the questions and corroborate your case in depth, you will manage to convince compliance officers beforehand. When the money eventually hits your account, it is actually available and not frozen.
The IRS and FATCA require to file FBAR if an offshore account is open. However FBAR is a reporting requirement and does not have taxes related to holding an account outside the US. The taxes would be the same if the account was in the US. However penalties for non compliance with FBAR are very large. The tax liability management is actually performed through the management of the assets ( for exemple by maximizing long term capital gains and minimizing short term gains).
The case for Porto Rico
. Full disclaimer here. I am not encouraging this. Have not collaborated on such tax avoidance schemes. if you are interested I strongly encourage you to seek a tax advisor and get a legal opinion. I am not responsible for anything written below. I am not going to say much because I am so afraid of uncle Sam that I prefer to humbly pass the hot potato to pwc
From here all it takes is a good advisor and some creativity to be tax free on your crypto wealth if you are a US person apparently. Please, please please don’t ask me more. And read the disclaimer again. Trust tricks
Generally speaking I do not accept fringe fiscal situation because it puts me in a difficult situation to the banks I work with, and it is already difficult enough to defend a legit crypto case. Trust might be a way to optimize your fiscal situation. Belize. Bahamas. Seychelles. Panama, You name it. At the end of the day, what matters for Swiss Banks are the beneficial owner and the settlor. Get a legal opinion, get it done, and when you eventually knock at a private bank’s door, don’t say it was for fiscal avoidance you stupid ! You will get the door smashed upon you. Be smarter. It will work. My advice is just to have it done by a great tax specialist lawyer, even if it costs you some money, as the entity itself needs to be structured in a professional way. Remember that with trust you are dispossessing yourself off your wealth. Not something to be taken lightly. “Anonymous” cash out.
Right. I think I am not going into this topic, neither expose the ways to get it done. Pm me for details. I already feel a bit uncomfortable with all the info I have provided. I am just going to mention many people fear that crypto exchange might become reporting entities soon, and rightly so. This might happen anyday. You have been warned. FYI, this only works for non-US and large cash out. The difference between traders an investors.
Danmark, Holland and Germany all make a huge difference if you are a passive investor or if you are a trader. ICO is considered investing for instance and is not taxed, while trading might be considered as income and charged aggressively. I would try my best to protect you and put a focus on your investor profile whenever possible, so you don't have to pay 52% tax if you do not have to :D
Full cash out or partial cash out?
- C. The cash out itself So you have accumulated patiently a good amount of wealth. For some of us who have been involved in crypto since 2010, it took years. Remember when BTC was stuck at 200$ for months? I personally feel like it was yesterday. There is no way you screw up your wealth by cashing out in a hurry or with low security standards. Here is how the cash out takes should place.
People who have been sitting on crypto for long have grown an emotional and irrational link with their coins. They come to me and say, look, I have 50m in crypto but I would like to cash out 500k only. So first let me tell you that as a wealth manager my advice to you is to take some off the table. Doing a partial cash out is absolutely fine. The market is bullish. We are witnessing a redistribution of wealth at a global scale. Bitcoin is the real #occupywallstreet, and every one will discuss crypto at Xmas eve which will make the market even more supportive beginning 2018, especially with all hedge funds entering the scene. If you want to stay exposed to bitcoin and altcoins, and believe these techs will change the world, it’s just natural you want to keep some coins. In the meantime, if you have lived off pizzas over the last years, and have the means to now buy yourself an nice house and have an account at a private bank, then f***ing do it mate ! Buy physical gold with this account, buy real estate, have some cash at hands. Even though US dollar is worthless to your eyes, it’s good and convenient to have some. Also remember your wife deserves it ! And if you have no wife yet and you are socially awkward like the rest of us, then maybe cashing out partially will help your situation ;) What the Private Banks expect.
Joke aside, it is important you understand something. If you come around in Zurich to open a bank account and partially cash out, just don’t expect Private Banks will make an exception for you if you are small. You can’t ask them to facilitate your cash out, buy a 1m apartment with the proceeds of the sale, and not leave anything on your current account. It won’t work. Sadly, under 5m you are considered small in private banking. The bank is ok to let you open an account, provided that your kyc and compliance file are validated, but they will also want you to become a client and leave some money there to invest. This might me despicable, but I am just explaining you their rules. If you want to cash out, you should sell enough to be comfortable and have some left. Also expect the account opening to last at least 3-4 week if everything goes well. You can't just open an account overnight. The cash out logistics.
Cashing out 1m USD a day in bitcoin or more is not so hard.
Let me just tell you this: Even if you get a Tier 4 account with Kraken and ask Alejandro there to raise your limit over $100k per day, Even if you have a bitfinex account and you are willing to expose your wealth there, Even if you have managed to pass all the crazy due diligence at Bitstamp,
The amount should be fractioned to avoid risking your full wealth on exchange and getting slaughtered on the price by trading big quantities. Cashing out involves significant risks at all time. There is a security risk of compromising your keys, a counterparty risk, a fat finger risk. Let it be done by professionals. It is worth every single penny.
Most importantly, there is a major difference between trading on an exchange and trading OTC. Even though it’s not publicly disclosed some exchange like Kraken do have OTC desks. Trading on an exchange for a large amount will weight on the prices. Bitcoin is a thin market. In my opinion over 30% of the coins are lost in translation forever. Selling $10m on an exchange in a day can weight on the prices more than you’d think. And if you trade on a exchange, everything is shown on record, and you might wipe out the prices because on exchanges like bitstamp or kraken ultimately your counterparties are retail investors and the market depth is not huge. It is a bit better on Bitfinex. It is way better to trade OTC. Accessing the institutional OTC market is not easy, and that is also the reason why you should ask a regulated financial intermediary if we are talking about huge amounts.
