This latest piece of correspondence is not being written on the shores of the Booze River, but to an allied outpost in the Arctic wasteland of Jersey City, NJ, although at this point, the residence of my own computer is more Arctic than my current foothold. Our latest journey into the vaulted halls of boozedom began Friday afternoon as soon as I got off of work. We took to the road heading to the bleak outpost of unreasonable insanity I’m hold up in now. The usual crew of Francois, Roberto and myself assembled for the grand sport of bowling and drinking. They introduced me to their league associates, Rabbit and Rosemary, a burned out rocker and a person who defies definition, respectively.
So they bowled, I drank. They bowled against no one, due to a drop out team and the necessity to keep an even track of games going. They bowled against no one and lost an entire damned game as I watched their team disintegrate after two huge victories. It’s disheartening when you see a team, asked only to do 10% better then their normal output, yet that becomes too great a task. It’s 10% for Christ’s sake. Anyhow, Budweiser was on the palate for the spectacle, but I got me a Sam Adams afterwards. Five beers and a cigar, which I smoked during the first game, not exactly the thrilling read you expect from this fine establishment of poor cartoons, lies, half truths and delirium born hallucinations. It’ll get better I promise.
Saturday night was the big night of 1,000 drinks and 1,000 faces. This night brought a new member to our intoxicated band of hooligans, one who goes by the single letter of ‘J’. The day had been long and laborious, we had to install a new hot water heater on the fourth floor of an apartment building, which had no elevator, but first we had to acquire a new one. I’m not sure which was more laborious the attempt to find good help at a Home Depot, or lugging a new 30-gallon water heater up four flights of stairs and the old shot one all the way down. Finally it was 8:30 in the pm, J had arrived, and we were heading to Manhattan, back to Down the Hatch, the bar from our first entry. After a horrific hour and a half looking just for parking, we found a spot and headed in.
10 pm: we begin what looks like might be a slow evening by setting up at a table inhabited by the drink and hat of a drug dealer. Nice fellow, and gave us almost complete run of the table. We ordered a pitcher of Sam Adams and decided to hit the tobacco. Cigars are not permitted to be smoked in the bar, or at least that’s what the rather larger shouldered gentleman in the bouncer shirt told me. Well, oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Then a nameless metal band showed up with their girls and other assorted roadies. There was Dave, who drank Jack and Cokes all night and plays bass and Gene, the heavy metal black guy roadie who drank Guinness like soda and kept the DJ playing nothing but heavy metal for a good hour or so until he left. And we screamed all sorts of misbegotten lyrics to mean spirited songs much to the disheartenment of the teenyboppers and rap cronies also inhabiting the bar.
The beer flowed, the shot occasionally appeared, and disappeared equally as fast, and everyone at least managed a good buzz. Even Francois, who usually limits himself in the areas of drinking and having any sort of fun, was overly happy that night. Roberto’s friend of the female gender made a reappearance and he spent his time floating about the bar talking to her. Her arrival also brought forth a new name for Francois, Ray Romanowitz, courtesy of Dave, since he looks sort of like Ray Romano and according to Roberto’s leading lady, he also looks Jewish. Sometime midst all the beer and festivities and loosing track of what song is playing do to the inordinate amount of happy obtained by the raging river of booze now flowing down our gullets, I decided it might be good to open a valve in the bathroom. J thought so as well and we headed in, there we the Irish.
They very pretty jolly lads, and at that point in the game, who wasn’t? They asked us what part of Ireland we were from, so I responded, “the drunk part.” They laughed and quickly retorted that I was no Irishman, but an Italian. Well, at least they got partially right, instead of calling me a Puerto Rican or Mexican like everyone else does. And no, I’m not Arab either. But that is for another time. As I was leaving, I asked them how they could drink some of our beers (Sam Adams was about as hard a beer as you could expect from most bars, Down the Hatch had Guinness as its 800 lb gorilla of a beer). They responded drunkenly about the IRA and car bombs. When I got back to the table there was some sort of drunken team huddle going on at our table. I can’t be certain as to what was being discussed, as my memories of that night are fleeting flashes of events and faces, overwhelmed by a torrent of whiskey shots in a raging ocean of beer. I do remember rob eventually working his way up the far left end of the bar, and Francois coming over with Southern Comfort shots for himself and J. Then came whiskey shots for all three of us on my last twenty dollars.
