Sunday, February 28, 2010

Things to Do in DC When You're Dead (The Conclusion)

[When we last left our grizzled veteran, he'd made the wise and experienced decision to head for his base camp—the Embassy Suites in Alexandria, VA—after a long night of travelling and boozing.]

Part II: Saturday and Sunday

I awoke in my plush hotel bed around 10:30 a.m., refreshed and relaxed. The same can’t be said for my compatriots who had gone back to Chief’s the night before. Genoa called to discuss plans for sightseeing in D.C., and informed me that she had just dropped Esq off at the hotel about a half hour earlier. He, along with CJ, Chief, and Finn, had stayed up until almost 5 in the morning. “There’s a wise move.” Chief and Finn were moving slower than Tiger Woods walking the exhibitors’ hall at the Adult Entertainment Expo; by the time they had gotten themselves together and met me at the King Street Metro station, it was after 2.

Everyone found a different way of handling their hangovers that day: Chief, Finn, their better halves, and I spent the afternoon in Chinatown touring the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Steph helped her girl put together safe sex education packets containing condoms and “warming lube” for Valentine’s Day, all of which came with the promotional slogan “Protect your cupid!” (*smh* Only Steph…) Shock B voyaged off on her own to shop at a mall in D.C.; Esq, however, didn’t make it any further than their hotel bed. Still, despite the downtime, everyone seemed optimistic for the night ahead. Chief assured we’d find some fun “worthy of getting put into the blog.” Genoa, on her first road trip since giving birth to her and Finn’s daughter last fall, was downright vibrant, laughing, joking, and bouncing around. And she seemed to be breathing life into her husband. When she playfully teased me about something in the gift shop, I warned, “You’re no longer with child—I can hit you now.” Finn chimed in appreciatively, “Oh yeah—thanks for reminding me!”

I got back to the hotel around 6:15, and could start to feel myself drag a bit after several hours on my feet. Luckily, the Embassy Suites’ daily happy hour was in full gear, which meant $2 got me a scotch on the rocks (I texted Esq to see if he and Shock wanted to come downstairs and join me; he still hadn’t moved from his bed, and was in no hurry to do so). That drink, combined with a shower back in my room, was chicken soup for the boozehound’s soul. I was firing on all cylinders again.

We soon collected ourselves at the Union Station Capital City Brewing Co. for a late dinner, meeting up with Rob & K., CJ, our boys “Babyface” and Bobby, and various others in the process. The 14 of us caught up on lives, argued about sports, and discussed urban renewal over ribs, fish, French fries, chicken sandwiches, and lots of beer. It had been several years since I’d seen Babyface, and acting on information recently passed along by one of our many mutual friends, I said, “So I hear you’ve got a girl now. Congrats.”

Babyface: *pauses* “Yeahhhh, we’re not together anymore.”
Me: “Ah, my bad. Didn’t y’all just start?”
Babyface: “It’s cool. Yeah, couple of months. But it’s over now.”
Me: “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
Babyface: “It just wasn’t working out, but, uh…*flashes a big grin* Yeah, it’s a GOOD thing.”
Me: *laughing hard*
Babyface: “Yeah. Put THAT one in the blog!”

While the rest of us did the dinner thing, Steph—who planned to rendezvous with us once we were at a bar—was keeping me apprised of her and her crew’s own activities via text messages. She punctuated the end of one such text with, “Petrons flying!!!” I handed the phone to Babyface, and said, “‘Petron’?”

Babyface: “I guess she means ‘Patron.’”
Me: “Yeah, maybe it’s a typo. I know she knows how to spell ‘Patron’.”
Babyface: “It might depend on how much she’s had.”

Babyface had originally planned on being out with us all night; however, he made a critical error in forgetting to bring his driver’s license with him—and in doing so quite likely became the first person above the age of 24 to ever show up for a night of drinking sans ID. Babyface came up at W&J a couple of years behind me, and I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of failure as a mentor; apparently he’s not quite as up on the Boozing Field Survival Kit as he should be.

