Thursday, March 26, 2009

Grown Man Business

Strippers and bachelor parties go together like gin and tonic water. The general presumption, at least amongst brides-to-be, is that their future hubbies end up in a dark back room receiving an endless string of lap dances and affections from beautiful women. From my own personal experience, however, this isn’t very accurate. I can count about eleven stag parties in which I have taken part over the years. Ten of them featured performances by exotic dancers; of those ten, the bachelor was too drunk at half of them to even make it into the strip club. And even when he does stay conscious long enough to see the inside of the club, it’s rare that the bachelor ever gets a sendoff anywhere near the fantasy scenario described above. Sometimes he just hangs out at the edge of the stage with his buddies, sliding the occasional dollar bill into a garter. Sometimes the best man takes him to the private room and buys him one innocent lap dance from the girl of his choosing. And sometimes he gets the will to live beaten out of him onstage by two dancers (who, invariably, experience simultaneous flashbacks of domestic violence, and as a result go all Tina-whooping-Ike-with-a-boot-in-the-limo on the poor, unsuspecting sap).

Unfortunately for Gaelic Gangsta, his bachelor party in Wheeling, WV last weekend fell along the lines of the third—and least enjoyable—scenario.

Most of our party crew began the night by pounding beers at the TGI Fridays in Washington while watching NCAA tourney games. I met up with them late, though, and had only enough time to chug one Miller Lite draught. We caravanned to a Hampton Inn a couple of miles away from Wheeling Island, which would be the night’s main event. The best man, “Mo-Fo,” had booked two rooms, but we had 11 guys congregated. So while he and three others went inside to check in, the rest of us played the old prom night game of “hang back in the parking lot.” We waited about 10 minutes and then finally went inside to catch up with them. Unfortunately, we didn’t know what the room numbers were, and had to try stopping on each floor. When we reached the second floor, the elevator doors opened to a temporary wall; third floor, same thing. The hotel, apparently, was doing some remodeling. “How much you wanna bet,” said GG, “that one of us is going to crash through those walls tonight?”

“I fully expect there to be a man-shaped hole in one of them tomorrow from you running through it,” I replied.

When the doors opened on 4, we half-expected to see another temporary wall. Instead it was Mo-Fo; he ushered us down the hall to the rooms, one of which had a large, full cooler of cold Labatt Blue cans and Smithwick’s bottles awaiting us. “Weatherman”, the bride-to-be’s brother, brought a bottle of Jack Daniels that he was daring to splash Coke at. And it was only about 7 pm. This night was not going to be for the faint of heart.

When everyone decided that it was time to head to the casino to eat, Mo-Fo called the front desk and asked about arranging for the casino’s shuttle to pick us up. The woman at the desk informed him that all he needed to do was push the “dice button” on the room phone, and he would be connected with Wheeling Island. “Wow,” Mo-Fo said impressed. “You guys are on top of it!”

At Wheeling Island we ravaged the buffet, washing down chicken, steak, and pasta with beers, Jack, and vodka. While gathered around a table at a bachelor party, the discussion topics typically have a more macho flavor to them. You’ve got plates with meat piled high, bottles of beer, glasses of whiskey, 12-14 virile young guys, gambling; it’s like a big stew of “manliness” symbolism. One of our friends sitting at the table (“E Bomb”—man, my ability to craft creative aliases is really starting to fade), though, is openly gay [which almost sounds like a sociological experiment: “Let’s throw as much testosterone-fueled, heterosexual overload at a gay man as we can, and then see what happens”]. But E Bomb long ago proved himself able to drink and joke with the best of us. When conversation eventually came to GG’s scrap the previous Saturday, E Bomb weighed in:

E Bomb: “If I had been there, it would’ve been great to knock him out and then look down and say ‘You just got your ass kicked by a faggot!’”
Me: *choking on my Red Bull and vodka*

After eating we hit the dog track to bet on a few races. While not busy raking in the free money (GG, Weatherman, and I all won at different times), some of the guys bought and passed around shots of Jack. After an hour or so it was deemed time to hit Godfather's Gentlemen's Club, which is within walking distance of the casino. Weatherman and I were among the first to arrive at the rendezvous point on the casino floor. He decided to throw a $20 on red at the roulette table; I followed suit, putting $20 on black.

