Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Fond Farewell

If “Cooley High” and Boyz II Men have taught us anything, it’s that it’s so hard to say goodbye. On the other hand, though, alcohol has taught us that if you don’t remember it, it didn’t happen. So if a dear friend is moving on in life, but she throws herself a going away party so sadistically drenched in alcohol that you wake up at 5 am the following morning without the slightest clue how you got in someone’s living room, then you never said goodbye and she hasn’t left, right?

Steph—oh she of the wondrously foul mouth and generous pour, packed neatly within a demure “girly-girl” exterior—recently came to a realization: Like others before her who are high on talent, personality, and ambition, she has finally accepted that Pittsburgh is no place to waste her life away. And so, eager for opportunity and a better life, she has decided to move to New York City. [Note: If anything in the prior two sentences came across as sarcasm, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth; the tone is meant to be more of a seething jealousy.] Ever the enabler, last Friday she christened her departure by hosting a party that also broke the proverbial champagne bottle over the bow of my belligerent inebriation.

I started the night by meeting Dupa on Mt. Washington. Each of us parked our car near Jay Swag’s house, with the hopes of falling down either there or somewhere near there when all was said and done. Dupa arrived a good 20 minutes later than me, having had a minor fender-bender while in transit. Some clown with a less-than-agile right foot had not hit his brakes early enough, and as a result slid into the back of Dupa’s car as my friend sat idling at a red light. The two drivers pulled off to the side of the road to inspect their respective bumpers; luckily no real damage had been done.

Dupa: “He said, ‘My bad man, I’m kind of in a hurry.’”
Me: “Did you exchange insurance?”
Dupa: *completely serious* “No, I told him, ‘Go fuck yourself,’ and got back in my car.”

We made our way to Station Square via a rectangular blast furnace on rails that the Port Authority of Allegheny County has the nerve to call the Monongahela Incline. Air conditioning and the Incline have yet to meet, and on Friday it was 92°F with humidity somewhere in the mid-90th percentile—at 7:30 pm. And that was the outside air temperature; inside the small, enclosed rail cars, you could double each of those numbers. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the Station Square bars pay the Incline operators to pump heat into the funiculars just to ensure that customers go searching for cold beverages when they get to the bottom.

Round 1 of Steph’s party kicked off at Bar Louie Station Square with dinner and drinks in the VIP area, thanks to a friend of mine who hooked us up [astute readers will note that this is the very same VIP area that hosted my 30th birthday celebration last year; Dupa almost looked out of place without a bachelorette party participant perched on his shoulder]. I, of course, made use of the $34 all-you-can-drink-top-shelf special that my friends and I have looked back upon fondly since last year. Chelsea, a wonderful princess of a waitress, made it her duty to have a new Red Bull and Ketel One ready for me as I finished each previous one. And the party’s attendance count grew as quickly as my drink count did. Bill, Shannon, The Entertainer, and even Hurley joined the throng of people bidding adieu to Steph’s life as a Pittsburgher. And my friend “Biff” arrived after pulling together an impromptu—yet well-executed—prank.

It was simplistic in nature and origin: Early in the night, Dupa sent a text to Biff to ask if he was on his way. Biff, feeling saucy, decided to respond with “Who is this?” Dupa showed us the text, and then responded with, “The guy you met in the bathroom at Elixir last week.” While he did that, I quickly shot off a text of my own to Biff: “[Dupa]’s almost buying it. Keep going.” And so began our dance (forgive my paraphrasing, but neither Dupa nor Biff gave me a transcript, and I was a good four or five Red Bull and Vodkas in by this point).

