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stories >> 1997 - 11 - 02

Halloween

      I'm not scared to be a coward
      Unless I'm drunk... and missing for days

      It was the end of the fast. I was officially off the wagon at 12:08 am Friday morning, when I cracked a Paulaner Optimator with the man Antone. Halfway through, I smiled at Carl and said, "Ah... I haven't felt this in 21 days." He said, "A buzz?" I grinned and said, "Nope. The Rage." We swilled a few more beers, talked to two women until the Crown closed, and never learned their names.
      In the midst of all this, we laid out our plans for the next night's Freedom Ride. I had two goals: one, to see the Gourds eventually and two, to see this wicked cool Halloween tree I had run across a few nights before. Carl added three rules: 1) We could only have one drink at any bar we visited, 2) We would do everything we could to stay out of the hospital, and 3) We would at all costs stay out of jail. These all sounded like fine rules to me.
      Friday dawned with the first hang over in 21 days, and I missed an early morning work out with Jeff. The originally envisioned merry band of thousands of miscreants for the Freedom Ride was steadily dwindling down to myself, Carl, and maybe big Jason. Jamie gave up on it (she said she was, quote, "worried", about me), and Jim had prudently chosen to keep the household peace and spend the night up in Pflugerville. I figured it was all good. As the day wore on, I got more and more amped. James kept gaping at me in disbelief. He swore we would go out some time and have a long, sorry, depression ridden blue funk drunk, like a couple of real Irish men, and then I'd know how to really fall off the wagon. Cool beans to me!
      So anyway. I have this bottle, had this bottle, of (no fooling) Transylvanian Cabernet called "Vampire" for the Halloweenish price of $6.66. I bought it immediately when I saw it earlier in the week, and at about 4:00 I cracked it open to share with Jim and AJ. It was truly wretched... sort of like a cross between Welch's grape juice and, uhm, Thompson's Water Seal. But we choked it down, generally agreeing as to how terrible it was, and I started heckling Jim about coming out. "I can't believe you're not coming, Jim." "*I* can't believe I'm not coming, man!" I convince him maybe just one drink at the Chili Parlor, which we have decided will be the start of it all. Jim gets the little gleam, and says "Ok." Hehehe.
      Cantone calls, and we're off to TCP. We fly up 7th street, hollering back and forth at each other, turn up Lavaca, and bomb straight up to the Chili Parlor. Cantone's waiting out front, and I turn around and... no Jim! We're waiting a minute or two, and the I see him pop back out onto the street. He pedals up and tells us he fell off while trying to avoid some pedestrians, and now he's got a nice collection of nasty scrapes to show for it. As we lock the bikes up and go inside, I'm telling Jim, "How can you go home when here it is, not even dark, and we've already drawn first blood?!" We sit down it the highly prized gangster-lean corner table and order a round of Magnums, the TCP signature double rum and coke. They get there, and Carl looks up and says "Last one to the bottom is a loser." 12 seconds later, we've finished our drinks and we're walking out the door.
      Jim parts ways, Carl and I head over to the Crown. I figure I better have something to eat, and Jason's supposed to show up anyway. We spend a long time at the Crown, no Jason, so we decided to look for him. He's not at his place, so Carl decides it's time to get some Dixie beers at Ruby's. Zoom, zoom, over at Ruby's, Carl knows everyone at this joint, we get our Dixies and some water, and we're outside chasing shots from the hot sauce bottle with the Dixies. Carl starts getting mad when I try to convince him to introduce me to his sister next time he's in town, so I distract him by finishing my beer and suggesting that we go by the Crown again... we ammend the "only one drink rule" to be a "only one drink per visit rule." Back at the Crown, there's Jason, in imminent danger of breaking the one drink rule, so I try to get everyone to go to Nasty's, but Jason and Carl want to go to the Posse instead. They "vote" on it, and I ask them "When the hell did this become a democracy?"
