Friday, May 29, 2009

Making Memorial Day Memories

Ahh, Memorial Day. Does anyone besides me find it at least mildly ironic that, as a result of celebrating a holiday dedicated to remembrance, people usually can’t remember a damn thing the next day?

Last year TD and Baby Joey hosted a Memorial Day shindig at their house for the first time. We were only about halfway through the day (and three quarters of the way through the kegs) when it was decided that the party should be a yearly event. And so, this past Sunday saw their 2nd annual drunken tribute to summertime’s unofficial start.

This was Girlfriend’s first time partying at TD & Joey’s. How well does she fit in with my friends? The first keg wasn’t even on ice yet when she asked me to pour her a cup of beer. That’s my baby. And although storm clouds and heavy rains had rolled in about mid-afternoon, the sun miraculously came out from behind the clouds the very instant that we got the keg on ice. “It was a sign from above,” Joey said later.

People and food steadily streamed into the house. TJ made an appearance, but had to work that night and thus left after a couple of hours. I think he has been frequently repeating the phrase “fuck my life” since the moment he got into his car to leave. He left even before Dupa—slowed by the South Side debauchery he had engaged in the previous night—was drug through the door by the proverbial cat. The end of Dupa's Saturday seemed to perfectly summarize his state on Sunday: Late in the alcohol-soaked night he had a moment of spontaneous clarity, and found himself freaking a 52 year old cougar on the dance floor. Along with him were his friend “Mitch Canada”, and two more cougars. He looked around at the scene, said “peace” to his boy, and walked straight out of the bar.

When Esq appeared at the party, he was rocking a pink polo shirt. In this day and age of fashion-forward thinking, that act alone doesn’t merit much hazing from your peers; but wearing an ensemble that matches your girlfriend’s does. And therefore when Shock B. walked in behind him, dressed in a flawlessly-matched pink shirt, cackles were heard from every corner. Hollywood, in tribute, ran out to his car to change into a golf shirt that nearly matched 1L’s top.

Dupa made a mistake of another nature: he crossed Girlfriend’s path while holding a hamburger that was smothered in mustard and ketchup. My lady had developed quite a buzz by this point in the night, and she stopped him long enough to hungrily take two bites out of the burger. She then wiped her hands—mustard doused, as they were—with his blue Tommy Hilfiger polo shirt. When Dupa brought it to her attention that she had left two giant yellow stains on his shirt, Girlfriend said, “Deal with it!” and ran off mischievously. Joey offered to loan a top to him, and took him to his closet. When they found a pink polo identical to the one Esq was wearing, Dupa began shaking with joy. He put it on, and ran out into the living room to stand beside Esq, who was only mildly amused.

Tony and I spotted a large table out in the yard that had been left vacant; we quickly picked it up and carried it over to the porch, nearly shoving fellow partygoers out of the way as we declared a start to the night’s beer pong matches. Soon ping pong balls were flying through the night air, and I was chugging down beer four times faster. I really need to shake some rust off of my pong game.

Dupa and I were one of the first teams on the table; but, by the time we’d lost that first game, the signup sheet was ten teams deep. Relegated to the spectators’ gallery for the time being, I checked in with Girlfriend, TD, and others in the dining room. Girlfriend was getting along splendidly with TD’s friends, particularly 1L and “2Ls”. When a song came on over the stereo and struck TD’s boogie nerve, she began giving an impromptu lap dance to 2Ls, who was seated to my right at the table. Girlfriend, who had been sitting in my lap, sprung up and began freaking 1L against the opposite wall in response. And me? I grinned like the Cheshire Catand snapped a few action shots. When the dance-off subsided, 1L walked away. But Girlfriend responded by grabbing Shock, throwing her into a chair, and climbing on top of her for a lap dance (more grinning; more camera flashes). I turned back towards Esq, who was in the living room, and called his attention to our better halves. With a smile, he gave a slight shake of his head and said, “Ain’t nothin wrong with that!”