Biff to Dupa: “This is [Biff]’s mother. He has a new phone with a new number, and he gave me his old one.”
[Dupa begins to bite, but is still skeptical. He asks around the party if anyone knows of Biff changing his cell number. All along the way I’m behind him mouthing the words “SAY YES!” to everyone. At Bill’s suggestion, he sends…]
Dupa to Biff: “Prove it—show me your breasts.”
Biff to Dupa: “That’s highly inappropriate. If you want to talk to [Biff], his new number is 814-xxx-xxxx.”
[Dupa is stammering. Steph, Bill, and the rest of us are laughing hysterically. Dupa recognizes the “814” as a Johnstown area code, and suspects it to be the phone number of Biff’s buddy, Pete.]
Me to Biff: “You almost had him, but he figured it out when you used an ‘814’ instead of a ‘412’.”
Dupa to Biff: “That’s a Johnstown area code, so I know that’s not his number.”
Biff to Dupa: “That’s his work number. His personal cell phone is 412-xxx-xxxx.”
Biff to Me: “Don’t worry, I fixed it.”
[Dupa’s really worried now, as the added depth to the story—and the added alcohol he had consumed as time went on—was now convincing him that not only had he just told his friend’s mother that her son had picked him up in a public restroom, he had also asked her to show him her boobs.]
Dupa to Me: “Fuck! *thinks* I should text [Baby Joey] and ask him if [Biff] changed his number.”
Me to Dupa: “Probably worth a shot.”
Me to Biff: “He’s going to text [Baby Joey]!”
Biff to Me: “Don’t worry, I took care of it.”
Dupa to Joey: “Did [Biff] change his cell number?”
Joey to Dupa: “Yeah, the other day.”
[Dupa crumples into a ball, fully expecting an ass kicking in his near future.]

When Biff finally walked into Bar Louie chuckling, Dupa was more relieved than angry. I think it’s safe to say that finding out your friends have been messing with your head is a far better alternative to finding out that you’ve brazenly asked your friend’s mom to sext you.

The party moved to Buckhead at about 10. We had not planned on going there, but given its location (across the street) and the temperature (Bar Louie’s air conditioning was turned off, inexplicably), it just made good sense. Despite the lack of forewarning that Buckhead’s staff was given, Steph was able to negotiate free admission for everyone in her party (good luck pulling that one off in New York).

Things rapidly got hazy, for all of us. Dupa was “iced” by Entertainer, while Shannon and I openly wondered why we even associate with them. Steph pinballed between the four or five clusters of partygoers that had formed around the club’s main bar—and did shots at each stop. Biff held court in one of the huddles, with several of the party’s beautiful women around him; this led him to say to Dupa, “You see this? You see all of these girls? I look like the man right now, right? Nah. None of them want me. I’m deep in the ‘friend zone’.” And Hurley and I, each armed with an open tab of our own, caused me to tweet, “Hurley and I might have the most violent friendship in history. We literally will spend any amount to kill each other with shots.”

Legitimately twisted, he and I followed Steph’s bar crawl to its third location, Whim; Dupa, Entertainer, and Shannon, however, all set off for Jack’s Bar in South Side. This was my first time being inside Whim since its previous life as my beloved Margarita Mama's. It has a very Studio 54-ish feel to it; that’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s not a deal-breakingly bad thing, either. I’d only recommend it for those times when one finds himself in precisely the same circumstances in which Hurley and I found ourselves that night: part of a group that featured a high percentage of females, in high spirits, and floating towards a blackout, with no real agenda for the rest of the night.

After a beer or two—and possibly more shots (my ability to memorize was seriously hindered by that point, but I certainly wouldn’t rule out our sadistic game of “Last Man Standing” following us to Whim)—my boy and I finally bid adieu to Steph and the remaining partiers, deciding to cab our way over to Jack’s. When we found our three fellow refugees from the party at the back bar, they were engaged in the same activity as before: championship boozing. Some of our friends who hadn’t been a part of Steph’s celebration had also joined up at Jack’s, and they were no less enthusiastic than the rest of us to order more rounds of shots and drinks. I can—and more or less have to—sum up the rest of my bar night with the following two simultaneous conversations that took place the next morning.

Me to Dupa (in person): “Where did you lose me last night?”
Me to Hurley (text message): “Where did I lose you last night?”
Dupa to Me: “I think when you left Jack’s to go to Rumshakers.”
Me to Dupa: “We were at Jack’s?”
Hurley to Me: “Too many shots. I don’t know. Maybe Jack’s?”
Me to Hurley: “No, you were with me at Rumshakers.”
Hurley to Me: “We were at Rumshakers?”