When we paid the bill and gathered our things, it was almost 11:30. Unfortunately, due to the effects of Snowpocalypse, the Metro—which normally runs until 3 a.m. on Saturday nights—was shutting down at midnight for track maintenance. We all raced off to the station; but Genoa picked that precise moment to go to the little girls’ room, which meant that she, Kim, Chief, and Finn were a minute or so behind the rest of us. The front-runners just barely hopped on a train before it left the station; the remaining foursome had to wait over twenty minutes before the last train of the night brought them to Dupont Circle to meet up with us at Buffalo Billiards.

A large, sprawling, underground sports bar/pool hall, Buffalo Billiards is every partier’s nirvana. Correction: it was most partiers’ nirvana. For Chief, Esq, and Finn, however, it was the scene of an unforeseen epiphany. Sitting at pushed-together tables amid hundreds of drunken people, big screens, and numerous well-stocked bars, three of my most trusted allies were overwhelmed. Instead of jokes, laughter, and ubiquitous toasts—much like the previous night had seen—there were yawns, unattended beers, and looks of defeat. (By the way, the texts from Steph hadn’t stopped; after I informed her of my allies’ state, she responded with, “Omg buck the fuck up. Partys on the way”.) They suddenly seemed to grasp why I’d gone to bed at 2:30 the night before, instead of paying homage to our illustrious past by staying up after 3 to drink and carouse. What you find normal in your 20s….well, in your 30s, it’s a different story.

As for me, I had used my training to my advantage. I’d started with a beer when we got to the bar, but began feeling worn and switched to a Red Bull and vodka to wake me up. I switched back to another beer, but spotted Shock drinking a Long Island Iced Tea, which was beating her ass like she’d tried to steal an ice cube from it. After a sip of it, I winced. “See?” she said, vindicated in her hammered state, “This is no joke.” I quickly put in my first of many orders for one of my own.

Our party crew gradually grew in numbers. Sam, Cat, and two friends of theirs caught up with us. Then, as I stood talking to the guys, I suddenly felt my entire upper body get yanked back and downwards; Steph had arrived, and had jumped on my back to announce such. I turned and said “Hi” to her and her three friends. But before I could be introduced, Friend #2 was making a hurried departure to the bathroom, with Friend #1 in close pursuit. A night of Patron and champagne had caught up to Friend #2, and she was taking it out on a stall in Buffalo Billiards’ ladies’ room. Friend #3 was her gentleman friend, an obvious sugar daddy. Twice Friend #2’s age, and half her level in attractiveness, he monitored her condition like someone watching stock he’d invested in as it took a sudden, but temporary, dive. Once Friend #2 had collected herself, Sugar Daddy was eagerly sweeping her off to his house/adultery hideaway.

Before Friend #2 and Sugar Daddy could get out the door, however, Chief, Esq, Finn, and their significant others all bid adieu. Not even the glass of Jim Beam (his personal ambrosia) that I’d bought for him could revive Chief. The remaining soldiers resigned to closing the bar down. Steph told me how a round of three shots that she’d bought at her first bar of the night had cost her $53 (followed by an impolite comment about D.C.); I countered by buying a round of Grape Bombs for her, Friend #1 and I that cost me about $30. CJ then helped me in drinking every last bit of Long Island Iced Tea that we could squeeze from the bar until the lights came up.

As we all hit the street and parted ways, we weren’t prepared for the frenzy that we were about to walk into. Washington D.C., while having a metropolitan population more than twice that of Pittsburgh, has roughly the same amount of taxis (it would seem). This normally isn’t much of a problem, because they also have the extensive Metro system, which aids in moving said metropolitan population at the end of a long night of boozing. But with the Metro shut down early on this night, and millions of people pouring out of the bars at 3 a.m., the scene could only be described with the words “cluster” and “fuck.” People were on each and every corner and stretch of road in Dupont Circle trying to hail cabs that, more often than not, flew right past them. I slowly moved up the road, scanning the distance for approaching cabs. But almost every time one appeared, there were people already in the back seat, warm and thrilled that their wait had ended.