Though action like this is typically right up Hollywood’s alley, he was suspiciously absent. A short while later I walked out into the backyard to check on the beer pong action. I found him seated in a folding chair near the keg, eating from a bowl of fruit—fruit which had all been marinating in vodka for the previous day or two. The party’s music was coming from a “docked” iPod that was located near Hollywood’s seat. When Shock walked over to change the song, she bent over directly in front of him. We looked up to see a giant, sloppy grin on his face, which was less than a foot way from Shock’s booty. He almost seemed to be leaning his head towards it, as though he was going to put his ear against the seat of her short-shorts. “[Hollywood], it’s not a seashell,” I reminded. “You can’t hear the ocean.”

As the night moved on, the party’s numbers began to dwindle. Hollywood, who had hidden his keys in the house earlier in the night to prevent himself from driving home drunk, managed to find them and disappear. Tony announced “I’m out,” and said goodbye to everyone before heading into the house. Someone asked, “Is he leaving?” “No,” I replied, “He came over with me. He’s just going to sleep.” Sure enough, we saw him find his way over to a living room couch, plopping down and tapping out.

The hardcore revelers remained well into the night, mostly parked in the backyard playing and watching the beer pong battles. Girlfriend got her first taste of the action, eagerly tossing shots at cups with a mixture of curiosity and earnest competitiveness. Our friend Tank was on hand, and he had brought something special with him (other than his fiancée, Katie). Tank had won the championship in a fantasy football league started by Chief and Tony last fall. The team he beat in the title game belonged to Esq, who was none-too-pleased to see Tank produce the trophy from his car. The cup looks like a 1:10 scale model of the Stanley Cup, complete with the winner’s name etched into the side. Tank handed it to Joey, who swiftly took it over to the keg and began filling it with beer. Esq cursed as the cup was passed around for people to take sips.

Girlfriend and I soon called “No mas” as well, crashing on a futon in the spare room. The last of us stayed up until well after 3 a.m., finishing off the third and final keg. The next morning Tony, Joey, and I all awoke well before either TD or Girlfriend, who had planned on cooking us breakfast (Girlfriend had even brought eggs, bacon, and other supplies with her the day before). Finally, around noon I called TD’s cell phone—from her living room. It rang three or four times before a hoarse, depleted voice responded, “Hehhlo?”

Me: “Hey there. There are three hungry guys out here, and we were wondering if you were getting up anytime soon.”
TD: *pause* “I feel like I’m gonna die.”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Absinthe of Judgment

This New York Times article is actually one of TJ's finds—and a great one at that. But he has limited writing and posting time these days, and hinted ever-so-subtly for me to put it up in his stead.

How many of you boys and girls have heard of absinthe? And how many of you have heard of the mythical lore surrounding the effect that "the Green Fairy" has on those who drink it? Stories abound of the once illegal alcohol producing every manner of unwanted side effect, from hallucinations to makeout sessions with your sibling (ala “Eurotrip”). This well-written piece, however, debunks all of those tall tales.
Consider the cast of mythological absinthe drinkers: the vulnerable painter and poet, too sensitive for this mean old world; the tormented soul, unable to snap out of his self-loathing; the rakish hedonist, seeking one big, lurid rush; the wealthy dilettante, dipping a toe in bohemia; and of course, all manner of willing women.

But now absinthe is legal again, and the romance of belle époque naughtiness must give way to what’s in the glass. Pull over, you disillusioned dreamers: with no laws to break, no frissons of danger, let the mystification stop right now.

The authors, in their infinite “generosity” (yes, I’m more than a little jealous), have not only set the record straight regarding absinthe’s magical powers, but have also taste-tested 20 different brands (seriously, how can I apply for this job?), offering a review of the top ten in value.

The NY Times: “Absinthes to Go Mad Over”

Monday, May 11, 2009

Next Time, Stick to the Six Pack

Texts from Last Night

Gracias to TD for the find on this one. This is sort of like "FMyLife" with an "On the Rocks" twist. And I thought the drunk texts my friends and I send back and forth were ill-advised.

Txts Frm Lst Nght

A few examples from the "Best Nights" section:
(843): Grinding on my ninth grade teacher. Dreams really do come true
(321): Laying in bed naked with the guy I just fucked, talking to his WIFE who's sitting across from us like we're having a fucking tea party. This is interesting.
(419): just went to get groceries. a cashier said she saw me last night. i guess i carried a broom back from the party and swept the street the whole walk back...and i claimed to be in the cast of wicked
(843): the red head has a bf
(1-843): just because there's a goalie doesn't mean u can't score
(406): When you only buy popcorn and condoms at the grocery store they know whats up.