I woke up alone in a living room, sitting upright on a couch. I wasn’t wearing my shirt or my shoes. The TV was on, and with a random infomercial playing on the screen. I looked around some more. I was in Jay Swag and Mitch Canada’s living room. But it had been weeks since I’d seen either of them. At least I thought it had. Had I met up with Swag somewhere last night? How else would I have gotten into their living room? Did I break in? I began looking around the room for my shirt and shoes. Nothing. I carefully made my way up the stairs to the guest room. There were my shoes sitting neatly in the corner, with my wallet and watch stashed in them. And draped over a chair was my shirt. I laid down on the bed, content to sleep for another few hours, when one last thought made me jump up. Opening my phone and using the light from the screen, I checked inside my wallet. Debit card? Check. Credit card? Check. License? Check. I exhaled and fell backwards onto the mattress.

As I drifted off, I thought to myself, “Did I see Steph last night?”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Foolproof Field Sobriety Tests

In an effort to improve their accuracy when pulling over suspected drunk drivers, police have a few new tests at their disposal.

[Props to O.C. at KISSFM 99.3 Harrisburg for the find.]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

Sleep, in the immortal words of Nasir Jones, is the cousin of death. But it’s the BFF of drinking. Spend enough time with booze in your hand, and soon you’ll have your head on a pillow. Or a floor. Or a dog.

