Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Welcome to the Grown-Ass Man Club

I turned 30 in March ‘09. And one of these days I may finally make peace with it. In the meanwhile, I’ve found some comfort in watching most of my friends endure the milestone. My standard text message/Facebook-wall-post on these occasions has been, “Welcome to the Grown-Ass Man Club. We meet on Saturdays. Bring scotch.”

This month saw the induction of two new club members: T.C. and Alex. T.C.’s birthday was on the 16th; his family, Hurley, and I did a little dinner in the South Side that night, complete with a cake shaped like a stein of beer. While the night was fun, it was relatively non-alcoholic (Hurley and I indulged in a couple of drinks each, just because we’re us). Everyone deserves to get ass-on-the-floor drunk in celebration of his or her 30th, though, and T.C. wisely formed a plan to do so.

He was assisted in this by the timing of Alex’s Dirty-Thirty party. Her birthday falls eight days after T.C.’s, and her friends would be holding a bash for her at Whim in Station Square the Saturday between the two days (5/19). T.C. decided he’d start that night with Alex’s soiree, and then move onto one of his own in Shadyside. Since The ‘Side is my turf, I was appointed second-in-command. O’Captain, my captain

With so much fun scheduled for Saturday, I planned to relax on Friday and conserve my energy. What I didn’t plan on, however, was Pakistanimal getting a “hall pass” from his wife that night. He called me shortly after I’d come home from the barbershop, with designs on getting a whole different kind of fade going.

Me: “I’m staying in tonight.”
Pak: “I’ll be at your place at 8:30.”


He brought a bottle of Kraken with him, and was barely inside my apartment door before he was mixing together two cups of Kraken-&-Coke. While I wasn’t thrilled about having my night hijacked, I couldn’t let that delicious spiced rum go to waste. And then, strangely, I found my agitation being slowly washed away with each sip. For my second round, I abandoned the Kraken and made myself an Elder & Wiser (bourbon, St-Germain, and apple juice). And I soon forgot that I had ever considered not partying that night.

We hit up William Penn Tavern, which had a healthy Friday night crowd buzzing inside. Pak ordered himself a Captain-&-Coke, and I told the bartender that I wanted a bourbon-&-Coke. He handed us a Captain-&-Coke and a…?

Pak: “Is that a bourbon-&-Coke?”
Bartender: “No—I thought you said a ‘bourbon-&-soda’!”
Me: *blank stare*

A bourbon-&-soda? The fuck? I was more than a little disturbed by the lack of hesitation he showed in taking what he thought he’d heard and making it a reality. I know Shadyside attracts a slightly more refined crowd than say, the South Side; but are people around here really ordering that concoction? And at such a rate that he doesn’t even raise an eyebrow when he “hears” it?

He offered to take the drink back and get me a bourbon-&-Coke, but once again I wasn’t interested in wasting liquor. Now that Daddy had gotten a taste, I wasn’t letting any of it get away. I drank the misbegotten mixture as Pak and I lost convincingly at darts to two random guys. When it was time for a re-up, I stepped back up to the bar and gave the same order Pak and I had placed earlier. And once again, the bartender came back with one Captain-&-Coke and one bourbon-&-soda.

I was starting to take this shit personally.

A cute girl sitting in front of us at the bar was Johnny-on-the-spot; she noticed the error before even I could. She took the drink from me, called over the bartender, and told him to fix my order. The take-charge attitude, the Lisa Loeb-vibe her eyeglasses gave, and her pretty face had me falling hard. Before I could start contemplating names for our future children, though, another curveball was thrown, this time by Hurley.

Hurley [via text]: “Come to [Diesel] and call my name. I got bottle service.”

Uh oh.

My nerd-hot love would have to wait for destiny’s next entanglement. Pak and I got to the South Side as fast as we could, and found…pretty much what we expected. Hurley was obliterated, as was his boy who co-signed the bottle service. They had a few random people in their VIP room that they’d pulled in from the passing throng; girls mostly—hot ones, when at all possible. Three bottles of Grey Goose stood on the table with cranberry juice, Coke [“Sure,” I thought. “NOW I have unlimited access to Coke…], and orange juice, daring me. I filled up a glass with Goose and cran, and then took a sip and realized I had grabbed the carafe of Coke by mistake in the dim room. Oh, the irony… The mix still went down smooth. “Yup,” I thought, “I’m definitely drunk.”

