Thursday, July 9, 2009

God Bless America: Part 1

Only in this fine 50-state union can so many varied forms of drunken cultural revelry blend together in a melting pot of absurdity during the union’s birthday weekend. Similar to last year’s three day cavalcade of shenanigans, this year's 4th of July partying was a multi-staged affair. Maybe it’s a sign of my old age (having reached the ripe ol’ age of 30), though, that this year I used Friday as a buffer between Thursday and Saturday’s events. Still rocked from the previous night, Girlfriend and I used that day to window-shop some office furniture, maybe buy some d├ęcor touches, maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond—if we had enough time. A pretty nice little Friday.

[If you read that and actually had to click on the link before you got the movie reference…I feel pity for you.]

Without further ado, I bring you the fireworks [first and last stupid pun of the post, I swear]:

Thursday

Since most of us would be off of work Friday, Girlfriend planned a trip to Bossa Nova for salsa dancing on Thursday night. She’s an avid salsa enthusiast (she is a spicy Latina, after all—sorry, that pun was unintentional); my boys and I, not so much. But it had been nearly a year since she last got to dance, and she was well deserving of a chance to get back into the act. To accommodate everyone’s tastes, though, Girlfriend’s plan involved a quick and simple compromise: she, TD, and 1L would all go for the dancing; Baby Joey, TJ, Dupa, Chappy, Hollywood, and I could stick to the bar and do what we do best: get drunk. Giggity.

Joey backed out that evening (he had to work the next morning), though he agreed to drop off and pick up TD. 1L never showed, and I still am not sure what happened to her. Hollywood met up with us at the bar, however he could only stay for an hour or so before he went home (he also had to work on Friday). The rest of us, conversely, were down with the get-down. We pregamed at my apartment, where I put back rum & Cokes before I had even eaten dinner—after skipping lunch earlier in the day. TD, who was also low on nourishment, arrived with a bag and cup from Wendy’s, hoping to brace herself against the impending onslaught of alcohol. Nearly as soon as she was seated on the couch, however, she was pouring Ketel One into her medium Sprite. About 45 minutes later, when our cab pulled up in front of my building, TD raced to refill her now “to go” cup; in went more Ketel One, this time mixed with cranberry and orange juices. Easily the smallest of our crewmembers, TD had consumed seemingly a quarter of her bodyweight in alcohol before we had even reached Bossa Nova’s doors. I silently wondered if Girlfriend had realized just what she had gotten herself into. I’m sure she was weary of the boys’ behavior from the instant she formulated the night’s planning; but, surely she had to have thought TD would be her closest and most composed ally in minimizing the damage done by all of us Y chromosome-rs.

I had slowed down on the drinking at home, not wanting to go big time until after I had some food in my stomach (lest I ruin both my lady’s long-awaited night of dancing and my relationship by passing out at the bar). Girlfriend brought some takeout with her when she came to my place, and it provided a suitable base for the night. So when I bellied-up to Bossa Nova’s bar, it was game on. I started with a mojito, while Dupa started with a caipirinha. The mojito was sweet—even sweeter than mojitos I’d drank at other bars. The caipirinha, however, was 9/10s pure booze. It was so strong, in fact, that even Dupa couldn’t handle it (I think he secretly had a sex change operation that he hasn’t worked up the courage to tell us about yet). He and I quickly swapped our orders for the next round of drinks.

Salsa dancing is a good time—so long as you’re not the one doing the dancing. Of course that’s just my perspective. But watching people with rhythmic coordination spin and step was entertaining, and the lively music will keep your blood pumping. As I watched Girlfriend do her thing, I realized that she really is a fantastic dancer, with a soft step, smooth body movement, and a charismatic smile. She explained that some of the people who flooded the dance floor were naturals who had learned everything they knew simply by watching. Girlfriend, herself, was such a person; TD, on the other hand…

Girlfriend vowed to serve as her instructor, guiding her hand-in-hand, step-by-step. A few factors were working against her, though: (A.) TD was hammered—I’m talking three sheets to the wind and listing to port; (B.) TD, while not hopelessly uncoordinated like moi, isn’t as naturally fluid as, say, Girlfriend; (C.) when TD is drunk, she can be easily distracted—picture a kitten in a yarn factory.

Girlfriend: “Just step like this, but look at me—don’t look down.”
TD: *looking down at her feet* “Like this?”
Girlfriend: *laughing* “That’s good, but don’t look down!”
TD: *glances up at Girlfriend, then back down at her feet* “Like this?”

Despite studying her feet so intently, TD still managed to make the rookie mistake of stepping on her instructor’s feet. Eventually, after a frustrating back-and-forth like the aforementioned, Girlfriend abruptly turned and walked away. TD, calling her back, hopped up and down in smiling, childlike giddiness. As I recorded the entire scene on my phone, TJ chimed in from over my shoulder, “She’s like a goddamn 11-year-old, Dawg!”

