Friday, November 21, 2008

Con-text Clues

Last night I was driving home from dinner at my mother’s house, when I got a text at a little past 9. TJ had been at “The Club” for most of the night, and by now the Captain & Cokes had begun to take hold of him. I’m sure it hadn’t taken this long into the night for him to see naked flesh; but his message said, quite succinctly, “TITTIES.”

I’ve been drinking (professionally—I just can’t, in good conscience, consider my St. Ides Special Brew days as anything more than training in the minors) since around the start of my freshman year in college. I’ve been text messaging since about a year after that. So, by now, both are second nature to my friends and me. Each can be dangerous on its own, which means combining them is simply inviting tragedy. But, as is usually the case in life, along the road to tragedy you’ll pass an awful lot of comedy.
    From a few nights ago…
    Hollywood: “operation foreigner is in effect…im looking for someone exotic looking”
    Me: “Lots of asian dudes in Oakland. That’s probably your best bet.”
    Hollywood: “bitch”

    Hollywood: “holy hoes down nakama
    Me: “I’m guessing they’re not all that holy.”
    Hollywood: “affirmative”

I can’t say for sure just how his night ended, but I can say this: his MySpace status the following day spoke of a hangover, but nothing of meeting a future-Mrs. Hollywood-with-an-accent.

Granted, I was sober during those exchanges. But I have done plenty of damage from the other side of the fence. The following are messages sent during a weeklong business trip in March ’07.
    Tuesday morning…
    Me (to TJ): “Let's recap last night: san-diego-women's-rm woman has a gorgeous les daughter with even hotter gfs; her engagement is failing; and she wants me badly”
    Me (to TJ): “Note: the mother is the one with the failing engagement who wants me. I actually told her that her daughter sounds like a porn fantasy...and she agreed.”

    Early Tuesday evening…
    Me (to TJ): “I'm playing poker against hot chicks from Cali and computer geeks. I own this place.”

    Later that night…
    Me: “You don't know the party i'm at right now.”
    TJ: “Explain.”
    Me: “Picture a high school house party. In a huge house in Texas. Only, instead of teenagers, it's 80+ software engineers. From all around the world.”
    TJ: “So geekfest 2007?”
    Me: “That's half of it. But there's also cute foreign chicks. Brazilians even.”
    TJ: “Here's the part where I hate you.”

    Later still, I sent a quote from L-Boogie
    Me (to TJ): “My son will be president of the United States. And yes, he will get head; and he'll admit to it.”

    The following morning…
    Me (to TJ): “So I got a number from a girl last night who has a bf, and I now have a little asian cutie from san diego on it. And I won a cowboy hat.”

    Thursday morning, discussing my plans for celebrating my birthday upon returning home…
    Me (to Shannon): “Thanks hon. Nothing concrete. I believe compromising my judgment, vision, and ability to walk in a straight line will be involved, though.”

    Friday afternoon, in the cab home from the airport, talking about events of the previous night…
    Me (to my project manager at work): “Not the first time, and probably not the last time, that I drink alcohol from a woman's cleavage. Talk to you on Monday.”

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes the best (although it’s occasionally the most painful) part of my morning-after is scrolling through my text messages to see what I sent. Irritated cursing, paranoid accusations, sloppy come-ons…it all reminds you of the ramblings of a blind man who has been handcuffed to a mechanical bull for five hours.

At his request, last year I kept a record of all of the texts between TJ and me during his birthday weekend (he was in Appleton, WI). The following highlights from that weekend, if nothing else, serve to show why “On the Rocks” was an inevitable necessity.
    Early Friday night…
    TJ: Is it too early for patron? No, no its not.
    Me: Don't forget to get some pictures of titties. Makes every birthday that much more special.
    TJ: I dont do pictures, son. Lawyers advice. Reduces the chances of conviction.
    Me: No man's ever been convicted of getting birthday boob.
    TJ: I just did a shot called chocolate cake. Wtf is going on.
    Me: You're becoming a woman, that's what. I had that shot once, but the chick had to promise head first.
    TJ: Well, it was free. And i just killed six stuffed potato skins. Oh, its gonna be bad night.
    Me: You're going for "sloppy bitch" drunk, aren't you?
    TJ: Man... I already lost feeling in my extremities.

