You know the drill.
This is the fourth one of these posts that I’ve done in the past five years. If two is a coincidence and three is a trend, then four is definitely a standard. Which is ironic, since I’ve often been accused of not having standards. *cough* Moving on…
I love summer, and since my childhood I’ve worshipped it with a reverence typically reserved for favorite grandmothers. Ice cream truck jingles, pickup baseball games, and firecrackers started the romance in my days of innocence. Pool bars, bikinis, and outdoor happy hours have kept the flame alive after all of these years. For me, summer air carries a certain magic with it, be it real or imagined.
My list of memories from the Summer of 2013 feels a little less extensive than in years past (maybe that’s a blessing in disguise, though, given how long some of those posts have been). That may be due to shoddy note-taking (as always); or, maybe, it’s due to fewer shenanigans being had. Working 50 hours a week has worn me down over the past year, and as a result most Friday nights I’m too drained to get turnt up at the bars. I hate it—it’s like I’m being force-fed adulthood—but, unless I hit the lotto or marry a beautiful heiress, that’s life.
So, with no further delay (since it’s, you know,
- If a drunk friend runs away from you, let him go; if he comes back, it was meant to be. If he doesn’t…at least you won’t need staples in your leg. Yup. June 22, 2013 will go down in history as the dumbest day of my life. Well…top-5. Who would’ve thought going to a country concert tailgate wouldn’t be the stupidest thing I did that day?
- Parents always know when you’re being stupid. I limped into my mom’s house the day after the accident, expecting hysterics and motherly lectures. Instead, she reacted with a measured, cool demeanor, and calmly told me she’d dreamt the night before that I was in the hospital. That’s some ESP for your ass. At the same exact moment I was laid up in a hospital bed—in the same ER room, coincidentally, that she’d been in a little over a year before that—getting 16 staples put in my leg, she was having a dream about me being in the hospital. Our bond is tight.
- Stupidity is expensive. The bills for the ER visit and multiple follow-up doctor appointments were not cool. Perhaps worse, though, was buying more medical tape and gauze bandages every week. Somewhere out there is a mid-level manager at Johnson & Johnson who should shake my hand for sending his or her kid to college.
- There’s something scarier than 16 staples in your leg: Sobriety. My leg became infected during the recovery period. That meant antibiotics. That meant two weeks of July spent sober, praying PowerBall and modern science would rescue me with an infection-fighting rum that could only be found on a tropical beach populated by beautiful, sexually-adventurous women.
- Finding the right party means making tough decisions. Armo hosted a pool party in mid-August, but unfortunately it didn’t command the same attendance demographics (see: lots of morally bankrupt people, many of them in bikinis) that similar parties have in the past. Alex suggested, as the night set in, that we all head for life rafts and paddle back to Shadyside, where the season’s third and final “Jam on Walnut” was roaring to life. Armo refused to leave his place, vowing to go down with the ship. He’s a valiant captain. At least, that’s the thought I had as I fastened my
- When you’re friends with someone, there’s usually a pretty good reason for it. Alex, Tony, and I were the three mutineers that night. As we walked from her place to Shadyside Saloon, Alex tripped over the uneven sidewalk ahead of me. I began chuckling—fully intending to grow it into a self-righteous LOL—when I felt myself stumbling over the very same sidewalk bump. Just that quickly, my feelings of superiority had turned into dejected realism. As I stopped and collected my shattered self-worth, I heard Tony trip over the bump.
- Only a drunk idiot puts a drunk idiot in charge of pizza. After the bars closed that night, we grabbed a couple of pies at S. Aiken Bar and Grille. For reasons unbeknownst to any of us once the sober hours arrived, I was given the responsibility of carrying the pizzas from there to my apartment. Alex instructed me not to eat any until we got to our destination; that rule might’ve held some weight with someone who hadn’t been drinking for most of the day, but…#drunchies. We weren’t even a quarter of the way to my place when she and Tony turned around to find me with sauce and cheese all over my face.
- What some call binge drinking, I call efficient packing. Each of the summer’s big three holidays—Memorial Day Weekend (MDW), Fourth of July, and Labor Day Weekend (LDW)—saw my friends and I squeeze three or more days full of crazy into one small calendar entry. As natural as such mini-binges have been over the past 15 or so years of my life, it took until just now for me to realize that those were the only three-day calendar entries of the summer. Far from being a symptom of alcoholic dependencies, those multiday adventures were actually a symptom of adulthood. We’ve found ourselves clinging ever-so-tightly to the windows of liberty shared by our calendars as we’ve grown older (especially as, in turn, those windows have grown increasingly-rare). It’s the life of busy adults trying to get the most out of the infrequent times when they were free from responsibilities.
- Responsibilities are Father Time’s rapey minions. Like many people, I often daydream of winning a huge PowerBall lotto payout. But I’ve come to realize that it’s not necessarily the financial freedom that fuels those fantasies, it’s the freedom itself. No alarm clocks, no project deadlines. No bosses. Just living life as it comes to you each day.
- Not working can be hard work. Of those three holiday weekends, LDW was arguably the least hedonistic. But it might still have been the shortest on sleep.
