Thursday, January 31, 2008

Part II: "Is That A Cooler Scooter?"

When we last left our hero, he and his merry band of people he has just met are navigating their way through the glorious anarchy that is Gasparilla in Tampa. He is well-lubricated from about a 20-hour period of drinking and trying to absorb the spectacle through all five senses.

It smells like beer.

It sounds like a cross between a full football stadium and listening to a radio while someone turns the dial really fast through the stations.

It tastes like beer.

It looks like a psycho ward full of people like Steve the Pirate.

And it feels like beer. At least, it feels like things feel after you've imbibed a lot of beer.

Just picture 400,000 people all racing to see who can pass out drunk first after seeing as many boobs as they can with one eyepatch on. With live music.

Our group is quickly broken up as we lose each other in the maelstrom. I'm left with Lala, a sweetheart of a girl carrying a 24-oz. Camelbak bottle of vodka and tonic, at least half of which she doesn't need. We decided to stroll up and down Bayshore before the parade starts so she can achieve her goal of taking a picture with everyone in a cool pirate costume she can find.

The mansions that face the bay and others in the near vicinity all have that stretchy orange perforated riot fencing up around their properties to keep people like Defi from vomiting in their bushes, tearing up their sod or spraying reproductive fluids on the tulips. Not only that, most every house has at least one private, armed security guard standing post at the front of the property just in case people are so hopped up on Jameson that they decide to rush the fencing.

However, some of the mansions apparently have really cool residents, because they were throwing some SICK parties. I'm talking live bands or DJs, those industrial-size grills you can fit an entire cow in, kegs stacked like Legos and girls dressed so slutty you couldn't tell where the neckline stopped and the miniskirt hem started. One of my last lucid moments was spent staring at one of these parties, like a little homeless orphan kid outside the window of a New York steakhouse, wishing for just one bite of that blonde's perfectly round ... rump roast.

Next year, I will be at one of those parties; I swear it before all three of this blog's loyal readers.

The most entertaining part of the people-watching - besides playing that classic game, "Is she 16 or 24?" - was marveling at the dozens of unique, creative and downright brilliant ways people find to transport their liquor. The following are just a few examples:

The basic "pony keg in a grocery cart approach." If you want style points, though, you decorate the cart as a pirate ship:

This is one of my personal favorites:

Who needs a baby in the stroller when you can shove a cooler in there?

There were various forms of backpacks, dollies, belts, carts and other jerry-rigged inventions that provided their creators with a large supply of booze as well. Since vendors were selling cups for $4 of $5 apiece, people were inspired to explore their inner Edisons. I swear, if mankind put as much effort into curing cancer as he does transporting alcohol, we'd have a remedy in like six hours. (Closer to five if you make it into a contest at a tailgating party.)

However, the king of Gasparilla was this guy. He zoomed by too quick for me to catch a shot or ask him where I could buy one, but luckily someone took a shot of it and put it online:

PURE. F*%#ING. GENIUS. If that guy didn't get laid at least 26 times that day with that thing, he should be shot. And whoever invented it should be beatified. I wanna meet him so I can kiss his pinky ring.

As for me and Lala, we pushed our way to the railing just as the parade began to come through by us. She was absolutely determined to score as many beads as possible without resorting to nudity, although her BAC made keeping that promise iffy, at best. My job was to stand behind her, make sure she didn't fall and try and keep one eye out for potential sloreign agents willing to compromise their loyalties to the dumbasses who brought them.

Unfortunately, I wasn't very successful at this because standing right next to the Gasparilla parade is not unlike standing in a hailstorm. The floats are packed to the gills with drunk people who have literally hundreds of pounds of plastic to chuck. And they don't sober up, cuz all the floats have kegs on them; some even had, and I swear I'm not making this up, working bars on them. So they just get more blitzed, which means their depth perception goes, which means they don't realize you're only 10 feet away when they whip a cheap Chinese-made necklace at you like it's the ninth inning of Game Seven of the World Series.

I ended up with roughly five pounds of beads, and at least half of them I got out of complete self-defense. I'd duck my head as three sets of beads zipped at me at once, throw my hand to up block them, and end up catching them. That is the sum total of my advice on catching beads. Self-defense.

Lala, standing strong in her convictions to keep her breasts to herself, realizes that to compete with less-principled women along the railing, she has to do something. What is that something? Offering to kiss each and every pirate who strode along in the parade distributing trinkets. How is that better than not showing your cleavage? I dunno. It's female logic, man.

Halfway through the parade, Lala's face is covered in rubbed-off makeup, lipstick - because there were female pirates, too, although I insisted on calling them "wenches" - and fake blood. Every time a pirate gave the busty blond a few feet down some beads and not Lala, my Puerto Rican homegirl would step off the railing, glare at her and threaten to go "angry brown girl" on her. Bead collection apparently is a very serious matter where Lala's from.

After two or three hours, the parade wraps up and we're just sloshed. At this point, things got real blurry for me, because the combination of fatigue and alcohol had pretty much numbed me to reality. Going through the text messages I sent to Defi, I see I ended up at a barbecue, which sounds vaguely familiar. It seems I also felt I was getting cockblocked. Sadly, I don't recall by who or over whom.

