Friday, March 16, 2012 | 2:19 p.m.
In college in the 1980s it wasn't uncommon for fiscally-struggling students to hand over three crumpled one dollar bills to the gas station attendant to scantly fuel the handed down 1972 Ford Torino station wagon. It was just enough gas to get one to a restaurant, to order a meal, then to hope there was enough cash in their pockets to leave the restaurant without washing the dishes.
The legend that is the threat of having to wash dishes isn't really a practical deterrent. It's not like the restaurant would really ask the regular dishwasher to clock out in order to be truly repaid for the meal, is it?
So when four men in business suits literally jumped out on their bar tab by leaping off a ledge atop the Rialto Towers in Melbourne, Australia, the dishwashing staff at Vue de monde must have sighed in relief that they would earn a full night's pay.
The base jumpers had smuggled their gear to the bar, excused themselves to the restroom, then walked outside to the balcony and locked the doors behind them. From there they leapt, pulled their parachutes and glided to a getaway car parked 55 stories below.
The cocktails at Vue de monde are, by media accounts, pricey. So pricey, in fact, that the chef ran downstairs in an attempt to catch the jumpers. Which begs the question, just how much are those cocktails?
Obviously, the unpaid check is the punch line on a well-planned, adrenaline producing stunt. But it does stir the imagination as to what members of this foursome are capable.
If you are a girl dating any of them, be wary of any special dinner date that involves an elevator and a humpbacked sports coat. This, likely, moves the number of ways to leave one's lover to 51.
If you are an old buddy, I would take notice when your friend with a helmet and a camera orders the surf-and-turf featuring a three-pound lobster tail with saffron sauce, topped with Sevruga caviar and white truffles alongside a cut of beef from a Wagyu cow, and the meal is served with the keys to a Pagani Zonda Roadster on a gold-trimmed bread plate.
And as if the Zonda keys aren't enough, once your friend asks for a bottle of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Blanc de Blanc, then that's when suspicions should spike. A bottle of anything with that many "blancs" in the name has to be expensive.
Of course this type of thing wouldn't fly in Las Vegas. Tourists below would gaze up thinking it is a promotion or a movie stunt. But we all know, Nellis Air Force base sits just outside the city, so the odds of these jumpers' boots meeting the ground seems unlikely, even if they are all dressed like Elvis.
With today's high-priced cocktails and gasoline, some may fear this variety of dramatic bill-bailing may become a trend. But thankfully, gas stations aren't located atop skyscrapers.