Always bet on black.

I took my small winnings to the cage to get cashed, and Weatherman sat down at a slot machine. He threw in $5, and after a few minutes of automated whirling and beeping, it posted a $95 win. The rest of our group showed up as Weatherman took his voucher to the cage. He was still standing over at the window several minutes later, though, and the rest of us—eager to have naked breasts shook in our faces—began to get impatient. I went over to ask what the hold up was, but once I looked over his shoulder I understood. Being laid out in front of him by the cashier were ninety-five $1 bills. Weatherman looked at me with a big grin. “I’m gonna make it rain!”

Though I had heard mixed reviews of it throughout the day, I was impressed with Godfathers. The girls weren’t superstars, but they were solid 7s and 8s (I think that may count as a 20 in West Virginia). We pooled money to buy a VIP table and bottle service, and we poured ourselves vodka and Jack from a small lounge of leather couches stage left. One of our guys—who seemed to appoint himself Secretary of Strip Club Affairs as soon as we walked in—picked out two dancers, and worked out the terms of the show they would perform for the bachelor. GG was quickly being led to the stage by a tall, tattooed girl with jet black hair (“Tats”), and a petite blonde with a well-sculpted derriere (“WGWA”). He smiled like a little kid about to blow out the candles on his birthday cake. Oh, if only he understood that this was a show for us, not for him.

While he sat on his hands in a chair backed against the pole, Tats and WGWA proceeded to do their best to remind GG of every reason he loves and cherishes his fiancée. To the cheers of the rest of us, they paddled, teased, tickled, and abused him like two deranged cats slowly killing a mouse. A few minutes into the show, Weatherman handed out wads of his dollar bills to some of us. Together, we gathered around the edge of the stage and tossed a rainstorm of Washingtons across it while two borderline sadistic exotic dancers beat our drunken friend silly. The only word I can conceive of to describe it is “wondrous.”

For the grand finale, WGWA climbed up onto GG and stood on his thighs—10 inch stripper heels and all—and began thrusting her g-string covered crotch into his face, pinballing his head between her pelvic bone and the pole behind it. Having enough, he wearily raised his hand and tapped out on WGWA’s firm heiny.

We packed our trampled buddy into the shuttle to the hotel, and the bulk of the party called it a night as well. A few of us, however, decided we wanted to gamble some more. Mo-Fo and his boy stuck to the blackjack tables, and I headed downstairs to the poker room at about 2:30 am, where I repeatedly ordered cups of ice water from waitresses and watched my chip stack fluctuate. At about 9:30 I finally decided it time to tap out myself, down only $55 from what I had stumbled in with. I cabbed it back to the hotel, where 10 guys were packed into two modest hotel rooms like refugees.

As we all said our goodbyes before hitting the highway back to PA, GG showed us a lasting reminder of his last night as a free man: a bruise on his ass about the size of a coaster on a coffee table.

Yep—definitely not for the faint of heart.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Shit Me, I'm Kiss-Faced"

The king is back.

Forgive me for feeling boastful. But the feat of lasting over 12 hours on St. Patrick’s Day is fairly impressive for anyone; for someone with my recent St. Patty’s Day history, it’s a borderline miracle.

Pittsburgh’s St. Patty’s Day Parade was held this past Saturday; every year, the city erupts into a boozer’s paradise on this day of revelry. Despite thinking that I had somewhat redeemed myself for my 2007 performance by lasting until around 8 pm last year, I received a steady flow of teasing, jokes, and pessimism (i.e.—hating) from friends in recent weeks. In the end, though, I outlasted damn near all of them. To quote Stewart Gilligan Griffin, “Victory is mine!”

