Everything is wrong with me
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
six things I learned about myself, my family, and life over Thanksgiving break
1) Spontaneity is great.
Last Tuesday, I got a call from my buddy David while I was at work: "Dude, tomorrow night, I have a great idea. We're getting a bus."

For those of you not in the know, the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is widely considered the biggest drinking night of the year. This makes sense; everyone has off the next day and their only obligation (unless they're cooking) is to lie around and overeat, something that is entirely not a problem for me.

I didn't think that I had any big plans for Wednesday night. I assumed me and my buddies from home would hit up the neighborhood bars, I'd get drunk and try to seem important, then I'd go home, take my dad's truck, and go looking at the hookers (both the higher-end ones around 12th & Race and the nasty junkies at 7th & Ritner). Then I'd go to the diner, get a bowl on French Onion Soup and a sandwich, drive back to my dad's and do an awful job parking the car, so that when he wakes up the next day he asks, "Did you take the truck last night?", and I say, "No", and he says, "Well, it's not parked where I left it. It's parked in front of a fire plug with half of it hanging off the curb and a $40 ticket on the windshield." Then I'll mumble something about "joyriding teens" and duck into the bathroom.

But my buddy David had a better idea. For legal and personal security reasons, I can't get into too much detail, but suffice it to say that David is a "successful gambler." This means that he has more disposable income than me and most of my friends. So when he called me on Tuesday afternoon to tell me that he was getting a bus for the following night, I was only marginally surprised, though still very pumped.

But I don't want to give the impression that this was a glamorous party bus, with leather seats and a disco ball and a high-quality sound system. The bus was more like a glorified school bus, complete with tattered leather seats and a smell vaguely reminiscent of high school boys' urine. Translation: the perfect environment to get drunk in. Also, I was turned on. But let’s not go there.

Not only that, but we set the bus up so that our buddy Doc could DJ while we drove around. This required quite a bit of technical know-how, but fortunately we were allpretty high so this wasn't a problem. We had our two turntables and a microphone set up in the back of the bus, and before long the cooler was stacked and we were rolling around the streets of Philly.

(Even better is that there were only six of us on this bus. Six guys in a giant bus getting bombed. Awesome. And I mean that in the most heterosexual way possible.)

And it was everything we hoped it would be and more. We hit the road at 8pm. By 10pm, two girls who we had randomly picked up were making out in the bus while I took pictures and we all cheered and high-fived. Awesome.

Seriously, awesome.

But sadly, most of the night is a blur (actually, that's a good sign). We hopped from bar to bar, all the while pounding beers, rocking out, and picking up strangers along the way. I don't remember much after midnight, although I do remember keeping up a now-familiar tradition: puking all over my dad's bathroom every time I return home to Philly. Sweet.

So if it wasn't for David's last-minute idea, my Wednesday night wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. And yes, I know it doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but that's only because I can't really remember anything. Besides, any night you can watch two strange girls make out for a solid twenty minutes while you take pictures, well, I don't know what more you can ask for.

2) I am never having a daughter. Seriously.
This is sort of moot, since I know that God is going to punish me for a lifetime of scumbaggery with four gorgeous daughters. My only hope is that I'm dead before they start menstruating, but let's not get into that.

[I can't believe I just wrote something about my daughters menstruating. I think I might throw up.]

One of the girls from Wednesday night was a perfect example as to why I do NOT want to have a daughter. It wasn't the making out with another girl that bothered me; that was ok. Nor were her ill-fated attempts at doing strip teases for us on the bus troublesome, which were interrupted by bumps and sudden stops and starts from our party mobile. Hey, at least she tried.

To me, this was the epitome of class: we met her and her friend at the first bar we were at, which was a nice, wood-paneled bar that is also a restaurant. Our group was standing off to the side, but some of us were on bar stools, bellied up at the bar. I was not among those on the stools, standing instead a few feet away watching my friends play darts and wondering why anyone would want to play such a dumb game. But this girl was one of our group that was sitting on the bar stools. I watched her, checking her out (she had one of those lower back tattoos that have become the female equivalent of barbed-wire around bicep), but then I watched her get off the bar stool and crouch under the stool to go into her bag. She then pulled out a bag of pills, reached up to the bar for her beer (still crouching), popped a pill or two and washed it down with her Miller Lite. This was at 8:15pm in a nice bar on a Wednesday night. Class.

