Sunday, August 19, 2012

Big Swag Steps Off Laughin'

I wrote in May that 30th birthdays are kind of a big deal. They represent the end of a process that begins with the first loosened baby tooth and then carries through puberty and on past using a proper name when ordering a cocktail. On your 30th, the last remnants of youth are shed. Sure, some try to accelerate the aging process by jumping into marriages and parenthood in their 20s—the less-homophobic cousin to “pray away the gay” camps. But, in those rare moments when these misguided souls find themselves free of the shackles by which they have willingly come to be bound, they still fall back on the their birth certificates as evidence that they can party all night and laugh it off in the morning. And it’s accepted currency—until they turn 30. Then they’re as tattered and worn as the rest of us, if not worse.

Dupa has done it. T.C. Aff. Mitch Canada. I did it before all of them, though not before TJ, Tony, and Pak. But two weeks ago it was finally Jay Swag’s turn to join the Grown-Ass Man Club.

For a guy who treats his ordinary birthdays like full-blown, must-see events, turning 30 presented Swag with a new mountaintop of shenanigans to ascend towards. His birthday was Thursday, August 8th; being that his good friend Tennessee (or “The Nashville Knuckler”, as I kept calling him that week) was coming into town that morning, Swag called off work for both Thursday and Friday, with every intention of staging a (minimum) three-day boozathon. He even suggested holding Beer Olympics on the first day, but relented when he realized he didn’t have most of the supplies such a sporting spectacle would require. He fell back on a tried and true game plan: I’m drinking, Tennessee’s drinking; come on over if you want to drink, too.

What he hadn’t factored in, though, was that Wednesday nights he and others play in a kickball league (…I know). After every game they then retire to their clubhouse—a.k.a. Rumshakers—and proceed to party like they have just won the World Series. This led to Swag drinking away the final hours of his twenties, and led to me receiving pictures the next day from both Finger Bang and TJ, in both of which Swag was laying shirtless in his backyard. In TJ’s photo (which was accompanied by the text, “The last photograph ever taken of [Swag] in his 20s. Rather fitting.”), our boy was facedown with a lit cigarette in his outstretched hand, his pale back seemingly intensifying the moonlight that it reflected amid a green pool of grass.

I arrived at Swag and Canada’s Mt. Washington home around 7:30 Thursday night to find Swag, Tennessee, Belle, Bang, and Entertainer drinking Leinenkugels and in relaxed, jovial moods. Then TJ and Canada returned from a beer run, carrying into the house a case of Miller Lite…and a case of Four Loko. I mentally high-fived myself for having had the forethought to call off work the next day.

We watched the Pittsburgh/Philly preseason game, hung out and just enjoyed the moment, drinking and laughing like a group of good friends in a primetime sitcom. Belle danced on a chair, I cracked open a Loko to the cheers of those around me, and everyone fired bottle caps and good-natured jokes at each other. Alex eventually made it up to the party, took the stick, and carried on the pace as if she had been there all day. When I found Bang laying on the couch and drifting away around 9:30 p.m., she blamed her sluggishness on being drunk.

Me: “Would it sober you up if I took you upstairs and banged you silly? Because I’ll do it.”
Bang: “Will you bang me sober?”
Me: “Yes, sweetie. I will do that for a friend.”

By 10:30 we both made our exit from the party; Bang needed to go home and rest up for work the next day, and she dropped me off at the home of a “special *wink* friend” who lives a couple of streets away from Swag and Canada. …Yup.

I played the sidelines Friday (I mean, I’m not a machine…), but Swag certainly didn’t. He, Tennessee, and Belle hit the Pirates game, and managed to fill their time before, during, and after it with booze. “A man got to have a code.

After 60+ hours of nearly-nonstop alcohol consumption, you would expect a newly-30-year-old man to slow things down, right? Wrong. At 10:18 a.m. Saturday, Swag posted this to Facebook:
“Well, I'm awake so anytime you dickheads want to come over, I'm going to crack beer #1 in less than 5 minutes. Since I've nearly refused to make any decisions about times/places, I'm just going to check-in on here. Otherwise, I'm sure you have Mitch or [Tennessee]'s number. I hope everyone remembers to bring loose women. Extra credit for ones that are morally bankrupt. Can't wait till see all of you fuckers. Deuces.”
He’d later tell me, “Remember when I said I was going to ‘crack beer #1 in less than 5 minutes’? That beer turned into a Four Loko.”

I walked through the door carrying a 30-pack of Miller Lite at about 4 p.m., commanding, “Shut up, [Belle],” as she told some story to Swag, Canada, their buddy Tim, Tennessee, and Canada’s ladyfriend Collette. I squeezed my case into the fridge, where two more Miller Lite 30-packs and a case of Miller Lite pounders were already residing. I cracked open a beer, joined them in the living room to watch Olympic handball, and away we went.

Swag, Belle, and Tennessee had a new—albeit really strange—obsession that week: Listening to “Goodbye Horses” and dancing around like Buffalo Bill

*sips his drink*

…I have no punchline for this, folks.

I also have no cause or explanation to add. The most telling fact about all of this, though, is that I had no real moment of shock as it was happening. “Swag and Belle are imitating a cross-dressing serial killer from a movie. …So what’s the score of the handball game?”

We were eventually joined by JL, Bang, Courtney, and Alex, and we made our way to Rumshakers. Once there…well, I’m having trouble remembering exactly what happened there. I know Tony met up with us in time. I remember talking with Joe, a bartender (who bears a striking resemblance to Chad Johnson, and who is nearly as charismatic), as we watched female members of my crew run around goofily. Which girls, or what exactly they were doing to make the two of us shake our heads…yeah. Gone with the booze. I also remember going across the street with several others to get some dinner from Dairy Queen, which we brought back and ate in the bar. But what I drank, what quotes others or I made, what hearts I stole, and what laws I broke are all a blur.

From Rumshakers, we backtracked back to Mt. Washington, heading to Redbeard's. We drank and celebrated there for a couple of hours before finally returning to Swag and Canada’s around 11:30. Checking out from the bars before midnight during a birthday bash? How positively “30” of us. We finished the night throwing back beers at the house, some people congregated (relatively) quietly in the living room around the TV, others (including the birthday boy) loitered on the front porch, enjoying the summer night.

By around 1:30 I moseyed off into the darkness, finding my way over to my “special friend”. Since she had taken in a healthy night of drinking as well, it was 11:30 before either of us got out of bed with any real resolve the next morning. In doing so, I checked Facebook and saw a 6 a.m. post from Swag asking if anyone else was awake. “Wow…” After a hearty brunch, my friend dropped me off at Swag’s, and I walked in to find Collette, Canada, Belle, Courtney, and JL in a joint state of “fml”. They reported that, though most everyone else had called it a night around the time that I did, Swag stayed up well into the morning, drinking and roaming the house. “I probably woke each guy up at least once to do a shot with me,” he explained when I went upstairs and found him awake again. “Mitch and I did a shot of Red Stag at 6:30.”

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