    TJ: If i bone dea [Sage], its like both our presents.
    Me: lol@her waking up with the star of david on her ass tomorrow. Tell her she owes ME a damn gift. She's two weeks late on it already.
    TJ: At the club. Safe. On familiar ground.
    Me: Good boy. Now do a shot of beam.
    TJ: I hate you.
    Me: That's your thirst talking.
    TJ: Jody lookin yum.
    Me: A picture's worth a thousand drunk texts.
    TJ: I got no flash on the celly. ill see what i can do. Why do you sound sober?
    Me: Smoking Aces on dvd tues. I WILL be copping.
    TJ: DRINK U P***Y

    Even later…
    TJ: Ok, im signing off. I got four shots sitting between eight titties. If i die, keep keepin on, man.
    Me: Stand and fight, man. Stop talking like a dead man.
    TJ: HOLY F**K
    Me: Welcome to the land of the dead.
    TJ: Tijies and tequika niga
    Me: Strength and honor.
    Me: The measure is the a.m. hours.

    TJ: Fifth hour of drinking. I'm a dead man.
    Me: *steps out onto the battlefield* let's do this
    TJ: If i die tonight, u can be a pallbearer.
    Me: Your lightweight ass would only need two of them.
    TJ: Lightweight my ass. I been on the battlefield for six hours now. Also, i want yall to cripwalk with my casket.
    TJ: 4 f*****g dancers? For MY bday? F**K THAT
    Me: You're drunk and seeing double. There's only 2.

    TJ: Way to tell im drunk. Im jammin to rob zombie.
    Me: Way to tell i'm with white girls: we're listening to bow wow.
    TJ: Eeny meeny miney mo, usin game to catch a ho.
    Me: Chubbly chick loving me.
    TJ: Roflz, U bangin a chubbly would be the best bday gift.
    Me: "that's what friends are forrr"
    TJ: Ok. Theres a world class psycho stripper here. Shes also a 9.5. And my bac has to be 0.25 at this point.
    TJ: Hmmm ... Puking rally?
    Me: That's my dog.

    Even later…
    TJ: Restaurant owner kust gavd ne free certificates.
    Me: You're not a man until you hit double digits.
    TJ: Doble di4ts on hos or drinks? Cvz I done already killed a bottle of cap.

    The final two messages of the night, sent at well-past 4 a.m.…
    TJ: Pun2tuatin for the evening. In the emergency room with a broke hand and fat lip. F***k.
    TJ: F*****g doctors.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me?

It took 29½ years, but I’ve finally come to the realization that birthday parties are not for the birthday boy or girl; they are for his or her friends. (This is similar to weddings not being for the bride and groom—I think we can all agree that they are definitely not for the groom—but instead really only serving as a big drunken soirĂ©e for their guests.) Maybe I’m wrong; maybe this is only how it is for my friends and me. But it seems that when convening at a bar or club to celebrate someone’s date of birth, everyone except for the man or woman of honor has a blast and comes away with some crazy tales. The most basic of explanations is that if you have 20 people, it’s a 19-on-1 brawl; unless you’re the Bruce Lee of BAC, you’re just not going to survive. Witness my most recent birthday, which I chronicled on this page last April. But despite my night ending brutally, everyone else who was there has told me how much fun they had (for example: Hollywood made out with a 40 year old cougar at the bar while her 22 year old son watched with a disappointed look). The person celebrating the birthday is usually so wiped out that he or she doesn’t get the opportunity to party as hard as everyone else. Drinking is irony sometimes.