We began at Shannon’s apartment on Mt. Washington, as has become tradition. TJ was in attendance and in the zone for his first St. Patty’s Day in Pittsburgh—even though he was taking pulls from a bottle of Parrot Bay, and nothing else. Not from the multiple bottles of Jameson on hand, not from the Smithwick’s that T.C. had brought with him, not from the chilled cans of Guinness; not even from the keg of beer with a tap set up on the deck railing. He may be from Chicago, but sometimes the guy is a little more South Beach than South Side. He did manage to throw back a Jell-O shot, but…

When we walked in around 10 a.m., the kitchen was full of people hoisting the day’s first round of Irish Car Bombs in the air. The traditional shot apparently kicked in pretty quickly for the party’s hostess, and this was ever so apparent as she prepared another round. Car Bomb vets will tell you that the “bomb” is one part Jameson and one part Bailey’s Irish Cream in a shot glass, which is then dropped into a glass of Guinness. Shannon, however, was pouring the Jameson directly into the glass of Guinness, and then pouring a full shot of Bailey’s to drop. When I and another person attempted to correct her, she paused; then, in a measured, chilly rhythm reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter, she responded, “These are…Irish Bombs…this is how I make them.”

We didn’t push the issue any further.

One of my friends (we’ll just go with the alias “Gaelic Gangsta”, or “GG”, for him) was on hand without his significant other, who had to work. She had, however, bought him his own personal 375 ml bottle of Jameson to bring, and given him only one instruction for the day: “No fighting.” Now, to look at GG—replete with spiky blonde hair on top of a round face that’s adorned with glasses, and his wacky, boisterous laugh that resonates off walls at all hours of the day—you may think his dear fiancée to only be joking. Surely you would assume that this fun-loving 5’9” man of modest physical conditioning, wearing a green, white, and black argyle sweater vest, is not someone who is likely to get to swinging.

Alcohol is a hell of a drug.

GG, who allowed me frequent swigs of his Jameson bottle, had a pair of green gloves with him, and I borrowed one of them. Wearing it and a pair of sunglasses that used green plastic shamrocks for lenses, I strolled down to Station Square looking like an Irish Michael Jackson. Well, a mid-80s Irish Michael Jackson.

At Steelhouse GG, T.C., Mrs. T.C., and I met up with Mrs. T.C.’s sister, their cousin, LRG, Toe, Nate, and NGF. Somehow, and at someone’s suggestion, GG, T.C., and I began double-fisting beers. GG deftly held both of his beers in one hand while he boogied with a random cute girl nearby; Toe entertained us with some amateur auteur work; Nate, T.C. and I drank ourselves further down the rabbit hole; Mrs. T.C., who’s three months pregnant, watched all of us, silently shaking her head—good times. After an hour or so, we decided to move to Saddle Ridge, which is two clubs over—but accessible through an internal series of doorways. Our group stopped just inside of the country-western-themed club to discuss something. Though I was standing near GG, I was glancing in another direction when I felt the tension point that anyone who has ever been in a fight knows. It’s that sudden fraction of a second when you can feel the air turn. It’s almost intangible; an involuntary reflex that pulses from the back of your neck and puts your head on a swivel and announces, “GO TIME!”

When I looked back, a fat gorilla of a guy had one hand on GG and the other cocked back, and my buddy was engaged in trying to fuse his fist with Gorilla’s face. I got between them, putting GG behind me, and T.C. was Johnny-on-the-spot, grabbing Gorilla from behind and tying up his arms. A bouncer, who must have felt that same ethereal warning that I had, grabbed GG and attempted to move him towards the front exit. GG broke free—I still wonder how—and proceeded to throw another two jabs into the face of Gorilla, who was still being restrained by T.C. I expected this large, hairy, imposing guy to try to retaliate physically; but instead, he complained to the bouncer. I couldn’t help but laugh. Someone hits you in the face while you’re being held back, and you don’t even struggle to get free? You just cry to Teacher?

Funny as it was that GG had embarrassed a large crybaby while breaking the only rule that his fiancée had given him, we now found ourselves in the parking lot instead of inside where all of the tasty, tasty beer was. We hailed a cab, and luckily the first one to appear was Henry, a Dominican cabbie who T.C. and Mrs. T.C. have known for a few years. He dropped us off at 1311 Tavern in the South Side. We caught up with some of our friends with whom we had originally walked down from Shannon’s, and got back to the business of drinking. And drinking. And drinking. And—you guessed it—drinking. I think I could hear my liver slosh around when I moved.

When I noticed that one of my thumbnails had split (probably during GG’s scuffle), I grabbed the female bartender’s attention and said, “Can I get a band-aid? I broke a nail.” The look on her face was…probably similar to the one on each of yours right now. Smirking, she handed me a couple from behind the bar, and I patched myself up. I’s a manly man, I yam.