Last point, always chose EUR as opposed to USD. EU correspondent banks won’t generally block institutional amounts. However we had the cases of USD funds frozen or delayed by weeks.
Most well-known OTC desks are Cumberlandmining
(ask for Lucas), Genesis
(ask for Martin), Bitcoin Suisse AG
(ask for Niklas), circletrade
, or Altcoinomy
(ask for Olivier)
Very very large whales can also set up escrow accounts for massive block trades. This world, where blocks over 30k BTC are exchanged between 2 parties would deserve a reddit thread of its own. Crazyness all around. Your options: DIY or going through a regulated financial intermediary.
Execution trading is a job in itself. You have to be patient, be careful not to wipe out the order book and place limit orders, monitor the market intraday for spikes or opportunities. At big levels, for a large cash out that may take weeks, these kind of details will save you hundred thousands of dollars. I understand crypto holders are suspicious and may prefer to do it by themselves, but there are regulated entities who now offer the services. Besides, being a crypto millionaire is not a guarantee you will get institutional daily withdrawal limits at exchange. You might, but it will take you another round of KYC with them, and surprisingly this round might be even more aggressive that the ones at Private banks since exchange have gone under intense scrutiny by regulators lately.
The fees for cashing out through a regulated financial intermediary to help you with your cash out should be around 1-2% flat on the nominal, not more. And for this price you should get the full package: execution/monitoring of the trades AND onboarding in a private bank. If you are asked more, you are being abused.
Of course, you also have the option to do it yourself. It is a way more tedious and risky process. Compliance with the exchange, compliance with the private bank, trading BTC/fiat, monitoring the transfers…You will save some money but it will take you some time and stress. Further, if you approach a private bank directly, it will trigger a series of red flag to the banks. As I said in my previous post, they call a direct approach a “walk-in”. They will be more suspicious than if you were introduced by someone and won’t hesitate to show you high fees and load your portfolio with in-house products that earn more money to the banks than to you. Remember also most banks still do not understand crypto so you will have a lot of explanations to provide and you will have to start form scratch with them! The paradox of crypto millionaires
Most of my clients who made their wealth through crypto all took massive amount of risks to end up where they are. However, most of them want their bank account to be managed with a low volatility fixed income capital preservation risk profile. This is a paradox I have a hard time to explain and I think it is mainly due to the fact that most are distrustful towards banks and financial markets in general. Many clients who have sold their crypto also have a cash-out blues in the first few months. This is a classic situation. The emotions involved in hodling for so long, the relief that everything has eventually gone well, the life-changing dynamics, the difficulties to find a new motivation in life…All these elements may trigger a post cash-out depression. It is another paradox of the crypto rich who has every card in his hand to be happy, but often feel a bit sad and lonely. Sometimes, even though it’s not my job, I had to do some psychological support. A lot of clients have also become my friends, because we have the same age and went through the same “ordeal”. First world problem I know… Remember, cashing out is not the end. It’s actually the beginning. Don’t look back, don’t regret. Cash out partially, because it does not make sense to cash out in full, regret it and want back in. relax. The race to cash out crypto billionaire and the concept of late exiter.
The Winklevoss brothers are obviously the first of a series. There will be crypto billionaires. Many of them. At a certain level you can have a whole family office working for you to manage your assets and take care of your needs . However, let me tell you it’s is not because you made it so big that you should think you are a genius and know everything better than anyone. You should hire professionals to help you. Managing assets require some education around the investment vehicles and risk management strategies. Sorry guys but with all the respect I have for wallstreebet
, AMD and YOLO stock picking, some discipline is necessary. The investors who have made money through crypto are generally early adopters. However I have started to see another profile popping up. They are not early adopters. They are late exiters. It is another way but just as efficient. Last week I met the first crypto millionaire I know who first bough bitcoin over 1000$. 55k invested at the beginning of this year. Late adopter & late exiter is a route that can lead to the million. Last remarks.
I know banks, bankers, and FIAT currencies are so last century. I know some of you despise them and would like to have them burn to the ground. With compliance officers taking over the business, I would like to start the fire myself sometimes. I hope this extensive guide has helped some of you. I am around if you need more details. I love my job despite all my frustration towards the banking industry because it makes me meet interesting people on a daily basis. I am a crypto enthusiast myself, and I do think this tech is here to stay and will change the world. Banks will have to adapt big time. Things have started to change already; they understand the threat is real. I can feel the generational gap in Geneva, with all these old bankers who don’t get what’s going on. They glaze at the bitcoin chart on CNBC in disbelief and they start to get it. This bitcoin thing is not a joke. Deep inside, as an early adopter who also intends to be a late exiter, as a libertarian myself, it makes me smile with satisfaction.
Cheers. @swisspb on telegram
Friday, 1PM: I leave work early. I have to set up for the gun show early because the only time my mechanic has for the alignment rack for the next week and a half is friday afternoon and I am in need of an alignment to keep my Michelin Defender's in a nice predictable wear pattern.
My loadout this weekend includes a whole bunch of the usual stuff, Colts, Sigs, HK's, Glock's a few Springfields and four Daniel Defense rifles and an FN SLP Mk 1. I haul over a few used guns that I just took on trade too, a Tavor 556 LH and a Mossberg 500 that I got for $100 off someone wanting to trade it towards a new Glock 23. Four trips with the hand truck gets everything in before the rain starts.
I have reserved two tables but I have enough merchandise to cover three. The exhibitor tells me tables went up so two tables cost me $160 for the weekend and I consider it a small expense to view the express train to hell that is the gun culture.
