Sunday, August 31, 2008

'I Did It. I Broke The Porn.' And Mons Venus.

Because our faithful readers haven't been reading enough about bachelor parties lately, I have yet another to report on. However, since it's been going on since Thursday night and it's now Sunday afternoon and I'm at work, I will spare you the blow-by-blow and just give you some highlights as I try not to fall asleep at my desk. I'll follow it up with my review of the Mons Venus strip club.

Background: My buddy Buck is getting married in October. His dad owns a house in Tampa quite close to mine. He rolled down with a crew that included Bailey and Fire - who you'll remember were at the last bachelor party I was at, as was Buck - Buck's brother, a college buddy and his pops and soon-to-be father-in-law. They flew in Thursday night.

*Somebody cuts on cable porn Saturday afternoon (I swear it wasn't me.) After a period of silence, Bailey remarks, "What the hell? Did they make this with Powerpoint?" (Picture us watching some poor chick being railed on a couch for - allegedly - $20 by two dorky-looking brothers and then hearing that.) The humor in that was surpassed only a half hour later, when Buck's dad, who had been outside on the back porch, walks in the house with the retired next-door neighbor lady while some assblasting is taking place on the widescreen. That lady may never come visit them again.

*Explaining to my buddy Fire - who had never been to a Japanese restaurant - the intricacies of ordering sushi one night. "Why do we have to write it on the thing? Can't we just tell the waitress? What's the point of having a waitress?" He's a pragmatic one, that Fire.

*Visiting my boy Poppa at the club he manages - the only "urban" (read as: black) club in Tampa - with Bailey, Fire and a fourth guy Bailey knew. I told my boys we had the hookup, but I don't think they quite understood until Poppa literally started grabbing girls and shoving them at us and telling them to show us a good time. That led to us - and I wish I was making this up - sitting side-by-side-by-side in chairs getting dances from two sisters and their cousin. I apparently had the shy sister, because the unshy one, dancing on Fire, reached over and took her top off for her. Throw in the fact that our drinks were nothing but ice and booze, and we were well taken care of. If you like the sistas, you can do no better than Hollywood Nites in the Tampa Bay area. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

*Hitting Four Green Fields, an authentic Irish pub in downtown Tampa with the crew. (By authentic, I mean it's owned and operated by Irishmen. It's got a thatched roof, for God's sake.) Buck and the rest of the crew are South Side Irish guys, so they dug it well enough, but his soon-to-be father-in-law actually IS Irish; he emigrated here back in 1969. So he definitely got a kick out of it, especially when the bartender on the outdoor deck started playing Gaelic tunes on a flute and singing Irish toasts to the rounds we were buying.

Ah, and the coup de grace: Mons Venus. For those few of you not in the know, there is a strip club in Tampa that is quite literally world-renowned, and is often ranked as the top club in America when people get around to ranking such things. If you don't believe me, Google it.

I hadn't been there since I moved to Tampa, for a couple of reasons. Number one, cover is $20, or, as I interpret that, three drinks. That's crazy, I'm sorry. Number two, they don't serve booze. That means it's full nude and open til 5 am, but I really don't care. No alcohol makes the entire point of hitting a strip club moot, in my mind. Also, the entire place isn't much bigger than a nice two-bedroom apartment. First time I drove by it, I thought, "Wait, that's it?"

Mons claim to fame is having ridiculously hot women walking around naked. And not just a few; they've got a freaking army of them. I can now vouch for that fact. Top to bottom, looking at the entire lineup, there wasn't a chick there who was less than an 8, EASILY. And I'm talking at least two dozen girls, probably closer to 30.

My problem with Mons is that it's set up for one thing and one thing only: spending money on women. There's no booze. There's no TVs. There's hardly no place to sit except at the stage or on one of the couches lining the entire club where lap dances take place. There isn't even a DJ; the girls play songs on a jukebox all night. Hell, the men's bathroom only has two urinals. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do EXCEPT stare at chicks.

I realize for some people that's not a problem. But it hits your wallet like you wouldn't believe. Dances are negotiable, from $20-$30. Generally girls charge $25 - the really smoking-hot feature-type ones (and they know who they are) hit you for $30. The price will go down on volume discount, but that's up to them. Regardless, you can go through $100 in that place the first half hour you're there, easy.

What I DIDN'T know about Mons before going there was that there are only two rules for dances: nothing will be inserted anywhere and you keep your tongue to yourself. After that, it's game f***ing on. You walk in, and there's nothing but writhing naked bodies on couches with hands all over them. It was a Roman orgy. And you couldn't even try to be gentlemanly about it; if you didn't grope, the girl would grab your hands and put them in places where God (or a top-notch plastic surgeon) had blessed them immensely.

Now, I can understand the appeal to visitors. If you come down from Minnesota in November, you haven't seen girls like this ever in your life. Like I said, the sheer consistency in the lineup means you simply can't go wrong. There are no crooked teeth, no stretch marks ... I mean, you can have a pretty good argument about which of the chicks is the least attractive, and there's really no answer. I mean, one of them has to be, but there also has to be a slowest man in the 100-meter dash in the Olympics. Yeah, he's not Usain Bolt, but he's still one of the 10 fastest men in the world, you know?