Next year, I'm either at a party on Bayshore or a float, or both if I can swing it. And I'm gonna go with a bigger crew. I have a thing about crowds, especially in unfamiliar places. I need to have some boys with me. So man the f$&% up, y'all, and come kick it. First handle of Bacardi is on me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Ohio University Halloween (Pt. 1)

It’s a Wednesday, and I’m sober. So I’m going to delve into my archives for story time (sit back, this will be a long one):

In October 2003, my good friend (we’ll call him “Tommy College,” or “T.C.”; not so much to protect his identity, but because it really pisses him off) called me with an idea. He had heard about Ohio University’s annual costumed Bacchanalia, which O.U. students and alumni downplay as a “Halloween party.” Now, I am going to assume that you’re like me; when you see the term “Halloween party,” you think “a relatively small gathering—maybe 20 to 40 people, some of whom are in costume, consuming alcohol and relaxing while music plays.” A reasonable supposition, but let me shatter it with a fact that T.C. dropped on me during that phone call: O.U.’s Halloween party is the 3rd largest public celebration in the country, behind Times Square on New Years Eve and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I went into involuntary spasms at the realization of what we were about to get ourselves into.

At the time, T.C. was president of his frat, which has a chapter at O.U. His idea was to call the president of O.U.’s chapter, tell him that he was coming through with some guys for the party, and graciously accept the unmitigated hospitality that would be offered by the O.U. frat brothers: beds, booze, hookers, liver transplants the following day—whatever we wanted. We’re W&J guys, after all: we would be received as liberators. I now have a sneaking suspicion that T.C. was working with the Bush Administration’s Iraq War advisors.

Tony was the only other friend of ours who we could convince to ride out with us. Some had other commitments that day. Some lacked what my high school defensive line coach called “intestinal fortitude.” Even Tony took some convincing. He didn’t commit until a friend of his, who had heard elsewhere about the famed party, said he’d be crazy not to go.

On the Saturday of the party, Tony, T.C., and I made the 3 hour drive out to Athens, Ohio. If you have ever made a trip across any stretch of Ohio, then you know just what kind of torture it is. It’s similar to the scene in Starship Troopers, where the bug drains the guy’s brains to read his mind. Ohio wanted to know what our plans were, and after 2½ hours our skulls were bone dry.

Athens is a typical college town, in that there’s more college than town. At night, the O.U. campus sits on a plateau like a glowing oasis amid the pitch black nothingness of, well...Ohio. And as we drove into the light, our jaws dropped. Block upon block of off-campus apartments and houses, teeming with people. And, especially, with girls scantily-clad in “costumes.” Girls on the porches. On the sidewalks. Sticking out of windows. Drinking on rooftops. On campus it was more of the same, every single block crawling with people. Drunk people. In costumes. God bless America.

The three of us had decided not to get dressed up, and as we walked from the parking lot to the frat house, we realized that we stuck out like sore thumbs. When I say everyone was in costume, I don’t mean “everyone” in a generic sense. I’m speaking literally here. EVERYONE. Except for the three W&J guys.

T.C. called the president to notify him of our arrival, and we stood outside of the frat house while we waited for him to come meet us. A foursome of attractive girls dressed as naughty girl scouts strode up the walkway (I still say in movie-like slow motion). One stopped to offer us some of the goodies in her “cookie box,” a shoe box which had been modified to match her outfit. She opened the top and revealed a large assortment of condoms. Tony and I each took one, and she smiled at us as she departed, catching up with her friends as they walked into the house and up the stairs. The look on Tony’s face was that of a man who had found heaven.

This was my first exposure to team costuming, but certainly not my last. After Frat Prez came down to get us, he took us upstairs to a hall party where groups of cops, cheerleaders, and hookers walked to and fro. He introduced us to his girlfriend, who herself was part of a group of…well, it was never made quite clear what their costumes were. Fedoras, pinstriped dress shirts, miniskirts, thigh-high stockings with garters, and high heels; kind of a cross between hookers and ‘30s gangsters. Whatever it was that they were going for, they achieved it beautifully.

They took us to an off-campus house party, but the fact that we knew no one aside from Frat Prez was readily apparent. And he was distracted by his friends, which left us as the un-costumed unknowns crashing the party. Not an easy conversation starter. Plus we were all sober. We had been handed beers at the house party, but they were the first drops of alcohol we had touched all night. We decided to journey directly to the epicenter of the craziness: Court Street.

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wisconsin Nuckas Don't Play

Just a quick aside, y'all. Part II of Gasparilla coming tomorrow. But this is what happens when bartenders come up short on your shots in Appleton, Wiscizzle.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Part I: I Keeps It Gasparilla, Son

Howdy, folks. As you can see, I made it through Gasparilla despite one crucial tactical mistake - which I will get to in a second - and an erroneous error in the last post.

Turns out the thing they call the Night Parade - which I call freaky deaky sex land - does not immediately follow the day parade on Saturday. No, that simply would be suicidal. Tampa would become Snake Plissken's New York. In fact, it takes place a week later, i.e., this upcoming Saturday. I'd like to go, but my wallet will be the ultimate arbiter of that decision.

On to Gasparilla.