She was also the owner of some of the night’s best quotes.
  • On her role that night: “I’m hammered; I’m [Dupa] tonight!”
  • On a particular song being played: “Oh my god! There are Spanish people singing the Beatles—that is, like, my DREAM!”
But when you’re 5’2” and 90 lbs soaking wet, tipping back glasses of vodka quickly catches up to you. I’m not sure what exactly it was she said or did that made me—through my cachaca fog—suddenly begin worrying about her, but I somehow realized that she needed to slow down. Now, if you’ve ever tried to get a still-conscious friend to pump the brakes at a bar, then you know just how difficult it can be. Drunks, more oft than not, are incredibly stubborn, and when they have reached that level of intoxication it becomes that much less likely that they can comprehend just how bad they are. I asked TD if she wanted a glass of water, expecting to be rebuffed with a glare and a dismissive wave. I was shocked to hear, “Yeah…please!” instead.

TJ announced, at about midnight, that he was heading home (maybe he and Dupa caught a two-for-one special on sex change operations?). He said his goodbyes to the guys, and then walked over to bid adieu to Girlfriend and “Sherif”, a friend of Girlfriend’s who had joined us midway through the night. I looked away from where they were standing, and then scanned back over all of 10 seconds later. When I did, I saw that TJ was still there, and Girlfriend was flagging down a bartender. “I offered to buy him a drink, so now he’s staying,” she called over to me, with a gesture towards TJ.

1. That’s a pretty elaborate and risky ploy, all just to scheme a free drink.
2. I’ll have to ask him to teach it to me.

Around 1 a.m., a stroke of genius came from amongst our well-lubricated crew: that weekend, Anthrocon—a.k.a. the world’s largest Furry convention—was being held in Pittsburgh. We all closed our tabs and set off towards the Westin Hotel, where attendees were staying. Along the way, Girlfriend stopped at a row of hedges surrounding a parking lot. She reached in and ripped off a two foot long branch, which she christened her “tail.” As we walked the final three blocks to the hotel, she held the branch behind her, wagging it in excitement; she even paused in the middle of an intersection to wiggle around with her tail (likely to the delight of any straight male nearby).

After stopping at the lobby doors to pose for pictures with a gentleman dressed as a brown and white fox, we headed inside to have some more fun. But, unexpectedly, TD stopped in her tracks—the furries were freaking her out. She called and asked Baby Joey to come pick her up from the parking lot of Esq’s apartment building, which was nearby.

Girlfriend and I walked over with her and kept her company until Joey arrived, and then returned to the furry hunt. Catching up with TJ, Sherif, Chappy, and Dupa at a bar across the street from the Westin, we found a furry couple in matching fox costumes (the lady’s was bright pink, and the man’s was light blue). Girlfriend posed with the lady fox, playfully sticking out her tongue as if she was about to engage in some girl-on-furry-girl action. A nearby group of guys—none of who were in costumes—were thoroughly entertained by our antics. As it turns out, they were part of a convention taking place that weekend for another specialty group: Mensa. Where else but Pittsburgh could 4th of July weekend mean the presence of both world-class geniuses and people who like to dress up as animated woodland creatures?

We walked back to the Westin, and made some new friends:
  • Sherif and Girlfriend posed with an orange and black raccoon who called himself “Foxwell”.
  • Girlfriend: “I love Frosted Flakes.” Foxwell: “Uh, that’s nice—but I’m not Tony the Tiger.”
  • After the girls had their picture taken, I handed over my camera and stood next to Foxwell.
  • Me: “You ready?” Foxwell: “Sure…?” Me: “GANGSTA POSE!” *crosses arms and leans back* Foxwell instantly met my pose by crossing his own arms and leaning back, and we took the G’est civilian – furry pictures ever.
  • A red and gold Chinese dragon walked up the staircase to the second floor. I pointed him out to Dupa, who ran up the stairs after him, with Sherif in hot pursuit. Seeing them run, I followed, and soon Girlfriend did too.
  • Posing with two large dogs, Girlfriend commented, “Babe, this one looks like [Pakistanimal]—look at his belly!”
  • One puppy laid down on his back, and kicked his legs in the air as Sherif rubbed his tummy.
  • Girlfriend found some people eating pizza in the lobby. She quickly sweet talked her way into receiving a slice, and munched on it as she continued to pose for pictures with furries.
  • One of the on-lookers sitting in the lobby was a young blonde guy dressed in a white dress shirt, black hat, black vest, and black pants. Someone suggested that he was dressed like Michael Jackson, and Girlfriend sprung into action. She ran across the room, stopping a few feet away from him to do the Thriller dance. Have I mentioned how much I love her?
  • As we sat on a couch, Girlfriend began asking passing furries where “the afterparty” was, and whether or not they could get us into it.
  • A member of the Westin staff approached us and asked if we were staying at the hotel that night. When he learned that we weren’t, he showed us to the door. “Ain’t that a bitch?,” TJ said. “A lobby full of people in animal costumes, and WE’RE the ones who get kicked out!”

[To be continued...]

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