[Note: Shut up. Yes, this should have been posted last fall. I started writing it in September. Then I put it aside for the Tampa write. Then I put both of them aside to deal with the hectic November and December I had as I switched jobs. Let’s be realists here; me being me, getting this posted anytime before halfway through the summer of 2013 is (sadly) rather impressive.]
This wasn’t my first rodeo.
When you’re a kid, summer lasts forever. Everything does, to one extent or another. But summer—cool blasts from vents in dashboards, cannonballs into glistening pools, rhythmic murmuring of crickets, sundresses fluttering in a warm breeze, beads of sweat on your forehead—is inherently visceral. Your five senses are forced to compete for control over every second of every bright, humid, bikini-clad minute.
The sad part, though, is that once you’re an adult, responsibility jumps into the fray. When you focus on your taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing, everything slows down. The world is broken down piece by piece, and your attention dances from one sensory impulse to the other. But responsibility? That bitch nags you about every little unfun detail of your life. Bills, interviews, cleaning, repairs, performance reviews, healthcare… And when you focus on those things, life starts blowing past at warp speed.
The only solace I take from responsibility’s involvement in my adult life: It makes booze that much sweeter. (And easier to afford.)
So the fact that the Summer of 2012 came and went faster than a Mitt Romney political stance didn’t surprise me. I knew it was going to happen. Just like I knew that I would do another one of these “What I Learned” posts (and maybe get it posted before December this time). [Update: Shut up.] I tried to take mental notes of every barbecue and cannonball—because, as I've proven before, taking actual notes isn't really a strength of mine—along the way, so that I could share it in this inevitable post.
As always, these are in no specific order, and no one instance holds more significance than the other. They’re all equal parts of the brief, beautiful moment that was the Summer of 2012. Salud.
- It’s more fun when it’s forbidden. Prince of Ligonier and Mrs. Prince decided to have a house party in late June. A decent number of guests kicked it throughout the day, but by midnight only three of us remained, playing beer pong and cracking wise with our two hosts in the garage of their townhouse. I don’t know who it was that suggested we go swimming, but I know his or her idea was met by two immediate roadblocks: (1.) The swimming pool in Prince’s housing plan closes around 9 pm; and (2.) Those of us who didn’t live there did not have access to swimwear. I don’t know who solved these two roadblocks, but I know that he or she used the same answer for both: “Fuck it!” Before long, five drunken 30-year-olds were splashing around in the community pool, some in their underwear.
- If it worked once, it’ll work twice. In the summer of 2011, I convinced Armo to take his day of hanging with a friend from out of town and turn it into a big pool party. The result was one of the best days of the year, with tons of booze, boobs, sunshine, bikinis, and shenanigans. And TJ KO’d by Lemonade Vodka. So, of course, I did it again in 2012.
Armo had planned to host a quiet night with some old friends one Saturday in July, but I suggested he make it more of a “Pour-champagne-on-a-ho” party. He reluctantly relented, though no one got Mother Nature’s go-ahead (leave it to Western PA to have a 60-degree day in mid-July). Despite the unseasonably cool weather, we gathered a respectable crowd (Alex, Shannon, her date Brad, Hurley, TJ, “Special Friend” and her girlfriend, in addition to the seven or so friends Armo had originally planned for). We all stayed away from the pool (aside from TJ, who dove in expecting others to follow, then had to shiver in a towel by himself), and had a blast kicking it on the deck with lots of food, lots of drink, and lots of hilarious conversation well into the night.
- Women wingman harder than men do. Armo was a marked man that night. I was preoccupied with my own bedtime maneuvers, so I was oblivious to my friends’ shenanigans; but, to my shock, Alex was sitting on the living room couch with a big grin as Special Friend and I emerged from the guest room the next morning. When I gave her a lift home, Alex revealed that Shannon had helped her scheme on Armo in his own home. Their mission had involved covert meetings between the two DGs throughout the night, as they strategized Alex’s way into Armo’s bed.
- People tend to overestimate their inner circle’s coolness. In saying this, I may sound hypocritical or delusional to any reader out there who hasn’t met my friends. But I challenge any doubter to spend a night around our crazy cast of characters and come away from it thinking me to have misrepresented them. On the other hand, there were a few occasions this summer when I spent a night as the guest amongst a large group of people who think they are the newest Rat Pack, and went home thoroughly unimpressed. I’m not saying my crew is the most entertaining (besides, we’re probably more “Brat Pack”), just that we hold up our end of the bargain.