I knew I was in for one hellacious day. I'd be on foot most - if not all - of the time, I was going to be drinking heavily and I'd be navigating unfamiliar neighborhoods filled with drunken chaos. The semi-intelligent man would make sure he was fit for such an adventure, that fatigue would not become a factor.

However, I am not semi-intelligent, and I went to the club at 6 p.m. Friday where I stayed until approximately 2 a.m. drinking steadily.

"Hey," you say. "That's not too bad. You could still get home and catch a few hours of shuteye before making your way down to Gasparilla at 10 a.m." And you would be right, except that by that point, not only was I still not semi-intelligent, I was also tipsy. Stir in a little bit of what I like to call "a Puerto Rican girl with spectacular rackage," and you end up drinking at the casino until sunup.

At that point, I realize I have set myself up for a day of drinking with a difficulty factor of infinity, but there wasn't much I could do about it. I dropped off the female and made my way home, cursing my own stupidity as well as the bill I racked up at the Hard Rock. A shower and change of clothes later, I'm slightly soberer and on my way down to Hyde Park, the neighborhood that abuts Bayshore Boulevard which is the street the parade is on.

Driving down there was interesting, as it's one of those places where half the streets are one way, and on this day, the other half were blocked off by popo. I finally get within two blocks of my destination, the apartment of a friend who was hosting pregame activities, and pay $20 to park in a garage that is normally free. Free enterprise sucks ass.

Handle of Bacardi in hand, I stroll down to Lala's place. The streets and front yards are already filling with people doing their best to push the adult beverage industry to a record quarter. Across the street, some guys had a couple of flat screen plasmas on the lawn ... facing the street, for some odd reason. Next door to them people had already broken out a shot luge, and in front of Lala's two-story building, about 15 people had gathered to pound beer and play the bongos.

Lala and her friend had some breakfast food out - hash browns, strudel, cinnamon rolls, quiche (that was for the girls) - which may have saved my life. Mojito in one hand, potato deliciousness in the other, I scope out her building. The beer pong tourney was out back, and they were already moshing in a downstairs apartment. It's only 11 a.m.; the frigging pirates don't even invade for another half hour.

We load up our bloodstreams with fermented goodness until about 1, then head toward Bayshore, three blocks down. Some guy strolled by with a permanent marker "tattoo" on his bicep that read "I love dirty pirate hookers"; this was to become a theme for the rest of the day.

Quick geography lesson: Bayshore Boulevard is a four-lane road with a median that runs along the bay from downtown southwest for a few miles. Specifically, you have water, a grassy strip with a sidewalk, Bayshore and then the mansions that face the bay. It's absolutely gorgeous. And the city of Tampa was going to run a 120-float parade down it while 400,000 people walked around in various stages of intoxication destroying anything they could get their hands on. Makes sense to me.

The parade came up from the south in the northbound lanes; there were bleachers set up on the east (water) side that you had to have a hookup or a ticket to get into. Thus, the large majority of the spectators are in the southbound lanes facing east, backs to the mansions.

How to describe the scene, how to describe the scene ... OK, best I can do. Remember "Animal House"? Remember the Delts' parties? Where bottles were being thrown about indiscriminately, motorcycles were driven up stairs, married women were seduced, underage women pounded beers and bands cranked out them good notes? Picture that, but less orderly and with more eyepatches.

Keep that image in your mind, because I'm going to take a break here since this post is already hella long and I want to make sure I have whatever pics I can get my hands on to help illustrate the adventure.

If nothing else, come back in a day or two to see the "Cooler Scooter." Yes, it's like that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Yo, Ho ... Ho! Get Me A Bottle Of Rum"

There are times when a man is challenged by something that overwhelms his sense of self, when his finite perspective cannot grasp the enormity of the task before him. And yet, despite this alienating sense of disproportion, the man who is brave will step up and courageously accept this challenge and devote all his will, all his energy - indeed, all his being - to conquering it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Gasparilla.

I never heard of it til I got to Tampa. It's basically a pirate-themed Mardi Gras. The legend, in short, is that a pirate named Jose Gaspar once sailed into Tampa Bay and laid siege to the city, despite the efforts of local sailors to feebly attack his ship.

So every year, this invasion is commemorated by a reenactment, where an actual goddamn pirate ship sails into Tampa Bay, surrounded by a fleet of local boaters.

The crew of the ship, who are dressed in detail like pirates, down to makeup, then "storm" the docks and demand the key to the city from the mayor, who hands it over. Then they launch a parade through the city.

OK, now that the official explanation is done, let me explain what Gasparilla REALLY is.

It's beads, beeyotches and booze, folks. It's keg stands, Ketel One and krewes. It's sun, sluts and sex. More than 400,000 people are expected to be at the shindig. And that's just the MORNING parade. Yes, this party has gotten so out of hand over the years that they now hold a Kids' Gasparilla Parade the week before, so that no one feels obligated to bring them to this thing, which is definitely PG-13.

And in the afternoon, when it's over, we get crackin' with the Night Parade, which goes through Ybor City (picture a Latin version of Bourbon Street; it's the city's nightlife district, where it's just as likely you'll end up in a threesome with a pair of Cubanas as getting stabbed on a side street by a 12-year-old). That has been described to me as "the X-rated part of the celebration." When the booze really starts flowin', the beads start goin' and the boobs start showin'.

