Saturday, June 28, 2008

i'm overhung...*

If you get that heading in an email, it probably has something to do with P3n1s en larg3m3nt.

But anyway, I got roped into bartending last night, and because I felt cheated out of a weekend night, I stayed up drinking beer with Eric until about 6 am. A funny thing about getting hammered at someone else's house is that when you wake up (and it's always no more than four hours later), it's always such a surprise. It never fails--every time it always takes me a minute to determine who I am, where I am and how I got there. It's a little like Jason Bourne coming to on the Greek freighter, except that your mouth tastes like a litterbox and you don't wake up mysteriously able to speak French. In fact, it's more likely you have forgotten English; try articulating yourself to a Whataburger drive-thru after a night of heavy drinking--you may not have wanted onions or sweet tea, but oh well, that's what your getting.

And that's another thing--is there anything worse for a hangover than sweet-tea? Ugh. It's bad enough sober, but when you're hammered or post-hammered, it's such a huge disappointment. Imagine being in a Whataburger drive through at 3 am, drunk, desperate and deliriously thirsty, listening to George Noory tell you about some water heater he endorses because regular people only tune into Coast to Coast AM during its crappy commercials. And it's hot, and you're exhausted, and all you want is some grease to sop up the booze in your stomach and a little bit of caffeine to keep you awake and more or less driving between the lines, and so you start to dream about that Whatasized tea--it's so cold and strident and that first sip will be like jumping through the waterfall in those old Irish Spring commercials, and who knows--maybe that tea will totally sober you up, provide you with winning lottery numbers and teleport Adriana Lima into your bed. And so you wait. And because this is Whataburger, you wait some more. A lot more. Fucking eons. You can feel your tongue swelling. This might be what dying of thirst actually feels like. You try to focus on the local plumbing service commercial crackling out of your door speakers, hoping against hope that it will end and George will be back to coax some shocking truths out of an alien abductee who has also been raped by a ghost. But he's not. This time it's a commercial for bee-pollen capsules or some bullshit. You wonder if bee-pollen capsules makes you sober. Or handsome. And then the Tahoe full of dimwitted sorority girls ahead of you pulls forward, and you're one step closer to quenching your thirst, to putting a little bit of food on your stomach and to passing out on your bathroom's amazingly cool linoleum with your pants around your ankles. And by God's immortal and forgiving only begotten son, you are so fucking thirsty! You think about that fucking meathead doublefisting Skyy and sodas and ice-waters. Remember how you inwardly mocked him? Remember disintegrating him with glares of withering disdain on account of his muscles, and chiseled good-looks and the 20-year olds in thigh-length sundresses hanging on his every word? Oh how they laughed! And at what? Some rehashing of a Family Guy episode, probably. Of course, you thought, if they would only talk to you, they'd see what real comedy was. If they could see past the bags under your eyes and the gut under your t-shirt, they'd discover your boundless wit and bathe in your intellect as your jokes and remarks flit between scathing commentary and undeniably hilarious self-deprecation. But no, they were laughing at him, and he was beneath your contempt, what with his responsible drinking and hydrating and all.

By Christ! If only you could get that fucking iced-tea!

And finally, after what seems like an eternity, you see an orange-and-white-striped bag extend through the window, and a tanned, skinny arm reaches out of the Tahoe, and oh thank Jesus in his fabulous mansion, THEY HAVE GOTTEN THEIR FOOD. And then you see it: the Whatasized beverage. It is not so much passed as magically floated from the drive-thru window into the car and you think about how the driver, oh how spoiled and clueless she is! will probably plop it down on her coffee table and eventually forget about it, or worse, drunkenly spill it on her lap! But for that instant, of all the jealousies you harbor for that girl, her cold, life-saving beverage is what you envy most.