Now I'm not one to judge others for drug use. I love pills as much as the next guy. But to take some pills by crouching under a bar? I mean, what the hell is that? I felt like going over and saying, "That's what bathrooms are for, sister." But instead I just gave her a $1 when fifteen minutes later she was on the bus grinding her heinie on my crotch, asking "Is that your dick or your thumb?" The first step is to help them help themselves. After that, it's all up to God.

3) My family is made up of degenerate gamblers and entrepreneurs.
Somewhere along the line - I'm not sure when - it became common practice on holidays for my extended family to play poker. This is a fairly recent development, beginning maybe sometime in the past three or four years. And it started innocently enough: after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, my family would gather along a long table and have a simple little game. I'd sit back and watch for a few hands and then buy in. Then over the next few hours I would absolutely destroy them in poker, permanently changing their lives for the worse. It would be kinda sad, as I bullied them, took their money, and laughed, laughed, laughed. That's what family is for, after all.

But each year, the games kept getting bigger and my aunts, uncles, and cousins kept getting better. I still won my fair share, but it wasn't like it was before, where all I had to do was show up, pretend like I really, really knew what I was doing, and take their money. The games would last longer - well into the morning - and it would be seriously tense at times.

This past Thanksgiving, the games reached a new level. Not only did I wind up losing $10 (only a $20 buy in), but a full-service economy developed around the game. My cousin Brigid took it upon herself to act as waitress for the players. She wrote up a detailed menu, wherein sandwiches cost $2, sides (mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc) were $1, and beers and other drinks were 50¢. She even wrote up specials: a turkey sandwich with one side and a beer was $3, whereas a turkey platter (that's turkey plus three sides) and a beer was $4.50.

And it worked. She got so busy getting food and beers for my family and me that she hired my younger cousin Conor to help her, at a share of 25% of the profits. I think she walked away with something like $40, all for getting her drunk and hungry family food.

And I am damn proud of her. It was a tremendous idea and it showed a legitimate capitalistic spark. And even though I lost, I'm proud of my other family members for committing themselves to a vice and really getting serious about poker. They say poker can be a gateway vice, so maybe next year at Thanksgiving my cousin Kyle and I will be holding up the Amoco on Cottman Ave. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

4) My mom hates my wardrobe.

I'm not a big clothes guy, and I'm fine with that. I don't trust and most likely cannot befriend any guy who's really into clothes, but that's because of my own insecurities and low self-esteem. It's because of my poor fashion sense and relative low maintenance that I'm personally not into clothes. Nice clothes cost a lot of money and require a lot of effort, two things I'm not very interested in. I keeps it real, son.

Simply put, my mom hates my clothes. I don't necessarily blame her for this, since I do dress like a homeless person. My standard winter outfit is based around a fleece I've had for two years but have never washed and a winter coats that's on year five and has been left at and trampled on at bars all over NYC, Philly, and Boston. Add the fact that I have a moustache and haven't had a haircut in well over a month, and, well, I think she's getting concerned that she's never going to see any grandchildren.

To this end, I know that my mom is going to get me some clothes for Christmas, and I'm pretty sure they're going to come from Old Navy. And then I'll have to pretend that I like this sweater and whatever the hell this is while the rest of my family snickers.

So Mom, if you're reading this, just stick to the cash. I'm having a really rough gambling season and would really prefer the $40 to any sweater. Thank you.

5) Heaven is just one long pub crawl.

On Friday, I joined some highly-esteemed drinkers for the 2nd Annual Blackout Friday pub crawl through Center City Philadelphia. Much like Wednesday's night drinking tour, it was a major success. Also much like Wednesday's tour, I don't remember much, thanks two joints provided by some friends who have chosen to remain nameless on this space for professional reasons (cowards).

This one started at 2pm on Friday afternoon, but fortunately, because of Wednesday night's hangover, I didn't drink on Thanksgiving. So when I woke up Friday morning, I was ready to go.