We kicked it off with the Oddball Comedy Festival that Friday. TD, Boy Toy, Armo, Weatherman, and several others joined me in some parking lot imbibing (read: pounding beers like they were cheap sluts earning rent money) in the summer sunshine, followed by throwing back tallboys of Heineken inside the First Niagra Pavilion grounds in the summer moonlight. Dave Chappelle, Hannibal Burress, Kristen Schaal, and everyone else killed it, while I killed every beer and shot that came within 10 feet of me.
- Following your dreams is scary as shit. And I haven’t even done it. But I’ve stood at the edge of the cliff, looking down at the ground below, and wondered how I could ever fly above it. I have endless respect for those who’ve taken that step forward. I pray I man up and follow you soon, before it’s too late.
- When you do make a bold decision, don’t half-ass it. In July TD and I, out of the clear blue sky, decided to go on a bar crawl—after a whiskey distillery tour. And when we come at you, we come hard. (Wait…)
- Life is what you make it. Seriously, we wrecked shop that day.
Nine bars.Nine bars AND A WHISKEY DISTILLERY. And we never really broke a sweat. In fact, all of us handled ourselves like all-stars the entire Fourth of July weekend, going strong four days straight. That was one of those moments where you find yourself smiling at all that just took place, as you lay on your couch in agony on Sunday afternoon.
- LDW is officially fantasy football Christmas. Saturday of LDW—as is tradition—featured the annual W&J draft at Armo’s house. It was one of two that I attended that weekend. Finn, Chief, Esq, BBB, Tony, our friend Keith, and others met to bust each other’s balls and select fantasy teams over lots of pizza and lots of beer. I don’t know if it’s due to football having dominated that weekend for numerous years now, but hearing “LDW” just triggers images of the game in my head, like saying “Fox News” makes you picture a monkey throwing its own shit at a wall.
- The better you are at something, the more you suffer for your art. This year saw me manage six fantasy football teams of my own, and consult two of my friends’ teams. Every godforsaken day from mid-August through the end of December saw me dividing up the free time I don’t have between fantasy research, eight leagues, and the CS pages. Who needs a love life?
- Love lives are second-class citizens in a world that’s home to fantasy football. One of those friends who employed me as a consultant was Dupa. He flew into Pittsburgh late on the Saturday night of LDW for his league’s draft, which would be held Sunday afternoon. By early Sunday evening, he was on a plane headed back to Houston.
His girlfriend lives here in Pittsburgh. He didn’t visit her during the approximately 20 hours he was here. …She was not happy.
- Getting drunk with your homies is like riding a bike. On his one night in town, Dupa dialed the knob to “full turnt.” He drank himself silly on the plane, and then led Tony and me to Shady Grove straight from the airport. In the 20 minutes after we walked through the doors, we consumed a round of Long Islands, a round of Jager Bombs, and a round of Heinekens. By the end of the night I was taking pictures of Dupa sitting alone on a city bench with his arm around a pizza, as he made sex faces at it.
- Fuck fire hose fittings. Seriously. To this day I feel myself get nervous and twitchy each and every time I walk near a fitting sticking out of a wall or a hydrant on the sidewalk.
- I don’t know how Pak’s wife does it. For reasons only known to divinities of the universe, I spent three consecutive weekends hanging out with Pak in Shadyside. Week 1 was two homies wanting to drunk; Week 2 was the summer’s second Jam on Walnut; and Week 3 was the annual kickball tournament that turns my friends into booze zombies. Safe to say, Mrs. Pak hated me as much as I hated Pak by the end of that stretch.
- It’s possible to be a bigger drunken spectacle than Pak. The second of those weeks, the Jam, found Tony in his drunkest form. Pregaming at my place, drinking beers on Walnut St., and downing shots and drinks at Shady Grove did in the homie, who was an irrationally-angry mess—a.k.a. “full-on Irish”—by midnight.
Realizing that his night had reached its peak, I walked him home. Along the way, we passed various random bands of revelers strolling through the neighborhood. And each time someone in one of those clusters would raise their voice in excitement over whatever it was that they were discussing, Tony’s reaction was to accuse them of talking shit on him, and to attempt to dart in their direction.
- With age comes experience…and shame. The following week—that of the kickball tourney after party—Tony balked at Pak’s and my suggestions that he come catch up with us. He was worried that most of Shadyside would remember him as the blotto fool he had been the previous week. He finally relented when I reminded him that all of the people that had seen him be a drunken asshole that night were, themselves, drunken assholes that night.
- Fate is a woman. Related: Women are cruel. The postgame partying after the kickball tourney saw some wild sights, including our girl Liz expressin’ herself on the wall at Mario’s East Side. The star of the night, though, was Armo.
It’s rare that we get the Italian Stallion to venture outside the five-mile radius encircling his house (as evidenced by the fifth bullet point of this post); his average is about once a year. On this uncommon night, he met a cute blonde girl at Grove, who talked him up for most of the night. Keith and I watched from nearby barstools, sipping our beers like proud parents. At close, her friends pulled her in the opposite direction from the one our collection was headed in, so Armo and blondie did the whole huddle-on-the-sidewalk-away-from-your-friends-while-exchanging-phone-numbers ceremony. She then made him a tongue-wrestling practice dummy in front of their friends and the world.
That Monday he texted her to see if there were flames to fan. She mentioned that she has a boyfriend. A boyfriend with whom she lives. Armo considered that maybe once-a-year was too often to venture out into the world.
The Summer of 2013 may have turned into
…And the scars.