Saturday, January 18, 2014

Merry New Beer!

I’ve hated Christmas since I was old enough to know why to hate Christmas (about 23, for those of you still not quite there yet). This time around, it was New Year’s Eve before I realized how little hating of the holidays I’d done.

Don’t misunderstand—I wasn’t happy about it being Christmas; I just didn’t pay attention to the same raw nerves that typically get exposed this time of year. Work has sought to absolutely destroy me over the last few months, and as a result I’ve been largely numb to all that was going on around me. [I legitimately thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown one day, but that’s for a blog I’ll inevitably write and recite as part of a group therapy session.] The obvious negatives of such a situation aside, the positive is that Christmas was blandly tolerable. One might say mildly enjoyable, even, if for no other reason than it forced my company to let me stay at home for a few days. Yay work misery!

I certainly didn’t get to relax as much at the end of December as I used to, back when I worked for a company that gave us paid holidays from Christmas Eve through New Years. But old friends being in town and a few nights where you don’t have to set the alarm clock mean booze is going to be poured. And if booze is going to be poured, well then…something, something, me waking up in weird places.

Monday, December 23rd
Once upon a time, I tried to bring rise to a new tradition called Christmas Eve Eve. It went strong for about four years before fading in ‘12. But it’s not dead yet.

Dupa, home from Houston for Christmas, gathered several of us that night for dinner at Church Brew Works. Six young professionals ate, drank, and became increasingly louder and more profane, to the point that I could feel the families seated near us cringe each time one of our voices built towards its crescendo. After dinner most of us went to our respective homes to decompress—including me. I honestly thought Christmas Eve Eve’s tradition had entered oblivion. Turns out, I just wasn’t believing in it hard enough.

TD and Canada believed, though. An hour after I had come home, I began receiving picture texts from the two of them. Awesome, drunken images of Lil Sis and various people with their eyes narrowed paper thin, chucking peace signs and grabbing breasts at Sloppy Joe’s. I’ve never been prouder of family who aren’t really family but are really family.

A week later, Canada gave all of us his postscript to that night: TD and Boy Toy dropped him off in front of his house around midnight (he’d managed to spend $80 at a dive bar where a mixed drink costs about $4, so you can go ahead and calibrate your expectations to how this ends). They watched him open his front door and walk into the crib before they left. Nevertheless, around 4 a.m. Canada awoke…lying in the bushes in front of the house.

Tuesday, December 24th
TD, Boy Toy, and TJ joined my cousin, her husband and I for dinner at my mother’s house. Bottles of wine and Heineken marched in full and rolled out empty. The guests marched in empty and rolled out full. Mom has never been one to half-ass it in the kitchen, and we feasted on a delicious home cooked ham dinner (TD ate fish) with all the fixins’. Also, a giant cake shaped like the Grinch’s head that TJ brought (it’s tradition; the last couple of years have seen cakes shaped like Santa and Rudolph).

When I got back to Shadyside that night, I stopped at William Penn Tavern to catch up with Mo-Fo and Jed. It was the first time in over two years that I’d seen Mo-Fo, who lives in North Carolina. As we caught up over draughts, a steady stream of familiar faces from around the neighborhood rolled in for drinks and holiday cheer beer. It wasn’t a night of loose women and drunken episodes, but instead a chance to catch up on each other’s tales of loose women and drunken episodes. You need those nights. When stress melts away and all that’s left is laughter and community.

Wednesday, December 25th
Christmas Day. Spiked eggnog with my mom while opening gifts. Wine with dinner. Sometimes things don’t change simply because they ain’t broke.

For those wondering (and since I’ve catalogued my alcohol-related gifts in the past): A bottle of Bulleit 10 Year Bourbon from my Lil Sis, a bottle of Glenfiddich Nadurra from my manager, an On the Rock Glass and bottle of Makers from Armo, and a bottle of Chivas Regal 12 from my mom. The quantity of booze gifts may be going down, but the rising quality is more than making up for it.

Thursday, December 26th
I fought the system by calling in sick instead of going into the office. Never mind that I legitimately needed it because I was too exhausted to function when I awoke that morning, or that I still put in about four or five hours of work from my dining room table…Viva La Revolucion!