As you probably can imagine, my crew of grizzled drinking veterans have had plenty of falling-down-drunk moments. And while in sports—and in life in general—it’s not about whether or not you fall down, but how fast you get back up, in boozing the falling down itself is often the truest testament to a performance.
  • In the fall of 2001, BlahBlahBlah and I traveled to Thiel College for their homecoming celebrations. We spent a wild day boozing in a hangar, riding in back of a U-Haul truck with 20 other drunken revelers, defeating all challengers at beer pong while each opposing team had half the student body rowdily cheering behind it, doing 90 mph down country roads in Sales Machine’s Jeep Cherokee, irritating rednecks in Wal-Mart, and just being us, in general. We crashed at Sales’ off-campus apartment, and by about 4 am only BBB, Sales’ Rottweiler, a friend of Sales’ girlfriend, and I were still awake. As we sat in the living room talking, BBB abruptly got up from his chair and announced, “Fuck this—I’m out!” Saying that, he dove to the floor immediately next to the dog, threw an arm over the poor pooch, and cuddled up for the night.
  • BBB, however, is not the only canine Casanova amongst our ranks. In 2004, Rocky threw a raucous pool party at his parents’ house while they were out of town. The next morning I woke up to a reoccurring whimper. As I came to, I gathered information piece-by-piece. “I’m on a couch. I’m facing the back of the couch. Oh yeah, I’m at Rocky’s. In the living room. That whimper is somewhere behind me. I think it’s the dog.” Putting all of this together, I surmised that the family’s dog, Nine [don’t ask me about the name; she was their dog, not mine], needed to be let out to go to the bathroom. I rolled over to take care of it—or, hopefully, to find someone else around who could do it instead—and found the dog only about three feet away from me. Laying on the sofa bed. With Dupa’s arm slumped over her. The man was spooning the dog. And the dog was whimpering because she couldn’t make it stop.
  • One morning last year, I woke up and walked to my bathroom. When I came out to head back to bed, I glanced into my living room. There on my couch laid Dupa, in nothing but a pair of tighty-whities; lying on his side with one leg up over the back of the sofa, he looked as though he had fallen asleep mid-pubescent-couch-grinding-thrust. I returned to my room and got my camera phone to snap a picture. The Ex, half-awake, asked what I was doing. “You’ll see in a second,” I said, as I giddily tip-toed back out to the living room.
  • My living room has been the scene of other great moments in pass out history. Exhibit B: After we returned from a night at the Shadyside bars with a pizza in 2008, LRG promptly passed out while sitting on one half of my loveseat, his head rolled backwards and his mouth wide open. Next to him, occupying the other half of the loveseat, sat the open box with half of a pizza still inside. From the positioning of his arm, it looked as though LRG had passed out while reaching for another slice.
    Exhibit C (as shown below right): After a night of boozing later that year, Tony and I went back to my place to call it a night. After going to my room to throw on sweats and grab him some pillows, I returned to the living room to find Tony dead asleep, facedown in the same loveseat that had claimed LRG. For his part, however, Tony did not appear to have gone down without a fight; it looked as though he had dove over the arm of the couch, face-planted the far cushion, and been knocked out cold upon impact—an impact that had folded his right leg behind him at the knee, adding to the comedy of the scene.
  • Esq has long had a terrible track record of being the first to fall asleep, to which the end of his 4th of July two years ago attests. Often he has been unable to even make it back to the safe haven of a house, apartment, hotel room, etc. before succumbing to the Sand Man. As a result, I have numerous pictures of him passing out at a variety of bars and eateries across the greater Pittsburgh area. One night, while he, Tony, and I ate at Tom’s Diner, I looked up from my 3 a.m. meal to find him sound asleep across the table. I took out my phone and snapped a picture, and then sent it to Tank with the accompanying text, “Have you ever seen a large man in a pink shirt sleeping at Tom’s Diner?”
    Tank responded, “Yes, I have,” and included a picture that he’d taken months prior. In the photo sat Esq—wearing a completely different pink dress shirt—sleeping in a booth at Tom’s.
  • On the morning of the Pirates’ Home Opener in 2003, Swing Low began the day by opening a fifth of Beam with Beard. An hour later the bottle was dry. Then they went tailgating.
    Early that evening, Swing opened his eyes to a bright light. It was a female police officer’s flashlight. Scanning his surroundings, Swing found himself in a random front yard in Beechview, a mile or so from home. He looked up at the officer and said, “I’m that guy, aren’t I?” When she offered him a ride back to his place, a still-drunk Swing countered, “Oooh no—I know what that means!” He then scrambled to his feet and began to run away; but, given his state, his running was more of a lumbering stumble in slow motion (I often imagine it to look something like Bigfoot running underwater). The policewoman followed behind him in her squad car until he got home, to be sure he didn’t endanger himself or anyone else during his “getaway.” To this day, he’s the only one of my friends who can claim to have gotten a police escort home from a day of drinking.
  • In fairness to my friends, I’ll share one of my own pass out violations. I occasionally have the bad habit of roaming during my drunken slumber. Sometimes I get confused when returning from a journey to the bathroom while half asleep, and other times my subconscious decides that I need a change of scenery. And sometimes I haven’t the slightest clue what leads to it.
    On one such occasion in 2002, several of us had been out on the town running amok. At night’s end we returned to the Mount Washington house where BBB lived with two female friends of his from high school. Tony, Irish lothario that he is, had been invited by one of the roommates (“Triple A”) to sleep in her bed. I had chosen my favorite resting place, the couch in a sun room adjacent to Triple A’s room. I loved that room, as it looked out on downtown Pittsburgh, which was directly across the river (this also made it a preferred hook-up room amongst our friends, even a few who didn’t live in the house; sadly, I never took advantage of it myself). Many a Saturday and Sunday morning found me waking up in there. Early the next morning, however, I did not awake in my familiar nook. When I opened my eyes, I was laying on the edge of a bed, facing a wall. Triple A’s wall. I rolled over and looked behind me. There was Tony with his back to me, and on the other side of him Triple A. The next quick check was down my torso, to make sure I was still clothed. I was. Thank god. I gingerly got out of that bed of intrigue as fast as I could, and returned to my sun room with a head full of questions that still haven’t been completely answered.

Here’s to everyone finding sweet dreams this weekend, whenever—and wherever—they may come. Salud.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remixing the Brew

For most of us red-blooded North Americans, beer is beer. Mixology is reserved for the various forms of liquor found on the planet; bring so much as a lime wedge near a beer, and ridicule will likely follow.

