I love the smell of Car Bombs in the morning.
Shannon’s the consummate hostess. A table with cups and pong balls was set up on her deck, and the sliding glass doors that you pass through to get there were turned into a sign-up sheet by washable markers. Two coolers full of beer and ice sat near the steps. Trays of food blanketed the kitchen like a fresh snowfall of pepperoni rolls, cookies, and pretzels. Bottles of hard liquor crowded the counter of the portable bar in the living room, and Celtic music wafted from her stereo. Only one blemish appeared on her party-planning performance: she left Entertainer, her boyfriend, in charge of the beer. That meant that her coolers were stocked with Pabst Blue Ribbon Light. My first instinct upon hearing this was to cast various aspersions upon his pedigree. Then I remembered that he and I not only graduated from the same college, but the same high school, too. *sigh*
Affliction, Belle, Prince of Ligonier, Dr. Kelly, Weatherman, Tony, Shannon, Entertainer, and a humble fella by the internet pseudonym of D.E.F.I. Maybe you’d throw in another 30 lovers of the sauce as well—we certainly did. And every last one of us drank like consumption was going to be outlawed at sunup the following day. If you had 24 hours to live, how would you drink? If you had 24 hours to drink, how would you live?
The steps from Shannon’s living room down to the deck were slick from seasonal rains and a moderate accumulation of moss. We may never have known how much of a hazard these conditions can create if it weren’t for Prince, whose ass made contact with Shannon’s deck long before his feet ever did. Rackt and TJ witnessed the tumble; later, when they were telling me about it in the living room, Rackt said, “I felt so bad for him.” TJ shot a look in my direction. “If you had been down there when [Prince] fell, how would you have reacted?” “Well,” I said, “I would’ve asked if he was okay…as I uploaded pictures to Facebook with tears of laughter coming down my cheek.” When Prince and his fractured dignity made it back inside, he showed us the moss green stains on the sleeves of his thermal undershirt. “At least it’s St. Patty’s Day,” we offered. “Otherwise, those stains would look ridiculous.”
Redbeard’s. I crossed paths with a project manager from my program at work, and luckily was still coherent enough to say a few words of greeting before plopping down at a table on the patio with TJ, Rackt, Tony, Dupa, Prince, and Weatherman. But it wasn’t much longer before things grew…foggy. I’d done at least three rounds of Irish Car Bombs at Shannon’s, as well as Jell-O shots and beer pong. And all the while I had been steadily drinking cans of PBR Light and Miller Lite, as well as bottles of Point St. Benedicts Winter Ale. My memory and I were on a conference call, and someone on my side had started playing with the mute button.
We left Redbeard’s, intent on taking our campaign to Station Square. As we walked toward the Incline, I jumped on Weatherman’s back for an unrehearsed piggyback ride. That lasted all of .693 seconds, as the big guy lost his balance—seriously, how does someone who’s been drinking all day lose his balance…psshhh—and his resulting struggle to restore stasis launched me feet-first into the street. Thankfully, the approaching minivan’s brakes were up to par. Having defied (or is that “D.E.F.I.’d”?) Death, I laughed and rejoined the march to Station Square.
Pardon me if I paraphrase, but by now my brownout was only growing stronger. We moved to a bar in Station Square…that I know nothing about. Well, not nothing; it’s across the street from the Hard Rock Café. Beyond that, I’m at a loss. Tony chose it (personally, I think Tony being in charge is a distinct sign of just how irreparably impaired the rest of us were), and not even he knows the name of it. I remember there being girls there—new ones, not the used ones from the party (I kid, ladies). But how well we romanced them, how many times they maced us, how long the restraining orders are in effect…these are all unsolvable mysteries. The only thing I know for certain is we somehow all got to Rumshakers in South Side.
Damage assessment: Total.
The postscript to my memories of the day has been incredible, as nearly every person in my crew who I’ve talked to seems to have had some adventure or two at the close of the night. Wondrous tales abound at every turn:
- When TJ and Rackt decided to call it a night, they walked back towards Station Square and the Incline. Rackt was, by then, in “Angry White Female” mode—a common side effect that can result from a full day of heavy drinking. When she found that a group of guys walking down the street needed to be told that they were acting like idiots, TJ had to do his best to drag her away from the confrontation. As they continued down the sidewalk, he said, “We’ve been with a crew of people bigger than me all day, but you wait ‘til we’re alone to get me into a fight?!”
- As they traveled on, they happened upon Affliction, who we had lost early in the day’s action. He had literally vanished while we were at Redbeard’s. Now, at about 9 pm, here he was in a random part of the South Side, quietly standing at a bus stop.
- TJ convinced Aff to come with them; TJ would drop him off at his house on the way home. As they walked, Aff explained where he’d been all day. “I had to take care of something,” he said with a guilty grin. “She was terr—…” He stopped his storytelling as they passed a row house with its front door opened wide. Inside there
- Jay Swag sent me a text, right around the time I awoke on my loveseat, stating that his face was bleeding and his glasses were smashed. He also sent a picture he’d taken in the mirror; his face looked like he’d gone five rounds before the knockout. I asked him a day later who hit him. “Carson Street packs one hell of a punch.”
- Then you have Tony and Dupa. They left Rumshakers together, and tried to hail a cab. Having no luck, they found Pakistanimal and offered him $20 to drive them up to Mt. Washington. He agreed, and they all started walking towards his car. But when Pak turned back a block or two later to ask them something, both Dupa and Tony were gone. They had spotted Tom’s Diner; getting to Mt. Washington, it seems, would have to wait.
- Although they had quit on the day’s boozing—and had eaten, even—the day’s boozing hadn’t quit on them. Their blackouts had rolled on, growing stronger with each passing minute. After they had paid the bill at Tom's, they parted ways as though they had never known each other. Dupa walked straight outside and renewed his search for a cab; Tony walked down the street in the other direction. TK randomly happened upon his roommate, who by this point was standing in the middle of Carson, waving money at passing cars. He pulled Dupa over to the sidewalk and drove him home. Tony, on the phone with K-Man’s wife April, ran into a girl that they both know from work. He handed the phone to Girl-from-Work, who said to April, “You need to come get him. He’s a mess.” April, angel that she is, drove the half-hour-each-way trip into the city and back, dropping Tony off at his house along the way.
- Monday morning I was in the kitchen at work when the project manager from my team walked in and greeted me with a grin. “Just so you know, I saw you almost get killed on Saturday.” I blinked at him in confusion, because I had (and continue to have) absolutely no recollection of almost getting hit by a minivan on the way to the Incline.
In the end, everyone—with the notable exception of Swag—managed to make it home unharmed…sort of. Chappy and Rackt each had to purchase new cell phones due to alcohol-related causes. They may have gotten off cheaply, though. The only way I could begin to sum up my state of mind that Sunday: I felt as though I’d damaged my soul. Dupa expressed similar sentiments, and Tony maintains that we each shaved a good five years off of our lives.
"Only the dead have seen the end of war."