45 minutes flies by as I set up my table just the way I want it and I get to Lenny's to get my alignment done. He's been doing an alignment for me no charge for the past 3 years after I told him NOT
to buy an old Browning shotgun he fell in love with on gunbroker. He wanted to use it for upland hunting, sporting clays, skeet and anything moving through the air killing. It was an old gun that had FIXED barrel chokes - Full and Full. I told him RUN LIKE HELL. He said my advice saved him from a $1500 mistake and the least he can do is keep my car on the road no charge. He gets my car set up on his $80,000 hunter alignment rack and finds my toe in is way out of spec. He spends a few minutes banging around with a wrench and everything is all good. As he's doing that, since I know he won't take my money - I walk to the 7-11 across the street and grab him a tall boy of Rolling Rock. His week is so shitty that he shotguns it faster than Brett Kavanaugh circa 1982. Time to head home. I'm halfway there when the phone rings ring ring
FC: Go for FC
1: Hey FC, it's Captain Bob. How's it going?
FC: Good! I got your stuff fixed and ready to go on my desk.
1: I can be there in 15 minutes!
FC: I'll turn around, see you in 15.
Captain Bob is a four stripe left seat pilot for Delta on the triple. We love talking airplanes and guns. He's had me tune up an old 220 he wants to use at a class he's taking at FLETC later this year. Like a good pilot, he believes in a comprehensive pre flight inspection. And since his type rating says B777 and not P220, he wanted someone to make sure he's not taking a dud to class. All I did to it was give it a visual, clean and lube and although it probably didn't need it - it had a 20 year old recoil spring so I installed a new one just as a precaution.
I get back to my desk and get his gun ready, cleared and slide locked back as he walks in the door. He just got home from running a 777LR to Johannesburg and back and is very pleased to see his old 220 ready to roll. I take my glasses off and point out he's got a little bit of slide peening in a few spots but just keep it lubricated and it's normal wear and tear since he does not shoot it much.
He asks me if I have any 300 blackout ammo, I pull a case of 220gr OTM off the shelf. I tell him $450 on the ammo and the pistol inspection and recoil spring is on the house and he's having none of it. Hands me five crisp hundos and tells me to keep it. Just as I'm tucking the cash into my desk drawer, my door opens up and since I'm not wearing my glasses - I see a blurry silhouette of.....is that wonder woman? HUGE TITS on a small frame. I can't tell what's going on.
Lady: Hey FC, it's Lisa. I was just getting my wedding dress altered next door and wanted to say hi!
FC: Oh hey! I'm not wearing my glasses so I have no idea what's happening!
Lisa: See you tomorrow!
FC: I'l be there! So anyways Bob, that was strange. I am normally not used to having my door flung open by halfway attractive women.....
Bob: Neither am I! You should see some of the FA's on the J'burg route!
We have a laugh. Some more airplane talk about the old 72's and I tell him about the time I greased it in the box on the A320. Turns out he flew A320's as well as boeings and we revel in the differences in both the airplanes. I really like the Airbus design and their workflow even though Boeing guys love to hate it. He's happy with his 220 and we pull chocks.
I head home, throw a ribeye on the grill and go to bed early. I've got a busy day in the morning.
Saturday morning I wake up at 7AM and look at my to do list. Shit shower and shave. The gun show closes at 5. Lisa's wedding is at 6. The venue is at the lake 39 minutes from the VFW hall. I have a plan. I will leave STRAIGHT to the venue from the gun show and I'll put on dress clothes below the belt. After all, how often do you look at another man's pants? I throw on an HK black NO COMPROMISE Polo shirt untucked with a black alligator belt and Canali navy slacks with my new Allen Edmonds boulevards in black. Socks by Brumell and boxers by Fruit of the Loom. I walk into the VFW hall with a non iron Lauren white spread collar shirt, Ted Baker tie and Canali jacket slung over my shoulder. Nobody notices the pitter patter sound of leather soles on the concrete as the show starts coming to life.
It's 8:55. Lets get this show on the road.
The loudspeaker crackles and lets everyone in the hall know the doors are about to open up and asks us to check all our guns for ammo and zip ties. I get my table ready and pull out my 4473's on clipboards and check my pens. FFL in frame is standing up on the table, everything is tagged and tied. There will be no discharge of firearms at my table as a result.
9AM: Show opens. It's dead. Deader than dead. Like, life support dead. Typically there is a line from the entryway of the hall and around the building to get into the show every time.
This is not the show of years ago. This summer has been atrocious. I talked to the promoter and lots of vendors did not reserve tables for this and the next show. The numbers are way down.
Some people start to trickle in but it's not a good sign.
9:30AM: A fellow walks up and asks me if I have a Sig 226 TACOPS with TB in stock. I don't but vendors do. He drove 2 hours to this show to try and find one since his local place did not have it. They're on contract with sig and refuses to order one from distribution to make him happy and Sig has no idea when they're going to make more out of New Hampshire. Well, thanks to Ron Cohen making 26 SKU's for every single pistol - that's what you get.
9:41AM: Fellow wearing an INFOWARS shirt molests way too much merchandise on my table than I'm comfortable with. I shoot a knowing eye roll to Noah over at the next table. He's a 27 year old jewish gold bullion dealer from Long Island that votes libertarian and laughs at all my jokes. He adjusts his RON PAUL FOR PRESIDENT banner hanging off the edge of his table as I wait for Finger McBangerson here to go away so I can wipe down all my stuff.
10:23AM: Guy walks up to me and he says he's looking for a shotgun for competition. I point him towards the SLP at the end of the table.
10:24AM: Older fellow walks up to me and says he's looking for a gun for his wife as he lifts up a Colt Commander. I tell him that will definitely kill his wife. Guy looking at the SLP cracks up laughing. Older guy looks at me mortified. Then he gets the joke. Asks me about suitability of a steel framed colt commander for her. I say probably not a good first choice. Perhaps you should send her to an NRA basic pistol class.