After about a half hour of this frozen torture, I looked down the road and spotted a familiar face: CJ was standing a hundred feet away, stuck in the same misery as I was. And he only lived a couple of miles away near Chinatown; he likely could have walked home straight from the bar and been there by then. I know that because Steph and her friend, who were going about the same distance, made that very decision. Steph was enjoying a nightcap in her friend’s warm apartment, and laughing at me as I texted my frustrations and drunken hatred of all things taxi. I finally was able to flag down a cab at around 3:45 a.m., and tried to negotiate for him to take CJ to his place first. The driver was having none of it, and as I was finally whisked off to northern Virginia, my friend was left in the battle zone, still trying to get to his relatively-nearby apartment.

The next day was the typical road-trip closing ceremony: buzzing—while still buzzed—along the highway, half-delirious from a mind awash in the previous 48 hours’ anecdotes and the looming responsibilities that await in the upcoming workweek. Add to that fast food, top-40 hip hop from the last two decades, and Steph and I discussing our mutual loathing of Valentine’s Day (this was February 14th, after all). When we stopped at a Wendy’s in Frederick, MD, Steph found herself in a minor quarrel with the woman taking orders in the drive thru. As we pulled off and she asked rhetorically why some of the world’s more “WTF?” moments tend to happen to her, I answered by summing up the weekend as a whole.

“Shit’s crazy, son!”

Bree Olson Got Game

The lovely Miss Olson squares off with Dave Attell in a game of "Beer Pong H.O.R.S.E."

Extreme Beer Pong
Web Redemption2 Girls, 1 Cup ReactionDemi Moore Picture

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sippin All Over the World

Here's a cool little slideshow/article from msnbc about signature drinks from around the world, and where to find the best one in each city. Included are my beloved Caipirinhas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), as well as some interesting new ones like the Elephant's Ear:
Elephant's Ear

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Description: This classic cocktail is made from the fruit of the African Amarula tree. Elephants and other animals have been known to over-indulge and get intoxicated in the wilds. It’s usually served with slices of dried mango for the “ears”.

Top spots: The Planet Bar at the colonial Mount Nelson Hotel and the Bascule Bar at the Cape Grace Hotel with its spectacular views of Table Mountain.

If you're planning on being in any of these cities in the near future—anyone up for a quick vacay?—make note of some of these drinks and places. Personally, I'm looking forward to trying a Singapore Sling one night while watching the Grand Prix of Singapore (a man can dream, can't he?).


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Things to Do in DC When You're Dead

Part I: Friday

Life is cruel. To be more succinct, aging is cruel. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, even the best players eventually lose a step. There are just certain things you can push your body and psyche to withstand when you’re 21 that feel downright insane when you’re 31. But what separates the former all-pro from the future hall-of-famer is this: when age begins to take away the physical blessings that made him so great, the former all-pro never comes to grips with it. He falters, and eventually fades away. But the future hall-of-famer, when faced with the same deterioration of his raw abilities, adjusts his game. He practices harder, he works on his technique and his reads, and he plays the angles that allow him to compensate for his suddenly insufficient body. It’s why Jerry Rice will always be looked at as the benchmark for outstanding wide receivers, and Andre Rison will always be looked at as that guy who had his house burned down by a crazy girlfriend (R.I.P., Left Eye).