      But I relent, under the stipulation that we stay only as long as it takes me to finish my beer. They say okay, so I immediately hop on my bike to get there first. I hear Liz call after me, "You have to wait until everyone's there, ALAN!" Shucks, my first plan is thwarted, so I wait for the to come in. My second plan is to order my beer first, which I do, and I finish it while Carl's ordering his and before Jason can get up to the bar. But he protests that it's unfair when I tell him we have to leave now, so I once again relent and we go back outside to finish their drinks. We lay out our next plans: Nasty's, stop by the sweet Halloween Tree, go to Texadelphia to get something to eat, and then down to 6th street.
      Once Liz and Jason are off, Carl wants to stop to get a "coke" at the Payless next door. I wait outside, and he comes out with two quarts of beer. I shake my head. "Carl, this is a bad idea. We've got to keep pace, man. And how do you ride your bike holding a giant beer?" Carl insists that I'm wrong about the plan and that I'm a dork if I can't ride with a beer. I'm thinking, er yeah, and I see two guys who are laying asphalt in front of the Payless. "Hey, you guys want a beer?" They're delighted, I give them my beer, assuage Carl's anger by telling him that he let me do a good deed by giving these dudes a Halloween beer, and off to Nasty's.
      We finish the beers, go inside and I order the cheapest swilliest beer they have... it was as cheap as the Mickey's and the Busch, but I have no idea what it was. I talk to Liz about skiing, and her travails at law school, and her old buddies that she might be seeing tomorrow. The bartender's dressed like Steve McQueen in "Escape From New York" and he keeps adding dry ice to this cauldron of bubbling water on the bar. Yikes. I harass him about the beer selection, then it's off to the Tree and Texadelphia.
      I'm thinking of the Texadelphia in the Union. I think, "Boy, I bet those dopes went to where it *used* to be, over there on the drag. I smugly wait on the west mall for ten minutes for everyone else. They don't show up, so I figure I'll go by where it used to be... and what do you know, it's still there, and everyone inside thinks that I'm the dope. Ah well. Amy behind the counter recognizes the Beastie Boys song I'm singing, "Funky Boss," and Carl falls instantly in love with her. I tell her that my name is "El Jefe", but I will also respond to "El Funky Jefe." When the food comes up, I ask her for some salsa and she gives me an entire cup full. Back at the table, and I'm excited to see that my Bud-in-a-Bottle has a special "TEXAS" label. To demostrate, I stick it to my forehead. Carl thinks it's pretty funny until I catch him off gaurd and slap a pickle slice on his forehead. The rest of us are laughing hysterically since he looks hilarious with a pickle stuck to his face, but Carl takes it pretty well. Jason takes Liz home and to get his bike, and Carl goes back to the counter to get Amy's phone number. She tells him to beat it ("My fiance doesn't want me to give out my number"), we meet Jason outside, and we're down to 6th street.
      Bunny hopping, curb jumping, stop sign running, traffic passing, we're blasting down the drag. Carl rides his bike up into me so that our handlebars are locked together. We both go down, laughing. Carl's up and away, yelling out "I learned that from the HIT MAN!" I try to catch him and knock him down, but he weaves all around the pedestrians so I can't get him. By the time I do catch him, we're racing for all we're worth. My tounge's out, Carl's legs are flying like some crazed gerbil on an exercise wheel, and Jason's right behind us. No more pushing because we're just flying downtown now. It's all I can do to work up the breath for a grito.
      On to 6th street, and we stop at the district. Saw "Hi" to Jay, say "Hi -- where's my Mercedes?" to Aneal, and JD's behind to bar. We put in an order, I make a call to Jim and Jamie to rub in my drunkeness, and then back out to the bar. JD's made my drink a triple, so I choke it down, pay, and we're back out. Over to Stubb's.
      On the way there, Carl comes within four inches of being slaughtered by a car going to wrong way down a one way street. I catch up with him, and he can't even talk straight. "DUDE!" he keeps saying and "I'M SO PUMPED ON ADRENALINE." At Stubb's, we find out the Gourd's don't play until 11:30. It's 9:30 now, so we head down the 6th street. The Ritz wants $7 to get it, so we lock the bikes and look for somewhere with no cover. We end up stuck behind a guy in a Borg costume and someone who's brought their eight year old daughter to 6th street. I notice the little girl because she's looking at me while I'm hollering obscenities at Jason... I feel pretty lousy. But then I get kind of mad at her mom for bringing her down here. *Not* the place for little kids. I turn it off and mutter to Jason, "We need more booze."
      BW3 has no cover. Sweet, happy.