Well, we here at On the Rocks believe in free alcoholic love. More adventuresome drinkers out there will tell you that many creative and delicious concoctions can be made using beer. So, to help you broaden your horizons, I bring you this interesting piece by The Huffington Post, featuring several recipes for pimping your beer.

Get your learn on, and get right.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Poppin' Bottles

Suddenly, being an oceanic explorer is sounding like a fun job. I'm starting to wish I'd paid more attention in high school science class.

From The Washington Post:
Divers have discovered what is thought to be the world's oldest drinkable champagne in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, one of the finders said Saturday. They tasted the one bottle they've brought up so far before they even got back to shore.

Diving instructor Christian Ekstrom said the bottles are believed to be from the 1780s and likely were part of a cargo destined for Russia. The nationality of the sunken ship has not yet been determined.

You've got to admire that enthusiasm. How many of you, if given a bottle of liquid that was just found at the bottom of the ocean, would pour yourself a glass before you even got back to shore?

Well, then again, if you're true "On the Rocks" fans, I'm sure you would've had the inside of the bottle dry before the outside of it was.

If you're thinking of purchasing one of these deep-sea VSOPs, you'd better have deep pockets. Early estimates put the price of a single bottle at around $70,000. At that price, Olivia Munn better be serving it to me by pouring it off of Emmanuelle Chriqui's thighs. (Yeah, I said it.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You Got the Stones?

In case any of you were wondering (and I know you were—yeah, you; I see you out there), we gave “On the Rocks” its name because of our desire to pour undiluted truth into each story on this page. TJ and I have lived lives filled with notes of truly flavorful comedy, often delivered with a silky smooth surrealism. To mix in exaggerations, lies, and fictional accounts would water down our narratives, and do an injustice to the very experiences that we deliver to the readers.

Whiskey/scotch connoisseurs will tell you that they face this very same problem when enjoying the delicate malts that they hold in such high regard. Any drink goes down better when it’s chilled; but, put an ice cube into your Blue Label, and the ghost of Johnnie Walker himself will appear to sodomize you with the bottle. Destroying that finely crafted taste with H2O would simply be criminal.

So you want your drink chilled, to improve the drinking experience, but adding ice will ruin the drink you’re trying to experience. Quite the conundrum, right? Well, my friends, I’m happy to tell you that there is a solution: whiskey stones.

Whiskey stones are small cubes of soapstone (don’t worry, they’re not going to leak suds into your drink); put them in your freezer for a couple of hours, and then add them to a glass of your finest whiskey or scotch. The stones cool down your drink without neutralizing the taste. Simply brilliant.

Whiskey stones are offered by a variety of different companies and specialty stores (Google search), and typically cost about $20 for a set of 8 or 9. If you are a true lover of finely-crafted whiskeys, you’ll buy yourself some today. Salud.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Miracle Diet

Something for all of the women. Watch, learn, and start your diet tonight!

And don't forget about the excellent exercise that you ladies will find yourselves engaging in after drinking your 12 beers. The benefits are endless.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Always Be Prepared

Off-Rip, the up-and-coming Detroit rhymer, knows how to stay ready for a rainy day (because it never rains vodka). The pictures below, which he posted to his Twitter feed (@OffRip), were enough to make Diddy (the godfather of Ciroc) sit up and take notice:

I like his style—almost as much as his flow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Vino Vending

Only in Pennsylvania.

You almost have to live here to truly understand just how frustrating the liquor laws are. Liquor and wine are only sold in state-run stores, most of which are only open 8 am - 10 pm, Mon - Sat. So if that bottle of Grey Goose drips its last drop at 9:59 pm Saturday night, and you don't live in the liquor store're fawked. If you're sticking to beer, you have a few more options, but still nothing as easy as if you lived in just about any of the other 49 states.

In its latest attempt to appear vaguely-interested in the 21st century, while still being firmly entrenched in the 18th, Pennsylvania is now testing vending machines that sell bottles of wine.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Swipe your driver's license, look into the camera, blow into the breath sensor and — voila! — you have permission to buy a bottle of wine from a vending machine.

