Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The New Normal

Sometimes, I feel as though I’m misleading you.

The nature of this biz—I say “biz”, of course, to blindly reassure my ego that this site is somehow a relevant part of the entertainment industry, despite what our paltry page hits suggest—is that the mundane gets filtered out. If I’m writing about a story, well…there has to be a story involved. Something spectacular and interesting has to have taken place for it to even be worth the time it takes to type it up.

The vast majority of the average human life, however, is filled with the boring shit that no one wants to read about. What I love about my friends and me, though, is that we don’t live average human lives. If 5% of a regular person’s life is reportable, my friends I are somewhere up in the high teens. …As is our maturity. But that’s a topic for another conversation.

Last Saturday I awoke looking to turn booze into happiness. I eagerly texted several friends, sure that they would be feeling the same way. One after the other, they shot down my hopes with little thought towards how my feelings would be affected. Selfish bastards. I hit up my one constant, my road dawg, Alex; surely SHE would be down to help me drink.

Me: “You putting on pants and drinking tonight?”
Alex: “Lol no I think I’m laying low…I have something going on almost every day in March.”
Alex: “So I’m taking advantage of the fact I have nothing to do today and being a huge bum.”
Alex: “Pantsless.”
Me: “All of my friends are disappointing me today.”
Alex: “Lol no one is on the drinking boat today?”
Me: “TD isn’t. Mitch & Swag are out of town.”
Alex: “I wish I was…the week was so stressful I’m ready to just veg out.”
Me: “I did that last night. Got it out of my system. Now I wanna put my dick in some Long Island Iced Teas.”
Alex: “I won’t judge you for drinking alone.”
Me: “Why would you? That’s like me saying I won’t judge you for not wearing pants. It’s just what we do.”
Alex: “#sotrue”

Eventually, Tony hit me up wanting to indulge in some Shadyside imbibing. Thank you, Baby Jesus. He came over in time to catch the second half of the Pens game, and to supplement his beer intake with a shot of Beam. We hit our first bar…I normally would give you the name of it, but I’m going to plead the fifth while giving you his and my exchange as we left for bar #2:

Me: “So I was looking at the bartender, and I kept thinking, ‘She reminds me of someone.’”
Tony: “Okay…”
Me: “I tried doing, like, word association, to think of who she reminded me of. ‘When I look at her face, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?’ And all I could think was, ‘Ham!’”

We hit Shady Grove, and Tony was well on his way to being me-drunk. “Hey,” he proposed, “Let’s do a shot!” To hang out with Tony Drunk Tony is to have shots thrown at you once or twice repeatedly throughout the night. It doesn't matter if you’re out to calmly forget about the workweek, or to get Bonnaroo-drunk; if Tony sees bottles of alcohol nearby, he’ll want to do shots.

I declined, knowing the kind of hell at the end of that path. “I’m not trying to go there tonight. I’m staying chill; no shots.” After listening to my words of wisdom, Tony agreed whole-heartedly. “Ahh, you’re right. Shots are a bad idea. Forget it.” Approximately 18 seconds later, the bartender walked past.

Tony: “Hey—can I get a shot of Crown?”


Drunk Tony is basically a two-legged version of “Dug” from Up. The rest of the night went as you might predict: me gently nurturing my buzz with Heineken and the like, and Tony dry-humping the night while wearing a big sloppy grin. My friends being above average, though, one last tale presented itself before night’s end.

For several months now, the running joke among some of us—particularly Swag and Mitch Canada—is one of Tony being a meathead. Now, to know him is to know that’s not true, though in recent years he has become seemingly more self-assured in feats of strength due to his continued dedication to weight training. He’s not a fitness nut preaching about flaxseed and posting workout quotes in his Facebook statuses; but the homie’s been ridiculously disciplined about his workout schedule over the last eight or nine years, after about 28 years of hardly ever glancing in a gym’s direction. And the resulting boost to his confidence is noticeable. …Especially when he’s been drinking…and when he jokes about flipping cars.

Back to Saturday. He and I were at Mario’s East Side, having beers at the bar and reminiscing about ten years ago, when we were the age of most of the people in there with us. I saw Tony engage in conversation with a guy who had walked up to the bar, but didn’t hear what was said. He was an average kid in his mid-20s, clean-cut with a regular build. Whatever words of charm Tony laid on him seemed to strike a chord, because the guy added two shots to his drink order, and then handed them to Tony and me. We tossed back the shots and thanked the stranger for his generosity, though my friend felt the need to offer more than that. “…And hey,” he said, momentarily halting the kid from returning to his buddies at a nearby table, “If you need any help tonight, if anyone gives you a hard time, you let us know!”

While the shock of what he’d heard caused the guy to pause and stare at Tony, my shock caused me to fill the silence. “Wait, what the—did you just offer to be his bodyguard?!”

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