However, for a guy who lives down here, I wasn't overly impressed. I can find girls that hot at the local Hooters, or at the beach. Difference is, those chicks don't get bucked-nekkid or nibble on my ear while they grind their flawless posteriors all over me. Then again, I'm not much of a dance guy anyway, so I'm a lot less inclined to get excited over that.

Mons also balances the lineup well. There was a girl or three there for pretty much every preference: stereotypical blonde bombshells, redheads, sistas, Latinas, tall, short, thick, thin, flat, well-rounded, suicide girls ... just one big smorgasbord. They're all impeccably groomed and exceedingly friendly and nice. They don't hustle you, i.e., keep hitting on you after you've shot them down for a dance. They're all smiling and having fun. The atmosphere is definitely live.

Like I said, though, you pay for it. Don't go to Mons unless you're willing to drop at least a couple hundred. If you're not gonna spend money, then there's really no point, because you're just going to stand there and stare without getting much of anything, not even a conversation with a pretty girl. Amazingly enough, the ATMs there - there's three - only charge $3 per transaction, which genuinely blew my mind. If you are willing to spend money, though, I daresay you will not find a better lap dance, all things considered, anywhere else in Tampa, and there are probably few places in the U.S. that match it without you coughing up loot for a champagne room.

You ever need a tour guide, let me know. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sorry (again), Juli

Memory is a funny thing. Throughout my life, I have been blessed with an exceptional capacity to retain information. Landmarks and routes of travel, song lyrics, birthdays, the names of TV characters, blitz schemes, etc.; somehow I’ve always been able to store and recall this data at will. But the one area of recollection that often escapes me is the one that can cause the most trouble in social situations: names and faces. When I meet people, I typically forget his or her name faster than Usain Bolt runs the 100m; and, if I’m drunk, the alcohol is like having a hurricane-force wind at Bolt’s back. I often find myself shaking hands with people at parties, thinking that it’s the first I’ve met them, only to be reminded that he or she was actually introduced to me months ago. The phrase, “Sorry—I drink a lot” comes out of my mouth almost as frequently as, “Yeah, I could use another.”

But, although I get a lot of use out of this excuse, its effectiveness is limited—which brings me to this past Friday night. Chappy was celebrating his birthday with a party at his house. His theme was “Beer Olympics,” and he had intended for a champion to be crowned after a series of games of beer pong, cornhole, flip cup, etc. The party never quite took off like he had hoped, though, and the limited number of people who came stuck to pong and cornhole. Zach and I arrived around 10:30 pm, and only about 10 or 11 people were there. I was introduced to everyone in one sweeping motion, since I didn’t know any of Chappy’s friends (or so I thought). And I received the standard mouth-says-“hi”-but-eyes-say-“who’s this fool?” from each of them (or so I thought).

An hour or so after arriving, and well into “Ebony & Zachary’s” domination of the beer pong table (we went 5-0, for the record) in the garage, I struck up a conversation with a fellow partygoer about where he had gone to high school. When I found out that he had graduated from T.C.’s school, I asked if he knew him. He did, and in naming other friends of mine who had gone to that school, we quickly came to my friend Jed. Then he hit me with it: “Well, you know his sister, Juli, right? She’s here.” My eyes followed the imaginary line that his over-the-shoulder gesture aimed into the backyard. Standing out there, glaring at me from the corners of her eyes, was Juli.

Scandals-in-Ocean-City Juli; the same Juli who I failed to recognize when she stood in front of me, looking me in my eyes, on my birthday. I had done it again. I had walked into the party, looked right at her, and said “hi” without any inkling of who she was. And then I had proceeded to hang out and revel with everyone without a second glance in her direction, further reinforcing the fact that I didn’t remember her.

And she was PISSED. I walked over and tried to smooth things over a little. She tried to play it off, as though she hadn’t remembered me, either, but eyes don’t lie. And she kept hers narrowed towards me the entire time that we talked, whether the topic was Ocean City or her brother’s new job. She left the party not too long after that, and all I could do was laugh at myself.

Juli—what can I say? I’m an idiot. I’ll recognize you next time. But, then again, I do drink a lot.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Random Wedding Bliss