We drank and charmed ‘til closing time, doing our best to find hot girls to come share in the Grey Goose bounty laid out before us. And, as the lights in the club were coming up, the lights in my blotto mind were going down. Blacked-to-the-out. I awoke with the usual “What-the-fuck-was-just-happening?” startle on Saturday morning, snug in my bed sheets. I drifted back to sleep with the cloudy foreshadowing of a hangover, and the slightly-more-painful understanding that I had an even bigger night still ahead of me.

I arrived at Whim that night as the party began gathering steam. Alex’s friends had reserved a roped-off section of the club, adorned it with special napkins and balloons, and arranged a champagne toast. It was the typical elaborate, thoughtful, but-a-touch-too-ambitiously-austere party that girls tend to naively plan. It was sweet of them, and I’m sure Alex—being that she’s a girl—loved it. As a guy, well…trust me, no man wants a coronation ceremony after losing his twenties. For all the bad that went on during my relationship with The Ex, I’ll always be grateful for the job she did in planning the party for my 30th birthday. It was elaborate, sure, but it never carried that overwrought I’m-a-big-girl-now feel that women usually build into their big parties. In other words, it was fun.

Earlier in the day, Entertainer had made it known that he wanted to join T.C. and I in adjourning to Shadyside for the second half of the night. But now, as Alex’s party got into gear, it was ever-so-obvious that he was already too drunk to make the transition. T.C. and I were taking it easy, and drank only two beers apiece while biding our time until we could escape. Entertainer, on the other hand, was slamming shots and drinking full cups of vodka. Youngins… When T.C. and I kissed the girls goodbye and headed towards the parking lot, we had to leave our comrade to the care of his girlfriend, Shannon, all of us understanding that trying to do the Shadyside portion of the night would likely kill him.

T.C. and I found our way to Shady Grove, where we met up with Tony, Nate, two of Nate’s boys, and our buddy Trip. Beautiful Coors Light girls patrolled the premises, as did a multitude of attractive women who weren’t being paid to flirt with the bachelors among our ranks. T.C. and his wedding band, when not watching on in amusement, did their flirting with shot glasses at the bar. Eventually our friend “Lotus” made her way to the bar, adding a touch of feminine charm to our drunken male banter. Any charm I was adding, however, came straight from the Elder & Wisers I was putting away one after another.

Several drinks and shots had been thrown T.C.’s way by the time she got there, but that wasn’t good enough for Lotus. “You’re not drunk enough,” she protested to T.C. “I’m buying you a shot!” An hour or so later, she looked over at T.C. and said (with a noticeable slur), “He still doesn’t look like he’s drunk!” “Trust me,” I countered, having spotted the telltale signs—talking loudly, eyelids dropped slightly during regular conversation and squeezed completely shut when placing emphasis on a particular point, etc.—that T.C. was feeling it. “He’s crushed.”

We fit in another couple of rounds of shots—and a round of drinks—as 2 a.m. came calling, and then all headed out into the night. Tony, T.C., and I did the gentlemanly thing and walked Lotus home. About halfway there, though, her own drunken “tell” raised its head: stubbornness. Despite being an intoxicated, attractive woman walking along a dark city street, Lotus objected to being escorted. She stopped dead in her tracks and refused to walk any further if we continued to follow her. We negotiated for a minute, and finally she agreed to move on with just me chaperoning her, while Tony and T.C. headed straight back to my place. [Don’t bother asking what kind of sense this makes; I assure you, it makes none.] Once she was safely in her place, I headed home and caught up with the boys as they reached my block. Lotus sent me this the next morning: “Omg what did u guys do to me last night? Haha the path to my room looks like a tornado came thru!!”

T.C.’s night ended with less spinning winds, and more spinning rooms. He hugged my toilet for about 20 minutes, as Tony and I tried to talk over the awful retching sounds coming from behind the bathroom door. When he had finally emptied himself of all that he could force out, he stumbled out to the living room shirtless, and plopped down awkwardly on my loveseat, passing out in mere seconds.

No one said becoming a Grown-Ass Man was pretty.

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