Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I woke up dizzy, nauseous, and in pain the morning of Richard's annual party. That's the morning of, not the morning after.
Confused? Let me back up a bit.
The night before, a friend had come back into town for the party, and we'd gone out for dinner and drinks. I ordered chicken fried steak for dinner, but emotional trauma from a previous chicken fried steak experience kept me from eating much of the delectable deep fried beef before me (it's a long story). But the short and chubby of it is I didn't get much food in me, but I didn't adjust my alcohol intake accordingly. Sure, it was spaced out enough that I was reasonably sober by the time I was going to sleep, but you need the calories and moisture of a good meal to help your body process the fusel oils that exist in every form of alcohol that's intended for human consumption. After those who were pregaming for the next day left the bar, a friend of my girlfriend's showed up and we stayed a couple more rounds.
Also, I'd had a pretty bad allergy attack during the night. So by Saturday morning, my head was throbbing, I felt like I needed to vomit, and I was stumbling around like a new camera man for Deadliest Catch.
Water, Sudafed, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Immodium, and a whole pot of black coffee had me feeling only moderately human by the time I headed out for Richard's place.
Richard and the out-of-town friend were already setting up (they had eaten dinner). I was still feeling like shit, but I had grabbed a pounder of Red Bull on the way. That's right, a pounder! I drank it down like it was nothing and still wasn't very energetic. But guests were starting to file in, so it was time for Paddy and myself to take our traditional places for our once-a-year amateur bar tending.
I had spent no small amount of time assembling a cheat-sheet for mixing drinks. In fact, I had asked you for ideas, but I only got one reply. So I started by adding all the items from a menu Richard had made up for the first of his annual parties, then I searched for tropical-themed drinks, as this was to be a tropical-themed party. The next thing I know, the sheet had over one hundred drinks on it. One hundred seventeen, to be exact. So I called it "The 117" (pronounced One One Seven).
In no time, the booze was flowing freely. Everyone had to do a shot when they arrived, and they got a stamp on their hand/arm for that and every shot they did that night. I, however, wasn't drinking too much. I was still feeling pretty terrible.
Someone else who wasn't drinking much was Richard. Playing host is difficult, even with two suave bartenders like Paddy and myself keeping everyone intoxicated, there's still a ton of stuff to do. He was prepping food, manning the grill, meeting and greeting, and trying to keep everyone entertained.
Though I attempted to help him with this last item as well. I had come up with games that, as a bartender, I could use to keep the energy of the party going. The aforementioned stamps were one of those ideas.
We also played Russian roulette with shotglasses. Six shotglasses were arranged like chambers in a revolver. Five were filled with water, one with vodka. Two people would take turns drinking them. It was a lot of fun and helped keep people hydrated.
Occasionally I would ring a bell and ask for something from a party-goer; a receipt from the liquor store, the person who drove the oldest car to the party, the person with the most piercings, stuff like that. The winner got anything ranging from a glowing necklace to a tiki shotglass.
One game that took all evening to play was a betting pool of sorts. Everyone guessed when they thought the first person would throw up. Not who, just when. The closest person without going over won a prize. The guesses really spanned the whole party from early afternoon to near midnight. The earliest time almost won, but dry heaves don't count.
But even with all this, there was more than enough to keep Richard busy as hell for the earlier parts of the party. But at some point, the party gained enough momentum that he could take some time out. He joined Paddy and I to make a couple drinks for folks, we took a walk around the block with travelers and cigars, and then... well, he kind of disappeared from my sight for awhile. My girlfriend was handing my camera back to me when a look of shock came over her face. I turned around just in time to witness an impressive spectacle. Now, I'm no stranger to face-smashing, and I have to say that Richard's maneuver was quite impressive. As I turned around, I saw Richard bent at the waist about to ram a standing oscillating fan at the end of the bar with his head/face. He smashed into it, creating an impressive crashing sound, then collapsed behind the bar on his back. Then the fan fell on top of him.
I don't know exactly when or how, but Richard had gotten completely and utterly demolished. He was led outside where he could roll around in the grass without injuring himself too much, but soon he was taken upstairs to the bathroom, and Paddy's sister-in-law won the pool.
After purging himself of whatever the hell it was he put in his stomach, Richard tried to re-join the party. It didn't go well. He just kind of rolled around in the grass some more saying very nice or very insulting things to people. He looked up at his wife and said "I'm sorry I do this every year..." Then he looked up at one of his brothers and said "You're the best brother!" Then he turned to Paddy and spit on his foot. The pecking order had been clearly established. Paddy stared down at his foot with an expression that conveyed dismay, discomfort, and a complete lack of surprise. I told Paddy he would be completely justified wiping his foot on Richard. He did so.
Once Richard's very tolerant wife put him to bed, the party took on a bit more of a sexy and subdued atmosphere. I rang the bell and said the first person to give me their bra would get a prize. Paddy's future brother-in-law quickly appeared at the bar holding his fiance's bra high, so I gave her the prize of a flowered bra I had purchased at the party store.
Then things got mellow, but not in a bad way. The party still had momentum, it had just shifted gears. The music changed from upbeat reggae to slower classic rock. The sun was down. Tacky tropical decorations fluoresced under black light while couples danced to slower, easier music. At the end of the bar, casual acquaintances were getting frisky. Outside, the smokers waxed philosophical. I was finally feeling human again and having some serious cocktails. As the crowd grew thinner, groups of old friends got together and talked over old times. The party didn't die, or even really stop. There was no sensation of brakes being applied; it just kind of eased away like music from a ship drifting into the distant night. It was how every party should end. It's how everything should end. It left everyone feeling joyful, relaxed, and completely satisfied.
Well, almost everyone...