10:39AM: Guy asks me what's the best I'll do on a Glock 17L. I tell him the tag is already priced more than fair. He asks if he can buy it with cash if he can get a discount. I'm like let me see. I ask him if he's got a state CWL. He says yes. I take off $20. He says it's a deal, hands me a stack of money, current CWL and a California drivers license.
FC: Do you have residency in this state?
1: No, I'm here visiting for work
FC: And you want me to sell you a gun with a California drivers license and no residency?
1: DUDE! KEEP IT DOWN! Do you have any idea what would happen if people found out I didn't live here?
FC: YES I DO! They wouldn't be a party to you breaking the law!
I hand him all his shit back and tell him to get on the next flight to Fresno.
12:01 PM: Lunchtime. I pick up my sammich from Jersey mikes and nobody fails to interrupt me to throw money at me. This is not a very good sign.
12:16 PM: I am scarfing down the last of my sandwich as Infowars shirt guy comes back around. We chat a bit about 1911's and he eventually tries to convince me that I need to buy the water filter that Alex Jones is selling to keep us from turning homosexual. I tell him now I'm not gay, but look at these shoes. I pull my left hock up and put a nice shiny new Allen Edmonds boulevard on the table. He seems to recoil in horror. As he walks away, I tell him he didn't even notice that I had them straight laced! They're fabulous!
Nobody understands my humor.
12:33 PM: The vendor to the left of me is selling clothing offensive to the left. MAGA hats, anti snowflake shirts, ISIS hunting permit graphic tees, etc. I debate calling one of my guys and having "MAKE 45ACP GREAT AGAIN" hats made up. I call up r_shackleford
and he thinks this is genius. We trade witty banter back and forth for a few minutes.
12:49 PM: The vendor in front of me is a gigantic pawn shop with 16 tables. There's a woman trying to sell them a rifle, and not succeeding at all. Sam looks over at me and points and says to her "you know, he buys guns too!"
FUCK YOU SAM.
FUCK YOU LONG.
FUCK YOU HARD.
The hambeast approaches and thrusts a rifle in my face. "WE BUILT IT CUSTOM" she says. "I NEED MONEY FOR CHEMO" she says. The barrel says 223 Wylde. The lower says Aero Precision. The price tag says $1500 OBO. I tell her she'd be lucky if she got HALF that in this economy. She complains that they really need the money and her two demon spawn that are traveling with her seem to be tired of her getting the same speech from every vendor in the hall.
NO YOUR GODDAMN HOMEBUILT 223 WYLDE AR15 IS NOT WORTH $1500
It's not even worth $750
It's worth MAYBE the same price as a new PSA rifle - $350, $450 tops if you threw in the little girl.
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The lady looks at me like a truck stop rapist and inevitably proclaims that SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE'S GOT. Words fail me. I shake my head as she walks away with her demon spawn and I shoot a look back at sam and mouth very carefully YOU FUCKER back at him. Sam cracks up laughing.
1:12PM: I'm asked if that's a Dead Air Sandman on my table. I say yes. Guy asks to look at it and explains to his friend that it's a DAA Sandman and talks about the mounting system.
FC: You know your stuff.
1: Yeah I just bought one.
FC: I'm the only DAA dealer around here, you don't look familiar. Who'd you get it from?
1: Silencershop. Used the kiosk at a dealer in another city 1.5 hours away
FC: Uh, I stock the sandman and would have made you a deal. Why'd you do go through them if you don't mind my asking?
1: Well it was a timesaver.
FC: How's that? I mean that place I know is an hour and a half away without traffic, so you made a trip there to do your stuff - then back. That's 3 hours. Then another 3 hours after your stamps clear - so that's 6 hours in a car total. I can call the PD, make an appointment for you to roll your prints and you're done in 15 minutes. Photos at CVS are another 15 minutes. How is 6 hours a timesaver instead of 30 minutes?
1: Well I just knew that if I had to make more than one stop I'd never do it, so it was spend 6 hours in a car and get it done in one shot or spend 15 minutes doing fingerprints or photos and being too lazy to do the other one and never sending in the paperwork. So this was the better choice for me.
FC: Uh. Okay?
1: Why don't you have a kiosk?
FC: I'm not paying $9000 for something that's going to save you time and cost me money and then have to deal with being tech support and having a device in my place of business that compresses my own margins. We're down to making $50 on a can from making $350. This isn't a position I'm interested in taking.
1: Well, sucks to be you. I'm buying all my cans from silencershop now!
FC: Enjoy your 6 hour drive.
1:30 PM: Man walks up with an old stainless combat commander colt. Series 70. No original box and sights. Looks well used.
Thinks I’m crazy when I say I won’t give him $1000 on trade.
1:39 PM: Guy comes back. Guy wants me to put a can on his 1917 eddystone that is not threaded. He asks what he can get for $150
1:45 PM: Lady picks up a Trijicon RMR and asks to turn it on. I shove a battery in it and turn it on.
1: This is a laser sight right?
FC: This is an RMR from Trijicon and RMR stands for Ruggedized Miniature Reflex sight - it uses a laser of sorts and projects it onto this lens here....
1: THIS COSTS $500? AND IT DOES NOT EVEN PUT IT ON THE TARGET?
FC: Well if you just look through the lens here you can see the red dot projected onto the glass.....
1: I CAN BUY A $30 LASER POINTER AND DUCT TAPE IT TO MY GUN AND I'D BE $470 CHEAPER AND IT WOULD PUT THE LASER ON THE BAD GUY! WHAT IS THIS GARBAGE YOU'RE TRYING TO SELL?
She walks away. My mouth is agape.