Needless to say, I'm diving right in. I have an invite to a friend's 10 a.m. party a couple blocks off the parade route. After that, who the hell knows. I'll be in text contact with all my peoples, so God help me if I lose my phone. I'll try to bring back what stories I can, but I make no promises, people.

After all, I'm walking the plank.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sooner or Later, It Had to Happen

It finally happened. I played a full four-year college career, and had experienced a HOF-worthy 6½ year pro career in this drinking game. Countless parties—whether hall, frat, hotel, bachelor, super bowl, holiday, after-, or pre-. I have conquered bars and clubs, many of which are probably no longer in existence, in a multitude of cities. I have dazzled crowds with my wit and blood-alcohol fortitude, as well as my drunken stammering and uncoordinated crash landings. I have won over the hottest girl at the party, and been rebuffed by the chubbiest. But never, ever had I been shamed.

Circle January 18, 2008 on your calendars. Your kids are going to want to know where you were the day “it” happened.

The night started great. Tony and I arrived at Nick’s house around 7:45 pm to find a steadily-swelling party scene, complete with snacks and preparations for the beer pong tournament. A bracket was drawn; I signed up and threw down $10 along with 11 brave souls.

Two game tables were set up in the garage, and the adjacent den served as a lounge, where players awaiting their turn on the tourney tables (and a large number of people who had no interest in the pong of beer—commonly known as “wives”) played pool or Tecmo Super Bowl on the Wii. I quickly dispatched my 1st round opponent, and then faced off with Nick in the 2nd. Ten minutes later, I had advanced to the round-robin finals. Then an intermission was called, because the pizzas that we had ordered had arrived. And nothing disperses my friends from a room like announcing that there is fresh, steaming pizza in the kitchen. Hey, if you work hard, you play hard.

We returned to the tables 20 minutes later, where I quickly took down Tony and Zach in successive matches, and Tony beat Zach to set up the final bout. I had an early lead, but slipped and missed on 3 successive opportunities, during which time he pared my cups down to two. I connected to tie it, but missed on my next throw. Tony threw; “thwock.” I rolled the ball back, and he aimed again. “Thwock.” The sound of 2nd place.

Upset as I was that I had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (and cut my winings in half—from $80 down to $40), I soon found a new problem looming: I was really drunk.
“This isn’t going to be pretty”-drunk (I may have even uttered that sentence at one point; it seems vaguely familiar). And the night was only starting. We decided to forgo another pong tournament, and someone suggested that we head over to Todd’s By The Bridge. In my now sloshing brain I heard a garbled, “hi Lauren.”

I don’t know if it was my recent time spent on injured reserve, the rapid pace of the tournament and all of the chugging involved, or if I just had too light of a dinner (six pieces of square cut pizza is really more of an appetizer than a meal). Maybe it was all three combined. But my memory of the rest of the night plays like a scratched DVD. I know only two things for sure: (1.) Lauren has a boyfriend, and is of such low character that she will not even entertain the idea of cheating on him with me (I sent a drunken text to TJ that involved the word “whore” after discovering this piece of news); (2.) I awoke on Nick’s couch at 5 am with a large drawing of a penis on my cheek.


For those that have not experienced this phenomenon, trust me when I say that you have never scrubbed anything the way you do when you find yourself staring at an artist’s rendering of male genitalia on your face. The image of Al Swearengen scrubbing a blood stain on the floor of The Gem flashed through my mind.

And, of course, my friends documented the historic occasion with cameraphone pictures, which were then sent to all of those who couldn’t be present to witness it firsthand. My hangover on Saturday was accentuated by text messages like the one I got from Chief, which simply said “Hi dickface.”

The name of the act is perfect. Shame is the first and foremost emotion you feel when you flip on the bathroom light and glance in the mirror. However, anger runs a close second. I know the identity of the person responsible, and I will be seeing him again. If you’re out there reading this buddy, I have two words for you: “sleep light.” Sooner or later, even the great players drop the ball. But you’d better believe that they come back and play even harder the next time.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Let's Go, Mountaineers!"

I'm not sure if this belongs here or in The League, but screw it, this is my blog so it gets the love. Some people's spots about to get blown, but oh well.

Saturday was my friend Stacey's birthday, but like a trouper she still planned to work her regular shift as floor manager at my regular spot. Thus, Saturday night would be a mix of work and play, and there would be lots of free booze flowing.

Cue my arrival at 4:30, when the place was dead empty. Literally. Me, the day-shift bartender, the DJ and the DJ's girlfriend. Thus, there was nothing else to do but drink. Happy days.

Night shift starts about three hours later, when Stacey and the owner - who's bartending - arrive. (I've mentioned this before, but Rusty is a smoking-hot redhead with ample cleavages and knows how to have fun.) Stacey's still recovering from the night before, when she was bartending, and all hell let loose at midnight for her birthday. She claims the only reason she survived is because the dozen or more shots she did were all Washington Apples and Lemon Drops. I was disappointed in her, needless to say.