This new wisdom came to me Saturday morning, after a Friday night spent commemorating TD’s birthday in The ‘Side. The 28th anniversary of TD coming into being was actually October 22nd; however, colds (first hers, then Baby Joey’s) helped to push back any revelry until November 14th. The recuperated couple joined Zach and I in pregaming at my apartment that night, throwing back Ketel One, Belvedere, and Crown Royal for about an hour. We ended that session by downing a round of Jager Bombs, and then strolled up the street to William Penn Tavern to meet up with her friends from work, Ashhad, and others. More shots and drinks were passed around in every direction, especially TD’s; but it seemed like Joey, Zach, and I were sprinting out ahead of the 5’5” 10 lb birthday girl on the road to Blackoutville. My theory: This particular highway is a pretty steep decline, and our greater masses brought about a higher rate of acceleration.

At least it kind of sounds intelligent, right?

Though I can barely remember this portion of the evening, talking to Ashhad and Zach the next day confirmed that the three of us ended the night at Doc’s Place. Ashhad ordered six rum & Cokes—two for each of us—and handed them out. Instead of sipping my two drinks, though, I picked up a random glass that had been left on the bar and began to chug an unknown concoction. Both of my boys tried to talk sense into me, but to no avail. Who were they to tell me not to drink free booze, anyways?

That moment of personal brilliance surely contributed to the scene that I awoke to the next morning. Coming to, I saw my nightstand and bedroom wall in front of me. Well, I made it back to my bed. Next, the standard “Do I still have my cellphone” check. I looked behind me, and saw the back of Baby Joey’s bald head. Hmm, I wasn’t expecting that.

I jumped out of bed to get a better assessment of the situation. Joey, still clothed, was tucked under the blanket on the other side of the bed. Scratching my head, I walked out into my hallway. On the floor of my bathroom sat one of my spare blankets, neatly folded. I shuffled down the hall to the living room. Zach was passed out on my couch. His jeans were on the floor next to his bottle of Crown. The dress shirt that Joey had worn the previous night was on the floor by the TV stand. What wasn’t anywhere in sight was the birthday girl herself. Resigned to letting Joey have the bed and kicking his ass for it later, I grabbed the blanket from the bathroom and laid on the loveseat. I shot off a text message to Lady Friend, who was out of town: “Babe, you won’t believe the morning I’m having. I woke up in the Twilight Zone.”

Ten or so minutes later, Joey emerged from my room.

Joey: “How did I end up in the bed?”
Me: “You tell me!”

To the best of our collective knowledge, he had passed out on the couch upon returning to the apartment. At some point in the night, probably after coming out of the bathroom, he had been disoriented, thought he was back at his own house, and climbed into bed.

During a phone call to his MIA girlfriend later in the morning, Joey found out that she had slept in the front seat of their car; she then drove home around 5 a.m. When he asked her, “Can you come pick me up?” TD gave him a terse, “I guess so.” After hanging up, Joey said, “I think it’s safe to say we got into a fight last night.”

Zach: "You don't remember?"
Joey: "Nope!"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fuzzy Math

About a month ago, I had a friend visit from out of town. This friend shall remain unnamed, but we will call her Lush, mostly because she is not.

Lush and I had never gone drinking together, but we were looking forward to it. I, obviously, have a fondness for the fermented beverage, and she's from the party town of Vegas, where she has had adventures that surpass anything you've read here. At least in star power. (Defi, when are we gonna get NBA players to costar in one of our stories?)

Anyhow, I was operating under the assumption that Lush is indeed a lush, and thus would match me drink for drink and inspire some adventures that involve NBA players - and their groupies. Alas, I overestimated Lush's drinking capacity.

(She says she never said she was a heavy drinker. I counter that she's always got a story about some time when she was absolutely hammered. We'll call it a draw.)

Lush and I end up at Sloppy Joe's, a beachside bar and restaurant in Treasure Island, on the Gulf coast. It's one of my favorite spots because it's laidback, there's always room to sit outside and watching the sun set while sipping a mojito is pretty tough to top for enjoying life. I've taken dates there, my moms ... hell, I've even gone drinking there solo. Big surprise, I know.

Anyhow, we grab a couple stools at the outside portion of the bar, which was fairly empty. I order a mojito, but the bar was out of fresh mint, which should be illegal. I settle for a Captain and coke while Lush peruses the menu. A middle-aged couple, obviously vacationing, was sitting to our left, and the woman was drinking a "sloppy-sized margarita." Lush decides she wants one of those, only she gets the top-shelf version, with Patron and Grand Marnier. I dub it the Megarita.