I got wrapped up in the top-ten list, and didn’t get a chance to tell some of the better random stories from the Saturday that was.
  • Among the “talent”-laden field was a slender brunette (SB) with curly hair and a younger look to her. She was cute (my opinion contrasts with some of my female friends, who thought she was “really hot”), and dressed rather conservatively—for the ceremony. After checking into the hotel, though, she made a wardrobe change and walked into the reception lobby wearing a skintight so- short-you-have-to-pull- it-back-down-when- getting-up-from-your-seat-to-keep-from-flashing-your-panties- to-the-entire-gathering black sequin dress. Another guy and I noticed her and complimented her (to ourselves) on her choice of attire, and were quickly reprimanded by my date for “checking out an underage girl.” I countered that she wasn’t underage, and the seeds of debate were sewn.
    As fate would have it, SB was seated a table over from ours at dinner. Eventually I heard Bucket and his girlfriend involved in a discussion about her age, which had spread amongst the couples on that half of the table. Several people felt she was around 16; a couple of guys and I contested this, saying she was easily 19 or 20. The issue remained a hot topic well into the night. I finally took it upon myself to ask Bill about her during the after party at the bar, because we figured that she was related to him. But, in fact, she was a cousin of Stacy’s. So Bill called over Jesse, another of Stacy’s cousins, for an official answer. And while I felt vindicated to find out that SB was actually 19, I still had no designs on her. When you’re surrounded by hot 25-28 yr olds, who cares about a 19 yr old? The debate over her age was enough to scare Jesse, however, who spent the rest of his night standing next to SB, guarding her “innocence.”
  • One of the bartenders for the reception was a hot little blonde chick, who bubbled with personality. When we asked for shots, she informed us that, since the alcohol wasn’t being served in an actual bar (she and her colleague were set up in the reception hall’s lobby), she wasn’t allowed to pour shots. The hotel’s workaround, then, was to add an ice cube or two to each glass; this made them “small drinks” instead of “shots.” Hot Bartender argued, though, that the rule was silly, because now people were in danger of choking on ice. And every time we would do a round of shots, she’d ask—with a twinkle in her eye—if anyone was choking.
    Me: “I think you actually want me to choke.”
    Her: *smiling* “Well, yeah.”
    Me: “That’s so hot.”
  • I was talking to someone at the reception when a bridesmaid came up from behind me. She had started to put her arm around my waist, but stopped, saying “You’re not my boyfriend!” Apparently, the back of his head and mine look similar. A little later I was at the bar doing a shot with her boyfriend, and she walked over and pinched both of our butts at the same time, saying, “Two for one!”
  • At the after party, I was talking to two friends when two cute girls walked past.
    Friend 1: “Look at them!”
    Friend 2: “They’re underage, man.”
    Me: “Yeah, they definitely ain’t 18.”
    Friend 1: “Let’s ask them. *motioning for me to follow him* Come on.”
    I agreed to go along with him, because I could already sense that comedy would be had. Catching up to the two of them, he called out, “Excuse me! How old are you?”
    Without flinching, Cute Girl 1 announced, “Oh, we’re young!”
  • Tony, his date, my date, and I all went to Eat'n Park for breakfast the next morning. While trying to repair ourselves with eggs, bacon, and hash browns, the following exchange took place. We had gotten onto the subject of ethnicities, and Tony’s date was still feeling the effects of her boozing:
    Tony: “What are you?”
    My Date: “Italian and German. But the German side is actually part Austrian, too.”
    Tony’s Date: “Wait, you’re Austrian? You mean, like, from Australia?”

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why I Love Weddings

In honor of my friends’ nuptials this past Saturday, I give you my “Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Weddings”:

#10 – Invitation Only

What can I say? I’m a sucker for being part of anything exclusive. Standing amongst a crowd at the ceremony and reception, I get a small feeling of importance because I belong to a group that others don’t. (Yeah, I’m that lame sometimes.)

#9 – G’d Up, Ho'd Down

Those who know me know that I’m not big on “dress” clothes. My big conformity in my daily work attire is tucking my polo shirt into my jean shorts. But there is something kind of cool about everyone being dressed-to-the-9s at the same time. This is especially true when it comes to the ladies in attendance (which I’ll get to in a minute).

#8 – Hotel Partying

When people talk about weddings, they usually only refer to the ceremony and the reception. But there’s usually a third stage, and (in my opinion) it’s the best of the three. I’m talking, of course, about the afterparty at the hotel where the wedding party and the bulk of the guests are staying—and kudos to Stacy & Bill (this weekend's bride and groom) for holding their reception in a hotel, which eliminated any need for driving. We moved from reception hall to hotel bar to passed out without ever having to worry about getting arrested. Well, at least not for drunk driving.

You have to love the regression that the day takes, too. It begins solemn and adult (ceremony), turns relaxed and college-like (reception), and then ends in a craziness reminiscent of a high school prom (afterparty). The hotel hallways become a maze of alcoholic misdeeds, laughter, and quotes. At one wedding years ago, some friends and I ended up sitting on the floor in the hallway at 4 a.m., eating sandwiches and chips that Shannon had trekked to a nearby convenience store to buy.

#7 – Food

More often than not, weddings are great for eating. I suspect that the biggest fear among brides is that their guests will walk away from the reception still hungry. And though I may be a man of modest proportions, I do enjoy a good bite or twenty. Stacy and Bill knew that their guests would need to soak up an inordinate amount of alcohol, so they kept us surrounded with filet mignon, chicken, salmon, cookies, and cake.

#6 – Good Times

This one is kind of basic, but it’s still worth mentioning: Weddings are a good time. People are usually in good spirits—even before partaking of the good spirits. Women are happy because they’re “celebrating love” (or something silly and sappy like that). Men are happy because…well, because the women are happy (and because there’s free booze). However...

#5 – It’s Not Me

It’s important to remember that NONE of these reasons apply if you are the poor sap actually getting hitched. Weddings are only great when you are a guest. Between the relentless obligations and the coordination required throughout the day (including handling a panicky bride who is dealing with those same obligations and coordination—though she likely believes that she’s the only person going through it) and the sorry truth that you are hitching yourself to one woman for the rest of your natural life, there’s no hope for the groom to enjoy the day’s events. Which, I’m sure, is why the tradition of the “wedding night” has remained so prevalent in our culture—the guy’s got to get something out of the whole ordeal (although it’s likely the same thing he’s had since the third date when she got obliterated on margaritas).

