The Man With a Bag of Mustaches

Strange things happen. In fact, strange things often happen to some of my friends, including a couple who recently experienced a man with a bag of mustaches during dinner at one of their favorite chain restaurants. Yes, you read that correctly--a man with a bag of mustaches visited their table, and apparently the tables of fellow patrons, until the mysterious man had touched the entire restaurant. What kind of writer would I be if I didn't turn that into a story?

      James and Kylie's Thursday night dinner started without incident. They sat at their typical table, ordering their typical dinner and drinks. While waiting for their usual fare, they watched as an unfamiliar couple sauntered into the restaurant. Like a fading shadow, the woman followed meekly behind her boisterous companion, whose eyes settled first on the bar, then on James and Kylie. The man demanded a Red Bull and vodka from the barkeep, then like a proud peacock, strode to James and Kylie's table, leaving his woman behind to fetch the drink and pay the tab.

      "So," said the man, "what are y'all up to tonight?"

      James and Kylie exchanged secret eye-rolling glances.

      Kylie flatly replied, "Eating dinner. What are you doing?"

      "Well, I was about to…" As his companion appeared with drink in tow, the man's voice trailed off. Before continuing, he snagged the glass from her grip, gulping nearly two-thirds of the beverage in a single swig. Clearing his throat, he continued, "What was I saying? Oh, yeah. I was gonna grab a conversation starter from the car. I'll be right back." Turning for the exit, he slapped his glass into his forlorn companion's palm.

      The woman dabbed her hand where the drink had crested its cup. Sheepishly, she said, "I'm Sally. Sorry for my husband. He gets real excited when he meets new people." Her eyes darted from James to Kylie, then to the ground and the door, making a circuit back to James.

      Residents of a vacation hotspot, James and Kylie often met tourists at their local haunts. "Are you from out-of-town?" asked James.

      The woman met his eyes. "We're just passing through. But Sid gets excited just the same."

      "Does he leave you alone like this a lot?" asked Kylie.

      As if on cue, Sid reentered, a smallish brown paper bag in hand. He hustled back to his drink, snatching it from the woman, dropping the bag onto the table with a thwack. Chugging the last of his beverage, he shoved the glass into the woman's chest. "Why don't you make yourself useful and get me another," he said, slapping her ass as she headed for the bar. He focused his attention back to the seated couple. "Bet you won't guess what's in the bag."

      A three-minute guessing match ensued, calming only when the Sally returned with Sid's refill. An exasperated James and Kylie turned doe-eyed faces to the woman, pleading with her to end their misery.

      "It's a bag of mustaches," said Sally.

      "Damn it, Sally!" said Sid. "You just had to go and ruin all the fun."

      Captives, James and Kylie sat silently as the two strangers bickered. Finally, the man reached into the bag, pulled out a Chevron and slapped it onto his upper lip, where it laid like a flattened caterpillar. Sally chortled.

      "Huh? Huh?" asked Sid. "How's that for a conversation starter?"

      Stupefied, James and Kylie stared at the strange man. Unable to answer, they were saved by the waitress, who shooed the mustache-toting duo away. Before the first plate hit the table, Sid reached for his bag. With Sally in one hand and the bag in the other, he strode further into the dining area, disappearing behind a walled partition. Sally waived, but with one swift pull, she vanished out of sight.

      Kylie picked up her cell phone. "I've gotta Tweet that out."

      James chuckled. He and Kylie finished the rest of their dinner in relative silence, dumbfounded by Sid's shenanigans. While sharing a hot fudge brownie sundae, the couple's ears perked as Sid's booming laughter wafted up the hallway.

      Yanking Sally behind him, Sid stopped at James and Kylie's table. "Well, we're headin' out. Nice to meet you folks." With a final nod, Sid pushed Sally forward, smacked her rump and ushered her out the door.

      "That was so weird," said James.

      "I think that may have been beyond weird," said Kylie.

      As James and Kylie waited for the bill, a chorus of gasps ebbed and flowed throughout the restaurant. A few minutes later, the exasperated waitress, check in hand, approached from the main dining room.

      Kylie asked, "What's going on in there?"

      "Either a lot of people misplaced their wallets, or that freak with the bag of mustaches cleaned out the entire floor."

      Eyes wide, James and Kylie fumbled to check for their wallets. Both were missing.

      "Oh, great," said the waitress. "He got you guys, too?"

      "Fuck!" said Kylie.

      "Never trust a man with a bag of mustaches," said James.