Overall, the night was a bit slow. Only three dancers, not a whole lot of customers. Of course, that could be because the entire bay area was under a tornado and hail watch and the rain was kinda nasty for a while, but what do I care? It meant Rusty and Stacey weren't as stressed out and made it more fun for the rest of us. Early on, the only entertainment was the three gay chicks who came in, one of whom was a sexy-ass lipstick lesbian and could not stop giving her girlfriend lap dances as they sat at the stage. DJ was like, "Hey, you want a job?"

However, at about 8 or 8:30, I see an odd group walk in the front door from my vantage point across the bar. I say odd because I couldn't see anything past these four guys, including the ceiling. The few synapses that were still functioning fired: "basketball players."

Tampa doesn't have a pro team, so everyone knew they were college. Only question was, which one? Quick check of the University of South Florida's schedule and ... ladies and gentlemen, your West Virginia Mountaineers!

Now why, you ask, would D-I men's basketball players be at a strip club the night before a game? I'm just spitballing here, but maybe because their coach is Bob Huggins, who is to discipline what Jenna Jameson is to monogamy.

Regardless, in these cats stroll in their warmups, and they're immediately a hit. Jamie Smalligan is the only one I can identify for sure, because there's only one 7-foot white guy on their roster. His three compadres - and this is not guaranteed info, because I was tipsy and it's a dark-ass club, so no libel suits please - were Wellington Smith, John Flowers and Da'Sean Butler.

But, you say, those three aren't 21! To which I respond, they're elite athletes, so no one cares!

So they immediately are surrounded by everyone in the bar minus me and a couple of other customers. They may only have been drinking pop, although I was hella tempted to start sending rounds of Patron their way and then lay $500 on the next day's game.

So the guys are fun, and apparently have money. This was confirmed for me when the cats lined up at the stage and started making it rain on the girls. Not Benjis or Jacksons or anything, but there were certainly laying more money out there than I ever had in college. Either they all have wealthy families or the fine taxpayers of West Virginia, who dole out the cash for these guys' per diem, were instead financing the careers of Brooklyn, Chloe and Sparkle.

Anyone who says college athletes need to be paid is an idiot.

So the party is jumping so much, and these guys are spending so much money, that Rusty jumps on stage for a rare set. Now, she doesn't need to remove clothing. Pants are unbuttoned and ride a little lower, and the top is unbuttoned to let the twins breathe much easier. But she's definitely sexy and knows how to move, and the guys are now in awe. Literally. Jaws hanging.

Ish is officially off the chain. Most of the bar comes over to the stage to tip Rusty, including me and Stacey. (Hey, she's the owner. I know which side my bread is buttered on.) One of the girls gets on stage with loot, and her and Rusty get their freak on. The college kids are pretending they're Pacman Jones. Rusty's grinding on them in their seats. Good times for everyone.

After three songs, Rusty retires back behind the bar, but these guys have a curfew and have to get moving. Now, I don't know if a request or an offer was made, but the arrangement was made for Rusty to give each of these guys a private dance as well, whenever they weren't getting dances from one of the girls. So she's shuttling back and forth to the back for four more songs, grabbing the hand of a different kid each time. End of every song, some 6'6 20-year-old comes stumbling out of the back trying to play it off like he isn't in love.

Trust, Rusty can do the damn thang.

They rolled out about 10, which let us get into some serious birthday celebrations. ("Stacey, you have to at least let me breathe between Jager bombs!") There was cake, and Stacey got onstage dances from all the males in the club ... except me, cuz I don't get down like that. LOL

Final tally: eight hours in the club, $32 tab. And the residual intelligence not to lay money on USF.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"And this, is what I do."

The sobriety binge ends tonight (I swear I just heard trumpets blaring). That’s right—tonight I put my clear vision back on the shelf where it belongs. Nick has three kegs leftover from his wedding, and in the interest of finishing them off, is having a beer pong tournament.

Beer pong. “The sport of kings,” as I like to call it (f**k you, horse racing). My alma mater, Washington & Jefferson College, is to beer pong what the University of Miami is to football: a factory. It is a breeding ground that consistently produces elite talent. I’ve played against hundreds of people from hundreds of colleges, and the best players are always the W&J men.

I really can’t explain it, but we seem to have an unrivaled program. Nick and I were asked (twice) to voluntarily leave the table during a party at Penn State, because none of the Staters could beat us. We had a tenth of Thiel College’s student body cheering on our opponents at a Thiel homecoming party some years ago, because none of the Thiel boys could beat us. I’ve had crowds gather at bars in Ocean City, because…well, you get the picture.

I’ve won a tournament while playing with a party full of people I had never met before that night. I had a game that went into 5 overtimes. I’ve had 11 game winning streaks, 13 game winning streaks, 14 game winning streaks. By the way, anyone who has ever experienced a winning streak over 10 games will agree: you start hoping to lose, usually somewhere around the end of the 11th game. You find yourself aiming only half-heartedly. Maybe even trying to short-arm the ball. But you let it go and hear the telltale “thwock.” Nick always tells the story of the time he and Chief were teammates in a tourney in college: at one point near the end, nearing a blackout and drained from being on his feet for several games, Chief put his head down on a nearby mantle and threw the ball without looking. “Thwock.”

