(Editor’s Note: Man, I am apparently quite a chatty f*ck…this should’ve been a quickie, and yet I have once again turned it into something Tolkienesque…it has taken me some time to get in the right frame of mind to finish the saga, but I think I finally stumbled upon the right combination: >1 bottle of Apothic Red in my system, Hall & Oates all up in my Grooveshark queueueueueuue and the 49ers having selected someone I’ve never heard of in the first round, despite the (literally) hundreds of hours I’ve spent reading about the NFL draft.)
Alcohol affects everyone differently: some people get mad, some sad, some strangely racist. My problem with alcohol has long been that it lifts the non-rose-colored veil from my eyes and allows me to realize what an incredible person I am. Sure, I might become an angry drunk one out of eight hundred times, but mostly I like to get drunk and just soak in my own ambience. This was true back in 1993 as well. I was inebriated during the majority of this portion of the story, but I stand by its accuracy. (Unless someone gives me a really hard time, then I’ll fold like a Brooks Brothers non-iron handkerchief.)
I still remember her name: Jill Banezkkdiaodhfadiuhadhgekeiwzcy. I believe she went to Oswego State or some other SUNY institute of higher learning. She was part of a contingent of lovely (or semi-lovely) ladies that ended up at the same half-empty bar as me and Pos on a fateful Monday night. (Foreshadowing) And (as I remember it), she was smoking hot – blond, tan and surprisingly nice for someone with the aforementioned qualities…quite an attractive combination. We talked for a bit – maybe she was a little on the boring side, but let Chilly do some of his patented magic and who knows- then, wham, the whole group of them bailed. They were going to Miami or Key West the next day and wanted to get an early start. I blamed Pos, who clearly couldn’t entertain the other seven girls enough for me to get some quality time with Jill. Just for the record: she was the hottest one, and if Pos ever claims otherwise, it’s just sour grapes for this story finally hitting the historical record. The Fort wasn’t actually hopping that much, so we called it a night shortly after the ladies from Oswego left.
The next day we just decided to sleep in, chill with some Mcdonald’s (I have no recollection whatsoever of where we stayed in Ft. Lauderdale – nothing as visually striking as the Copa) and kind of ease into the day. Rested and feeling like native warriors, we returned to the previous night’s sports bar, where we each came oh-so-close to have having at least a fivesome. At this point I was enjoying life – we were out of the stifling Academy atmosphere, I was sporting some attire that in hindsight probably looked like I was joking, and we were sipping a couple of dollar beers, flush with at least $100 cash money between us left.
And then, like an apparition, she appeared. Jill Banekskaldfjaduhfaduhaduhadksky – and friends – marched right up to us (we were sitting outside like cool-assed motherf*ckers.) Playing it super-cool, I was like “I thought ya’ll was leaving?” and she was all “we decided to stay – there was something we liked about this place.” And internally, I processed that as “they f*cking love really clean streets as much as I do, these girls are all right.”
As I further pondered the mysteries of street cleanliness, sh*t got really, really real. She leaned in and said “I’ll buy you any shot and any beer you want.” Wait just a f*cking second! Hot chick, loves clean streets and she’s buying drinks? If there were Little White Chapels all over the place in Fort Lauderdale, I would have tried to convince her to head to one, posthaste. I could not believe my good fortune – the best-looking girl in the place (granted, the pickings were fairly slim on a Tuesday night but whatever) was going to pay me to drink with her. Finally, the good karma from having a hot almost-girlfriend up in Maryland had wafted down to South Florida. I really wish that Youtube existed back in those days, because my intimations to Pos about what was happening could potentially have forever-altered the scales for arrogance, smugness and talking-sh*t-to-your-buddy-who-wasn’t-with-the-hottest-chick-in-the-group.
Having made sure to give Pos a major amount of sh*t for my good fortune and his (relative) lack of same, I sauntered to the bar, my non-ironic plaid shorts shimmering in the faint light of dusk and Jill B. in-hand. A romantic at heart, we exchanged the following playful banter on the way to order the drinks THAT, BY THE WAY, SHE WAS PAYING FOR (which was a good thing since bars rarely accepted Texaco cards back in 1993).