This brings us to my haziest part of the day. It was only about 6:45 pm, and we decided to leave 1311 for another nearby bar that was several blocks off of Carson St. But what it was, why we went there, and how we got there are all a mystery to me. Some of our group had packed it in (most notably the T.C.s), while others like Shannon and Dr. Kelly had gone to Bar Louie in Station Square. While I remember our brief stay at the mystery bar, my next clear memory is walking down Carson, carrying on a mental debate over whether to catch a cab or hoof it to Bar Louie (given that catching a cab would be next to impossible). It was about 7:30 pm, I was all alone, and I had lost my shamrock sunglasses. Luckily, The Prince of Ligonier called me as I approached the corner of 18th. He was a street away with his wife and their friends, so I hooked a left when I reached 17th and we ended up at a small bar called Dish.

I was still throwing back beers, but my drunk seemed to almost be going backwards; each sip brought with it a touch more sobriety. Prince’s wife wasn’t in the same boat; she was twisted like braids in Jamaica. She frequently found herself hugging someone—whether it were Prince, one of their friends, or even me—merely as a means of keeping herself upright.

We moved on to Intermission Lounge on Carson, collecting Girlfriend (and a green fez) along the way. By about 10:30, though, I had clearly hit my saturation point. I was fairly sober, and could not physically put more beer down my esophagus. Girlfriend and I made our way to Tom’s Diner to soak up some of the booze before heading home. Shortly after our food arrived, TK made an impromptu appearance with some friends of his. Spotting my unattended plate of pancakes, he plopped down in front of them and began ferociously chopping and tearing at them with a fork. There have been kills in the Serengeti that weren’t as gruesome. A female friend of TK's, who seemed to be charged with babysitting, looked on with a mixture of pity, humor, and disgust that I’ve never seen before.

Well…that I’ve never been consciously aware of.

We got back to my apartment well after midnight, and I woke up Sunday morning feeling fresh and clean. Where are all the haters at now?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shots for Everyone

Only in Pittsburgh can you drink a Natty Light while riding in a limo. Well, I suppose you could do it in other cities, too; but it probably would be a lot more likely to be looked at as odd. In Pittsburgh, no one even thinks twice about it.

Saturday night was a study in contrasts. We pregamed in Squirrel Hill—a relatively progressive, white collar section of the city; but we were drinking Natural Light, which is as blue-collar a beer as there is. Everyone on hand celebrating my buddy Rocky’s birthday was above college age; but we played beer pong and chugged beer at a house party, which made me reminisce on my days at W&J. The main event was held in the South Side, which in recent years has seen an influx of trendier clubs and ultra lounges; but we were going to one of the last diehard “dive bars” found on Carson St., the White Eagle Inn.

Rocky, who is Mrs. T.C.’s cousin, managed to pack the small locale with friends and family. And, in keeping with the contrasts, his family being present in no way meant that the boozing was curtailed. I had already done about five rounds of shots—most of those being Rocket Fuel, which the White Eagle sells by the pitcher—when Rocky’s mother and father arrived. The next two pitchers of Rocket Fuel shots were paid for and doled out by his mother. The woman’s a saint.

I kept a running tally of the rounds of shots saved in a note on my phone; it read “9” when I glanced at it Sunday morning. But I suspect that I neglected to update the count near the end of the night, being tipsy as I was; and I have a vague recollection of downing a shot and thinking, “Well helloooo double digits.”