I went back to W&J a couple of years ago for an annual weekend-long party that my friends’ frat holds. The beer pong table was set up in a backroom in the basement, and there were parents and little brothers and sisters mixed in the crowd, along with the students and alumni. My buddy Zach and I (team name: Ebony and Zachary) got on the table, and after we had won our 3rd straight game, people around the table started placing bets—parents included. Money was being thrown on the table from both sides as people took action on the game. Suddenly we were in “Bloodsport.” There’s nothing quite like sinking a cup to the simultaneous roars of cheers and dejection. I think someone even tipped me for hitting the winning cup, somewhere around the 8th game. You just can’t make this stuff up.

So tonight, I once again step onto the field of battle, to further add to the distinct pong heritage of “The J.” And with the goal of defeating not just the opponents across the table from me, but my arch nemesis: “Moderation.” That son-of-a-bitch doesn’t know what he’s in for.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Capitol Nights

I feel I owe the loyal readers more. If we have loyal readers. Or readers. I mean, even if we have readers, how am I to know just how loyal they are? When the revolution begins, will our readers stand by our side with a chrome fo-five?

Wait, where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. I owe you—let’s just assume that there is a “you”—more. My bank account may be imposing a booze embargo on me at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I should be letting it affect my blogging. After all, I have an endless catalogue of boozing stories in my archives. Hardly a conversation between my friends and I goes by without at least one tale being referenced or recounted. Sad, maybe. But I prefer “awesome.”

And since I’ve prattled (it’s a word…I swear…look it up) on for a few minutes already, I’ll give you a relatively quick version of the story.

My boy Chief (no, he’s not Native American) lives just outside of Washington, D.C. Last year, I went down to visit on his birthday with two of our friends, Haze and Fox. Haze and Chief grew up together, and to christen his homie’s 28th year in this world, Haze bought Chief a 1.75L bottle of Grey Goose. We arrived at Chief’s townhouse with the Goose and 4 six packs of Red Bull. Chief’s fianc√©e, Kim, shuddered as she realized what kind of weekend this was going to be.

Fox, Haze, and I were running late when we got on the road, and got lost along the way. So our planned 10 p.m. arrival occurred at about 11:30 p.m. This meant that we had a limited amount of time to spend at the Alexandria bar that we hit that night, which closed at 1 a.m. A whole handle of Goose, and only about an hour of good drinking time to take care of it? No problem. We stumbled out of the door at about 12:20 a.m., the bottle sitting empty on his kitchen counter. And this, is what we do.

We got to the bar, a suburban pool hall, about 30 seconds before last call, so we each ordered a Long Island Iced Tea to maximize our bar time-to-alcohol ratio. After that, we went back to Chief’s and played poker until about 5:30. I made about $60, which was a theme that weekend. The next day I threw $50 on a college basketball game, and won that, too. That night I found out what a blessing these wins were: they meant that the trip didn’t throw me into bankruptcy.

Drinking on an average Saturday night in Pittsburgh, at that point, ran me about $40. D.C.’s cost of living, however, doubles that figure. Actually, it would’ve tripled it, but Chief had a fantastic hook-up at the restaurant where we ate that night, and my $50 meal (food and a couple of glasses of 12 year old Macallan on the rocks) cost me about $35—after the tip. Make friends with your servers.

Chief took us to some bars in the city, and along the way we smoked some Cuban cigars. It wasn’t my first time smoking a cigar, but you would not have known by watching me. I smoked the whole cigar down in about 3 minutes of walking down a D.C. street on a cold February night. My lungs were not happy with this development.

I couldn’t be bothered with that, though. I had more pressing business to attend to, like adjusting to D.C. prices. We were paying $9 each for drinks that cost $4.50 in Pittsburgh. Welcome to the big city. Haze is a lawyer, and isn’t worried about money (hence the big bottle of Goose), so his “moment of adjustment” came when he tried to hit on a fine little Asian girl walking through the bar. When she quickly dismissed him and walked off, he was caught off guard. Like a true soldier, though, he regained his composure. He immediately turned to the rest of us who were standing nearby and said, “Geez, you believe all the lesbians in this place?”

This is that wondrous point in any good drinking night when things go hazy. I don’t remember leaving the bar, but I remember Chief, Fox, Haze, and I hailing a cab. I remember asking the driver to take us to a good strip club, but I don’t remember why we didn’t go to one. I don’t remember feeling sick, but I remember throwing up all over myself and the cab door. My lungs had exacted their revenge for the Cuban assault. Viva La Revoluci√≥n.

My birthday present to Chief, it seems, was a story about a load of foul-smelling laundry and an irate cab driver at 3 a.m that he can (and will) forever hang over my head. Who says I’m not a good friend? Anyone can give you a big bottle of Grey Goose. I gave a memory. Take that, Haze.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Evil, Thy Name Is The Hard Rock

Quick post, because I don't know how much longer I'll be conscious.

It's about noon on Monday, and it's only been about 6 and a half hours since I left Heaven, aka the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

What was I doing there at 5:30 am on a Sunday night/Monday morning? The answer to that is very simple. She's about 5'3, has a killer smile and a fantastic asspiece.