And that brings me to this past weekend. On Friday, Steph (no, I’m not insinuating that she burned down any buildings…that I know of) picked me up in her Pittsburgh-sky-gray Hummer H3, and we sped towards Washington, D.C. and the annual love letter to boozing that is Chief’s birthday celebration—or Chiefapalooza, to which it is now commonly referred. Thanks to yours truly, she and I got off to a very late start (she had hoped to leave around 3:30 pm; 2½ hours later we were finally heading towards the highway onramp), and had only reached the edge of Alexandria, VA by about a quarter after ten. A long week of snow, ice, and work stresses had us both eager to blow off some steam (especially Steph, whose road rage was flaring up more and more with every passing second that a drink wasn’t in her hand; there are several people out in the world who don’t know just how close they came to having a 5’4” sorority girl run them off of I-270 with her Hummer). And, booze fiends that we are, we soon began speculating about our first sips of spirits with addict-like enthusiasm. “Maybe I’ll start with a double Red Bull & vodka,” I said wistfully as our eyes scanned street signs, looking for the next turn. “Whatever it is,” I assured, “it’ll be a double.”

After she dropped me off in front of my hotel, Steph sped off towards her own itinerary of adventures in D.C. and I raced to meet up with Chief and everyone else at Theismann’s. I checked in, washed up quickly, changed my clothes, and was walking purposefully towards the hotel elevator as I texted to Chief, “Order daddy a double vodka-Red Bull.”

I arrived to a well-lubricated crowd (Chief, Kim, Esq, Shock B, Esq’s buddy Drew, CJ, Finn, Genoa, Cat, Sam, and Cat’s friend Christy) who were splitting their attention between the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, the Pitt – WVU men’s basketball game (Go Pitt!), and the various glasses and bottles of alcohol littered around their annexed section of bar real estate. After hugging it out, Chief told me that the bar was out of Red Bull.

Chief: “I was going to get you some Hennessy instead, but I didn’t want to be stereotypical.”
Me: “Psshh, do it up. Double Henny on the rocks!”

Taking the glass in my left hand, I toasted with Chief and had half of the Henny down before my right hand could send Steph a text informing her of what my first libation was. A few rounds of Miller Lite later, our crew—minus the wifeys—moved to Murphy’s, an Irish pub in the middle of Old Town Alexandria. [For one reason or another, I began drinking Coronas shortly after getting there, and the irony just hit me that I switched to a Mexican beer instead of a beer called “Miller” when I got to an Irish pub.] Cat bought Chief a glass of 16 year old Bushmills for his birthday, and when I had a sip it made me rethink my life’s experiences for never having tasted it before that moment. Here I thought I was a man of the world when it came to whiskey; then along came that little tumbler glass of bronze beauty to make me feel like a virgin all over again.

Being that we were in an Irish pub, we decided to get a round of Car Bombs. I could almost hear my liver whimper. More beers, more shots. My liver began sobbing. As the lights came up and the bouncer started pushing us towards the door, I downed the last of my beer, and then had another one shoved in my face by Cat, who didn’t want it to go to waste. My liver began preparing a hara-kiri ceremony.

Standing on the sidewalk outside of the bar, everyone debated their next moves. Esq, CJ, and Finn decided to go back to Chief’s place to drink and play Xbox. I, on the other hand, understood 3 crucial pieces of information:

1. I am 30 years old.
2. It was already 2:30 a.m., and we had a full day of celebration on Saturday.
3. I paid good money for a nice hotel room with a king-sized bed.

While the Andre Risons tried to hail a cab, Jerry Rice peaced out and strolled down King Street to his hotel.

[To be continued...]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras 2010

The most Bacchanalian of drinkers' holidays begins today. Every year I vow to make it to New Orleans to experience this one-of-a-kind event, and every year I'm sitting right here in Pittsburgh's slushy, freezing February cursing at myself. I even have a boxful of beads ready to go, should I ever actually follow through on that vow.

Maybe 2011 will be different? A fella can always dream. Bottoms up—and tops down.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On the Road Again

“Hee – heer – heer- HERE WE GO AGAIN!”

