It’s an unnatural kind of sticky in Memphis and Tony Allen is on a mission so into the Buffalo Wild Wings he walks. It’s a dead Tuesday afternoon and few bustle inside aside from a businessperson or two on their lunch break and a mom and daughter coloring on a kids’ menu while First Take shouts at their backs.
He breezes past a hostess named Tanya who’s texting a boy that won’t text her back and walks up to the bar. He makes eye contact with the bartender, a thirty three year old graduate student named Kanna. She’s pretty.
“Yo,” he says, “Where go those buttons that make games go longer than they s’posed to?”
Kanna stares at him and runs her fingers back through her jet black hair. She shakes her head and is trying to figure out if he’s joking or not. But, as she stares on him, she sees the sincerity. This is no joke. He means it.
“I’m sorry, sir,” she says, “Do you mean the buttons from our commercials?”
“Yea,” he answers, “I was watching Friends and I seen one come on and y’all had some dude make sprinklers come up out of the ground to trip players and spray water in their faces.”
She’s still trying to see if this is a joke but, again she sees, he couldn’t be more serious. She takes her eyes off him for a second to survey the bar again. Then she looks at him once more.
“I’m sorry,” she says, “Those aren’t real. Those are just commercials.”
Allen looks at her and wonders if she’s joking with him.
“Stop playing,” he says, “Where are the buttons. I seen that yall have them. Yall publicize them everyday.”
“Sir, I’m sorry,” she says, “But those are fake. They’re just supposed to be silly commercials that show how people want to stay here for as long as they can because they’re having so much fun.”
Allen finally sits in the stool he’s been standing over. He speaks louder than he has been.
“Stay here for a long time? Here? Why would anyone…Look, lady,” he says, “We play tomorrow and I need to know that, if something’s happening and the Clippers start running away from us, I can call you guys up and you can take care of it. This is the playoffs. Can’t really afford to be taking any chances and I don’t have time for you playing dumb acting like you don’t know what buttons I’m talking about.”
Kanna gets closer to him and tries to keep her voice low.
“Sir,” I’m sorry, “But there are no such buttons. If you continue to become aggressive I will have to ask you to leave.”
“Oh, you want me to leave?” he asks, “She wants me to leave.”
Allen starts to gesture to the man in a red flannel and khaki jeans a few stools down. He continues.
“This lady right here who has the power to decide who wins and loses games wants me to leave. Well, guess what? I will come back. I’ll come back with my whole team. We’ll get Z-Bo, and Marc, and Mike, and Darrell, and we’ll come back in here and make sure you know what’s up. On me, B, this is the Grindfather. Don’t no one with sense cross the Grindfather. You fixin to kiss the ring when the Grindfather get back.”
He shows her the golden pinky ring with a diamond encrusted “GF” on it. Then he storms out, throwing down the stool he was sitting on in the process. The man in khaki jeans and a red flannel orders a Blue Moon and she pours it and shakes her head.
“That’s the fifth time he’s been here in the last week. He keeps expecting me to forget that he was in here the day before.”
She’s talking to nobody, her eyes on the lowering head of the Blue Moon.
“Really hope he doesn’t bring back that Haddadi dude.”