2:15PM: Old guy walks up and points at a Glock 34 I have on the table. MY FRIEND BOUGHT A GLOCK IN 89 WITH NYPD AND SHOT HIMSELF HOLSTERING IT. I DONT TRUST THE DAMN THINGS and shuffles away without me having time for a rebuttal
2:21PM: Someone walks up asking me if I want to buy a used les Baer Comanche. I tell him I buy when I can make money. I look at it. It’s clean.
He wants $1600. Street is about $1600, that's all the money. Street the gun sells for about $1799 NEW, which means I can buy it for less than $1600 new. I tell him this. He looks at me like Elizabeth Warren looks at Brett Kavanaugh and shuffles away. I shake my head as I notice a familiar face walk up. I can't place it. He looks at some guns.
2:25PM: I'm asked if I have a card from the familiar stranger. I reach down into my wallet and fish one out, I hand it to him and he smiles at me. It finally clicks.
FC: Dr Livingstone, I presume.
Doc: I haven't seen you in years, how have you been?
(The doc is FC's old therapist. He can't say hi to me walking around due to HIPAA but if I open a dialogue, it's okay)
FC: Eh, same old shit different day. I uh made some mistakes a few weeks ago and I thought of you.
Doc: Oh really? How so.
FC: Well uh. You remember that day when I told you to go back to the Office of the Bursar at UCLA and ask for a refund on your $125,000 post graduate education because it was nothing but academic detritus?
Doc: Well, I hadn't thought about it for a few years but it sounds like something you would say.
FC: It was right after you told me that I used 3 different quotes from 3 different academics in a span of less than 5 minutes to answer your question. You said that I intellectualize as a defense because I don't like getting close to people. I said you're full of shit. You asked me do I even know what intellectualize means? I said of course I know what it means, what do you think I'm some kind of idiot? Then you sat there grinning like a Cheshire cat at the thought of making me eat my own words.
Doc: Haha. Now, that sounds familiar. I remember that.
FC: Well I don't know how many patients are willing to say it but you were right and I was wrong.
Doc: I don't get much pleasure in hearing that, but did you learn anything about yourself?
FC: It took a few years to realize you may have been right all along but yeah.
Doc: Then what does it matter who's right or wrong as long as you learned something?
FC: Hmm. That's not bad. How's business?
Doc: Full appointment book and not taking new patients.
FC: I guess you could say it's........a little crazy?
Doc: I missed your humor. Tell me about this Glock 45...
I show him a few different guns and crack jokes about disgruntled patients. He says he'll think about arming himself what with crime and mentally unstable people being growth sectors in this post-trump apocalyptic nightmare. I tell him to be fore warned is to be fore armed. He seems reticent, but I can only lead the horse to water. I can't make him drink.
2:51PM: Fellow walks up.
1: I need a colt ladysmith. Do you have one?
FC: the colt or the ladysmith?
1: The colt ladysmith
FC: is it a colt or a smith?
FC: which model?
1: the ladysmith!
FC: I know but I need to know what model. They put that on a bunch of different guns
1: it’s the one with writing on the side of the gun. It says. LADY SMITH on it. You know the one
I realize the strongest case for repealing the second amendment is spending a day talking to people at the gun show.
3PM: Two hours left to go! The end is in sight! I haven't sold a single fucking gun yet!
3:02 PM: Man walks up. Hey do you have the new Sig 925?
FC: You mean 365?
1: No the 925
FC: Sig does not make a 925
1: Yes they do, it's the new one.
FC: The 365?
1: No! The 925!
FC: Can you show me a picture?
1: It's the one on the magazine.
FC: Most of sigs guns have magazines.
1: I mean the one in print. It's on the cover.
FC: The cover of the periodical you mean?
1: Yeah! You know the new one!
FC: Well if it's on the cover, it should be easy to find on google. Can you show me a picture?
1: There's nothing coming up on google for the Sig 925
FC: Maybe perhaps its because it's the sig 365?
1: I'm telling you it's not that. It's the new one they just came out with. It's the 925.
FC: Care to make a wager?
FC: If you bring me a photo I can try to narrow it down.
1: I'll find the magazine at home and bring it in tomorrow.
3:12: Numismatist neighbor Noah asks me a question
Noah: Hey! What's a hi point?
FC: A cry for help!
Noah: No I mean price wise?
FC: Like $100, they're garbage guns.
Me and Noah start talking. I am moving more and more libertarian every day. He's the treasurer of his local LP chapter in Suffolk county. For a jewish kid from Riverhead, we sure have a lot in common. We get into an animated debate on the virtues of Kelo v New London in that it was a shitty position for the town of New London to take Susette Kelo's house for redevelopment under eminent domain. If they wanted to redevelop it, for the government to use eminent domain is a government run amok. As a libertarian, he hates government overreaching - as someone who also hates that sort of thing, we are in very vocal agreeance.
The tshirt vendor is listening to us debate the merits of the case and how the SCOTUS created a TERRIBLE precedent regarding government using the takings clause and when we finish he asks us a question.
TShirtGuy: How the fuck do you two know so much about a supreme court case?
Noah: Well, when you went to college and you're an economics and pre law major....
FC: Let me make it simple. WE ARE NERDS!
Everyone has a laugh.
TShirtGuy: Speaking of funny, check this out! He holds up a shirt.
It says in big print on the front: the the reason gun shows exist is so women can know what it’s like for when they drag men to the mall
3:13 PM: I get in an argument with the republican candidate for office of something or other on gun laws. He is stupid and he is going to lose.
3:23 PM: A nice lady walks up. She looks familiar. She looks at some guns and feels up a 226 and remarks how well she likes how it handles.
FC: You're Bernice, aren't you?
Bernice: Why yes I am! You do not look familiar. How do I know you?