#4 – Skin Is In

Every woman between the ages of 18 and 35 who attends a wedding wants to—in the eloquent words of Mystikal—show you what she’s working with. Single gals want to prove that they’re every bit as deserving of the same “happiness” that the bride is getting, and the coupled gals want to show that they still have “it.” Add to this the fact that a large percentage of weddings take place in the summer, and you get one hell of a show.

Stacy and Bill’s wedding featured some fantastic sights. Tony and I each brought a date (the above right picture is an actual photo—and succinct summary—of my date’s attire), and after the ceremony he glanced around and said to me, “Looks like we brought sand to the beach.”

#3 – Stories

Every wedding worth its salt is going to produce a few good stories (at a minimum). Foremost in my still-recovering mind is this one from this weekend:

Tony’s date drank herself silly at the bar, and had to be helped back to the hotel room (I even threw her over my shoulder and carried her to the elevator) around 1 a.m. We put her to bed, and Tony decided to stay with her. I went back to the bar, but less than an hour later I reached my saturation point and retired for the night, too. My date, however, was in soldier mode, and was hanging out at around 3 a.m. when she finally decided she’d had enough. Not having a room key, though, she knew she had to get either Tony or I to let her in. She called me several times, but I wasn’t waking up. She tried Tony almost as many times before he finally came to and answered. He got up and went to the room where she was partying. When the two of them returned to our room, she gave him an “okay, go ahead and open up the door” look. He gave her a drunken “you have the key, not me” look. In other words, heeding the pleas of someone locked out of the room, he had come to her rescue...without bringing his room key.

#2 – Bridesmaids

Jeremy Grey: We are gonna have tons and tons of opportunities to meet gorgeous ladies that get so aroused by the thought of marriage that they'll throw their inhibitions to the wind.
John Beckwith: And who's gonna be there to catch them?
Jeremy Grey: Grab that net and catch that beautiful butterfly, pal!

Ah, what would a wedding be without the allure of the bridesmaid? Prior to and during the ceremony, the maid (or matron) of honor has specific responsibilities, and all of the groomsmen work as ushers. But what do the rest of the bridesmaids do? Their only real purpose is to be a sacrificial offer to the groomsmen and single male guests.

Stacy’s bridal party featured some outstanding talent. And, as per tradition, I had one in particular in my sights—and, as per (my) tradition, I got so drunk that I completely forgot about her. Oops. I’ll rectify that mistake some other time, I’m sure. But that brings me to…

#1 – Booze

Lest you forget that you’re at “On the Rocks,” let me remind you: alcohol trumps all. And when it’s an open bar (the greatest two-word phrase in the English language), everything is right with the world.

Stacy and Bill’s reception was an Olympic pool of alcohol, and I was Michael Phelps. I effortlessly breaststroked my way through Tanqueray, Beefeater, Smirnoff, Beam, Captain, Michelob, Yuengling, and even Coors Light. They closed the bar for the wedding party’s entrance and the first half of dinner, but that didn’t stop my friends and me. We knew the pay bar in the hotel was still open, and people at our table took turns sneaking out and coming back with more drinks and beers. By the end of the reception, our table was littered with beer bottles (I counted about 25 or so); no other table in the room had more than three on it.

Congrats to Stacy & Bill. Now who else can we sacrifice for the sake of having a grand ol' time?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Weekend: Part II—Ticket No. 667

The morning after Part I of my weekend, I woke up with three vivid indicators of what had taken place the night before:
  1. a beautiful Ecuadorian (“Lady Friend”) was cuddled next to me;
  2. my head was pounding like a performance of “Stomp” was taking place inside of it;
  3. Chappy was facedown on the couch in my living room.

And I still had a bachelor party to go to. Ouch.

I got to the bar (where the bus would be picking up all of us) an hour or so later than most of the other guys. When I walked in, Bill (the bachelor) had just been handed his gift: a t-shirt prominently displaying a picture of him and his bride-to-be, as she placed a big white flower behind his ear. One of our friends, “Bucket,” had randomly found the picture on a photographer’s website, and I think Bill wanted to crawl under a table when he saw it immortalized on a white tee. He definitely wasn’t too eager to put it on; he avoided doing so for about a half hour, ignoring our requests and leaving the shirt in the box. He resisted, until we finally issued a threat: we, as a group, would not let him onto the bus unless he had the shirt on. Would we really leave the bachelor behind, excluding him from his own party? Yes, yes we would.

He acquiesced, though, and a potentially ugly (but hilarious) scene was avoided. While I sat at the bar catching up with the guys, none of whom I had seen in quite some time, I noticed an exceptionally cute girl sitting on the other side of the bar. I pointed her out to Justin, who said she waitressed there during the week, and that she was only like 19 or 20. After a very gentlemanly round of “I’d like to [insert adjective for sexual intercourse] that,” we moved onto other topics. Suddenly there was a loud crash, and when our heads shot around to Tony’s place at the bar, we found him holding the bottom half of a tall draught glass, with beer all around him. He had knocked over the glass and caught the bottom as the top shattered on the bar. We were only seeing the end result—Tony holding the remains of the glass upright—though, and it gave the appearance that he had smashed the glass with his bare hand. From somewhere in our group came, “Beer was so good you had to crush the glass, Hulk?”

