Archive | July, 2013

Drunkman Begins

22 Jul

“I drink to make other people more interesting.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Every superhero has an origin. This is mine…

It’s time for another story! Since so many of my interesting experiences involve alcohol, I’ve decided it’s time to start sharing them. It may surprise some of my regular readers to learn that I’m a big fan of the sauce… yeah, maybe not. I did lots of drinking when I was younger, but far less these days. In short, I used to party like a rock star, but now I party more like Michael Bolton soulfully singing over a Kenny G sax riff. Basically what that means is that about once a month or so, not unlike the Wolfman, I get into some sort of booze-fueled shenanigans. I’m not suggesting that the Wolfman boozes during his lunar romps, but that I too transform once a month… into a drunken fool. There always seems to be at least one occasion or night out each month that– wait, am I the Wolfman? Hmmm, bear with me a moment.

Evidence That I May Be The Wolfman:

-Have you ever seen the iconic image of Lon Chaney Jr. in his Wolfman makeup with his teeth bared? I have an under-bite just like that.

-I’m fairly sure that if you shot me in the face with a silver bullet, pummeled my skull with a silver cane, stabbed me through the heart with a silver sword, or strangled me with a silver chain, I would die.

-Full moons piss me off.

Holy shit – I’m the Wolfman! Wow. I learn new stuff about myself every day.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ve decided to start my boozing stories at the very beginning. This is when shit moved from interesting to legendary. Before I begin, a couple disclaimers:

1. All names in this and all booze-centric stories have been changed to protect the not so innocent. Well, all have been changed with the exception of my own. Everyone who knows me is already well aware that I’m an irredeemable degenerate.

2. To the kids reading this: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. No matter how awesome these things may sound, remember, I am a professional. Also, wear a helmet while you’re riding that goddamn bike. Your parents paid good money for it to just be sitting on the kitchen table instead of protecting your melon. Safety first.

It was the early ‘90s. House Party 2 had just taught the world a valuable lesson about the dangers of throwing an unsupervised pajama party; upon being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, Sir Mix-a-Lot (nee, Gary Mix-a-Lot) released that most righteously patriotic tune, Baby Got Back (try to listen to it and NOT get chills); the Scorpions continued the good work started by Sly Stallone in Rocky IV and choke-slammed communism into the dirt for good with the haunting whistle solo from their song, “Wind of Change;” and my drinking career began in earnest.

My coworker, Liam, had recently graduated from Towson State University, or as it’s known by exactly no one, “the Harvard of Towson, Maryland.” To celebrate this milestone, a graduation party was planned in his honor, as was the custom of the time. I overheard numerous coworkers at the grocery store (I used to bag the shit out of some groceries – jealous?) discussing the impending festivities and that a keg of beer would be in attendance. Holy balls – A KEG! I was still in high school and had to that point consumed perhaps three beers in my entire life. A keg at a party was a big deal…even though I hated beer. I knew I needed to go. Did it matter that I wasn’t invited? Not really. I cleverly offered to drive a coworker (Ben) who I knew had been invited to make it look like he had invited me. Like that? That’s my patented move. That’s right – I invented the ‘dick move.’ You’re welcome.

And it totally worked: I had a patsy to get me into the party, now all I needed was booze. Fuck that beer noise. I wasn’t feeling it. At that point in my life, the only other alcoholic beverages of which I was aware were wine coolers and screwdrivers. Even back then I knew only douchebags, 12-year-olds, and 12-year-old douchebags drank wine coolers. Screwdrivers it would have to be. All I needed was vodka and orange juice. Getting OJ, no problem; getting vodka to put in it? Problem. I wasn’t all that worried, though. See, Ben was also under 21, but since he was a few years older than me, I figured he could purchase the vodka.  He didn’t look 21, but he most definitely looked older than me. At age 17 on a good day I could maybe pass for 11. No way could I make the purchase.