It’s early February, so loyal readers should know what that means at On the Rocks: Big Chief’s birthday, and the prerequisite road trip to Washington, D.C. Last year temperatures hovered around the low 60s and high 50s the entire weekend; this year, they’ve gotten four feet of snow and are expecting another one or two in the coming week. *sigh* You can’t win them all.

There will definitely be a different tone this year: the harsher weather for one, and a slightly smaller travelling assemblage for two. That includes me being among the ranks of the singles in our crew this time around, as compared to last year when I was in the grips of new love. That fact alone almost sidelined me this time around. I’ve worked hard to put the past behind me over the last several months, but the specter of last year’s trip continues to pull at that tiny loose thread in my memory, and as recently as late this afternoon it threatened to completely unravel me. Then Chief stepped in like the brother-from-another-Caucasian-mother that he is and reminded me of my priorities in life with a text message that read: “The focus is to booze! !!!!”

So, so true. And it’s not just the drinking, but the bigger picture that the alcohol and intoxication are a part of: living, enjoying the moment, and enjoying an opportunity with friends that doesn’t come around often as we all get older, each of us watching responsibilities loom larger and larger on our respective horizons.

Here’s to the now, and to making the best of it while we can. Strength and honor.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Night That Never Happened

Ever have one of those nights? Or do you think you may have had one of those nights, but can’t remember a thing?

In 2002, I had a lot of those nights. I had graduated from college the previous year, but still hadn’t found a “real” job yet. To get by, I worked temp stints for the shipping and receiving department of a local university. And in between those stints, when I wasn’t hopelessly seeking full-time employment, I was drinking my face off at bars with my friends. It didn’t help, either, that some of my friends were themselves bartenders. Most were only working bartending jobs for the time being, though. Some of them were just like me, waiting for real life to start; others were doing it to pay for college and a brighter future. Either way, they kept me sloshed, and I loved them for it.

One such enabler friend was Steph. Beautiful, funny, and ruthlessly energetic, we always knew that if she was at the bar/party/concert/etc., then we were going to have a damn good time—regardless of whether she was behind the bar or in front of it. And so, when Steph informed us one Monday in the spring of ’02 that she would be guest-bartending at Tequila Willies that night, there was little debate as to whether or not those of us not saddled with a j-o-b on Tuesday morning would be in attendance. You know, to offer moral support to our friend, not to get drunk and obnoxious. Who, us? Naaaahhhhh...

Breitling, Butters, “Swing Low”, and I arrived around 9, ready to get crazy. Tequila Willies, however, wasn’t quite as ready. As we walked through the doors, we quickly calculated that our group of four represented approximately one tenth of the establishment’s clientele for the night. Normally that might be cause for making a change of venue; but, with Steph pouring us liberal servings of booze, we decided to tough it out. You know, for her sake. Yep. *cough*

Butters was newly separated from his first wife, and eager to find any feminine comfort he could (what better place than a nightclub on a Monday night, right?). Breitling was DD, and therefore kept his imbibing to a respectful minimum. As for me, I wasn’t necessarily minimizing my intake, but I didn’t have the pedal to the floor, either. This was because I understood the circumstances in which we found ourselves: Swing Low’s drinking sometimes kicked into a special gear, wherein the police and/or knuckles could be involved. As so, the more aware I was of what was going on around us, the better. And it didn’t take long for this strategy to prove sensible.

Halfway through the night, Swing found himself in a heated confrontation with another bar-going gent. I was a few feet away talking to someone at the time, and missed what had sparked all of the animosity. When the raised voices and commotion caught my attention, a guy of hardened facial features was face-to-face with Swing, with his friends assembling behind him. As the two of them jawed back and forth, I took off my watch and my chain and put them in my pocket, thinking, “Here we go.” But Swing wasn’t quite “Swing Drunk” yet, and therefore still had his charm about him.