And finally she leaves, off to probably bang that fucking meathead, he of the abs and head full of thick hair and the polo shirt and the bright and successful future, but at this point, you don't care any more, for your Whatasized iced tea is nearly in your grasp, sequestered within the bricks and under an orgy of frantic beeping and neon lights. And by Christ, George Noory is back! And he (and you, since he always says "we") are talking with the lady whose past-lives were murdered by chemtrails, and while it's fascinating and all--OH MY GOD!!! HERE IS YOUR FUCKING FOOD!!! NO YOU DON'T NEED KETCHUP!!! AND NO NAPKINS EITHER--DO YOU LOOK LIKE YOU USE NAPKINS--CLEARLY YOU ARE ALREADY WEARING PANTS!!! AND OH YOUR GOD IN HEAVEN:


Never before have you ever delivered a look of that is as simultaneously abject and full of gratitude as the look you deliver to the guy in the window, who, incidentally, is named Cody and whose hand tattoos indicate former gang-membership.

You put the tea between your legs but realize that it is sweating with condensation, which you don't want on your pants but that you do want on your forehead, so you hold the cup up and boy does it feel good--if it feels that good on your head, imagine what its contents will feel like sliding down the balsawood tunnel of your throat!

So you pay, ignoring the fact that you've probably overdrafted, and you drive off. And as you pull into the street (careful to keep the dotted line about a foot to your left and always a foot to your left), you think, well, we need to sober up but fast! so you cram a mouthful of piping hot fries into your mouth and mash them down with a chicken strip so hot that a geiser probably escaped when your teeth tore it open. A piece of skin burns on the roof of your mouth, dangling like the isosceles flags flapping over a used car lot. You have a murmuring afterthought that maybe you should have waited a minute or two before stuffing your face with scalding, still-congealing grease, but never mind that, because there is THE TEA.

As the straw punctures the pre-cut X on the lid, it makes that comical creaking noise, causing you to chuckle. And George Noory's disembodied voice chuckles along with his guest and everyone is having such a great time! Who knew that straw noises and government cover ups could be so goddamned funny! But they are, and it's all because of the palliative powers of your Whatasized iced-tea, so brown and a little acrid but refreshing and curative, lapping briskly over ice chips that look like frosty stones in a merry, babbling brook. And the straw goes between your lips, and it creaks again (this time the sound makes you think of a clown's bicycle horn) and you take that first, miraculous, ecstatic sip, a sip that sends the tea to the back of your throat and maybe into your very soul.

And you choke.

You choke and you spit and you look at that cup and chunk it out your window in disgust, because due to some communication foul up (maybe Cody's, probably yours) you received not the refreshing, rejuvenating Whatasized iced-tea you were anticipating, but a mockery, an aberration, an open sore on the scalp of universal order and goodness.

They gave you a Whatasized SWEET TEA, which is like being served 32 ounces of someone else's slobber. Because that's what sweetened tea tastes like.

Sweet tea is like those "chest-mimic" creatures found in D&D. You think your getting something awesome, but it's actually a nasty, dangerous, party-killing surprise.

This is why you shouldn't drink.


*overslept. i'm ripe, desheveled, perfectly unkempt.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gut war update

Well, I made it to the gym again. Got a 30 minute run in until the fire alarm went off. It's a funny thing when a fire alarm goes off on a sunny afternoon at a gym full of self-interested college students. I noticed that everyone's sense of urgency was... lacking...

Anyway, I measured the beer belly this morning, and it's inching (haha) back down toward the 37" mark. I'm sure that wasn't an immediate response to a couple of jogs, but it's encouraging. Moreover, I managed to make it through the entire day without eating anything bad, i.e. chips, cookies, or bits of broken glass, which are often high in saturated fats.

Interestingly enough, I received a letter from the Lodi High School Water polo team, inviting me to participate (through a donation or, um, physical activity) in an alumni tournament in August. After the grueling 30 minutes I spent swimming laps a few weeks ago, I can't imagine how hard playing five minutes of water polo would be. Needless to say, I'll likely send a check. To underscore this point, I had a dream where I played in an alumni tournament against a squad of dudes who played against me at my rival high school. Upon waking, I sort of laughed because in the dream, I was afraid of guarding the same people, who, fourteen years later, had still maintained the same brute strength and killer instinct.