Once we were on the bus and headed towards the South Side, it became apparent that our bladders needed attention. Some braved the tricky art of using an “empty” while onboard a moving bus, while the rest of us held out. We made an unplanned stop at the White Eagle, since it’s one of the first bars on that end of Carson St. One of our friends (Frankie) ordered some beers, and had the bartender put a straw into Tony’s. Turning to him, Frankie said, “I don’t want you to drop another one and hurt yourself.”

When we left the Eagle, our bus got bogged down in the typical Saturday night traffic that you find on Carson (put 200+ bars, clubs, and restaurants onto a single, narrow stretch of road, and that’s what happens). We continued to pound beers until arriving at Jack’s Bar, which is at the opposite end of the drag. Jack’s was crawling with girls of the slore variety, and Bill’s t-shirt quickly became an attraction. Even if a girl walked past without any initial thought of signing it, one of us would quickly grab her and push her in his direction, Sharpie in hand. Some chose to write along the bottom hem of the shirt (on either side), with comments that were…risqué. There are a lot of dirty, dirty-minded girls here in Pittsburgh (no wonder I haven’t followed through on my vow to move away yet). One girl, Tiffany, wrote, “Bill, I’ll never forget that one night…” [Note: I promise you, Stacy, that he doesn’t know her; I was one of the guys who grabbed her and sent her his way.]

Around 11:30 pm or so, we headed back to the bus. While walking down the street, one of the bride’s cousins (Jesse) stopped next to a car sitting at the red light. A cute girl was in the passenger seat, so he motioned for her to roll down her window. When she did, he said, “Why don’t you and your friend come with us to the strip club?” (no one games better than drunk guys). I walked over to collect him, but before I could tell him to get on the bus, I heard my name called from inside the car. Leaning down, I saw HHM sitting in the driver’s seat. “Hey [HHM]! Sorry about him…want to come to the club?”

We headed towards Silky’s (without HHM and her friend), a strip club down the street from Club E. The reason for going there instead? The cover charge at Erotica is $20; at Silky’s it’s $10 (high rollers, all of us). The decision would prove to be fortuitous, though. While sitting at the stage living it up, a dancer with a roll of raffle tickets made the rounds. $2 entered you into a drawing for a free lap dance—I kid you not. Feeling good, I justified the purchase to myself by saying, “Eh, it’s only $2.”

Five minutes later, the DJ read off the winning number. “Six…six…seven.” I glanced down at the small orange ticket laying next to my beer. In my head it went something like this: “Let’s see; six, six, sev—woooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww!” If you were to tell me that I ran over to the DJ booth like a Florida retiree who was just told to “come on down” on The Price is Right, I wouldn’t be surprised. A 5’5” brunette walked over and grabbed my hand, and off we went up the stairs to the lap dance room. She told me to take anything out of my pocket that would interfere with her “dance,” so my wallet and keys went to the upstairs DJ. Then she told me to…adjust myself, to allow for maximum enjoyment [*sigh*…I can’t wait until my mother has to read that]. Off came her lingerie, and away we went. I wish I could remember the dancer’s name, because I would readily offer a high recommendation to anyone seeking to hire her. Or marry her.

Grinning, I returned downstairs to the “you lucky son of a b***h” comments of my boys. Some of the guys wanted to go to Club E, so we left Silky’s en masse. Though some of us (myself included) didn’t want to pay another $20 just to get in the door, we figured that we would sit on the bus and finish the beer we had on there while waiting. There was only one problem: the bus was nowhere to be found. Instead, we sat on the sidewalk across the street like the last six kids to get picked up after soccer practice.

For whatever reason, I reached into my pocket for my wallet, and had a gut-wrenching realization: I hadn’t retrieved my wallet and car keys from the DJ in the lap dance room at Silky’s. I can now tell you from experience, that nothing can make a large, drunk man sprint down a dark street like the unsettling thought of his wallet sitting vulnerably in an unfamiliar strip club.

Sunday morning, ten of us tossed around stories from the night that was. Eventually, talk came to the cute off-duty waitress at the bar where we had began the night while awaiting the bus.

Me: “What a piece of a**.”
Justin: “Yeah, she’s something.”
Bucket: “Wait, the young one sitting at the bar?”
Me: “Yeah. The smoking hot one.”
Bucket: “That’s my cousin!”
Jesse: “Oh yeah—I know her. She’s a big whore.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Weekend: Part I—The Real ‘Side of Life

I fought the booze, and the…booze won.

Twice. And that’s not to say that I wasn’t drunk on Thursday night, too; it just means that I wasn’t fighting that evening. I was fully inviting it to beat the living s**t out of me, even yelling encouragements at the glasses of E&J that I poured out, one-after-the-other. “Hit me harder, you b***h!”

Yeah, it was one of those moments. Let’s just say that I have one less romance and one less “homie” in my life right now. TJ sent me a text message about something random that evening, to which I responded, “F**k c**t whores!”

TJ: “Alright, man. I can see you need the comfort of fermentation. Holla at me tmrw.”