That night T.C., Hurley, Mo-Fo, and Jed convinced me to venture over to Grove for the second half of Pitt’s bowl game. I began drinking Manhattans, and then…well, the next-to-last entry in this post happened. The most irreversibly shlammered I’d been in some time, I barely remember being at Cain’s. I do recall sitting down and ordering a beer. Then I awoke on Hurley’s couch.

Friday, December 27th
If you’ve gotta spend half of a day at work drunk, and the other half viciously hungover, I recommend doing it on a Friday when none of the executives are in the building. Thank god I have the kind of cool-as-hell manager who found my ever-deteriorating state hilarious and not wage-garnering-ous. I spent my Friday night at home, thank you very much.

Saturday, December 28th
Esq and Shock hosted the annual holiday reunion of some of our closest friends at my homie’s big, beautiful “lawyer’s house” (think it was my mom who coined that term) in the far northern suburbs of the city. Chief, Tank, Mrs. Tank (Katie), Finn, Genoa, BBB, Tony, and others gathered to drink the booze, catch up, and reminisce on the good ol’ days. All of the college stories about the girls we did or didn’t bag, the fights, the Federales, the masturbating roommates—all of it played like a classic movie marathon, one after the other.

Some in the crowd, like the ladies and the suddenly urbane Chief, drank wine. I, on the other hand, eased into the night by drinking bottles of Miller Lite. By around midnight we’d killed off two cases, and it was time for some beer pong in the three-car garage (once Esq had backed out one of the “his-and-hers” Escalades). That’s when the Beast Light came out—W&J waters run deep. By 4:30 a.m. I was passed out in one of the guest rooms.

Sunday, December 29th
I awoke the next morning to Chief passed out on the floor of the room. “I was so mad when I got up there and found out you’d beaten me to it,” he told me before we each headed home that day, “that I decided to sleep on the floor out of spite, even though I knew there were 50 open couches in this house.”

Monday, December 30th
…What am I, an animal? I laid low and stayed dry. Bitches.

Tuesday, December 31st
The main event. The Academy Awards of Drinking. The Blotto Super Bowl. I prepped like any professional does: by shoving a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal down my throat and showing up on TD and Boy Toy’s doorstep around 8 p.m. with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in my hand.

There was beer pong in the garage, of which I took part in for a while, Armo and I hardly making a dent in the night’s competition. There was lively, drunken conversation in the kitchen, of which I took a LOT of parts in. There was a game of Spades in the dining room with Joel, TJ, and Affliction, of which I cheated in (…was totally playing “Asshole” in my mind for the first hand or two). There was the ball drop, punctuated by about 10 different bottles of champagne being popped in a living room filled with 20 people and zero cups—straight chuggin’, homie.

Shannon provided my New Year’s kiss; Mo Paddle provided my New Year’s style via comically-oversized sunglasses; Lil Sis provided my New Year’s ego by pointing out that we were the only two drinking real champagne (she had her own bottle of Clicquot); and one of Boy Toy’s best friends provided my New Year’s comedy by passing out on the toilet with his pants around his ankles. And the host himself provided the New Year’s drama, getting into a fight with Under The Porch (UTP) that spilled out into the front yard, and resulted in me shoving Toy and TD back into their house and others shoving UTP into the backseat of a car headed away from the scene. (By the way…we’re all adults.) Toy found out a couple of days later that he had broken a couple of his ribs in the commotion. And, for some reason, the people who removed UTP were mad at TD the next morning for him being at their place. (…Adults.)

Wednesday, January 1st
Of the two couches in TD’s living room, I awoke on the smaller one. Of course. “Toilet Napper” had taken the larger couch the night before. But when I awoke, it was unoccupied. I moved over, stretched out, and began drifting back to sleep in the growing 8 a.m. sunshine. I soon felt someone shake my leg. It was Napper.

Him: “Ah, dude, I was sleeping there. I just got up to go to the bathroom.”
Me: “Yeah…that sucks.” *rolls over and goes back to sleep*

A couple of hours later I finally headed home, with a quick stop at Shannon’s along the way to help her with her Irish family’s tradition (a dark-haired man must come into her home and receive a shot of whiskey and one dollar at the start of each year, before she’s allowed to cross her threshold). The whiskey provided cover fire against hangover laying siege to my head, giving me the chance to retreat to the safety of my couch and five more glorious hours of slumber.

Sometimes you need a holiday from the holidays.

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