- If you’re in a pool and you’re not playing beer pong, you’re doing it wrong. I arrived at Dupa’s 4th of July party with a little surprise: a red, white, & blue inflatable beer pong table. Without question, it was the best $40 I spent all summer. When our crew hit his apartment building’s pool and set everything up, we were instantly the day’s winners. All of his neighbors and their guests loved it, and started signing up to play. Even the lifeguard on duty was impressed, and chatted with us while watching our pong matches as the party thumped on into the night.
- Sexual tension is contagious. One Friday in June, TD had once again agreed to help me clean my place. This time, however, instead of paying with vodka, I offered to buy her dinner. And since that meant we were going to be hanging out in Shadyside, we decided to bring some friends in on it. Strangely, most of those friends were women—not that I was complaining. Bring It On (BIO), Tony, Alex, and Lotus joined us at Harris Grill for dinner, drinks, and
political dialogueslurred words. After dinner we moved a few doors down to the Shadyside Saloon, and continued to wax poetic until close.
At that point, we bought some six packs and (minus Lotus) retired to my apartment. BIO’s and my flirtations had been building for a few months, and when I walked her to her car, we were soon making out in the middle of the street like two clumsy teenagers. As I walked back into my apartment building and texted TD (who by then had headed home), an amusing thought popped into my head: What if Tony and Alex, left alone in my place, had started going at it? Chuckling at the random thought, I opened my apartment door...and was met by Alex’s pink-panty-clad-booty arched up in the air above the couch—and Tony. I lol’d as I walked past them and straight back to my bedroom to pass out.
- Also contagious: blue balls. I, of course, was disappointed that my night had ended with a makeout session instead of, “Let me get you a towel.” But I felt a little better the next day when Alex informed me that she had not given Tony any more release than BIO had given me. In fact, he had it worse. Embarrassed by me catching them, Alex decided to head home immediately—and made Tony drive her there. Not only that, she made him stay the night and cuddle, but refused to have sex.
- A friend with bourbon is a friend indeed. Armo was a tad inexperienced when it came to drinking bourbon. Understandably, he sought tutelage from the foremost expert he knows—me. Always one to help out a friend, I agreed to split a bottle of Woodford Reserve one Saturday in August. We tested recipes while watching flicks and growing progressively dysfunctional.
- If you’re going to have a hangover, there’s no better place to be than Armo’s. The next morning—as is the case on any morning when I’ve awoken at Armo’s house with the Ghost of Bottles Drank rattling chains in my head—when I stumbled out of the guest room, I was handed a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. I was then offered breakfast, refuge on his couch…and science. As the damage we’d done to ourselves with bourbon was slowly repaired, we distracted our aching brains with several episodes of Mythbusters (hi Kari).
- Country music concerts are great—so long as you don’t go to the concert. In June Dupa, Swag, and I toured the sweaty cowboy hat bacchanalia that is the Kenny Chesney concert tailgate in Pittsburgh. And I think I can speak for all of us when I say it exceeded our (admittedly low) expectations. Next year, we’ve got to find a way onto one of the boats docked along the shore. “Large half-Black man on yacht at country music concert” is a box on my bucket list that’s just dying to be checked off.
- There are some hot women in Pittsburgh. A trip to Tennessee in 2011 made me fully appreciate Shadyside’s spectrum of beautiful faces, but it wasn’t until my friend Connie’s birthday last June that I realized Pittsburgh, as a whole, is home to a fair percentage of gorgeous ladies. I just haven’t been privy to their secretive meetings. [If you’ve seen the Seinfeld episode that explains this phenomenon, then you feel me. Sadly for the rest of you, my YouTube searches for this clip have come up empty.]
- Water is an acceptable choice at 3 a.m. I left Connie’s party fairly early, but went directly from there to a party at Shannon’s—with a quick stop at a six pack shack along the way. Operating on a significant caipirinha buzz, I walked into her Mt. Washington apartment to find almost everyone there in worse shape than I was. When in Rome… I was soon crushed, and by 3 a.m. I’d polished off the beers I had brought—and any other beer that had previously existed within the confines of Shannon’s apartment. Sounds like the perfect time to start drinking Jack, right? Ugh… When I awoke the next morning (at 7 a.m., no less), Hell sounded relaxing. I swore off all booze forever. “Forever”, in this case, meaning “until that night”.
- Water is never really an acceptable choice when you party with Irish chicks. Shannon, like several of my friends, finally made it into the “Grown Ass Man/Woman Club” in 2012. Although her birthday is actually in June, she planned her day of celebration for early July. The day was broken down into three segments, each of which was saturated with booze.