My sparse blogging as of late isn’t due to a lack of consumption. Every weekend in my social calendar from early February through the end of April is dotted with some type of engagement. Here are some notes and quickies from the last few weeks:
  • At K.C.’s birthday party, Abbie’s mom sold Girlfriend and me each a $2 raffle ticket. The grand prize of the St. Patrick's Day drawing? A basket of booze. Guess whose fingers haven’t uncrossed since.
  • Chappy has made a triumphant return to the game after about four months as a “healthy scratch.” A special party was held in his honor at Carson City Saloon a couple of weeks ago, and the alcohol flowed like the Mississippi in spring [I’ll dedicate a special blog to that night at a later time]. He took the early “L” that night, but he made an appearance at the White Eagle for Rocky’s party and seemed to have his drinking sea legs solidly underneath him once again.
  • Girlfriend was away on a previously-planned trip to New York City for Valentine’s Day weekend, so I spent it hanging with the fellas (TJ already recounted the events of 2/13). V Day itself saw a fist fight break out in front of us at Shady Grove (a rarity amongst a largely preppy, young professional crowd); a mile-and-a-half hike to Cricket Lounge (a local strip club), where Hollywood met up with us—and apparently knows the entire staff, from dancers to bartenders; and an end-of-the-night gorging at Village Pizza. Ahh, the bachelor’s lifestyle.
  • While playing beer pong at the pregame party this past Saturday, my friend “JW” decided to add one cup to the front of each team’s standard six cup triangle. “So this is the uncircumcised version,” I observed.
  • On 2/21 BlahBlahBlah had a birthday party for his wife at Sing Sing, a local piano bar. While I typically loathe piano bars, it was good to see BBB and others who were in attendance. His wife gave birth to a bouncing baby boy a couple of days before Christmas, so this was his first night out on the town in quite some time. And it ended in classic BBB fashion: he got too drunk, got upset when his wife took the car keys off him, and stormed off through the crowd—and through one tough guy who decided to mouth off in response. This, of course, then led to me drive blocking BBB backwards towards the front doors to prevent him from turning the guy’s face into a freestanding speed bag.

This Saturday will feature the annual St. Patty’s Day festivities, beginning at Shannon’s around 9 a.m. I think the headache I have right now is a sign that my body has decided to get next Sunday's hangover started early, just to make sure it matches the ungodly amount of Jameson, Guinness, and green beer I’ll be drinking.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

“Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.”

First, let me welcome my brother-in-arms, TJ, back into the Crooked Straight fold. I was just as eager as the rest of you to read about the events in his last post, because I can only remember approximately 20% of that night myself. From around the time I called the taxi company, to about 7 a.m. the next morning, my mind is a blank sheet. I came out of my blackout standing at the door to the apartment’s bedroom, where Ashhad was passed out. I had turned on the light, and was now staring intently at my buddy slumbering in the bed, trying to figure out just who he was, and why I was in his home.

This past Friday was another head-scratcher, but for much different reasons. It started under quite normal pretenses: My friend, Abbie, was having a birthday party for her fiancé (“KC”) at Mullaney’s Harp and Fiddle, an Irish bar & restaurant in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. KC is a proud Irishman; and, with St. Patrick’s Day nearing, everyone is growing fonder of all things green and/or made of hops. Harp and Fiddle, therefore, was a fitting choice of locations. An energetic Irish band rocked from the stage with enthusiastic participation from a standing-room-only crowd, and draughts of Smithwick's, Guinness, Harp, and Bass Ale populated hands and tables throughout the establishment (except for Girlfriend, who stuck to her beloved Corona).

The place is somewhat small, however—especially when it’s packed to the limit and a live band is onstage ten feet away from your table. A subset of our larger group decided to move to a quieter, less-expensive bar nearby. KC prepped Girlfriend and I, neither of whom had ever been to this new venue before, by saying, “It’s a bit of a dive. It looks shitty from the outside, but it’s not bad inside.”

As we walked up to the bar, which was in an old former hotel, we appreciated KC’s honesty. From the outside, you might mistake it for an abandoned building. When we walked through the door, however, we found that things indoors were much more vibrant. Smoke, music, the crack of billiard balls on a pool table; gruff-looking middle-aged white guys and stone-faced, thuggish young brothers staring holes through you; this was a typical Pittsburgh dive bar.

Or so we thought.

About an hour after we arrived, Girlfriend caught the eye of a guy at the opposite end of the bar. He waved at her—with his fingers. She waved back, but quickly realized that I had only seen her half of the exchange. “Don’t worry,” she assured me, “he’s gay. He waved like this *imitates the wave*”

This put both of our brains on pause: An openly homosexual man at a dive bar? It’s not unheard of, true; you could go to most small, local bars in America and find the token neighborhood gay guy hanging out amongst friends and people who won’t hassle him. But this felt…different. Suddenly, En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” came blaring over the speakers…and all Richard Simmons broke out.