FC: You're still working at the courthouse right?
Bernice: That's right!
FC: Judge Snyder, right?
Bernice: No! He moved up to the appellate circuit last month it's...
FC: Judge Reinhold! That's right, one of his JA's called me to buy a gun last month. I forgot Christine told me, you're right.
Bernice: Holy crap, you have an incredible memory. When was the last time you were in front of Judge Snyder?
FC: Four years ago. I was the one that filed the motion citing the big lebowski.
Bernice: OH MY GOD THAT WAS YOU? I remember that!
FC: Yeah and I had to go dumpster diving to get my phone back.
Shit, was that really 4 years ago? Fuck.
We talk more about guns and stuff. She loves her old West German 226. I tell her that if she really wants to have some fun, she should ask Judge Snyder to tag along on his next range day. About two years ago, the judge called me up asking for some advice. He's Tet offensive era USMC and wanted a new toy to reach out and touch someone and was dead set on getting a new SR25.
I talked him out of it because SR25's are stupid expensive. I knew of another dealer that had a T&E 20" SR25 that they were looking to unload cheap and I told him that with the amount of money he'd save going to the T&E gun versus the new one - the delta would more than cover a Nightforce NXS, rings and mounting and that would save him money and be a good performer. I'm friends with his daughter on facebook and they both looked like they had a lot of fun ringing the gong at the gun club.
Bernice is impressed. Too bad she's not my type, we'd get along fantastically if I was 15 years older.
4 PM: 60 minutes left to this shit show.
4:04PM: The loudspeaker crackles. ATTENTION ATTENTION: BRETT KAVANAUGH HAS JUST BEEN CONFIRMED TO THE SUPREME COURT.
The proletariat rejoices and hooting and hollering typically reserved for the LSU game breaks out in the hall.
ALSO WILL THE RED JEEP PARKED IN THE FIRE LANE PLEASE MOVE - YOU ARE BLOCKING THE BBQ GUY FROM LEAVING. RED JEEP. MOVE OR YOU WILL BE TOWED.
4:11 PM: Guy walks up in civvies.
1: I wanna buy this but I’m not a state resident
FC: well what’s your deal? Give me some more to work with.
1: I’m from Texas but I’m in the military
FC: if you got your orders - PCS to any base in this state says you’re a state resident, but if you don't - I can't help you. I know a lot of guys don't travel around with their orders....
JUST AS I SAY THAT the guy pulls out a wad of hundreds out of his pocket and his PCS paperwork, signed, rubber stamped and billeted.
THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.
I give him the clipboard as I look at his paperwork. No blank spaces, approved change of station to Barksdale AFB, address reads base housing, everything is in order for the young airman.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. THIS IS AMAZING.
Forms done correct on the first swing.
I AM WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP.
I call in the transaction and they tell me that the national system is down. NO IDEA WHEN IT'S GOING TO BE BACK UP.
I tell the USAF that the system is down and we can't do anything. He takes my card and hands me money and says just call him when it's ready to be picked up. Huh. Okay, he's cool with that. His girlfriend lives over here so he's back here every weekend. Done! I mark up the paperwork with some notes.
4:23 PM: One guy just walked up and told me that he had no idea HK made rifles. Apparently made a bunch of rifles a few years ago and stamped glocks name on them for Glock. Since Glock can't be found out to be making rifles. This captures the attention of another guy who asks me if my Glocks on the table have fluted firing pins. I tell him they do not make fluted firing pins. That makes no sense. He says yes they do make sense. They're fluted so they shoot underwater.
4:28 PM: Noah's table has someone in front of it debating buying some gold. As they delve into the discussion of gold and FIAT currency, I hear the following.
1: Bitcoin is a webpage. It’s like buying stock. Bitcoin issues shares and it dilutes so the price goes down.
Noah: I don't think that's how it works.
1: You’re basically buying a part of a big webpage
FC: This is like listening to someone try to explain that pi is exactly 3.
Noah: What's wrong with you?
FC: I am the Anthony Bourdain of the gun world. I eat, I drink and I yell at idiots.
4:45 PM It's getting close to show close, I need to get ready for the wedding. I grab my Lauren shirt that thankfully is non iron and just dressy enough to work and just casual enough to be worn without a tie if you need to and whip off my HK polo. I put on the shirt and tuck it in as I notice a lovely couple walk up out of the corner of my eye. Its Jim and Jane, Jane is a pharmacist that works at the hospital and Jim is a Gastroenterology resident at the hospital too. They buy lots of guns from me. I finish tucking in my shirt as we talk shop.
Jim wants 6 cans, 3 handgun and 3 rifle and wants to know what his options are. I rattle off all the options I would look at and I write some down on a legal pad for Jane to show him on the computer when he gets home. We talk 762 vs 556, 45 vs 9mm and direct thread vs QD for about 10 minutes as I tie off my blue Ted Baker tie into a Pratt knot. The apex of the tie just touches my belt buckle. Length is right on the money, and I didn't even have a mirror. Jane approves of my knot and color selection. Go me.
4:55 PM: Fabulousness achieved, I call back in and find out national system is still down. FUCK. Well this is gonna have to wait till tomorrow. I shove Airman Cecil O'Malley's paperwork under the table and start stowing stuff since the show is about to close.
4:59 PM: Table is covered up and FC is walking out the door as the announcement crackles over the loudspeaker. THE SHOW IS CLOSED. PLEASE LEAVE THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR.
5:01 PM: On the way to the wedding! I stop at Target along the way because I've forgotten to get a card. I find one that says "It was meant to brie" on the front. It has some greeting card herpes, aka glitter on it but I have no time to be picky. As I'm in line to checkout I write something cheeky.