It started early in the afternoon with the birthday girl, her sister (Dr. Kelly), Dupa, and I drinking heavily while beating the mid-90s heat in Dupa’s pool. We even inflated the beer pong table and ran a few games. The second act was dinner down the street from Dupa’s at the Grandview Saloon, where about twenty more friends joined us to enjoy good food and good drink, and to toast to our favorite tiny Irish lass. The grand finale came in Station Square, where we all partied at Buckhead and continued to drink ourselves ridiculous. There was even a small encore, in which Shannon, Special Friend, our boy Wu, and I all hit Redbeard’s before close to put a cap on the night.
- If you’re going to add beer pong to a marathon drinking day, then you’d better win. Shannon and Dr. Kelly left Dupa’s pool late in the afternoon so they could start getting ready for the dinner party. Dupa and I, however, chose to play one-on-one beer pong instead. And unfortunately for Dupa, I’m better than him. By the time he and I made it over to the Grandview Saloon, he was a slurring mess. He was “Dupa Drunk”, which burns bright, but isn’t sustainable. He seemed to be sobering up somewhat by the end of dinner; when we all moved to Station Square, though, he was nowhere to be found. The next day he told me he had snuck off after paying for dinner, walked straight back to his apartment, and gone to bed.
- What’s wrong with six? Everything.
- Anthrocon is the true Magic Kingdom. The 2012 Furry Safari…wow. I would’ve loved to have put together a full post like in 2011, but I—of course—didn’t get around to it. I spent most of that day partying at Tonic, as per usual, and was joined by Chappy, TJ, TD, Boy Toy, Shannon, Armo, Wall Street, Dupa, Entertainer, Jay Swag, Alex, BIO, and more over the course of the day. BIO and Wall Street were rookies, and while observing them, I reached a realization: Watching a first-time safari participant is (I’m guessing) like taking your kids to Disney World to see Mickey for the first time. The giddiness and glee that they exude throughout the day just warms your heart like (I’m guessing) a proud parent. The countless hours of booze helps with the warming, of course…
- There’s a slutmuffin in all of us. Alex had an eventful summer (as you’ve probably noticed). Dupa jokingly called her “slutmuffin” on Twitter one day, and somehow the endearing pet name stuck. When she suggested in August that she and I start a special subgroup/“club” (strictly for the purpose of getting indignantly drunk at happy hours and feeling special), our discussion on the club name quickly landed on “Slutmuffins”. It then bounced to “Pretty Little Liars”, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, and then back to Slutmuffins. We may have trouble agreeing on a club name, but you can’t argue that our theme hasn’t been consistent.
- We Dirty Pretty Slutmuffin Liars are some Rotten Little Scoundrels. The initial five club members were Alex (co-president), TJ, TD, Swag, and me (co-president). For our first happy hour, we chose to meet at Finn McCool’s after work on August 30th. Although he had initially agreed to the terms, Swag balked at the last minute. Since TD had brought along Boy Toy (some people just don’t understand that membership in a fake club is a privilege), he was given Swag’s spot. Knowing this wouldn’t be the most effective way to exact revenge for Swag’s treason, though, we decided to take things one step further. After a couple of drinks each, we moved our meeting down the street to our pale friend’s self-described “Mecca”: Rumshakers. Once there, we took pictures of the bar and ourselves, and then flooded Facebook, Twitter, and his text message inbox with them. Suddenly Swag was fervently requesting us to come pick him up (he still didn’t have his license). We laughed, ignored him, and returned to toasting to our club’s success.
- I need tinted windows. On my way to Finn McCool’s that night, I pulled up to a red light on Carson St. As I came to a stop, in my peripheral I noticed a woman who was waiting for me to pass so she could continue crossing the street. When I glanced over…it was The Ex. I spun my head forward, gripped the steering wheel, and prayed I didn’t hear a knock at my window.
- TD is my LSFAM (Little Sister From Another Mother). When I walked into Finn McCool’s that night, she took one look at my face and said, “Uh oh.” She then bought me a shot of tequila to help numb my short-term memory.
- Our crew is only growing bigger. Steph gave birth to a beautiful baby boy—Maximo—in July. His pimp cup is locked in a case with a sign reading, “In case of 18th birthday (or twins), break glass.” Chappy got married in September, thus laying to waste all of our bets that he’d screw it up with a woman waaayyy out of his league before she was on record as saying, “I do.” Dr. Kelly got married in October; her wedding was a fantastic weekend of drinking, reminiscing, and partying (the only reason I didn’t cover it in this post is because it wasn’t technically in the summer). BBB and his wife welcomed their third child into the world in June; I can’t wait ‘til I get to sit in his luxury box in whatever NFL stadium his sons play in.
That day’ll be here before we know it. Hopefully, we’ll occasionally get to stop and enjoy the summers we pass along the way.