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The Drunk Knight Rises

28 Oct

“With great power comes great responsibility. This is my gift, my curse.”

-Peter Parker

“My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

-Bluto Blutarsky

See? I told you it would only be a week and I got it posted in five days! Can’t believe you doubted me like that. I won’t even dick around on the intro. If you didn’t read parts one or two, well you’ll probably be confused. Of course, you could read this part first and then work your way back like Memento. Damn it. The story is probably better that way. Oh well. Let’s just finish this bitch.

An Unfortunate Incident, a Hero Rises From the Ashes

Now that I was good and tight, I was ready to interact with the partygoers. I approached (well, staggered over to) my coworker, Kyle. Kyle was (and remains) a HUGE professional wrestling fan. He liked (and still likes) to reenact fake moves as performed by his favorite wrestlers (Your Ric Flairs, your Hulk Hogans, your Doink the Clowns). Now Kyle was five years older than me (probably still is) which would mean he was…20 at the time? 25? Shit, can we get those Sucks at Math ribbons made up already? However old he was I believed (and still do) that he was too old to be a fan of professional wrestling. I stopped watching at 10 when I found out that shit was rigged.

On second thought, looks pretty real to me.

On second thought, maybe it’s TOO real.

I slurred something at him, God only knows what, and we began to fake rassle. What does that entail, you ask? Basically, you just kind of fake slap and punch each other. Yes, it is that stupid. In the course of these fake maneuvers where we weren’t making actual contact with each other, a fake shove got away from Kyle and he ever so gently kissed my chest with his palm.

Now at my level of inebriation that gentle push was tantamount to getting dragon kicked in the sternum by Bruce fucking Lee. My body responded in kind as I went flying right into the grill. I took it out and landed flat on my back on the concrete patio. Hot meats that had been searing only precious seconds ago rained down on my face and chest like grisly hail from an abattoir. I sat up, dazed. Literally everyone at the party was gaping at me. I offered a weak, drunken laugh then suddenly cold water was splashing all over my body. I looked for the source and saw my coworker, Zoe, dousing me with a hose. “The fuck…?” I managed to mumble and then I saw the smoke. The white-hot coals from the grill had landed on my ankle and smoldered there. This is either the most or the least ironic thing that has ever happened in recorded history: I had lied to gain entry to the party and now my pants were quite literally on fire. And here I thought that phrase was just a hackneyed children’s rhyme.

Too on the nose?

Too on the nose?

Once I was completely extinguished, people began to ask me if I was all right. Like most drunks, I was totally fine with nary a scratch on me. I stood up, soaked from head to toe and the laughter began. A better, more sober man may have decided perhaps it was time to leave as dignity had already hightailed it out of there hours ago. Not this guy. I brushed off my near immolation and stuck around for a while. Eventually Ben insisted we needed to go and he drove me home in my mom’s car. I guess he walked home? I have no idea. So concerned was I for his wellbeing that I never even thought to ask.

The Aftermath

After a night spent getting intimately acquainted with the family toilet, telling it all my secrets, sharing a meal with it, I awoke on the floor of the bathroom to a pair of very pissed off parents and a large railroad spike in my brain. How did that get there? Sure I couldn’t see it, but I sure as fuck could feel it. It felt like my entire body was packed with fiberglass insulation and my throat was drier than Anne Coulter’s lady business. Good God! I have never felt such thirst in my life. Needed a drink. My parents followed me into the kitchen and reminded me as I drank the coldest, most refreshing bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale I’ve ever had in my life that I was due at work in 30 minutes. I laughed, each chuckle setting off a throbbing sonic boom in my head. Surely they were joking. They were not. Going to work severely hungover was phase one of my looming punishment. Well played, parental units. Well played indeed.