"I always said love was cheesy and I camembert it sometimes.....Love, FC"
The cashier scans it, I plug my amex into the card reader as I slip in a yard in there and seal up the envelope and slide it into my jacket pocket.
The ride to the lake breaks every speed limit in two counties.
5:45PM: I arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony is about to begin and the parking staff puts me in the back lot. I hike over to the open bar and get a fresca. I'm supposed to behave myself, so FC quit drinking and is just chilling with a fresca as he scans the room.
I know NOBODY at this wedding except the bride, groom and MAYBE the bride's massage therapist. Nope. I know nobody here. Awwwkward. I behave myself and sip on a fresca as the wedding starts. She gets married. She says yes. He says yes. FC is an ordained minister and can step up and marry someone in case there's an emergency but my services will not be needed at this wedding because things are going smoother than a cold filtered miller genuine draft. It's all good. The DJ announces the new couple and they walk down the aisle together as husband and wife for the first time. The music starts playing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNEgUPKxk7A
ITS HEAVY D AND THE BOYZ! I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO GO TO A WEDDING WHERE THEY PLAY THE COUPLE OFF TO HEAVY D! I mention this to the people sitting next to me and they're like it's just like hitch!
I'm like what?
They go on to explain to me that it's a movie. Starring Will Smith. Huh. Didn't see that one.
5:45 PM: The open bar and the food is coming out. I look around and I definitely do not know ANYBODY HERE. I need to eat and go home. I grab a plate of cocktail shrimp and some lobster sliders and sit down at a picnic table away from the crowd. I don't even notice a busty brunette with cleavage showing also sitting at the table staring at her phone across from me until she says hi.
(I scarf down a lobster slider. Munch munch)
1: So how do you know the lovely couple?
FC: Well she was a friend of a friend and next thing you know I'm showing up to the Christmas party and the wedding. Then Seth is showing up and then they're getting married. You?
1: I work with Lisa, I'm a flight attendant. But I've been out of work for a few months. We had this thing at work. It's called a fume event. I happens when well uh how do I say?
FC: Contaminated bleed air via the pneumatic air conditioning kit - or PACK - gets into the cabin, causing all sorts of respiratory irritation and all sorts of other things for the crew. You're on the 320, right?
1: The airbus? Yeah. Me and Lise are also on the....
FC: 321 and the 319. Yeah, I'm familiar with the technology.
1: You're a pilot.
FC: Not exactly. I just know airplanes really well.
1: So you're an aerospace engineer.
FC: I wouldn't go that far. Hahaha. That's stretching it. A lot.
1: Let me get this right. You're friends with Lisa and Seth, you know airplanes, you're the only one at this wedding actually wearing a suit......
FC: To be fair, it's Louisiana in October. We're lucky most of the folks here aren't wearing Mossy Oak and Realtree.
1: Hahahahahhah! You must live in Baton Rouge!
FC: I do.
1: Me too! What part of the city? I live in (names neighborhood)
FC: I'm over in (neighborhood next to her)
1: OH MY GOD! That's 10 minutes from my house! So anyways, you're smart, you're funny, where have you been all my life? I'm Ally.
FC: I'm Will.
1: You wanna get dinner together? I literally do not know anyone else here and I was thinking about leaving before I met you.
FC: Uh sure. Lemme just top this fresca off.
1: I'll join you.
6:15 We're told by the bartenders to grab a ceremonial wedding tervis tumbler with a patch commemorating the happy couple's nuptials hermetically sealed inside. They didn't want a bunch of red solo cups going to the dumpster so they decided to ball out. I walk up to the table where there's literally 200 tumblers in varying colors to choose from and I grab a random one as Ally grabs one too. We head to the bar, she fills her with vodka and sprite. I top off with ginger ale because I'm staying sober and I have to drive 45 minutes back to casa de FC in BTR.
She asks me how I know so much about airplanes, I tell her it's been a lifelong obsession and I've done some ground school on the 320 and the 737 and I much prefer the 320. I ask her what's tough about her job and she tells me that most people don't know they only get paid when the doors close. I say yeah, block time is a real bitch sometimes. She looks at me like I'm crazy. I'm like what? She's like HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT BLOCK TIME? I told you, I know airplanes. We chat some more as the crowd gets drunker and drunker and more ridiculous on the dance floor. Someone requested Strokin' by Clarence Carter and the DJ ACTUALLY PLAYED IT. Goddamnit Lisa! HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF A DO NOT PLAY LIST? Wow.
7:10 PM We find some seats for dinner as the buffet opens up, I pile a bunch of chicken marsala and beef wellington on my plate and we head back to the table. She's only a few years older than me and cannot believe that I am single. She asks if I've tried tinder. I tell her the tinder story about me being stuffed into the back of a police car and it is met with raucous laughter.
1: So, do you dance?
FC: I do a lot of things, but I don't dance. Baton Rouge is the city that rhythm forgot.
1: I don't really dance either. As a matter of fact, I'm perfectly content to people watch all night with you here by my side.
Her hand ran down to touch mine. It had a ring on it.
FC: What does your husband think about that?
Next thing I know, Lisa and Seth have dropped by the table to say hello. They're taking pictures with everyone and we can't continue the conversation we were just having. Lisa dives in to hug Ally, Seth gives me a handshake, sips my drink and asks why there isn't any bourbon in that tumbler.
FC: Gotta behave myself. Long drive back home.
Ally: OH MY GOD LISA! Will is FANTASTIC! Where have you been keeping him? He's funny, he's amazing and he looks hot in a suit! If I wasn't married, he'd be the perfect guy!
(We're cut off by Lisa, she looks at me sternly.)
Lisa: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Lisa: Yesterday! When I was getting my wedding dress fitted! You called me a half attractive woman.....
FC: It's not a normal occurrence! Most of the women who open my door are total heifers! For real! Take the compliment!