On the night of the party, I picked up Ben in my mom’s sweet-ass ’83 Cavalier and headed towards the liquor store. I probably should’ve talked to him about this sooner because when I asked him if he’d go in and get me a bottle of cheap vodka, he flat out refused. Turns out he didn’t drink and didn’t think I was old enough to be doing so either. I know, I know – what a dick! I couldn’t show up at a party I wasn’t even invited to sans alcohol. What to do…

I’m fairly certain every neighborhood has that one liquor store. You know, the one that doesn’t ask too many questions. Questions like, “Do you have ID?” My neighborhood was no exception. Across the street from the local porno theater (Ah, the Earle Theater; It’s a church now. Seriously) was a shady liquor store with a steel grate in front of the door perpetually ¾ of the way closed. If I couldn’t get booze there, it wasn’t happening.

I parked out front and told Ben to keep his non-vodka buying ass in the car. Terrified (for a multitude of reasons), I steeled myself and went in the store. Having never previously set foot in a liquor store, I had no idea how awful this one was. It was basically the size of a shipping container, half filled with salty snack foods, half filled with cheap booze. I stood frozen in place for several moments, dazed by the fluorescent lights and the gravity of what I was attempting. It was like being in a heist movie only one where nothing was stolen and with more minors purchasing alcohol. Hmm, on second thought, I guess it was more like Superbad and I was playing the part of McLovin. Who knew my life would be the basis of a $100 million movie – a movie for which I was never compensated? I wonder if I can sue the producers of Superbad…

Uh, anyway I felt eyes on me. I glanced to my left – the grizzled, 1,000-year-old owner was staring me down like he lost something on me. I cleared my throat and moved my feet. I even started whistling (Wind of Change, naturally) because obviously there is no better way to imply you have nothing to hide and nary a care in the world than with a hearty whistle. If I only learned one thing from cartoons it was that.

Anyone who has ever rented a porno from the local mom and pop video store (you kids may have to search “video store” on the Wikipedia) knows you never just walk in and  to the smut; you pretend to browse the documentary section near the beaded curtain that separates the filth from , say, Krull and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. In that spirit, I cruised the salty snacks. I scoped out a bag of Funyuns, picked it up, and pretended to read the ingredients while simultaneously craning my neck to gaze at the bottles of fire water. I saw it on the end of the aisle: a fifth (750 ml for you European folks) of Wolfschmidt vodka. Never heard of Wolfschmidt? It’s not the most premium of beverages. In fact, this site refers to it as “the cheap hooker of liquors”; pretty high praise if you ask me. I grabbed a package of Corn Nuts, a Slim Jim, and the Wolfschmidt because when you’re underage, you can’t just purchase liquor. You have to buy items to distract the cashier and he’ll like forget to card you or something. At least I think that was the logic.

Nervously shaking, I brought my mismatched purchases to the counter where I tossed in a pack of strawberry Mentos, because why the fuck not. The proprietor stared at me for several long seconds while I heroically avoided eye contact. After what seemed to be an eternity, he grunted and began to ring up my purchases. Yes! I was home free. Perhaps I looked older than I thought. I confidently pulled out my Velcro-fastened Orioles wallet and removed $20 from the billfold. I held it out and he didn’t take it. It hung there in the open air between him and me, quivering slightly. My confident smile faltered as he once more began to eye-fuck me. He frowned then said, “You 18?” Shit. The jig was up. I panicked, then stammered, “The drinking age is 21.” This bit of knowledge must have completely thrown him for a loop because his face softened. “That’ll be $12.50.” Sweet! I had passed the test! I once more offered the $20 bill and this time he took it. I wanted to bolt, but I waited for my change. He didn’t offer to bag my bizarre cornucopia of items and I didn’t ask. I grabbed my stuff and got the hell out of there.

Next week: the story concludes with the party and the fateful moment where I ceased to be Michael P Brennan and became…The Drunk Knight.

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