I protested, but at 17 my parents still held dominion over me. I dragged my ass into work, my only goal for the day to remain vertical or at least slanted, but upright. As soon as I arrived, I noticed people smirking at me and whispering when I walked by. Apparently, word had gotten out. You’d think a group of coworkers would be able to keep the story of an inebriated high schooler drunkenly setting himself on fire to themselves, but nope. People continued looking at me and giggling behind their hands. It really threw off my grocery bagging game. Eventually my manager (Julius? Yeah, let’s call him Julius) approached me. A smug smile firmly planted on his face, he clapped me on the shoulder. “Heard you went to Liam’s party last night.” I felt my face flush redder than a baboon’s fiery butthole. “Yeah.” His smile widened. “Have a good time?” A small crowd of grinning cashiers had surrounded us. “Um, it was okay. Hey, I think it’s my break time.” At this point, I thought for sure I was getting fired. His grip on my shoulder tightened. “So you’re like some kind of superhero. I mean, you don’t have the best superpower, but lighting yourself on fire with charcoal briquettes without getting hurt is kind of impressive. You just need a name. How about…Grillman?” Grillman. Seriously dude, you couldn’t call me something cool like THE PHOENIX? I mean, I did rise from the ashes, goddamnit. But no, fucking Grillman: the name I would never be able to live down. The cashiers laughed and quickly spread the word that I was no longer Mike or Michael or even Baron Von Sexmuffin (Alas, no one has ever called me Baron Von Sexmuffin. *SIGH*).

Thousands of dollars wasted on tee shirts.

Even with thousands of dollars invested in tee shirts.

I was to be known henceforth as Grillman. By 10:30 that Sunday morning, everyone was referring to me as such. By late afternoon, people who weren’t even scheduled to work that day were coming in and asking me about the night before and my groovy new nickname. I went from mortified, to irritated, to eventually just bending over and taking it. There are worse nicknames, right? Still, man – THE PHOENIX. How badass would that have been? It wasn’t to be. To this day people still call me Grillman. And whenever they call me that in front of someone I’ve never met before I have to tell the fucking story again like some white trash version of the Ancient Mariner. Fuck. There was one perk though: from that day forward, I got invited to ALL the parties. Even the really sweet ones held at the bowling alley. Jealous? Fuck yeah, you are.

A Hero’s Legacy

I swore an oath that day on Neptune’s violently salty ballsack to never make an ass of myself in public again, an oath I was able to keep for nearly five consecutive days. Now I simply accept the fact that making an ass out of myself is a big part of who I am. However, I choose my spots carefully. I’m never going to pull a Will Ferrell in Old School and be the only guy streaking through the quad. [Quick aside: though I appreciate Mr. Ferrell’s dedication to getting bare-ass naked for that scene, I’ve always found a man dressed in a half-shirt, knee high black socks, and nothing else to be an underrated hilarious image. I don’t know why more comedies don’t show that to us. You listening, Hollywood? Get on that shit.]

And there you have it. A fateful mixture of cheap vodka, a wrestling superfan, and hot coals – an ordinary man becomes a superman.  It was my radioactive spider bite, my gamma bomb, my sex with a sentient dolphin (or whatever the fuck Aquaman’s origin story is). I didn’t ask for this power, but now I am forever cursed to prowl the fringes of society. And so I lurk in the shadows. Watching. Until I am needed. Until I am called upon.

To paraphrase one Commissioner James Gordon:

“Because he’s the lush Baltimore deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll mock him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our drunkard. He’s a silent boozer, a watchful barfly. A Drunk Knight.”

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The Drunk Knight

23 Oct

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

-Hunter S. Thompson

Well, after the longest “one week” delay in the history of everything I’m back to finish my story! Excited? You should be and you are. That’s why I love you, gentle reader, that’s why I love you.

Before I dive back into my tale, perhaps a quick recap is in order. For I well know not a single one of you remembers the first part nor will reread it. Bastards. Sorry, that was mean. I only hurt because I love too much. The recap:

•Using my super-rad twin powers of deceit and shamelessness, I hitched my wagon to my oblivious coworker, Ben, in order to attend a college graduation party to which I was not invited.

For This Guy. You Buying That?

For this guy. You buying that?

• I picked up Ben and tried to coerce him into scoring me cheap booze from a shady liquor store.

•He refused, forcing me to do the deed myself.

•I succeeded in getting a bottle of floor varnish masquerading as vodka (along with some orange juice) and we headed to the party.

•I wasted many, many words establishing the story laid out in the above four bullets. It’s okay because words are my soldiers and they died honorable deaths. If that previous statement made any sense whatsoever it would almost be poetic.