Pennsylvania, which has some of the most Byzantine liquor laws in the nation, recently introduced the country's first wine "kiosks." If the machines are successful in their test run inside two grocery stores, the state Liquor Control Board could place the high-tech alcohol automats in about 100 others.

I have a few thoughts on this new technology:

(1.) Just what is the limit setting on the breathalyzer? Is it set to the same legal limit used to measure someone's ability to drive safely? I understand the intention behind adding the breathalyzer step to the purchasing process (for example, you wouldn't want this guy strolling out with another bottle); but, if it isn't set to two or three times higher than the legal limit, then the logic being employed is very...Pennsylvanian. Because blowing a BAC above the legal limit to drive has no bearing on whether or not you should be allowed to purchase more alcohol, unless you drove to the store. But the machine has no way of differentiating when you've hoofed it instead.

(2.) For about 15 years now I've been promised by the world that it would become standard for soda and snack vending machines to accept credit and debit cards; and yet, in that time, I've seen this mythical beast once, maybe twice. Perhaps it's just another symptom of living in this bass ackwards state. And now, we may finally get machines with this technology—but only for the purchase of wine. *sigh* Unless...

(3.) ...Will this lead to vending machines stocked with liquor? Because, while the liquor store around the corner from me closes at 10 pm, the grocery store is open 24 hours. And if so, that new bottle of Goose is only a few sweet stumbles away.

Oh wait, I forgot about the breathalyzer. *sigh*

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

My fellow seasoned veterans in the drinking game know that few things in this world are tougher to do than to come in late on a boozing session. This is especially true when the friends you are trying to catch are drinking with the reckless abandon of a Kamikaze pilot riding inside of a dynamite-laden snowball that’s rolling down Mt. Everest.

As you probably guessed, I’m going somewhere with this. A few Fridays ago, my night started with a birthday dinner for my mother, and I was the designated driver (she and my aunt wished to sample the restaurant’s wine selection). This meant that I was forced to ignore the happy hour starter’s gun that sent my fellow crew members Dupa, Pakistanimal, Jay Swag, and Mitch Canada racing towards the same promised land of inconsequential actions and euphoric thought that I, too, wanted so desperately to visit. Shortly after I had come home from dinner and my DD duties (which were severely needed; when I left them at my mother’s house, the ladies were discussing the idea of having me drop them off at a strip club so they could see male dancers for the first time in their lives), Tony came through and picked me up so that we could join the regularly-scheduled programming, already in progress.

I understood what we would be walking into; about two hours earlier, I had received a phone call from Swag. While he explained that Dupa was already a blacked-out mess, I noticed that a subtle amount of slurring was developing in Swag’s speech patterns. I asked him if he had spoken to Pak—only because, not long before that, Pak had texted me to ask what the night’s plans were. Swag, however, then took it upon himself to state for the record that he didn’t care about Pak, or where he was. That’s not to say that he didn’t like the guy. “He’s alright,” Swag clarified. “But if someone asks me whose back I’ve got, then that’s [Dupa], you, and [TJ]. You guys are my family, you know?” Although the parlance was different, I instantly recognized the infamous—if not downright clich├ęd—“I love you, man” drunken speech. And I was very aware of the fact that I was receiving it at almost 9 pm. When Tony and I finally walked through the doors of Rumshakers, I silently thanked Swag for the warning that he never realized he’d given me. By this time his drunkenness had fully matured into a robust, disillusioned arrogance. He had become Tony Montana, laughing off anyone who dared point their finger at the bad guy. And yet, Swag wasn’t the spectacle amongst us. No, that “honor” belonged to Dupa.

