Once there, we still had a fifteen minute walk to the South Side. On a normal St. Patty’s Day this would all have been trivial; when it’s less than 50 degrees and you’ve got nothing but Car Bombs and thermal shirt sleeves keeping you warm, a brisk walk is invigorating. But, with temps in the upper-70s you’re in danger of provoking beer sweats. Our fearless leader soon fell back somewhat, after falling victim to another beer-induced malady: clumsiness. Twice, while trudging along in her flip-flops, Belle managed to kick obstacles in her path. Halfway to our destination—Rumshakers—she was suffering from two cut toes. “So,” I asked, “that means you’re bleeding from three gashes?”
Rumshakers was packed, as one might expect, but we were able to find a piece of real estate to call our own. Not long after getting there, though, we lost Chappy and Aff. They both disappeared without so much as a goodbye or a wave to the rest of us. I still don’t know where they went (experience tells me Chappy probably went home to pass out, and Aff probably went after a big girl…don’t ask me which fate is worse). Our numbers didn’t suffer, though, thanks to three of Swag and Canada’s buddies arriving, as well as four of Belle’s girlfriends. Green beer and shots were flowing. We were eight hours in—about halfway through the day. Like a well-trained vet, I pulled the 5 Hour ENERGY from my pocket, cracked it open, and tossed it back. Passing out is for pussies (you hear me, Chappy?).
As Tony sat on a bar stool talking with some of us, a cute, petite girl appeared out of nowhere; making a beeline for our Irish homie’s lips, she planted a kiss on him and then quickly disappeared again. Tony blushed and shrugged his shoulders as the rest of us tossed out “what the fuck?” in various forms and abbreviations. He pointed out that the kissing bandit was now out in the crowd talking to our buddy Jesse; shortly thereafter, Jesse came over to us chuckling.
- Jesse: “I don’t know who she is. She wanted my beads, and my girl’s with me, so…I told her to come over here and kiss you. You may want to wash your face—you’ve probably got herpes on it now.”
About that time Swag expressed interest in another one of Belle’s friends (“Stacks”). She was, however, being wooed by another man, albeit one of slender dimensions and strategically-shaped hair. Think Chris Carrabba, minus the musical talent. Confident that in the end the hero would get the girl, Swag laughed off the chances that “Spiked in the Front” [Swag’s actual name for the guy all night] would be victorious. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Swag Montana.
It was time to make another move. The girls wanted to hit another bar in South Side; Canada and his boy wanted to go to Mario’s; Swag, Tony, Specs, and I wanted to head back to Mt. Washington. Everyone went in their desired direction, which left my foursome standing outside of the Holiday Inn Express trying to wave down passing cabs. Joining us in this futile exercise were another 50 random people on that block—as well as probably another 2500 or so more people across the South Side as a whole—trying to catch the attention of an open taxi. Of the people gathered by the hotel, one man in particular announced his presence, quite unexpectedly.
He was a young brother with a shaved head, wearing a Gary Payton Celtics jersey and his indomitable-Black-man indignation on his shoulders. “I’m TIRED of these mothafuckas,” he shouted. “Nah, nah…I’m tired of these mothafuckas, lookin’ me in MY face!” He paced back and forth within an imaginary eight foot box, and white folks everywhere diverted their gaze. “KnowwhatI’msayin’? Lookin’ all up in MY face, like…like…Man, fuck these mothafuckas!” I cracked a smile (admittedly not while looking in the brother’s direction, lest he think my amusement was at him and not the Caucasian folks in the vicinity who were suddenly going in other directions to find cabs). He was in the company of two other young brothers, but they seemed rather nonplussed by the whole scene. I just chalked it up to the booze.
After a few minutes of tense pacing, the bald-headed brother and his boys finally decided to walk elsewhere in search of a cab. Before he left, though, he walked over and dapped up…Specs. Giving him a hug, he said a few quick words and then was out. I nearly pissed myself laughing as Specs, who in appearance and demeanor resembles an extra on Newhart, strolled over towards me. When I asked him what the exchange was all about, he said, “Oh, that’s ----; that’s my boy. I know him from college.”
Swag found a Cadillac jitney—I don’t know where or how; but, really, what else should a gangster like Swag Montana be riding in? $20 later we were back on Mt. Washington. We walked into Havana and ordered beers…and fell in lust with the beautiful bartender. My Latin Fever was flaring up something fierce. I wanted to suavely ask her something in Spanish. Something like, “What time do you want me to wake you up tomorrow morning?” Or, “Will you marry me?” A couple of problems with that plan, though: (1.) I had been drinking for about 12 straight hours. I could barely put together a sensible thought, let alone smooth pimpin’. (2.) I don’t know very much Spanish, other than the basics like “Hi”, “Thank you”, “Suck my dick”, and “Where are all of the white women?”
We moved to Packs & Dogs and passed Belle and her group, who were leaving as we were walking into the store. We put away a quick hot dog dinner, then caught up with the others back at Havana. More beers, more Swag Montana denying the inevitable loss in the invisible duel with SITF for Stacks’ attentions. Things were certainly winding down. Tony was the first to break, taking Swag’s keys and walking back to the house to pass out. The other nine of us decided the best plan of action would be to get some six packs from Packs & Dogs and close the night at Swag’s. When we arrived, however, we discovered that Tony had not; he was lost in the Mt. Washington wilderness. When he found his way and showed up a few minutes later, he gruffly handed Swag the keys and waved off our questions about where he had gone astray.
The rest of the night played out rather tamely. Our boy JL showed up, ordered a pizza, and joined us in our cool-down beers. The girls held a brief karaoke session in the living room, while Swag, Tony, Specs, and I drank beers on the front porch (during which time Swag reluctantly admitted defeat at the hands of SITF). Belle’s girls (and SITF and his boy) all soon left for the night (and Stacks made sure to hug me goodbye…which is still confusing to me, since I didn’t know her—we might’ve spoken eight words to each other all day). Canada, who had been in bed, woke up and came downstairs for a while. Swag soothed his bruised ego by relishing in the fact that he was still awake and going strong, having far-exceeded the predictions. Belle performed a one-woman rock show/comedy act, first standing on a chair and then a coffee table while belting out hits and one-liners. And we closed the day's events by screaming insulting jokes at each other—Belle and Canada yelled from an upstairs window; JL, Swag, Specs, and I from the back porch. Our jokes about period blood and arrest records echoed throughout the neighborhood.
Tony dropped me off at my place around 1 a.m., and I strolled into my apartment building drunk, happy, and tired of all these mothafuckas looking me in my face.