The middle-aged woman was maybe an eighth of the way into her drink when Lush got hers. As the afternoon progresses, we end up chatting with the couple - visiting from Ohio - and they turn out to be pretty cool. However, after a while, the woman notices she's killed her drink while Lush is perhaps a quarter of the way through hers. She immediately starts giving Lush a hard time. I, of course, encourage this, since I'm on my second or third drink at that point.

Lush tries to play it off, saying it's her first drink, she's Asian, yada yada yada. The woman gets gangster with it and orders another, then tells Lush she'll probably finish that one before Lush gets through with hers. This lights a fire under Lush, who manages to finish it as the woman hits the halfway mark on her second drink.

However, Lush is already talking about getting a buzz, and how she's got a lot of hard booze in her drink. My skepticism was palpable as I started in on my fifth drink. So she orders a second Megarita, but as she does, she tries to mount a defense of her weak drinking while Middle-Aged Lady and I relentlessly tease her.

"Hey," Lush says to the bartender, "this is a really strong drink, right?" The bartender tries to give her an answer that won't piss her off, but it's obvious he doesn't think she's drinking a mindbender. "OK, but wait," she says. "I've had more to drink than him, right?" She points at me.

The bartender, who came on shift after we'd arrived, says he doesn't know the answer to that question because he doesn't know how many drinks I've had.

"So how much alcohol is in my drink?" she says, ignoring the warning signs of impending ownage. "About four ounces," he says. "And how many are in his?" Lush presses on. "At least two ounces ... maybe two and a half," the bartender replies.

"Ha!" she says, turning to me as I briefly wonder if small animals standing on asphalt ever really comprehend what that rapidly approaching car bumper portends or if they live in blissful ignorance until the thud. "My drink has more alcohol than yours does."

I look at Lush for a moment, wondering just how evil I am. I decide I am not that evil, at least that day.

"Sweetheart ... I've had more than four of these. Do the math."

As realization dawns on her, accompanied by giggles from Ohio people and the bartender, I give myself a mental pat on the back for taking it easy on her. After all, it was only our first time drinking together. She'll learn.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Vankoover State of Mind

I find it hard to have sympathy for people whose jobs call for them to travel the globe at a fairly frequent pace. For one, I’ve enjoyed travelling since I was a child. My family—both immediate and expanded—has been spread around the lower 48 for much of my life, and as a result I have been a part of countless snack cart services, interstate rest stops, scenic coastal train routes, and uncomfortable Greyhound seats. So being on the road doesn’t bother me. But beyond that, jobs that call for a lot of travel often take you to big, exciting places. Locations like New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, London, Miami, etc. When you’re being paid to work in San Diego for a day and then you get to party like a rock star in the Gaslamp District that night, don’t look for me to shed a tear on your behalf.

This is all the more so because, on that rare occasion that I get to travel for my job, I get sent to a glitzy location like Vancouver, WA.

That’s Vancouver, Washington, not Vancouver, British Columbia. Hanging out with TJ, Zach, Ashhad, and others last weekend at Shady Grove, they teased me that I was going to a bootleg Vancouver, even suggesting that it was spelled “Vankoover.” I hate all of them.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure it’s a great city to live in and raise children (if you’re into that kind of thing). It’s clean, the people are friendly, and it’s close enough to Portland, OR that you can still have some of that big city feel. But when you’re a tourist, it doesn’t really give you anything to brag about to the folks back home.