Ladies and gents, I’ve known Dupa for almost ten years now. I’ve fought alongside him in the VIP-lounge-trenches and beer-pong-battlefields, against liquids of all nationalities and bottles of all sizes. I’ve seen him do a naked starfish on the living room floor of girls he hardly knew, randomly channel the spirits of his Polish ancestors while riding in a bus full of strangers, and tempt the interests of swingers. But I have never, in all of those years and all of those adventures, seen him as irreversibly annihilated as on this night when he stood swayed in the center of Rumshakers. And I tell you this next anecdote with no designs on exaggeration (and, honestly, I don’t have the luxury of overstating what took place; it was just too incredible to allow for artistic license): Dupa had lost the ability to talk.

Let’s be clear, here: I don’t mean my friend spoke a mush-mouthed swirl of mismatched syllables and sentence fragments, like one might expect from a man in the throes of a blackout. No, he literally did not possess the physical ability to speak. His brain seemingly had endless thoughts and feelings that it wanted to convey; but, tragically, it was forced to detour them through his body movements, as gestures and head motions were his only available means of expression. And I had become Timmy, trying to learn the news Lassie so badly wanted to share. When I greeted him upon my arrival, he silently directed his pointer fingers toward the bar. I glanced at it, and then back to him.

Me: “You want a beer?”
Dupa: *half nodding, while emphatically patting his chest with both hands*
Me: “You want to buy the round?”
Dupa: *nods excitedly, gives a thumbs-up, and walks toward the bar*

Tony and I promptly tossed back shots and beers in the hopes of making up ground. We most certainly, however, did not want to go as far down the rabbit hole as Dupa, who was now creepily hovering over and grinding on girls near us, including Swag’s friend “Finger Bang” [Note: This is her real nickname, as given by Swag; I’ll let your mind fill in the back-story there—just as mine has, since neither he nor Mitch will tell the tale to me]. As she nervously looked to the rest of us for help, Dupa wrapped his arms around her from behind and began dancing, playfully lifting up her skirt ever-so-slightly before she stopped his hand. She remained a good sport, thankfully—which is a level of coolness you almost have to expect from a girl who allows guys to refer to her as “Finger Bang”. She weathered the storm with a smile, and when Dupa eventually got lost in the crowd while trying to make his way back from the restroom, she made her escape to S Bar.

Dupa needed to call it a night. I knew it, he knew it. Hell, even Swag Montana knew it. Isolated from our group, I spotted him 15 feet away, typing on his phone. I caught his attention and waved him over. He shook his head “no” with a knowing smile, as if to say, “It’s too late for me, my friends—save yourselves.”

Despite this defeatism, though, he briefly regained hope. The patronage of Rumshakers at this point in the night was heavily slanted in the “urban, non-Caucasian” direction. Dupa, losing himself in whatever Top-40 song was rumbling the speakers, became a one-White-man dance island on the dance floor. Arm in the air, he bopped to the music and occasionally glanced back at me, almost as if he was seeking approval. Naturally, this caused the intrigued eyes of twenty or so brothers and sisters who had been watching Dupa to scan back to me. And all I could do was shake my head and take another swig of my drink.

Mitch Canada and Jay Swag left for S Bar, and Tony and I hailed a cab for Dupa. As he climbed into the back of it, he looked back at me confused.

Dupa: “You’re not coming with me?”
Me: “No, buddy. It’s only 12:30. We're still drinking.”

Tony and I met up with Swag and Canada at Folino’s (Mitch’s wardrobe had prevented their admittance into S Bar), where we were eventually joined by Pak. The rest of the night was spent drinking bottles of Miller Lite on Folino’s improvised “patio” (a section of sidewalk that had been roped off from the river of people walking up and down Carson Street) and insulting each other’s sensibilities. But, try as we might with rounds of shots, Tony and I never achieved the level of intoxication that had taken hold of our friends. At closing time Pak led Tony and I on a 45 minute expedition through the backstreets of the South Side in search of his car, which ended with the two of us walking back to Tony’s car and leaving a stubborn Pak to his dogged search. Just before we reached it, however, I got a call from Pak, who asked if we could pick him up on our way home.

Early the next evening I talked to Dupa, who had finally come into some reasonable form of consciousness. I asked him what, if anything, he remembered about the previous night.

“Leaving work at 3:30.”