Monday, April 2, 2012

Green Dawn (Part 1)

I won’t lie, I didn’t like my odds.

I awoke the morning of St. Patrick’s Day with a serious buzz. The night afternoon before I had met up with Jay Swag in the South Side to watch some of the NCAA tourney games, and over the course of the next several hours we threw back lots of liquids and zero solids (unless you count the occasional crunched-on ice cube). Now, at 6:30 a.m. on the biggest Saturday of the drinking season, I shut off a blaring alarm clock and then very nearly tumbled over my dresser and into my clothes hamper. Yayyy…

I managed to get some toast and about half the contents of a 64 oz bottle of Gatorade into me by the time Tony arrived to pick me up (my final preparations for the onslaught ahead included sliding an airplane bottle of Jameson into one of the front pockets on my jeans and a bottle of 5 Hour ENERGY into the other). I felt as though I had successfully neutralized the prior day’s intoxication, but I was weary of the hangover lurking in the shadows. As Tony and I strolled past men and women (young, hot, scantily-clad women, mind you) adorned in green regalia—much like ourselves—on our way to his truck, our planned stop at the Wendy’s drive-thru looked like a glimmering oasis ahead in the distance.

We walked into Swag and Mitch Canada’s Mt. Washington home around 8:45 a.m. (we were running late—as was Swag), carrying Wendy’s bags and cups, as well as our boozy hopes and dreams. Swag was restlessly pacing about the living room and dining room, still quite drunk from our adventures the previous day. While Tony sat down to eat his breakfast (I polished off mine in the truck within 10 minutes of leaving the drive-thru), I poured the Jameson into my medium Wendy’s cup of Coke to kick things off, announcing, “I’m going to make my Coke ‘Irish’.”

“I take offense to that,” quipped Tony, one of the few people in our crew who are actually of Irish descent.

We (Tony, Swag, Mitch, our buddy “Specs”, and me) waited another 20 minutes for Belle to finally arrive, during which time Canada and Swag did a shot of moonshine, and the four of us who aren’t Swag took bets on exactly what time the man who is Swag would pass out (I guessed 1 p.m., Canada and Specs said 4 p.m.). Once our homegirl joined us, our intrepid six began the trek to Shannon’s apartment, site of her annual party.

The journey, a 15 minute walk across the concrete wilds of Mt. Washington, felt somehow Tolkien-ish. Halfway up Swag & Canada’s street, a small dog with a bright green faux hawk ran out to yip at us. All of us (save for Swag, who was uneager to provoke the probation gods) sipped from cans of Miller Lite along the way. Belle’s “monthly visitor” was in town, which supplied a seemingly constant stream of jokes from all of us—including her (coolest chick ever?).
  • The day before, Swag had posted a picture on Belle’s Facebook page of a man with blood all over his face and the accompanying text, “A real man loves his woman every day of the month.”
  • Canada and I found ourselves recalling his housemate’s fate last year, when he fell down multiple times along Carson St. and came home looking like he’d gone 12 rounds with Tyson. “Hey Jay,” I called up to Swag as he walked near the front of our group, “You may not be loving Belle tonight, but you’re still going to end up with blood on your face!”
  • After another salvo of jokes by Swag, Belle let her irritability speak for her. But Swag was ready.
    Belle: “SHUT UP!”
    Swag: “STOP BLEEDING!”
  • We passed two random girls as we walked up Shannon’s street, one of them dressed St.-Patty’s-sluttily. Swag engaged them in a little small talk as we passed each other, to which they replied, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” Swag’s response? Pointing towards her, he said, “Belle’s on the rag!”
Walking into Shannon’s place on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day is like walking into your grandmother’s house on Christmas morning: warm, inviting, lots of food, and lots of festive people that feel like family. Not to mention, a shit-ton of booze. We exchanged greetings and brothers-in-arms terms of endearment with Entertainer, Shannon, Rackt, TJ, Chappy, and Affliction, as well as the various other guests in attendance. At its height, the party probably featured 30 to 40 people, including Dupa, Smashley, Prince of Ligonier, and Mrs. Prince. Thanks to the unseasonably pleasant weather—mid-70s and sunshine all day—Shannon was able to set up beer pong and cornhole in the parking spaces behind her building. Once again, though, she left Entertainer in charge of beer. And while Sam Adams Octoberfest is delicious, it doesn’t quite fit the motif on March 17th. But, while out-of-season, it was a far-superior option to the case of Pabst Blue Ribbon Light that our buddy proudly iced down in the driveway. He laughed with the self-satisfied bawdiness of a Disney villain as we cursed at him.

After a round of Car Bombs, conversations about vajazzling, two rounds of Jell-O shots, games of cornhole, Google’d pictures of vajazzling, and TJ making a drunken bet with Swag about whether Matt Forte would be wearing a Bears uniform in the 2013 season, the bulk of us decided it was time to find our way to Redbeard’s. Canada and Belle stuck to the bar; TJ, Affliction, Chappy, Swag, Rackt, Specs, and I grabbed a table in the back. Not long after, we were followed by Dupa, Prince, and their ladies. Just as quickly as we put in drink orders, though, we were down a man. TJ, who had been drinking straight from a bottle of Parrot Bay for most of the morning, was dead in the water. He held his face in his hands for several minutes, then stood up and made that familiar, defeated walk to the men’s room. He had made the suddenly common mistake of not eating anything before or during his drinking, and now his booze-soaked stomach was seeking justice. When I finished my chicken tenders and my beer, I found him outside; while Rackt kept a watchful eye on him and called someone to come pick them up, the homie sat on the sidewalk in a heap, with his knees drawn up, his back against the building, and his head resting on his folded arms.

With two down, we decided it was a good idea to get a move on, lest the sandman seize an opportunity to claim another victim. The couples (Dupa, Smashley, Prince, Mrs. Prince) stayed at Havana Lounge, a small Cuban-themed bar across the street from Redbeard’s, but the other eight soldiers headed towards the Incline. Unfortunately, though, there was a line stretching up the street from the doors, and someone ahead of us said it would be a 45 minute wait. The only XX-chromosomer among us grabbed the reigns; there would be no waiting, only action. Belle took charge of her seven man battalion and led us down a path and roadside that runs to Station Square at the foot of the imposing hillside.

[To be continued...]

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