I had planned on staying in Friday night, and therefore use that night as a buffer between Thursday and the bachelor party on Saturday. Ashhad had other plans, though. After a couple of phone calls, I finally agreed to hit up some bars in The 'Side with him and Chappy. The guy can sell.

We started by chugging some Jager in my apartment, before going to Shady Grove and then William Penn Tavern. I threw back vodka tonics with impunity at each stop, so it wasn’t long before my buzz took over.

At the Tavern, we were standing on the patio when we looked in through the glass doors and noticed LRG sitting inside. We went in to say “hi” to him and his friend Schwartz, and were greeted by a live demonstration of the perils of happy hour.

LRG had been drinking since 6 (it was around 11 pm by this point), and was circling the drain. Still, despite his state of drunken abandon, he and Schwartz had managed to find and entertain two good looking girls, who were drinking with them at their table. LRG slurred through a story about earlier in the night, when (according to him): another bar patron, referring to his t-shirt, asked him who Ed Hardy was; LRG explained to him that Ed Hardy wasn’t anyone; miffed at what he thought was a brush-off, the other gent began talking trash on LRG, who then approached him to “discuss”; and, in utter fear, the trash talker fled out to the patio.

When LRG wasn’t paying attention, though, the girl who he was macking said to me, “HE started that whole fight. He’s really drunk.”

We returned to the patio bar, and eventually LRG came out to join us. Standing—scratch that—wobbling by the door, he said to a random hot girl who walked by, “You like black d**k?” (LRG, by the way, is not black). Ashhad announced, “[LRG], Schwartz is making out with your girl!” LRG yelled, “motherf*****r!” and ran inside to where he had left the two girls and Schwartz, who were standing there, innocently talking.

I began telling Ashhad and Chappy about my text message reply to TJ. Just as the money phrase was coming out of my mouth, a cute girl walked up next to me at the bar to buy a drink. I looked over and saw a look of disgust and horror on her face.

Me: *proudly* “Nice, right?”

She laughed, and Ashhad quickly made her part of the group, ordering up four shots.

LRG walked—scratch that—stumbled back out to the patio; Kim, our new friend, said that he looked familiar, but she wasn’t sure why. Unprompted, out came Ashhad with another “[LRG], Schwartz is making out with your girl!” And off he ran, again.

Then Kim’s memory clicked: she had met him at Shady Grove months ago, and he had drunkenly hit on her while “flashing money around and trying to buy out the bar.” She even had some pictures on her camera of that night, which she showed us. There was LRG, wasted: in one picture he wore a sloppy grin and had his arm around Kim; in the other he stood at the bar while waving around cash. I’m so used to this behavior, though, that it was kind of strange to see an outsider’s take on it—it all seemed perfectly normal to me. “Yeah, he’s drunk, waving around money and falling all over people he hardly knows. And?

Ashhad, Chappy, and I moved on to Alto Lounge, which is a block away. Though I had known of it for some time, this was my first visit. It’s an upscale place with a Euro feel, with dark lighting and a dancefloor. While we were standing at the bar, we heard a trumpet belting out a Spanish tune. Turning around, I saw a guy in a soccer jersey standing on the dancefloor, thrilling the hipster white girls who danced around him. I honestly don't know if watching it made me happy, angry, or sad. Is it possible to combine all three?

Shortly after that we left. And shortly after we left, so did my consciousness. I came out of my mini-blackout around 3 a.m.; I was standing in my apartment, staring at a lady friend, who had just come over.

Her: *confused, staring back at me* “What?
Me [in my head]: “Where did she come from?”

Monday, August 11, 2008

Intern-al Affairs

This story actually picks up right where the last one left off.

As I mentioned then, my first weekend of freedom involved my boy Ray-Ray's birthday party. Me and Ray-Ray have become fast friends since I switched jobs in June, and he demanded I come out for the celebration. However, I didn't know any of his other friends, so I was kind of taking a risk. For all I knew, they could be massive tools. Hence me getting my buzz on at the strip club before meeting them out.

The dinner and party, coincidentally, happened to be at a restaurant and pool hall/nightclub, respectively, literally down the street from my crib. Thus, I could plan on getting as blitzed as I wanted to since I only had to stumble a few hundred yards to get home. I arrive at the restaurant - a trendy little Tex/Mex-influenced joint - just after 8 and meet up with Ray-Ray and a couple of his friends who are already there. I dap everyone and proclaim, "So I've been drinking since 4, who wants to do shots?"

To say everyone looked at me like I had set myself on fire would be an understatement. Ray-Ray says, "You're white, a former Marine and you just spent five years in Wisconsin. We're all Asians, man. We can't keep up with you." (Hey, I just tell it like it happened.) And right on time, another of his homeboys shows up who happens to have been a Marine as well, and we quickly plan to drink everyone under the frigging table.

I mixed mojitos and Capncokes as I absolutely destroyed a steak, and Ray-Ray was trying to pace himself between dinner and the shots that kept ending up at his table. People were showing up in twos and threes, and each group naturally felt obligated to get him a drink or shot as soon as they got there. We ended up about 25 strong, so do the math. And they weren't screwing around; Ray-Ray was knocking back shots of Four Horsemen, among others, while he struggled to get through his meal.