      Inside, the cover person guesses our ages exactly. The bar's so crowded that I can barely squeeze in to get our beers. As I'm coming back out with them, I see yet-another-Jamie that I know. She and two of her friends have all dressed up as Elvis, with styling Elvis fake id's and outrageous Elvis wigs. They look so good, and they ask me what the heck am I. "Just drunk and missing for days" I tell the. They're here for the same reason we are: no cover. Carl's trying to put the make on a woman dressed up as Charlie Chaplin. I talk to her buddy who's covered with fake tatoos and an old rolled up shirt. "Are you a convict?" I ask her charmingly. Turns out she's a mechanic. Great, great. I tell some joke that everyone laughs at, and then I've finished my beer and I start thinking it's time to move on.
      I'm talking to Jamie and her buddies, Michael and Marvin, waiting for Jason and Carl to finish their beers. Carl's still trying to talk to this Chaplin chick, but she just gives him a cigar and tells him to go away. I turn back to Jason, and then turn back to Carl and he's got another full beer. "CARL!" I scream, "DON'T BREAK RULE NUMBER ONE!" I grab the beer from his hand , tell him "I'm only trying to save you from yourself!" and slug down the beer. Everyone around us applauds, and then Carl tells me I have to go buy the next round. Good Lord.
      Back at the bar, I meet someone named Erica. Her husband's with her, dressed as a clown, and I use the stunningly clever line, "So, who's this clown?" to introduce myself to him. We talk for a 1/2 hour at the bar, I'm drinking something, Erica gets Carl to go bum her a cigarette, and suddenly we all three have to itch to leave. Good bye, BW-3.
      Stumbling our way back to Stubb's, and we cough up the six or eight bucks to get it. We're planted for the night, and the Lone Stars are cold. We grab our beers,the opening band is still playing, we head outside.
      Four women sit down at the table next to us, and Carl immediately starts talking to them. Jason decides he better get home before too much more happens, so I go over to Carl. One these people so obviously wants nothing to do with us that she won't even look at us. There's two people named Amy, so they introduce themselves as "Amy L." and "Amy B." Carl's talking to one Amy, and I'm talking to the other. I try to say every letter in the alphabet other than her given "B."... after I get through "Amy X" and "Amy G", I switch to Hebrew and "Amy Aleph." Surprisingly, she doesn't find this the least bit funny. When I start talking in French they pretty much decide it's time to blow right out of there. As they high tail it, I'm laughing at Carl and lo -- Traci walks up! We had made tenative plans to meet at Stubb's, and here she is with two of here Dallas buddies.
      Right about now the Gourds come on. As I come inside, some woman my mom's age grabs me and says, "Hello handsome, are you in the service?" Good Lord. Karmic retribution for scaring off the women Carl was trying to talk to. I dance with her for a minute or two, but I'm carrying two beer bottles so I tell her I have to go give more beer to Carl. Meanwhile, Carl's in the corner practicing bike tricks without his bike. Before the night's over, Carl's danced with everybody: Traci, me, Traci's buddies, these two girls who keep telling him, "Look, dude, we're lesbians", the old lady who grabbed me on the way in, and someone who's wearing angel's wings. I'm disappointed they don't play Gin and Juice, but they get through Maria, Caledonia, Clear Night, and Trampled by the Sun (which is the "drunk and missing for days" song) and they played a show for an hour and a half that couldn't be beat.
      As soon as the show's over, Carl's gone. I'm beat, I'm drunk, and Traci's buddies offer me a ride home. I jump on it, thinking of how little I want to look for Carl and how much I want to go to sleep and figuring Carl can take care of himself. I get home, fall asleep, and don't talk to Carl until the next day... turns out the he hung out with the band and the lesbians for another hour, then he walked around 6th street, climbed up a moon tower (basically a 13 story light pole for the unfamiliar) and passed out on top of it. "Climbing up was easy, Alan" he told me the next day. "But after I had been up there awhile, I started thinking it looked like a long way down and maybe I should just take a nap." Good Lord.
      So I woke up with a hangover, went up to the lake for some jet skiing to chase it off, and didn't drink another drop for the rest of the weekend.

      Next update: Paris.

 

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