And a few examples from the "Worst Nights" section:
(978): Come home. Im drunk and cutting my own hair. This is bad, i need you.
(651): Last night while we were having sex, 'God bless the USA' started playing on his itunes. He came almost immediately... so awkward.
(864): and the officer said have you been drinking
(864): and i said NOO SIR.
(864): and he said, I am a woman.
(650): Just soaked up some whiskey with a paper towel and then squeezed it into a cup for consumption. New low.
(817): Apparently every Tri-Delt knows what I did and I am blacklisted from ever dating anyone in that house.
(405): Well ya you lied, told her you cared, took her virginity and then broke up with her at Christies Toy Box.
(817): I honestly thought the dildo was a nice parting gift.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Brewski Fest 2009: Tasters' Choice (Part 2)

With Brewski conquered, we moved on to the Matterhorn Lounge for an afterparty of sorts. Girlfriend, refreshed from her massage and a couple of hours of quiet rest, met up with us. I had bought her a team t-shirt as well, and when I found her at the bar, she showed off the alterations she made. Using a pair of scissors, she removed the sleeves and plunged the neckline; then she tied it up in the back to make it shorter and tighter. Standing in Matterhorn, she expertly modeled her creation, posing and twirling to allow for a 360 degree evaluation. It occurred to me that (a.) my girl is a sexy mami; and (b.) while my male friends and I typically apply our ingenuity towards lessening how well we see while drinking, girls tend to apply their ingenuity towards improving how good they look while drinking. Ironic.

Matterhorn is always boisterous and loud on a Saturday night, with a live band and a packed dance floor. On Brewski Saturday, though, the atmosphere jumps up a few notches. There’s twice as many people, and most of them have been awash in beer for the previous four hours (at a minimum; we had been drinking for about eight hours by then). This infusion of overboozed, excited people can manifest itself in different ways:
  1. Beer muscles — T.C., J Sun, and Dupa sat down at a table, each of them placing a beer and a Red Bull and Vodka in front of them. A random middle-aged guy (RMG), though, decided that this particular table was his. He began vehemently protesting their supposed trespass, even going so far as to grab one of Dupa’s drinks as though it were his own. Dupa, in response, reclaimed it. LRG, who had been standing nearby watching everything, grabbed Toe and I. Suddenly the small table and RMG were surrounded by guys half his age and BAC. A couple of RMG’s friends finally came over and diffused the situation by apologizing for him.
  2. Dance fever — With T.C. and J Sun calling it a night early to sate any jealous accusations of abandonment from their spouses, the remaining six of us found ourselves situated around the dance floor. Dupa, LRG, Chappy, and I all sat in chairs positioned along the edge. Girlfriend, noting our seating arrangement, struck upon an idea. As she explained the following day: “All of the boys were sitting in a line, and I thought, ‘This is my chance to live my dream!’ So I started dancing like in ‘Flashdance’ [where Jennifer Beals performs for the judges at the dance audition], going all the way down the line.” That’s my baby—bashful as ever.
  3. Bad decisions — One member of our crew was being hunted. And, slowed by the aforementioned cloudy vision, he wasn’t going to get away. The predator was feline, but I hesitate to call her a “cougar.” Cougars are usually lithe and beautiful in motion. This hunter was anything but lithe and beautiful in motion. We tried our best to deter him, but he wouldn’t listen. He couldn’t listen. Destiny’s song was playing just too loud for him to hear anything else. Just when we thought he may have heard us, he announced, “She’s going to walk me back to the room, but that’s it. We’re not going to do anything [sexual].” He and Hunter left, and the rest of us already knew he was a goner.

When we got back to the room, the door to the balcony side bedroom was locked. We had brought back pizzas, so we ate while we took turns yelling words of both encouragement and derision for the ears locked away next door. When we heard a rather loud group of people out in the hallway, we opened the door to find a guy, a blonde booth bunny from Brewski, and…the brunette Peroni girl.