Many of the “thuggish” Black men began pantomiming and dancing. One young white man was quickly shirtless, twirling around his corner of the bar and occasionally dancing while staring at himself in a mirror on the wall; the man who had waved at Girlfriend sashayed to and fro to the beat, with his arms swaying back and forth up in the air, frequently gyrating closely with his buddy. Wrists everywhere were joyously limp and proud.

Girlfriend and I finally understood what was going on: We were in a gay bar.

Most of the people in our circle hardly blinked. Girlfriend and I, nowhere near new to being around gay men, were enjoying every last minute of it. One of KC’s friends, however, was suffering from a fit of homophobia. “He’s scared to go to the bathroom,” KC laughed, pointing at his nervous friend. When Girlfriend felt the need to walk to the ladies’ room, she asked if I was going to be okay by myself. I laughed and waved her off—I was about to be the belle of the ball.

Two guys—one taller, chubby, and middle aged, the other short, thin, and slightly younger—were walking past and decided to stop when they saw me standing alone for the moment.

Larger Man: “Well! Aren’t you a tall handsome one?”
Me: *laughing* “Thanks.”
Smaller Man: “My god, he looks so strong!”
Larger Man: “Doesn’t he? I bet you could just make us your slaves!”

I was called away from my new fans by Girlfriend. The door to the women’s bathroom didn’t lock, and she wanted me to stand guard.

“Baby, if there was ever a bar in this city where you would be safe from guys trying to walk in on you when your pants are down, I think this is it.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

TJ Rides Again

Greetings, dear readers. You may remember me – I'm one of the two guys who started this blog a while back. However, the bulk of the load has been carried by the homie Defi lately, and for one very good reason: My beer money has become diaper money.

The arrival of a son has severely curtailed my social time, and not regrettably so. I love my boy dearly. However, when I looked at the calendar recently and realized it had been a solid month since I had had a drop of liquor, my self-respect kicked in.

Thus, with Mini-Me lounging with his grandparents for the weekend, I reunited with Defi and the boys for a couple days of testosterone-filled trash talking, crude jokes and copious amounts of drinking. Fittingly, it was Valentine's weekend.

With me chomping at the bit, Defi informed me that pregaming on a 30-degree Friday night would be at a crib on Mount Washington. I arrived at about 7:45 p.m. with a fifth of Parrot Bay in hand, raring to go. The fact that there was absolutely no one at the house didn't even faze me. I called Defi – who was still at home - to make sure I was at the right place:

Defi: Yeah, Ashhad ran out to get some mixers. He should be back pretty soon.

That's cool. I got a bottle of PBay, so he can take his time.

Defi: You're drinking on the front stoop?

Me: Hell yeah.

Defi: *laughing* Please tell me it's in a brown paper bag.

Me: How we roll, baby. *swig*

Ashhad arrived minutes later and we carried supplies into the apartment he was housesitting. We caught up as we waited for others to arrive.

First up was Dupa, who promptly noticed the two African spears mounted on the wall and furiously began contemplating jokes aimed at Defi. (Speaking of jokes, this situation is the perfect setup for one, isn't it? “So a Pakistani, a Polack and a Jew are having drinks ...”)

Defi appeared soon after, and the night shifted into high gear, particularly when he cracked open the handle of Sailor Jerry's. At one point, we heard a female voice in the house. Dupa, Defi and I turned to see a blonde chick hugging Ashhad. She was a neighbor who was contemplating joining us for the evening, although, to quote Vin Diesel from "Pitch Black," she did NOT know who she was f***ing with.

She the test in about 30 seconds after we discovered she's dating a police officer. She denied she was “dating” him, so Dupa clarified it to “f***ing a police officer.” She denied “effing a police officer,” as well. Any girl that can't drop an F-bomb around us just isn't going to survive.

After another buddy and his lady made it to the house – and after Dupa threatened to give some girl we were talking about “the most uncomfortable three pumps of her life” - we decided it was time to hit the South Side. Defi called a cab that we waited 30 minutes for before deciding to hoof it and meet the still-sober couple down there.

We had walked about two blocks when Ashhad spotted a random girl walking out of a CoGo's and asked her if she'd give us a ride to Carson City Saloon. Why would a girl in her 20s allow four men she'd never seen before – three of whom easily clear 200 lbs. and a fourth whose own mother thinks he looks mean – into her SUV on a Friday night? I don't know; you'd have to ask this chick Emma, because she happily said yes.