I flew there for a large company-sponsored workshop, and was primarily confined to my hotel and its immediate area. The opportunities for my own personal debauchery, therefore, were limited. I’m sure I’ve disappointed those coworkers who have enjoyed an up close and personal view of my “On the Rocks”-type antics during past business trips. They were fans of the blog before there was a blog. And that’s not to say that there haven’t been some good boozing tales—it just hasn’t been me in the lead role.
  • Sunday night three female coworkers and I went to a small Italian restaurant for dinner. Midway through our meal, Lady Friend called me. I walked outside and took the call while standing on the sidewalk. A few minutes later a short, chubby older guy came stumbling down the way. I was the only other being around, and he decided to stop and chat. I’m not sure how many of me he was seeing, but he seemed to be conversing with all of us, patiently waiting for his turn to talk—despite the fact that several seconds had gone by since I had finished my last sentence. When I asked if he was ok, he said, “Ahm shahray—Ahm druhk.” He wobbled in a circular motion, perhaps imitating the straw that had been mixing his drinks a few minutes earlier. My little drunken buddy quickly tired of the chitchat, and decided to move on down the road. His feet weren’t quite up to the task, though, and he soon lost his balance and barreled shoulder first into the restaurant window. As luck would have it, my coworkers were seated at that very window, and spun around to see what the booming thud had been. The drunk guy shuffled back from the window, and looked up to see my friend Michele looking out the window at him in sheer confusion. In earnest, he said, “Ahm shahray, baaaybee!”

    When I finished my phone call and returned to my table, one of my coworkers said, “Did you push that guy into the window?!?”
  • On Monday night I came back to the hotel from dinner, and decided to see who among my friends were hanging out at the bar. Finding a few coworkers, I stopped and talked for a few minutes. However, it wasn’t exactly a good ratio of managers / plebes, so I decided to make it an early night and headed back to my room. About ten minutes later, I was seated at my laptop checking e-mails when my room phone rang. I picked it up, and a frat boy voice said, “Dude, you don’t know me, but I was hanging out down here at the bar, and saw you talking to those people. You look just like this guy I went to college with—did you go to school in Massachusetts?” I assured him that I hadn’t, and he said, “Okay man, my bad” and hung up. The next day I talked with the manager from whom the mystery caller had found out my name (a girl at the registration desk told me that he then used my name to have the hotel operator patch him through to my room phone). She said that he was a Jet Blue flight attendant. She didn’t say that she had told the whole story to my project and team managers, who then proceeded to bust my balls over it for the remainder of the trip, insisting that the guy had been a homosexual fan/stalker. There were also insinuations as to the lascivious things I would do for free plane tickets. And while I’m not above degrading behavior for cheap airfare, I can say with 100% certainty that I would only perform them with members of the opposite sex.
  • Tuesday I found myself being hunted by a cougar. Unfortunately, this wasn’t exactly Mrs. Robinson, or even Mrs. Cleary. No, this was a less-than-desirable customer in her late 40s who inexplicably put the hit out on me—during business hours. She started by asking a project manager on my team about my marital status. Later that morning, during a general session, she and a co-conspirator asked one of my female coworker friends for my cellphone number. Thankfully, my friend didn’t give it to her.

    That evening was the traditional Workshop reception. A cash bar stocked with top shelf bottles is always present, and everyone tends to use it as a launching point before hitting bars and clubs afterwards; which means the majority of all the week’s craziness goes down that night. Uh oh. I stood at a table with Michele and some customers, when Co-Conspirator approached. Pulling me aside, she handed me a small piece of cardstock while saying, “This isn’t from me, and this isn’t about business.” Sure enough, it was Cougar’s business card. Michele, a lightweight and in essence my big sister at work, was one rum drink in and ready to go after Cougar in my defense; luckily, she refrained. Being only two gin & tonics into my night, I had the sense to simply stay away from Cougar throughout the rest of the reception. When she moved to one location within the large hotel ballroom, I moved to one on the opposite side. Near the end of the event, Co-Conspirator found me again. “I hope you don’t hate me for delivering that message—I’m just the messenger.” I assured her that I wasn’t mad at her (though I sort of was), but in a flash I saw a way to put it all to an end. I showed her a picture of Lady Friend that I keep on my phone, saying, “I’m not a fool.” Caught off guard, she said, “Wow—no, no you’re not.” That was the last I heard from either Cougar or Co-Conspirator on the subject for the rest of the week.

Now I’m back in the ‘Burgh; I have a blissfully-full glass of E&J and Coke in my hand and a blissfully-empty calendar between now and Thanksgiving Eve. Strength and honor.