Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"I'm Comin' Home Again"

Homecoming weekend is always a curious affair. When I was still in college, it was just another party weekend. There was really nothing extra-special about it, other than knowing that there would be more people on campus than during a typical weekend. This included recently-graduated friends of mine who were likely to be buying a few rounds at the bar. But in the end, I was guaranteed to be just as drunk and have just as much fun as I did…any other weekend during the school year.

In the first couple of years after I graduated, however, it became the event that it had always been billed as. Being a young alumnus, you’re right in the sweet spot of homecoming partying: You’re still young enough to know most of the kids on campus, and to still be sought after by the girls at the school; but, because you’re slightly older, you can frequent the bars (and have some extra cash in your pocket when you do), you are admired by the younger guys still in school, and you’re really sought after by the younger girls at the school (because you’re supposedly more mature than all of the guys they go to school with—just how silly do you girls feel about that misconception when you finally graduate?). And odds are it is one of the drunkest weekends of your year, now that you actually have responsibilities like work and rent that can eat into your time during the other 51 weekends on the calendar.

After about your 5th year out of college, though, things shift again. Now you’re too old to actually know any of the currently-enrolled students, so drinking on campus is more awkward. You’re still good at the bars, since there’s likely to be quite a few of your fellow “older guys” right there with you. But the girls now see you as less desirable, unless they’ve got gold-digger tendencies or daddy issues.

This past weekend was the 8th Washington & Jefferson College Homecoming that I have attended as an alumnus. T.C., Zach, and I didn’t drive up until Saturday morning, electing instead to go to a friend’s going-away party at Elixir in the South Side on Friday night. Instead of a 48 hour play-by-play, I’ll give you the highlights:

  • Our friend, Ryan, turned at one point during the party Friday night to find his mom on the dance floor with Zach. The sheer look of terror that came over him was priceless.
  • T.C. does some assistant coach work for one of the area high schools, and came directly to the party from a game. The bar was somewhat
    “upscale,” so how he managed to walk through the door wearing a windbreaker, sneakers, and coach’s shorts is beyond me.
  • While he and I stood talking to his sister and her boyfriend, three girls walked past; the girl in trail bumped into me as she walked past, damn near delivering a forearm shiver. T.C. was a little surprised, wondering aloud if she was trying to instigate a fight. “No,” I said, “She just wants attention.” Sure enough, after the three later returned and hit the dance floor, she walked over to us. “Are you going to come dance with us or what?” I assured her that I wasn’t, and when she left T.C. said, “Son-of-a-bitch, you were right.”
  • Since I’d driven to Elixir, I planned on pacing myself and going easy throughout the night. Two things worked against this, though: (A.) a bottle of beer cost $4-5, while a gin & tonic cost $6 (again, I’m no math major, but…); (B.) Ashhad showed up, and he can’t stand near a bar without ordering shots—it’s like leaving a young child alone in a room with a fully-stocked cookie jar.
  • Ashhad, Zach, and I eventually moved on to Carson City Saloon, and after some beer pong we found ourselves at Mike & Tony’s to close the night. This is a popular South Side gyro shop that has been one of my crew's favorite late-night eateries since 2001. One gyro with everything—hold the sauce—to go, please. Saturday morning I awoke in my bed and, after some thought, texted Zach. “This may sound sacrilegious, but I don’t think I ever ate my gyro last night.” I got up and went out to my car; in the passenger-side footwell sat the crumpled remains of a paper bag and a ball of tinfoil. I stood corrected. I texted an update to Zach, and added, “I’m proud and ashamed all at the same time.”
  • Shortly after arriving in Washington (and before drinking anything that day), Zach—still hurting from the night before—asked me to pull over to the side of the road. He hopped out, ran behind some bushes, and pulled the trigger.
  • Most of our friends had been tailgating since 9 or 10 a.m., and had set up camp in the parking lot. Zach and I joined them around 1, carrying a case of Miller Lite stadium bottles. We had been there for about 20 minutes when I realized that not far from us stood the mayor of Pittsburgh, who graduated from W&J a couple of years after me (no, that’s not a typo). When we were in school we weren’t tight, but I knew him to see him, and we’re still familiar enough to say “hi” when we run into each other. T.C. and I walked over to do just that, and I said, “So what’ve you been up to? Anything interesting?” “Not much,” he countered. “Just running a major city.”
  • I was having a semi-serious discussion with Shannon, when we hit a pause. She cracked a smile and said "I'm HAMMERED right now!"
  • Standing at one bar later that night, it struck me that everyone in my immediate vicinity was easily five to six years younger than me. I shot a text to TJ: “I think I’m Wooderson. Son of a…”

Alright, alright, alright…

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Holding Down the Fort (Ligonier)

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.

I have to admit, my blogging has been lacking lately. For starters, I haven’t had much spare time at work to type up stories (I may be the last man on earth who doesn’t have a home computer). But even when I have had the rare moment to put anecdote to page, I’ve been light on material—despite having gone to two alcohol-soaked weddings in the last two weeks. I think my friends may be getting wiser as to what they say and do around me, for fear that the whole world will find out their embarrassing exploits—such as passing out on a bathroom floor.