Dinner's over, and we pile into the rides and head across the street to Peabody's about 10, 10:30. Peabody's is an upscale sports bar and pool hall - think $15 an hour for a table on the weekend - that mines the local university for the very best of its female talent to hire for bartenders and servers. The joint's motto is "Get Racked," and they mean it.

We grab a table in the corner and immediately put the waitress to work. Ray-Ray's already rolling, and I realize that if he doesn't slow down, it will be an exceptionally early evening for him. I make my way over, put an arm around his shoulders and ask how he's doing. I believe his response was, "I'm feeling no pain, bro." He also mentioned that he'd invited a couple of the interns from work out, only one of whom I knew. I'll call her Abby, because she looks like she's straight out of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad, only she's of Indian heritage - dots, not feathers. (Turns out she actually is a part-time fashion model, but I didn't find this out til the next day. Needless to say, she's hot.) I'd spoken to her once or twice; she was from the Midwest like me, but she was the total "20-year-old spoiled suburban preppie girl" stereotype.

Then Ray-Ray says, very bluntly, "You know she's bi, right?"

This should have been my first signal that the night was going to take an "On The Rocks" turn, but I was still trying to process what had happened at the strip club, so it went right over my head. Ray-Ray goes on to explain that she's pretty open about it, and has actually said she prefers girls to guys.

A drink or two later, Abby shows up. Abby is looking ridiculously sexy. TJ starts wondering what his company's policy is when it comes to fraternizing with interns.

After another drink or two (and some fairly innocuous flirting), Abby grabs my hand, looks me straight in the eye and says, "Let's go find some hot girls." I may have been drunk, but I'm not stupid. We head back around to a rear hallway that leads to a neighboring nightclub adjoining the pool hall. We stroll through real quick, with my key observation being, "They didn't have go-go dancers the last time I was here." I don't know who was staring harder at the booty-shorted, go-go booted, onstage women more, Abby or me. However, the club itself was rather empty at that point, so we bounced back to the pool hall.

That's when I effectively killed Ray-Ray for the evening. My homeboys and I have a birthday tradition: shots of Liquid Cocaine. I introduced Ray-Ray to this tradition without telling him what it was until he had choked it down. Unfortunately, I didn't know that someone else had just given him a shot I don't remember about 10 minutes earlier. He later told me he didn't even remember doing the Liquid Cocaine.

The entire crew decides it's time to migrate to the nightclub, where everyone else was suitably awed by the go-go dancers. I'm pretty sure I handed Ray-Ray a wad of singles to tip them with. Typical club-like activity then ensues: dancing, drinking, dancing, drinking, flirting and so on. During this period, I dance with Abby and the other intern, as well as take pics - at their request - of them dancing together. Also, Abby and I start scoping out chicks and debating their merits. I try to do this while not being distracted by Abby's cleavage.

At about 12:30, I look over at Ray-Ray, who was done with his drink and his two-step and was now semi-slumped over in a barstool at a corner of the dance floor we'd carved out for ourselves. I get him a water and order him to start drinking it, while telling his boys that he's in no shape to continue. They take one look at him, agree that I'm right, and proceed to take funny pictures of him in his near-comatose state. Not what I had in mind, but that's what friends are for.

Until, of course, he begins leaking vomit. The bouncer comes over and, quite understandably, tells us people aren't allowed to puke on the dance floor and that we'd have to get him squared away. This involved three of us all but carrying Ray-Ray outside and leaning him up against a newspaper machine - which led to more photos being taken, since it was one of our subsidiaries. A nice stream of bile traced our path out. I drop the bouncer a $20 and apologize for the hassle. Then I offer to drive Ray-Ray down the street to my crib and dump him on the futon with bottles of water and a bucket. His friends say don't sweat it, we'll take care of him. I soon discover this means "we're going to dump him in the back seat of his SUV in the parking lot and go back inside."

By now, I'm starting to hit my tipping point from drunk - when I'm on a roll but still conscious of my actions and in relative control of myself - to hammered, where chaos begins. And in a wicked bit of karma, that's when Abby grabs me by the shoulders and shouts, "SHOTS OF LIQUID COCAINE!!"

(Note to self: Do not cap off nine hours of drinking with shots of Liquid Cocaine at 1 a.m.)

Abby buys, and we pound the shots before heading back out to the dance floor. This is where things get blurry. To give you an idea of how blurry, the next day Ray-Ray's boy is hosting a "sober up" cookout before the second night of debauchery and I ask Ray-Ray, "Why is it that I think Abby's a good kisser?" Answer: Because Abby grabbed me on the dance floor and started making out with me. (I confirmed this a couple days later when I showed up to work and discovered that not only had someone taken a pic of us entwined, but Abby was actually showing it to people in the office, which was officially not cool.)

I do remember Abby suddenly vanishing, which I suspect the male cousin who had accompanied her had something to do with after seeing her jump me. After that, the next thing I can come up with is waking up in my bed alone and checking my phone to see I had texted and made calls to numbers I didn't recognize. I also have no recollection of actually driving home, which was amazing since I must have gotten so hammered I'd forgotten I was within crawling distance of my front door.