Me (smugly): “How does tequila sound? With an Icehouse chaser?”
She (innocently): “Oh, I can’t do tequila. That is the worst thing ever. Anything but tequila.”
Me (idioticly): “No, that’s not true – there are a bunch of things stronger than tequila. Just because you had one bad experience -“
She (coyly): “Tequila’s just not a good call for me right now. I’m down with anything else.”
Me (in-hindsight-I-can’t-believe-itly): “Have you ever had a 252? Some places call it a Gorilla Fart?*”
She (I-can’t-wait-to-do-bad-things-on-spring-breakly): “Sounds delicious.”
Me (scientifically): “Okay, but just so you know, it’s made of Wild Turkey 101 and Bacardi 151, it’s really strong.”
She (I-should’ve-picked-up-on-how-bad-of-an-idea-this-wasly): “As long as it’s not tequila.”
So, we did a 252 shot. And started to enjoy our very-chilled Icehouses. I probably should’ve heard some ominous internal music playing when one of her friends came up to me and said “Wow, Jill must really like you, she doesn’t usually drink.” (Note: for some people this would have been foreshadowing, for Chilly it was f*ckimawesomeshadowing.) We proceeded to head over to Pos and her other friends – they seemed to be getting along similar to a few old buffalos and a lioness begrudgingly sharing a field – where I went into full-on f*ckhead mode, because I had f*cking won. The hot chick convinced her friends to stay in lame Fort Lauderdale – maybe I do look like Kurt Russel? – and I’m f*cking ruling this sh*tty bar.
Things only got better: “you want to go for a walk on the beach?” Looking back (the theme of this post), this was the precise moment in my life where I started the movement from a youthful lack-of-self-awareness-I-have-all-the-answers-f*ck-you perspective to a more adult worldview. I did, indeed, want to go for a walk on the beach. And she even did the move from movies where she takes her shoes off – perhaps to enjoy the beach (although, sand sucks) or maybe to subtly suggest that there was more disrobing where that innocent first step came from. There was a brilliant full moon – hell, I think Venus was maybe in view back then, too – it was a perfect night for a closer such as myself.
Except she needed to sit down for a second. On a rock. And then commenced projectile vomiting. I held her hair. The vomiting continued. I felt like I was at a blackjack table where Sue Ng had just stepped in as dealer – no way to stem the tide. I started to feel weird just sitting on a rock while she was barfing and I was making sure her hair was barf-free. This was quickly descending into debacle territory. I decided to carry her back to her room – first opting for that “Ryan carrying Marissa out of the car wreck on The OC” style while dealing with innumerable insults and slurs hurled from folks that suspected I was on the forefront of the Rohypnol craze. I eventually just had to sling her over my shoulder for the last couple of blocks.
We ultimately made it to her room, where I monitored her vital signs for a few hours to make sure I didn’t have a death on my hands before even starting military service. She survived. Meanwhile, Pos was in the other room getting some hand love from one of her friends. One of the earliest examples of FML.
Silver lining: spring of 1993 was the Storm of the Century, a major blizzard. We realized it was coming and cut our trip short (also, we were out of money, at one point frustratingly trying to get $19 out of an ATM that only dispensed $20s. (Really, back in the day ATMs dispensed $5s – hell, in Arkansas today there are some ATMs that dispense $1s – and you had the curse of looking for the Plus Network – not every ATM would do.)) We made it back to Maryland barely ahead of the storm. The storm effectively extended spring break another week – during which I got to hang out with my not-girlfriend and accomplish some of the goals that spring break would not allow me. All was not lost.
* One crazy thing about 252s/Gorilla Farts: they were popular at the Academy at that time because there was a former State Trooper who was almost killed by a drunk driver – he became a motivational speaker because he survived – who would buy anyone who talked to him (and he was at the bars constantly) a 252/GF. Even though alcohol almost killed him – there was some meaning behind it, if you asked him to discuss it, but I was generally really f*cked up by that point and never fully understood why he did that. True story.