It was close to 4 am and the bar was thinning out, I went over to see what was going on with Roberto, and found he and his liaison were talking to a very friendly Norwegian who worked in television. He was completely trashed, and was just about sober at this point which makes for interesting conversation. He apparently learned English in Norway by reading the subtitles on the boob tube, now he does a lot of work in that field. But eventually, Roberto joined us all in being tired and ready to pass out misshapenly somewhere, anywhere really and it became time to leave. J was dropped off first, then Francois, and then Roberto and crashed at his place. Our journey would have ended at Francois house, but he had a family shindig to attend in the morning so we were effectively thrown out.
Sunday was supposed to be a night at Hoboken, shooting pool, drinking and smoking, but that wouldn’t be the case this time. Roberto and I returned to finish the job we began on the water heater yesterday, and pick up some groceries for the landlord of the building, his grandmother. It was close to 5 pm by the time we arrived back at Francois’s abode. It was horribly over cast already, and in another few hours, we would have our plans eradicated by looming white monster of catastrophic proportions. The next morning, disaster. Legions and legions of little white demons piled on everything, and more coming down as we looked on in horror. This meant only one thing, all hands on deck! Waterproof you sneakers, grab your boots take the gloves get my hat! Gentle men, select your weapons of choice, shovels come in the light plastic version and 5 lb metallic type. Plastic might suit everyone else fine, but for sheer horsepower and snow expedition, you can’t beat metal.
We dug out the drive way and cut a small path from the doorstep to the garage, all the while wave after wave of fluffy white frozen warriors engulfed both Roberto’s and Francois’s cars. It didn’t help any either that the neighbors dumped their unwanted tons of white death onto both vehicles either. But Monday wasn’t over yet, and there was still insanity to be done, perhaps more so now that the Arctic mercilessly invaded and conquered NY, NJ, and much of the rest of the country. We were lucky that Francois’s home is flanked by steep hills, which some damned fool paved to allow cars over run. Nevertheless, we grabbed both boogie boards and headed to a particularly steep slope, I gave Rob a nice push, but he never got enough speed, and whipped out. I tried next. We were doing good, picking up speed, and then I hit a spot in the road that the plow missed, and stalled out. Another big push was in order, but where the bloody hell is the steering wheel on this thing? Too late, now we just crash and burn. We returned home, wet but not broken.
The next few hours were slow, shovel out the drive way go inside play Grand Theft Auto 3 on PS2, go out and shovel. Finally, it was time to see if all of our concerted efforts had done any good in preparing a space for Francois’s father to pull out of in the morning. More shoveling, but afterwards we began a ritualistic medieval duel with snowballs. Snowballs of all different sizes and shapes were chucked through the air as each man took turns being both target and snowball launcher. We retired to the living room to talk on-line with Francois’s lady friend from PA and drink some of that bourbon I brought down with me.
Tuesday came and we made the mecca to a photographic development establishment to have some film developed. On our way back, we stopped in an archery store, after all, I figured if idle hands are the devil’s play ground, might as well fill them with the stuff revolutions are made with. At the very least I hoped they’d have a small in door range and maybe practice bow for everyone’s use. Sadly, they had the range, but it was a B.Y.O. affair, and the rest of the store was quiet and civilized. We headed back, partially dug our Roberto’s car then relaxed to dinner, and a night of more Grand Theft Auto 3.
Wednesday I went home early, to settle from this week’s journey and to finish writing this latest piece of which I’m sure will win me the Pulitzer some day.
Around the Otter
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