She's a bartender, and I'd been hanging at her spot earlier in the night. We've been cool since I'd first gone to her bar a few months ago, but last night was the first time we kicked it outside the spot, because basically the flirting was getting to be too much and we decided to stop pretending like we didn't want to do the damn thang.

After work, she goes to the casino to unwind because, ba dum dum, it has a 24-hour bar. One that charges $8.75 for my capncokes, but I digress. The really important thing here is I found a place that serves alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week about 20 minutes from my house.

That might end up being the inscription on my tombstone.

Friday, January 11, 2008

High and Dry

So this is what abstinence feels like.

Well, as close to abstinence as I will ever get: Not being anywhere near blacking out for 10 days straight. Does AA have a keychain for that?

It’s true that a leopard can’t change its spots, though, so my next binge is likely nearing with every minute. I stopped by a bar last night at happy hour with a few coworkers; and, as my second tall draft disappeared, I found myself smacking my lips like Tom when he temporarily befriends Jerry and kisses him on the head. That old familiar taste; it’s so good, once it hits your lips.

But money is probably the one thing that puts a leash on my drinking habit, and January is a rough month for finances. Christmas shopping drains the bank account the month before, while pumping up the credit card debt. I only get paid once per month, and our December check came on the 21st because our entire staff is off during the holidays. This means that my January pay doesn’t arrive until 40 days later. The earth has flooded in less time. Ironically, though, these 40 days mean I’m high and dry. I always knew religion was misleading.

Finding a way to drink on a restricted budget is a lot easier when you’re younger. Between the ages of 18 and 24, you find yourself at house parties all the time. Sometimes more than one per night. But once your friends begin giving away their pride in exchange for marriage/committed relationships, it all goes downhill. Ironically, now all of my friends have houses of their own. But none of them have parties on the weekend. Explain to me, then, what the point of owning a house is? Why do anything that adversely affects your drinking/partying? Am I the only one who thinks logically around here?

Well, given my month-long “sobriety,” I guess I kind of am.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chocolate Shot Glasses? Sweet

I must make something clear before this blog goes any farther: I was not raised in a drinking family.

That's not to say my parents didn't enjoy the occasional glass of wine. But beer was a rarity in our fridge and I can't recall ever seeing my parents have a hard drink outside of a dinner party. I stumbled onto recreational drinking pretty much on my own; I have a strong suspicion the Norwegian half of my genes is responsible for this, if my mom's side of the family is any indication.

So I've never really gone out and had a grand old time drinking with either of my parents, who have been divorced nearly 15 years. Hence my surprise at my dad's offer to hit a local martini bar after dinner during my holiday trip back home.

He and his wife started with cranberry martinis, if memory serves, while I decided to take it easy and do mojitos, since I know I can outdrink both of them and I didn't think we were doing much more than having an after-dinner sip. Silly me.

This was the night the Patriots won their 16th game, and we got there before kickoff and left at about the end of the third quarter. Again, not worth bragging about, but a significant milestone in my understanding of my dad. Alcohol can be a good thing sometimes.

On to the point of this post. A guy he work(ed?) with shows up randomly with girlfriend in tow. They sit at the bar with us and soon a lively conversation is going. At some point, I see the guy talking to the bartender off to the side, and she departs, only to return with a plastic bag full of chocolate. Not just any chocolate, but chocolate shot glasses.

Not only was this something I'd never seen, I'd never even heard of it. Not much of a surprise, because all things considered, they're kind of tacky, if not downright metrosexual. However, given the context of the evening and the fact that I wasn't pounding booze with the homies, I figured what the hell.

My dad's friend buys a round of Bailey's shots in these "glasses." Alcohol and chocolate. There are worse combinations. We toast to the new year, and knock back the shots, then drop the glasses in our mouths. I must admit to thinking this was kind of cool ... or maybe not cool, but at least unique. I can see it as a nifty Valentine's gift if I can find a relatively stable girl who drinks as much as I do.

I don't know what other kinds of liquor would go well with something like this, but I definitely think sweet liqeurs would be the way to go. A shot of Patron mixed with chocolate does NOT sound like a good time. The Bailey's wasn't bad at all, but it's more of a mixer than something to drink by itself.

Anyone else heard of anything like this?

Monday, January 7, 2008

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

Three straight nights of drinking. And while there are assorted small stories from this weekend - hanging out at the only strip club in America that had the New Hampshire debates on a projection screen, earning a bottle of Parrot Bay from Defi for using my Jew magic on the Steelers, losing a game of pool to a one-armed kid - I'll focus on last night's events. Er, main event, I guess you could call it.

I'm at my regular spot, chilling in the DJ booth with my man Poppa, the DJ/manager for the night. The club's doing pretty good business.

There are about a half-dozen girls in the house. One, whom I'll call Weave, is a light-skinned, obnoxious loudmouth sista who everyone hates but is tolerated cuz guys spend ridiculous amounts of money when she's around. Don't ask me why; I generally wanna crack her in the head with nearest heavy object. Another, whom I'll call Butterface, has the perfect "skinny white girl with fake boobs" frame, but her face ... well, you get it.