We invited them in for pizza, and they accepted. Peroni, who had seemed personable during Brewski, was downright fun when not behind a beer counter. We informed her of our friend’s doings behind the locked door. Girlfriend told her to pretend to be our friend’s wife, “Lisa” [he’s not actually married], and to knock on the bedroom door. Peroni, without a moment’s hesitation, went over to the door and pounded her little fists on it.


The rest of us were nearly in tears of suppressed laughter. I was hoping against hope that Hunter would come bursting out of the room (fully-clothed though, for the sake of my eyes and appetite), apologizing to Peroni and yelling at our buddy as she made a hasty exit. Unfortunately, though, she hung tough, and Peroni and her friends left a short while later.

Hunter eventually left some time after that. Upon arriving to our hotel room earlier, she said to our friend, “I can’t stay here all night.” “That’s fine!” he readily replied. Now, a few hours later, she said to him, “I have to go…unless you want me to stay.” “Well,” he reasoned, “You did say you couldn’t stay, sooo…” She then waited for those of us in the other bedroom to go to sleep, so that she could sneak out stealthily. Girlfriend and I, therefore, turned off the lights in our bedroom and pretended to go to sleep. We heard the telltale smack of lips as Hunter and our friend said goodbye in the hall; though none of us feigning sleep could see each other in the darkness, I’m almost certain we all cringed at that sound. Once he had closed the door, we flipped the lights on and began a verbal assault that would last until…well, it really hasn’t ended yet.

The best kick to our boy’s pride, by far, came from Girlfriend, as some of us ate lunch the next day. “At first I was worried,” she said as she moved food around on her plate. “I thought, ‘They look like they’re related!’”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Brewski Fest 2009: Tasters' Choice (Part 1)

Brewski Festival. A mountain resort. A buffet of gourmet food. 46 breweries, 105 beers. Mmm-mmm-MMMM.

This was my 4th Brewski Fest—Dupa and I are the “Brewski O.G.’s” among our circle of friends. In each of the two previous years, our numbers had grown considerably, due in large part to the word of mouth and stories that began spreading the second we had returned from the annual beer tasting festival. T.C. and Toe have been to the last three; LRG has been to the last two, and so on. However, this year the trend reversed. When dates were announced and initial planning began, well over 30 people said they were at least interested, and more than half of those 30 said they would definitely be there. But over the months between then and April 25th, that original projection of thirty participants was thinned by prior commitments (most commonly weddings and wedding-related dealings). And others just didn’t seem to believe me when I told them that tickets would sell out quickly, and missed the boat (tickets went on sale in late November; by mid-January they were sold out). So Saturday, when we had all assembled at Seven Springs, a grand total of seven of us actually held a pass to the fun.

However, while we had fewer troops this year, we did come armed with a new weapon: team t-shirts, complete with names and numbers on the back. We weren’t the first to think of it; for years now we’ve seen groups of people at Brewski Festivals rocking shirts custom-made for the day. So this year we threw our hats in the ring. I designed a shirt, took orders, and we showed up properly outfitted at gametime.

While only seven of us—Dupa, Chappy, Toe, LRG, T.C., his brother-in-law (“J Sun”), and yours truly—would be going to the Brewski Festival, there were 10 of us gathered at the resort. The wifey squad—Girlfriend, Mrs. T.C., and “Mrs. J Sun” came to the hotel, but chose to pursue ventures other than Brewski. Mrs. T.C. is pregnant, and therefore settled for relaxed activities like watching movies in the room. Mrs. J Sun, happy just to have some “her time” away from her kids and hubby, joined her in the relaxation. Girlfriend, on the other hand, was feeling her not-just-inner debutante; she went horseback riding early on, and then later got a massage.

The menfolk, on the other hand, gathered in Toe’s room with a few beverages to watch the NFL Draft and the Penguins/Flyers playoff game. Thanks to the room having a rather unique floor plan—wherein one large hotel room is split into two separate bedrooms, with a bathroom and short hallway between them—we were able to have both broadcasts on at the same time on two different flatscreen TVs. We would occasionally migrate back and forth to catch the latest on either screen, all while polishing off a case of Miller Lite and the better part of a fifth of Captain Morgan Private Stock.