Swing: “What’re you gonna do?”
Guy: “Motherfucker, I don’t play that shit—I’m from Clairton! I’ll—”
Swing: *interrupting* “Wait, you’re from Clairton?”
Guy: “Hell yeah!”
Swing: “You know Jaron [M.]?”
Guy: “Yeah, he’s a friend of mine.”
Swing: “That’s my boy!”

A few minutes later, Swing’s adversary was buying us shots. I kid you not.

This man-of-the-people version of Swing wouldn’t last forever, unfortunately. As we neared closing time, I found myself standing alone while watching Butters’, completely riveted by his actions. He had found a girl, and was now behind her, enthusiastically grinding on her booty. Not that this girl was, how you say, chaste. In fact, she was a certified dirt bag. The whole scene was hilarious. But something I spotted off in the distance quickly distracted me—Swing was surrounded by a posse of bouncers.


I walked over to find out what the problem was. Swing, standing in the raised section of the club, had leaned over the railing and poured beer onto some of the people below on the dance floor. “Well, shit…” Typically, I will argue my friends’ case for staying in the bar until I’m blue in the face. But there really wasn’t much defending this one. I could say he did it by accident, but Swing’s childlike giggling clued me in that it was anything but accidental. The boys in dress pants and tight black shirts were determined to remove Swing from the premises, and all we could do was acquiesce. Breitling went off to the parking lot to get his truck; I called Butters over and told him what the situation was. Now you, like I in that moment, might expect him to have abandoned his chase of the aforementioned skank and come to his friend’s aid. But, drunk and newly single, Butters chose instead to return to said skank and petition her for her phone number—ignoring the fact that she was now being grinded on by some other guy dancing behind her. Telling him to “hurry the fuck up,” I returned to Swing, as he was being escorted out.

One bouncer in particular, who was a 5’8” douche bag, had run his mouth and gotten Swing charged up. My boy unleashed a “fuck your mother!” The next thing I knew, fists were flying. D-bag Bouncer launched a right into Swing’s jaw while he was still being restrained by other bouncers; I lunged at D-bag Bouncer, but quickly crashed down onto the Boardwalk steps, under the weight of two other bouncers. Seeing the melee move out into the parking lot, I threw an elbow into one of the bouncers on top of me, and struggled my way free. When I got to Swing, some of the bouncers had pulled him away from the fray, while another one held back D-bag. Breitling had arrived, and together we gathered Swing into the back of his Escalade, as Butters came running out to the parking lot. Hopping into the back next to Swing, Butters showed us the new number in his phone and asked, “So what happened?”

Breitling dropped the rest of us off at Butters’ house in Beechview, where Swing Low lived at the time. Before he made it inside, however, Swing decided that he wanted to drunk dial his girlfriend. He was, however, rather sleepy. The happy compromise, therefore, was for him to lie on the sidewalk in front of Butters’ house as he talked. And of course he did this directly next to a drainage grate. And of course, as he wrapped up his conversation, he closed his phone and dropped it right down the grate. Unconcerned, he climbed to his feet and stumbled off into the house and up the stairs to his bed. Butters and I then set about trying to get the phone out of the grate, which he finally accomplished (rather impressively) after fashioning a hook out of a wire clothes hanger. The phone, however, had landed in a puddle, and was ruined.

The next morning I awoke on the living room couch. When I passed his bedroom on the way to the bathroom, I found Swing lying in his bed awake.

Me: “Good morning, asshole.”
Swing: “Hey. *feeling his face* Why does my jaw hurt?”

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Drunk Deputy Ends Up in Dog Cage

There have been plenty of times when my drunkeness has landed me in the proverbial dog house...

*thinks back on year-plus relationship with The Ex...sighs*

...but never in a literal one (though I do black out from time to time, sooooo...). In Tennessee, however, things are a little different. I'm not sure whether to file this story under "Fuck the police," or "Drunken feat that my friends and I will be challenged to top."
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Sullivan County sheriff's deputy arrested on a drunken driving charge wound up in a dog house before he was taken to the big house.