How, then, can your favorite blogger find inspiration to break him out of his slump? Three words: Fort Ligonier Days.

Ligonier, PA is typical small-mountain-town-America. And every year they celebrate the battle that took place there during the French and Indian War. This meant that Saturday night the streets and bars were packed with people, including battle re-enactors in full costume. It’s not every day that you can see someone dressed like George Washington carrying two pitchers of Yuengling away from a bar. So that’s what it was like to live in 1758.

Dupa (who was born and raised in Ligonier) and I spent Saturday night at Joe’s Bar, an area landmark. It’s owned by the family of Dupa’s best friend, who I like to call “The Prince of Ligonier”: his mother is a district judge, and his late grandfather Joe (founder of the eponymous bar) is a local hero and icon. The Prince was bartending that weekend, to help with the heightened customer flow, which made Dupa and I distinguished guests of the Court. Red Bull & vodkas on the double, peasants!

Of course, after about my fifth one, I felt the standard in-body defibrillation moment that comes with downing inordinate amounts of this concoction. “Okay,” I said to The Prince matter-of-factly. “Time to switch to vodka tonics.”

The Prince’s mom was in attendance for a good while, on hand to ensure that no underage drinkers managed to get through the door [Note: Joe’s does not employ an official bouncer at the door; my take on this is that it is the nightlife equivalent to the cliché small town trait of residents not having to lock their front doors]. And she was enjoying her job: for hours she darted through the establishment like a 5’3” ninja, popping up in front of a random teenager here and there who had nervously attempted the adventure of hanging out at a bar. The highlight of her night, she said, was catching one girl—who apparently was trying to cope with the limited seating—sitting inside of the large glass door cooler that typically holds six packs for sale.

Around 11 pm a group of drummers—in full colonial garb—marched into the bar to a drummed cadence, past inebriated cougars getting hit on by guys in their mid 20s, slores waving cigarettes and spilling beer, a pool table, and the door of the men’s room. It was…surreal. They marched into the back of the bar, where displays of Joe’s Bar’s famed animal collection surround you (the rest of the re-enactors had been back there drinking all night). Dupa and I decided to get our pictures taken with them. Some of them found the image of a 6’6” brother posed amongst them amusing, and decided to add to it by putting one of their triangular hats on my head, and giving me one of their jackets to wear. Fort Ligonier pimpin, baby.

Also in attendance was one guy dressed as…Captain Jack Sparrow? Granted, it’s been quite a few years since my last American history class, but I’m having trouble remembering his involvement in the French and Indian War. A part of me wondered if he had just been driving back from an early Halloween party in the next town, saw all of the re-enactors, and decided to hit up another costume party.

The highlight of the night, though, came an hour or so later. I met an attractive young woman of considerable intelligence while standing at the bar. We made small talk for 15 or 20 minutes, exchanging some mutual flirtation. Things seemed to be going swimmingly. And then, during a discussion about politics:

Me: “I really believe Obama is the kind of leader that we need to fix the country.”
Her: “I just don’t feel that way. But my sister is a huge Obama supporter. And so is my fian…*blushes* But it’s not like I would be mad if Obama wins or anything.”
Me: *smiling* “So…You have a fiancé?”
Her: “Uhhh…yeah.”
Me: “Ah. Congratulations.”
Her: “Thanks. It’s still kind of new.”
Me: “You weren’t together long before you got engaged?”
Her: *blushing again* “Umm. Like ten years.”

Now, I’m no saint. Anyone who’s read any of my stories that have appeared on this page knows that. But I would like to think that if I had dated someone for 10 years, and then gotten engaged to them, that I wouldn’t be actively flirting with a stranger at a bar. (Unless it was an open relationship, which would just be awesome. I need a Trina Decker in my life. But I digress…) Miss Monogamy left for another bar a few minutes later with her friends, and suggested that Dupa and I meet them. Needless to say, we closed down Joe’s instead.

    Dear karma,
    Years from now, when I’m engaged and my beautiful fiancée is out of town with her friends…please remember the night of Saturday, October 11, 2008. Thanks.
    The D.E.F.I.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Defi And I Have New Heroes

In lieu of any recent stories from us, we offer you our new role models, gentlemen who will be included in the inaugural class of the On The Rocks Hall Of Fame, if and when we ever create such a thing.

Stories courtesy of the Associated Press:

JACKSON, Mo. -- Curtis Lemons was supposed to report for jury duty in a drunk driving case. Instead, according to authorities, the 50-year-old Cape Girardeau man skipped the jury duty so he could drink himself.

Lemons received a summons to appear as a prospective juror in the case. When he didn't show up on Monday, a bailiff called his house. Lemons told the bailiff he was too busy to come to court.