Butter's on stage. A female patron who was arguably hotter than any of the dancers gets up there with her, and they're getting their freak on. Guys are dumping money on'em, Poppa's giving the play by play from the booth and I'm thinking I picked a pretty good night to hang out.

Then Weave heads for the stage, which is a major faux pas; unless the girl on the pole invites you, you don't come up cuz you just get in the way of her money.

Poppa's on the mic like, "Weave. WEAVE. WEAVE!" She just dead ignores him and walks up there, sticks a bill in Butter's garter and then BLAOW! slaps her ass. Butter, to her credit, just rolled with it. Weave gets down, and it was pretty obvious some guy had given her loot to go up there and get her slap on.

And here's where the ringside seats pay off.

Butter's set ends as Weave is strolling back to the bathroom. Butter literally leaps offstage in these high heels - I have no idea how she didn't break an ankle - and bumrushes her, titties out and e'rything. I grab Poppa like, yo, son, you gon' have a situation. So he busts in the ladies bathroom and splits up the argument. Weave heads back to the dressing room and Butter comes up to the DJ booth to get dressed and vent.

Weave, God bless her, is too obnoxious and self-centered for her own good, so she comes back out to the booth to talk to Butter and apologize. Butter's like, hey, if you let people slap you on the ass, great, but I don't get down like that. Weave's trying to justify the whole thing and is like, you don't let people slap your ass? Like the woman's weird for not letting strange men leave handprints on her asspiece.

Butter says, look, just get out of my face. This is when I take my cue and move over to the far side of the booth and tell Poppa he might have to get his game face on again. I see Weave put her beer down like, what did you say to me? Poppa's a step slow and gets there right as Butter lands a wicked right cross on Weave, and then it's motherf***ing ON.

Butter charges Weave, knocking them both out the booth, and since Poppa's got an arm in between them, he gets dragged out too. (Please understand, P's gotta be 6'2, 290. He's not a small gentleman.) Butter is going Tonya Harding on Weave, who's valiantly proving the old adage that loudmouths are generally all bark and no bite. Punch, slap, scream ... and then London bridges falling down.

All three of them tumble to the floor in a heap. Rusty, the manager, tries to run over and help separate them as they all roll around and get tangled up and an entire bar full of people watches in either A) horror or B) solid-gold amusement.

Now, I wouldn't even SIT on that floor if you paid me money to, let alone roll around on it, I don't care if there's four boobs in my face or not. I also wasn't about to help Poppa because A) it's not my job and B) I was looking for a camera.

Finally, the two women are separated, one carted to the dressing room and one to the business office. Weave is fuming cuz she got in trouble - "I am 30 years old, I have two kids ... I am too old for this sh*t" - and Butter's looking at a skinned knee that I was guessing was going to fall off in the next five minutes because she burned it on the club carpet, which is probably where the Ebola virus was first spawned.

Meanwhile, Poppa's back behind the deck going, "I can't believe I just got my ass kicked"; I told him he went down like Kimo van Oelhoffen hit him.

Final tally, Butter 1, Weave 0, with the additional bonus that Weave got kicked out and may get banned from working there.

Best part? IT WAS ONLY 7:30 PM. That's how the night STARTED. I was only on my first or second drink. Consider that I ended up not going to bed til 5:30 am after a night filled with Swiss businessmen, $3,000 credit card cash advances, discussions of the fellatio skills of Eastern European women - with an Eastern European woman, and a frigging Big Gulp of Dr. Pepper and Crown Royal.

Sunday nights be crack-a-lackin', yo.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Friendly Suggestion

I'm not much of a whiskey drinker, but a friend has sold me on The Knot, a 100 proof whiskey liqueur from Ireland. You might remember the hilarious ad campaign from about a year ago, advertising it as a "man's whiskey."

It was test-marketed in four states, one of which was Wisconsin, which is where I was introduced to it about six months ago. It's a smooth drink with a caramel flavoring that slides across the palate as nicely as any rum or good tequila.

If your bar has it, I recommend giving it a shot, pun intended.

Happy 2008

The past couple of weeks have been full. And, if you've been keeping up with my posts, you have probably noticed that these two weeks have been damn near overwhelming. But I'm back at work, and I'm still standing (barely). New Years Eve was...interesting. My friend had a small party at her place, and we did it up righteously. There were some extracurricular activities that took place later in the night, but there's no need to embarrass those involved by putting their business (or mine) out there. But like I said, it was interesting.

Here are some pics and a video that do a pretty good job of summing up my Holiday vacation.

12/21 -- The Benitos Boogie Girl
Grace, thy name is cheap beer and tramp stamps.

12/26 -- Bacardi Special at Diesel $2 Bacardi drinks until midnight? Yes, please.

12/27 Folinos So lonely. Sienna Miller got kicked out of here before. Poor girl missed out.

12/28 Post-Rehearsal Dinner Drinking The Crown Royal Extra Rare makes its debut.

12/31 Merry New Year It's a celebration, bitches.

And there you go. I should have ended with a picture of some Tums and Gatorade, because that's the phase of detox I'm going through right now. I think it's cruel and unusual punishment that I'm only a day or two removed from jumping back into the regular weekend swing. My liver's starting to look like Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. But when the theme music cues up, best believe I'll be back in action.