J Sun, who is Mrs. T.C.’s older brother, was a first-timer to Brewski Fest. In fact, it isn’t often that we get to hang out with him at all, and he was now surrounded by some of the drinking world’s heavy hitters. As the other six of us fired back and forth inappropriate stories and comments, he sat quietly smiling and shaking his head. After one particularly strong comment by Toe, I looked over at J Sun, who almost seemed to be wincing.

Me: “You taking this all in, J?”
J Sun: “You know, I’ve been married for eight years now, and have two kids. I’m just sitting here, soaking all of this in and thinking, ‘I remember those days…’”

Around 6:30 pm we gathered for a few “before” photos, our band of 7 Brewski brothers showing off the tees on our backs and the giddy anticipation on our faces. Then we headed to dinner. Each of us quickly inhaled a plate of gourmet food from the buffet, laying down a solid foundation for the monument to intoxication that was about to be built. At 7 pm the doors to the Foggy Goggle (Seven Springs’ ski lodge) were opened; we tightened our laces, gripped our complimentary Brewski Festival sampling glasses, said a quick prayer for our success and safety, and entered the arena.

Dupa has recently become somewhat of an aficionado on Belgian beers (or, at least, he knows a lot more about them than the rest of us do), and within 5 seconds of entering the Goggle I lost him. I made a few stops, and when I finally glanced down towards where the Belgian companies were, I spotted him tipping back his glass like a toddler with a sippy cup.

We tasted, tested, and tasted some more. Beer was all around, and much of it was delicious; personal favorites, among those I was trying for the first time, were Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.’s Gulden Draak, Leinenkugel Brewery’s Summer Wheat, and New Holland Brewing Co.’s Dragon’s Milk. The Erie Brewing Company was giving away temporary tattoos, and one of their reps happily helped Dupa, Chappy, and I each apply one to our respective bodies. Being modest (shut it), I asked her to put it on my right bicep. Dupa, being…Dupa, had his pressed onto his stomach. Chappy joked, “I should get a tramp stamp.”

Dupa and I *simultaneously*: “DO IT!”

A few minutes later, Chappy was proudly sporting his love of Erie Brewing on the small of his back.

As in past years, some of the breweries used “booth bunnies”—young, attractive women who probably knew as much about the beer they were hawking as they did about quantum physics. Often I would find one or more of our squad’s single gents coolly chatting-up a young lass from the other side of a countertop tap, likely not taking a moment to think and realize that she’s not going to fall in love with you while she’s on her grind. At one point, while the remaining five of us stood around a counter talking, we noticed that LRG and Toe had disappeared. I walked around a corner, and found them standing at the Labatt table, where a pretty brunette in tight white shorts was stationed. I walked up, got myself a glass of Summer Ale, gave the two of them a “you horndogs” grin, and walked back to the others.

One particular girl earned more proclamations of love from the boys than any other. She was working for Peroni; petite, with brown hair, personality, and an intriguing smile, she was pleasant eye candy. She bewitched Toe in particular, as he repeatedly bemoaned to us how he would love her deeply and truly. If the kid could’ve gotten his hands on any kind of ring that night, he would’ve dropped to his knee for her. Her partner at the brewery’s tap was a cute blonde, whose “Peroni”-emblazoned t-shirt found itself struggling to keep her ample chest modest. As TJ said when I later showed him a picture of the girls and mentioned the brunette’s charming personality, “Shee-it. The blonde's got two personalities.”

The occasion really is a one-of-a-kind experience. A reggae band played as hundreds of people from different walks of life rubbed elbows while holding little glasses full of a variety of ales, porters, stouts, ciders, and lagers. Our rookies, Chappy and J Sun, seemed to be patting themselves on the back mentally for heeding those who had convinced them to buy a ticket. Our shirts drew appreciation from vendors and fellow event goers alike—although several asked if we were a Brewski Fest softball team. We collected shirts, stickers, bottle openers, and other giveaways along with our servings of nectar. Dupa even purchased an apron with a brewer’s name printed on it. Eventually 11 pm came around, with each of us grabbing the last drops of beer from the nearest table we could find.

To be continued...