Anyway, without any further ado (wait, is it “ado” or “to do”? I‘d Google it, but I know that would open up a three hour rabbit hole that would somehow end with me drooling and glassy eyed reading plot synopses on Wikipedia of every third season episode of Three’s Company, and having no idea how I got there. Did I mention I have the attention span of a coked-up mole rat? Have you ever seen a mole rat? They look mental as fuck. In short, I really need a fact checker/editor.), let’s continue the story.

"I failed 4th grade three times. What of it?

“Yeah, I dropped out of 3rd grade. What of it?

Arrival

By the time we got to the party I was panicked. Not being invited, I envisioned the guest of honor, Liam, dropkicking me in the balls for showing up to his party uninvited. That or maybe he’d just ask me to leave. Either way, I’d be mortified (and possibly have a heaping helping of ball pain to boot). Ben and I walked to the door and rang the bell. I steeled myself for the worst: “What if Liam saw us coming up the walk and grabbed a pot full of boiling water to hurl in my face when he opens the door? Man that would eat all the dicks.” In my mind, that was a plausible scenario. After a brief eternity, the door swung open. Standing there was one of Liam’s relatives. Sweet relief! This guy had no idea I wasn’t invited. Now if I could somehow avoid Liam for the rest of the night…

Naturally as soon as we entered, Liam appeared and walked over to us. He was drunk and seemed really happy to see us. There were no questions like, “What the fuck are you doing here?” or “Why haven’t my trained attack bees stung you to death?” thrown in my general direction. Didn’t matter, my nerves were still rattling around. He shook Ben’s hand, then mine at which point I blurted out, “Hey man good to see you. Congratulations! I got you a gift and left it on the gift table. I hope you like it. Thanks for having me!” We had been in the house for approximately 18 seconds. I had no gift, only a brown bag stuffed with shitty vodka and off-brand orange juice. And there was no gift table. As my brain fired a sarcastic “Seriously?” at itself, Liam grinned and said, “Thanks, man! You didn’t have to do that!” Yep, Liam was hammered. Lucky me! I was in and it was about to be on. Time to get boozy.

Party Like a Rock Star: Courtney Love Style

Feeling like a complete fucking idiot for that whole gift table comment and also feeling quite awkward for essentially being a party crasher, I tried to find a quiet corner to myself. That’s what people do at social events, right? Isolate themselves and pound hard liquor? I said hi to the people from work that I knew, went into the backyard, grabbed a red Solo cup (because of course), and poured myself a drink.

At 17, it’s safe to say I had no idea how to drink. You’d think it would be intuitive: pour liquid into round hole in face. Swallow. Repeat. But I had never mixed a drink before. All I knew was I needed to get that low-rent vodka in my body, STAT.  So I started pouring 50-50 drinks – that’s half vodka, half OJ for those of you who, like me, struggle with math. (We really need a ribbon to raise awareness for Sucks at Math. Maybe something in plaid? That always struck me as a confused color. Plaid it is.) I pounded the first drink. Nothing. Well, other than my throat and stomach experiencing a vaguely ‘on fire’ sensation. Clearly I needed to up the alcohol to juice ratio. I went up to 75% vodka (I think. Sucks at Math, remember?). It was harsher than tabasco sauce on a paper cut, but I got it down. Now I felt something, but I wasn’t sure if that something was just drunkenness or the fact that I realized right at that very moment that I was suddenly the most charming motherfucker at this party.

Ladies...

Ladies…

I went from wallflower to social butterfly in about 15 seconds. Still, I didn’t think I was drunk yet. At this point, I started pouring full glasses of vodka with a hint, a whisper, a soupcon of orange juice. OJ was now a delivery system for shitty vodka and, before I knew it, I had killed the fifth. I can’t tell you how long that took, maybe one hour, maybe two, but rest assured that I was dangerously intoxicated at this point, or what doctors refer to as “So Fucked Up.” I can’t recommend pounding a fifth of vodka at any age, but it was an especially poor choice for a 17-year-old with minimal drinking experience. Surely this would not end well.

You didn’t expect this to be three parts, did you, but here we are. The thrilling conclusion, including the event that changed my life, arrives next week. Seriously. What? Don’t give me that look. I swear, it’s already written.

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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