Lisa cracks up, and Seth who has had a few drinks laughs so hard that he damn near falls over. You can hear the cackle of his laugh carry across the lake. The best man props him back up and they all have a laugh. The wedding planner slides in and tells the bride that her cake has been outside of refrigeration for an hour and 15 minutes now and is structurally deficient. They need to cut it now before it collapses in upon itself like a black hole. Lisa grabs Ally, Seth grabs me and the rest of the table follows. We're now part of the wedding cake cutting crew.
7:15 PM: The entourage all takes their Instagram positions as Lisa cuts into her structurally deficient cake and Seth resists the urge to do anything cheeky and fun with frosting. It's cute, everyone toasts the newlyweds.
7:20 PM: I pull Lisa aside privately and I ask her - what the fuck is Ally's deal? "If I wasn't married he'd be the perfect guy?" WHO THE FUCK SAYS THAT? A married woman? At a wedding? To a guy she JUST MET?
Lisa: Look, I have no idea how her marriage is going or what her deal is. But just because there's a goalie doesn't mean you can't score.
FC: WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
Lisa: It means that maybe, if she's throwing herself at you......you should catch her. I gotta go throw the bouquet. Brb.
7:25 Lisa goes to throw her bouquet and Ally has found me and is back at my side.
1: Where were we? I was just saying to Lisa that I was wondering where a guy like you has been all my life? You are awesome.
FC: I am awesome, and you are married.
1: Yeah, I know. Come on, I really want you......I mean I really want you......to go photobooth with me. Come on, it'll be fun.
She grabs my arm and drags me to the photobooth and she puts ridiculous hats and stuff on me. I'm like no, I've been looking ridiculous enough from birth. i'm good. She literally begs me with puppy dog eyes and does that thing where she shows cleavage.
FC: Isn't this like against one of the ten commandments? Thou shalt not......photobooth with another man's wife?
1: Hmm. Yeah, I guess. You're really sweet though. If I was single, I'd be all over you right now.
FC: Who says that? Really?
1: So, answer me this. You're not an engineer. You're not a pilot. What do you do?
FC: Gun dealer.
1: So if I had something like an AR15 that needed some work, you'd be the guy to call?
FC: Maybe, depending on what you needed - there's a lot of things where I'll just tell you flat out what you're trying to do is uneconomical and a bad idea.
1: Well, I'd really like it if you could check out some of my equipment sometime.
FC, internal monologue: WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE
FC, external monologue: Bring it by the gun show this weekend and I'll see what I can do.
I crack an uneasy smile as she gets up to go use the bathroom. I decide it's time to get the fuck out of here.
8:11 Making my escape plan proves to be a little tougher than I expected. The parking at the venue at the lake is dark and unlit and I have to navigate my way back to my car in the dark using the light from my phone. I reach into my jacket and I realize that their card is still inside. Fuck. I gotta go back. I turn around and head back to the gift table and I use some ninja recon skills I picked up in catholic school to make sure Ally is nowhere nearby. The coast is clear. I walk up to the little birdcage they have for cards, drop mine in confidently and get ready to turn on my heel and leave. I start making my way back to the parking lot when Seth is just walking out of the bathroom next to the gift table.
1: Hey man, you heading home?
FC: I am now, forgot to drop off your card.
1: Ally thought you left without saying goodbye to her, so she asked me for your number. I gave it to her.
FC: Oh dear lord.
FC: Did you hear that woman? "If I was single, you'd be the perfect guy!" Those words are not in a vocabulary of any married woman I know.
1: Dude, you just gotta chill out and go with the flow man. It's not your marriage. If she wants a piece of you, cut her off a slice.
FC: Are you serious?
1: When I met Lisa, she was still married to Freddie. Look at us now, 7 years later and we're happy. You want to be happy, don't you?
FC: Yeah but....
1: No but's! Go storm the castle! I gotta go, but I'll catch you at the afterparty tomorrow night! You going?
FC: Yeah at your house right?
1: Yeah, what time the gun show wrap up?
FC: 4, so I'll be out by 5.
1: I got steaks going on the grill at 3, I'll get save a nice one for you. You still a medium rare guy?
FC: You know it!
1: I think Ally is gonna be there too, you two should get to know each other a little better.
FC: That's what I'm afraid of!
Seth goes back to his wedding, I hop in the car and drive home. It's almost 10PM as I approach the Jersey mikes by my house. I stop in to grab a sandwich for Sunday.
Just as I walk up I hear one of the sandiwch makers swear she's going to slit the throat of the next person who orders a sandwich. Eep. I tell her I need a giant 9. She starts making me one. I ask her if she's trying to get out of here right at 10? She says yeah, she's trying to catch the end of the Yankees/Red Sox game. I tell her my old man was from Brighton and my mom was from Elmhurst, so there's no love lost there. We have a laugh. She caught the Yankees pummeling the A's in the wild card on Wednesday. I whip out my phone and check the score for her. Yankees are up 6-2. I tell her she should be able to catch the end of it at home or whatever sports bar she's going to. She tells me she's going to the outback steakhouse the next block over to watch it and they better have the game on when she rolls up in 15. I tell her I'll do her one better. I dated the bartender there (once, she friendzoned me) and I'll message her on facebook to have it on for you. It is at this moment, I am asked for the second time that evening - from a strange woman I've just met - where have I been all her life?
I head home, throw my sandwich in the fridge and head to bed wondering WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?
Did FC like get game all of a sudden?
Donald Trump is President.
The Eagles won the super bowl.
You can't make this shit up.
I got one more day at the gun show too.
Postscript: As I write this, it's Columbus day and the Indians, the Redskins and Braves all got their asses handed to them.
We truly live in interesting times.
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