We gave her about a month's worth of stories during the seven-minute trip, which included us getting her number in order to get a ride back at bar close, Dupa asking her to be his valentine and noting that her six-foot height meant she was “a lot of lovin',” my legs getting numb because I was riding bitch in the back seat between Dupa and Defi with an armrest jamming into my shins, and my compadres pounding some of the beers we'd pocketed for the expected walk while she was cruising the city streets.

After being dropped off, Ashhad staged a puking rally in a nearby alley. At 11 p.m.

We made it into the Saloon easily, mostly cuz it was half-empty and wack that night. However, about 10 seconds after we walked in, two girls walked by a with a trayful of free SoCo Lime shots. Us? Shots? Free? Why, you shouldn't have, ladies.

As we stood around trying to figure out what the plan was, the girls walked past again with one last shot on the tray. “Would you like to finish it?” one of them asked me. Me? Shot? Free? Why, you shouldn't have, ladies.

The crew decides we want to head upstairs. Just before we hit the stairs at the back of the bar, we ran into a waitress with Jell-O shots in oversized syringes. Ashhad, who's never met a round of shots he wouldn't buy, set us up, and down went the Jell-O. That would make it three shots in five minutes for your hero after I killed half the fifth of PBay pregaming. When I get back in the saddle, I giddy the f*** up.

The bar wasn't all that exciting, although Ashhad was feeling it. The Jell-O waitress realized she'd found a mark and quickly zeroed in on us with a tray full of Jager bombs. I called her the “angel of death” even as we downed the shots. She wandered off with a twinkle in her eye. I turned to Defi and told him that she could show up with Drano and Ashhad would buy a round.

Defi was toast – not long after that round he was slumped in a chair nodding off. Yeah, he was that guy. Meanwhile, Ashhad was doing things like bear-hugging me from behind and head-butting me. Dupa was the most chill guy in the crew, which is nearly unheard of.

I still had enough intellectual capacity to realize that carrying Defi out of there was a task to be avoided at all costs, so I rounded up the boys and told them it was time to call it a night. Ashhad was hesitant, but once we mentioned gyros from Mike and Tony's, he was in.

However, Ashhad was hammered, and when Ashhad is hammered around me, he becomes extremely appreciative of my Marine service and thanks me profusely. He also begins announcing it to anyone in earshot and demanding that they also thank me. At 1 a.m. in a bar district, some people find this rather belligerent, and the occasional cocky a**hole will take this as an invitation to test his manhood against a leatherneck.

Thus I found myself with a gyro in one hand while using the other to push Ashhad toward a cab Dupa and Defi had flagged as a growing crowd of people behind us decided taunting the drunk guy would be entertaining.

To bookend the evening, the cabbie dropped us off at the same CoGo's where we'd finagled a ride from crazy Emma earlier. Ashhad went inside to buy something to drink while Dupa and I committed unspeakable acts on our gyros in the parking lot. Now, I wasn't entirely sure what was going on in the next episode, but here's what I saw from my perspective:

Ashhad inside saying something loudly as he grabbed a jug of iced tea. Defi standing outside looking in and gesturing at Ashhad while saying something. The diminutive female cop/security guard inside looking at Defi and saying something to him through the window. Defi getting a look of genuine surprise and hurt on his face and saying, “Why are you going to Tase ME?”

The postscript to the evening occurred as we walked back to the apartment from CoGo's to save Defi from electrocution. A woman approached us from across the street, saying “Excuse me” several times while a guy in the shadows trailed behind her by about 100 feet.

We kept walking, although we did pause for uncontrollable laughter after Ashhad tripped and fell full-length on the sidewalk. He responded by lying there facedown for at least a minute. At no point were we at all concerned for his wellbeing, which shows you just how well we all get along.

The black woman wouldn't be refused. She kept walking toward us from across the street, saying “Excuse me” louder and louder. Finally, we stop to see what her problem is; maybe the guy's trying to hurt her. Maybe we can be heroes.

She says very clearly and very loudly, “Do you guys have any weed that I can buy?”