And really, though I don’t mean to cop out here, but I don’t remember much. When you’re start drinking in the early afternoon and hit up eight bars, everything has a tendency to blend together. I had a blast, but I couldn’t tell you much about what actually happened. And again, this is not a bad thing.

But I got sobered up when we left the drinking tour to head to a strip club where I learned…

6) It's one thing to go to a strip club after you've been drinking for ten hours. It's another thing to go to a strip club after you've been drinking for ten hours and you have a moustache.
I’ve been rocking the moustache for almost a month now and though I realize I look like a moron, I don’t really mind it. Even more, I’ve found that the more it’s grown in and the nastier people think it is, the more proud I grow of it. After all, it’s only upper lip hair. Not a big deal.

But this Friday night at the strip club was the first time I was acutely aware of how strange I look with a moustache – AND I had been drinking for about ten hours before we even entered the building. I prefer to go to strip clubs in Philly, because a) it’s at least 1/3 less expensive than in NYC; and b) girls are not as classy and therefore more prone to parking lot rendezvous for a small price (i.e. fifteen .50 milligram tabs of Xanax, some fancy fake jewelry, the promise of not punching her in the face, etc). So whenever I’m home in Philly and out drunk and I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I can accomplish at the bar, I raise the strip club battle cry. Fortunately (or unfortunately), it is not often resisted.

So my two friends and I sauntered on down to a lovely lil’ club on Delaware Ave in Philly where I reached a new low: trying to convince the stripper that had just given me three consecutive lap dances that I was (seriously) in People as one of the "Hottest 50 Bachelors."

Now remember, I’m not hot to begin with. I’m not fishing for compliments here, but let’s just say that there’s no way I should have even been in the issue to begin with. Also, at this point in the night, I was very drunk. Also, I have a fucking moustache. And here I am:

Me: [as stripper puts clothes back on] "You know, I was in People magazine as one of the 50 Hottest Bachelors."
Stripper: [completely uninterested] "Really? That’s great."
Me: [handing her $10 tip] "No, I’m sure guys say crazy stuff like that all the time to you, but I really was."
Stripper: [taking $10 tip, looking right past me] "No, I believe you."
Me: "No, I know you’re just saying that, but seriously, I was. I can show you a copy – I have a bunch at home right next to my desk. I got a full page too, one of only eight of the 50 to get one."
Stripper: [getting uncomfortable] "Well, it was nice to meet you, honey."

Unsatisfied, I rejoined my friends and relayed the story to them. Of course, they took great delight in my awkwardness and broke my stones something fierce, so that I had the same conversation with the next stripper who gave me a lap dance, with the same results.

After that second series of lappers, I retreated to my friends to wolf down the Doritos on the strip club bar. I could imagine the two strippers who had just given me lap dances looking at me from across the room:

Stripper #1: "Hey, see that fat guy over there? The one with the moustache putting back all the Cool Ranch Doritos? Would you believe he told me he was in People?"
Stripper #2: "I know! He told me that too! What a pathetic, obese, lonely man!"
Stripper #1: "I’ve heard some doozies in my day, but that’s one for the ages!"
Stripper #2: "Ooh ooh – look at him! He just bit off the tip of his finger and he’s bleeding all over the place! I feel so bad for him. I don’t know if I should go over and give him his money back or buy him a decent meal, because he looks hungry."
Stripper #1: "If you do anything for him, you should get him some cologne for his undercarriage. Christ, I could smell his balls through his jeans! It was kinda like a cross between lunchmeat and wet dog."
Stripper #2: "Really? I thought it was more like old man and garbage fire."
Stripper #1: "Well, to each her own, I guess. Hey, do you wanna do some coke and then dyke it out?"
Stripper #2: "You know it!"


And that was my holiday weekend. I returned to NYC on Saturday to beat the traffic and have been wasting away in my room ever since. My only consolation is the Christmas is only a few weeks away, so I’ll be back in Philly soon enough, being a total fucking disgrace. I can’t wait. And I’m sure my family and friends can’t either.

No wait, they definitely can wait. Oh well. Whatever.

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