According to an arrest report, the deputy became so belligerent that he had to be locked inside a K-9 cage in the back of a state trooper's patrol car.

And I have to give this quick two line paragraph a special thumbs up:
Osborne said he had to explain one field sobriety test to Bledsoe 18 times. He performed poorly.

That may be the best one-liner in journalism history.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Getting Old(er) Sucks

“How so,” you say?

Saturday night at around 1:20 a.m., when I should’ve been either (a.) embarrassing myself by drunkenly trying to talk to amateur models at a modeling contest at Carson City Saloon, or (b.) embarrassing myself by drunkenly trying to talk to…any females at Bill and Steph’s house party, I was instead sitting at home, cracking open my third 32 oz. Gatorade of the day, as I continued to recover from Friday night’s assault on moderation.

What’s happened to me? When did I become that guy? I can’t blame it entirely on age—hell, I’m still only a spry ol’ 30. And I still have plenty of all-star performances in me (one took place just two weeks ago, and will likely find its way onto the page eventually). But there’s no denying that I’ve lost a step. Five years ago I would’ve sucked it up and hit both parties, and then hit afterhours. And I’m not saying that my choice to stay in was purely physical exhaustion; no, a lot of it is definitely mental lethargy. Because while a 25 year old says, “Fuck it,” pulls himself up off the stool, winks at the ring girl, and ignores his fatigue as he strides out of his corner for the next round, a 30 year old says, “Fuck it,” and picks up the TV remote.

It’s also worth noting that Friday night wasn’t exactly a slow night. Pakistanimal and Dupa convened at my place after work, and had drinks in their hands before I’d even gotten into the shower; they were on their second or third round by the time I was dressed and finally had my first. And those of you who’ve done your homework probably already figured out that Pak + bar night = shots with a side of shots, chased with shots, and then all of it washed down with shots. We did a round of Jager Bombs before we even decided where we were going to go that night. And to think, every time his girlfriend asks who he’s rolling out with, and he answers, “[The D.E.F.I.],” her standard response is, “Oh god.” As if it’s MY fault. I feel unjustly accused.

My liver hates Pak. Not only were shots on the menu, but he had bought a handle of Three Olives on his way over to my apartment; he then decimated a bottle of Simply Limeade and a bottle of cranberry juice with a bartending freestyle session, concocting tall glasses of a pink mixture that tasted like Kool-Aid mixed with lighter fluid. When Dupa begged off finishing his fourth (Fifth? Hell, all of us had lost count by then) of the night, because he had to drive us to the South Side, I took the glass and began assisting like any good brother-in-arms would; and, of course, I expected Pak, the mad scientist behind these liquid IEDs, to do his share of the lifting. Instead, he said, “No way, dude,” and walked towards the door. I slammed the rest of it back, as an “F U!” to his act of treason. Then, just before it got washed away by the tsunami of lighter fluid punch bearing down on it, my common sense reminded me who I had really doomed by doing that. “Son of a…

Most of the rest of the night is, obviously, tough to recall. Shots and beers with Jay Swag and MG at Rumshakers, followed by more shots and more beer with LRG and Chappy at Carson City. Dupa bailing on us, unannounced. Pak and I, back in Shadyside, getting out of a cab and walking into Shady Grove. And waking up around noon the next day back in my bed, with a Pakistani buzz saw carving up logs out in the living room. All of those scenes play in my head back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, with no clarifying moments of transition between them. When Pak finally woke up, the following was hoarsely shouted from bedroom to living room and back:

Me: “I blacked out after we left the South Side.”
Pak: “We were in the South Side?”

Liver. Hates. Him. Almost as much as I hate being 30. But, just like this day was inevitable, so too is the next Saturday night where I find myself bruised and bleeding in the corner of a ring, faced with a decision: stand, fight, and live; or sit, zone out, and order a pizza.

Let’s just hope Pak’s not my cutman.