Associate Circuit Judge Scott Thomsen instructed officers to bring Lemons to the courthouse. Deputies say they detected a strong odor of alcohol on him. Lemons was held in custody while the DWI trial went on.

Authorities say Lemons told the judge he had been drinking rum in the morning. Thomsen found Lemons in contempt of court and fined him $250.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A man who state police said had a blood alcohol level more than six times the legal limit when he was arrested in July has pleaded no contest to drunken driving.

As part of a plea deal, Stanley Kobierowski was sentenced Friday to one year probation, a $500 fine, 40 hours of community service and a one-year loss of his driver's license.

The 34-year-old Kobierowski was arrested after driving into a highway message board on Interstate 95. Authorities said he had the highest blood alcohol level ever recorded for anyone in Rhode Island who wasn't dead.

Police said Kobierowski registered a .489, then a .491, breathalyzer tests. The legal limit in Rhode Island is .08.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nothing to Report?

Saturday was a night I had been looking forward to for quite some time: my boy Chief’s bachelor party. Booze, breasts, and a varsity squad of buddies: a recipe for the perfect “On the Rocks” post, right? A formula, one might say, for the quintessential hilarious-night-of-drinking story?

Only one problem: Alcohol, when consumed in large quantities, seems to cause memory loss. (Was anyone else aware of this? Wait—was I aware of this? *scratches head*)

There are so many parts of Saturday night that are shrouded in a deep, dense fog in my brain that extracting the good stories is almost impossible. I’m fairly confident, however, that in the coming weeks some of that fog will be cleared with the help of my friends. Chief’s wedding is Friday, and I’m sure there will be several anecdotes tossed back and forth during the day that had previously been rinsed away by shots of tequila. There are more tales out there; the sheer amount of alcohol, beer pong, and characters involved guarantees it.

There are at least two, though, that I can provide you with now:

The Party Crasher

The night began at my boy Finn’s home. His basement is set up as a game room, and it opens out into his driveway in back of the house. Games of asshole and beer pong raged inside, and set up outside on the edge of the driveway were two iced-down kegs and a table—on top of which sat fifteen or so pizzas of various topping combinations. You know, just some light refreshments.

After a few hours had passed by, I noticed a guy near the keg talking with one of my friends. I asked another friend, Bobby, who the stranger was. He said, “I don’t know; I think he just walked in.” Apparently “Seth”—if that was indeed his real name—had been walking down the street when he heard the party going on and decided to join the fun. And this was in a very suburban neighborhood, not in the city where a random person coming into the fray wouldn’t be quite so unusual. None of us knew him, he was rolling solo, and he was hammered. Even though he had just arrived, he was already slurring words. Standing next to Finn and his wife, “Genoa,” I decided someone had to do something about it. “[Genoa], this is your place; kick him out!” She looked at me, then over at her 6’1” 260 lb hubby, and said, “Why the f**k are you asking me to do it?!” (The next day at lunch, when the question was once again put to me, I answered her with, “Because I go to the people that are going to get s**t done—and we all know who wears the pants in your household.” She found it hard to argue with my logic.)

A short while later, the party bus came to take us to Mario’s in the South Side. Haze, the best man, was collecting the $40/person fee from each of us as we boarded. We figured that the party fee would prevent Seth from continuing his interloping. But, though he thought hard about it for a moment, he finally handed over the cash to Haze and climbed onto the bus. By the time we had reached Mario’s, I was beginning to think that we weren’t going to get rid of him. Our party filed past the bouncers, who checked our IDs as we did. When Seth’s turn came, however, he stumbled and fell—right into the bouncer.

If you were wondering if there is a surefire way to be denied entry into a bar, this would be just what you’re looking for. I’m not a religious man, but I’d like to think that, if there is indeed a God, it was his hand that nudged Seth toward his fate.

Thanks for the $40 though, Seth. The shots that your donation bought were terrific.

The Morning-After Victim

Sunday morning, Finn’s house was a broken battlefield, complete with fallen warriors everywhere. At around 10 a.m., six of us were gathered in the TV room, nursing our hangovers with SportsCenter and episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” One of our friends, “Butters,” emerged from the living room where he had been sleeping on the couch. Groaning, he shuffled into the bathroom and shut the door behind him.

Ten minutes later, we began to crack jokes as to his activities inside. Thirty minutes later, we yelled, “You okay in there, buddy?” No response. After about an hour, I finally decided to take a peek into the bathroom. I opened the door, and found him curled up on the bathroom floor (completely-clothed, thankfully). Finding him like this, I did what any good friend would do—I laughed my a** off while snapping pictures with my cameraphone (yes, that’s actually him above).

The flashes and laughter awoke him. He sat up, and then crawled out into the TV room before collapsing on the floor. Then, about fifteen minutes later, he got back up onto his hands and knees, and determinedly crawled back into the bathroom. The retching sounds that emanated from within were brutal. When the rest of us finally left to go to lunch, Butters was back on the living room couch. I have yet to hear anything from him since, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was still laying there.

War is hell.