Ray-Ray had it even better. After we closed the club down, someone drove his truck along with the convoy to Steak 'n Shake, where the crew had a raucous late-night meal while he dozed in the parking lot. After that, they all went back to one guy's house to crash and left him in the back seat of his SUV in the driveway all night. He woke up the next morning in the truck with no idea how he got there, covered in his own vomit.

Liquid Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Just Like Old Times

Saturday I’ll be attending a friend’s bachelor party; and, to be honest, I have no idea how this will turn out.

I’ve been a part of two previous stag parties involving this circle of friends. The first time, I (1.) had a stripper hit on me while she was being “prepped” for a whipped cream race; (2.) later came out of a blackout leaning against a van in an obscure residential section of the South Side at 4 a.m., alone and sans cell phone; and (3.) slept on my mother’s patio (in plain view of all of our neighbors) because my keys and car were at Tony’s (I cabbed it home from the South Side). The second time, well...a lot of things happened, but I’ll remain silent (as per the “no snitching” clause I mentioned in my last post). TJ was there that night, though, and I’m sure he’ll attest to the level of entertainment that took place.

Given this, and the fact that my recent weeks have been tame (or lame, by alky standards), I figured I’d write about a bachelor party experience from 2005. This means, though, that yet another On the Rocks story will revolve around strippers—I’m still undecided as to whether that falls under “sad” or “awesome.” It’s such a thin line sometimes. But I digress.

The party was in February ’05, and was being thrown for my friend’s fiancé. I knew the groom-to-be, but not very well; in fact, my boy Nick was the only real “crew” of mine that would be in attendance. We started with some beers and shots at “Fiancé’s” house, and then packed into an old school bus and headed off into the night.

Fiancé isn’t into big and flashy clubs, so the itinerary focused on smaller, local bars in the area. After stopping at a couple, and slowly eroding at our collective consciousness, we made our first stop at a strip club. It was a small place called “The Wall”—I suspect that the original draft of that name began with the words “Hole in.” It featured one main stage, which doubled as the bar, and a smaller stage in the back room. The dancers weren’t atrocious, but they weren’t Jessica Alba in “Sin City,” either. A lithe, 5’4” blonde caught the attention of some of those in our party, and soon enough I had caught hers. I’d like to tell you there was some kind of smooth playa rap going on that won her heart, but there wasn’t. We just gradually evolved from smiling to playful flirtation to…me sitting with her at the bar while she showed me pictures of her young son.

If you’re scratching your head right now, I understand. It’s typically my reaction when I think about it—and I lived it.

She gave me her phone number, and eagerly let me snap the picture to the right with my cameraphone (yes, that’s my hand). The guys collected me before heading back to the bus, as it was time to move to Filly Corral. A fairly popular club in the area, the Corral has some significant talent on its roster. It’s rather unique, though, in that they don’t serve alcohol (or at least they didn’t back then). This would prove to be salt in my wound.

As we filed in, our eyes scanned across the several stages, each featuring multiple beauties in various phases of undress. When we neared the stage at the back of the room, though, I felt that the dancer spinning around the pole on the left side of the stage looked strangely familiar. Then it hit me. The words “F**k, f**k, f**k, f**k!” came out uncontrollably. One of Fiancé’s friends asked me what was wrong. Hesitantly, I leaned over to him and motioned towards Dancer. “I think that’s…my ex-girlfriend.”

Being intoxicated and of less-than-sound eyesight at that moment, though, I was skeptical. The lights in the club were dimmed, after all, and I hadn’t seen my ex in nearly four years. And Christina had always been an overly self-conscious girl, not exactly the type you would expect to take her clothes off and dance for ogling strangers. I decided (or maybe just hoped) that I was mistaken. “Nevermind, I’m drunk. She looks like her, but I don’t think it’s her.”

I walked over to the right side of the stage, where Nick and the father of the bride were standing. I stood with my back to the stage as I talked to them, determined to erase the unpleasant thoughts I had just had. After a few minutes, however, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and was suddenly face-to-face with Dancer. She grinned and said, “Don’t you remember me?”


“Hi, Christina.”

Instantly, I began to really hate the lack of alcohol in the place. I needed whiskey, damn it, and I needed it fast.

We chatted for a few minutes, catching up. She had begun her career as a way to pay for college (it sounds cliché, but I’m fairly certain she was being truthful—her stepfather was an a**hole who refused to help her pay for school) not long after we broke up. She claimed she was still self-conscious when offstage; onstage, though, she felt like she “became another person.” That’s putting it lightly. I eventually worked up the nerve to sit down at the edge of the stage while she performed. And she giggled while showing me all of the skills that she had acquired over the previous few years.

I’m sure lots of guys have run into an ex before; and you may have stared at her wistfully, slowly remembering everything that made you fall for her way back when. How many of you, though, have gotten to slide a one dollar bill in her garter as thanks for the memories?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It ...

... is to have at least one of each of GQ's "20 Best Cocktails In America" before you die. Some people want to visit each major league ballpark, some want to climb the highest mountain on each continent, some want see every state capital. Bullsh*t.

I say cruise around America and knock back these bad boys. We'll call it the "On The Rocks Marathon." Take a pic of yourself doing each one and we'll see who finishes first.

Me, I'm just looking forward to pounding a "Cinder" at Death & Co. in New York. Hell, I just want to go to a bar called Death & Co.