Friday, June 20, 2008

The Worst Bartender in Town (hint: his name rhymes with Steve)

So this week, I've eased back into the gym, which really means I went once. I would've gone on Wednesday, and I even went to the trouble of changing into gym clothes, but then I got caught up in a couple (ten or twelve) Halo 3 games, and well, you can see how this worked out. I did, however, try to assuage my sloth-based guilt by doing sets of 100 jumping jacks in between games.

Yeah. "A" for effort, right?

Another awesome thing that happened this week is that this local bar aficionado/drunk sack of crap bestowed upon me the title of "Worst Bartender in Town." And while you might think that hurt my feelings, I was grateful and even gave something of an acceptance speech.

Here's the thing:

I like bartending, particularly since it is no longer my primary source of income. In fact, it's almost a hobby. I've been doing it off and on since 2002, and while six years might seem like enough experience to really make me a pro, I'm the exception to that expectation. In other words, I've never really learned to make shots, because I really don't care.

My booze philosophy, especially as I've gotten older, is that when you're in a bar, you socialize, and I've conditioned myself to socialize while holding some sort of liquid-bearing vessel in my hand, be it bottle, glass or alleged cup of Christ. And while shots certainly meet the requirements for holding liquid, they don't do it for very long. When you're 21, this means you end up taking shot after shot after shot, eventually to the point where your friends are hosing puke and Whataburger gravy off you before you stumble into their parent's house at 3 am. And moreover, I just don't like drinking shots. They're sorta, I dunno, gay. I try to point this out to college guys whenever possible.

Me: What can I get you?
Dude-bros: We need two purple hooters.
Me: Why? Are you guys on a date?

And so on. My other issue with shots is that they are tacky and they waste my time. In the time it takes to make a batch of surfers on acid for one polo-shirted dickhead, I could have made regular drinks for the six people waiting in line behind him. Typically the order goes like this:
a dude-bro orders eight shots of something I don't feel like making. And I go make them, and I when I'm setting them in front of the guy, he almost always says, "Oh, hey, can you make two more?" Meanwhile, the line gets deeper and deeper. And then, more often than not, the same guy is back two minutes later for another round; shots are so named for a reason--the turnover rate is astounding. And while the point of working at a bar is to serve as much booze as possible, the frequent fliers fly in the face of one of my cardinal, bartending values: get fools out of my hair as soon and for as long as possible.

To sum, shots are fucking gay and I hate making them.

Anyway, this chick, she is one of those see-and-be-seen types, and she probably goes out every night, and she's also on the later side of her mid 30s, which in my mind is way too old to be ordering spring break treacle like red headed sluts or pineapple fucks. But order them she does, and I make her first round. And her second. And then she ordered her third.

Now, the way I learned to make red snappers is with Crown, Amaretto and Cranberry juice. But at this point, she's been up to the bar three times in five minutes, and I'm simply tired of serving her, so I made my patented yuckface shot. Here's the recipe:

Steve the Put Out Bartender's Patented Yuckface Shot:

1 1/2 oz well whisky
A bunch of cranberry juice
Something else that's red, fruity and alcoholic

Dump ingredients into shaker, think about shaking, pour into plastic cup. Serve with withering contempt.

In this case, the red, fruity booze was actually black. But at least it was raspberry. I made six of these things, served them and waited for the ensuing revulsion. Sure enough, I was rewarded with six simultaneous grimaces and choking noises.

Now my friend Matt, who is an expert bartender, was a lucky recipient of a Yuckface, and he congratulated me on making the nastiest shot he had ever had (which means he hasn't yet had one of my other patented shots, the Total Bummer or a Warm Shot of Pee). And coming from him, that is a complement on par with winning a Perkin Medal. His friend, however, the aforementioned barfly, began to fulminate somewhat loudly about A). how terrible my shots were, B). how terrible my service was and C). how I was the worst bartender in town.

I caught this last part, at which point, I turned and said, "Finally! I thought I'd never get the recognition I deserve."

It's nice to feel like a winner.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Well, I goofed yesterday. Seeing as how it was my 30th birthday and all, I met a few buddies at Malone's Pub downtown. Part of the trip was to discuss a business venture, and I figured I'd have a beer or two. Or four. And a couple whiskey sodas. And a kamikaze. And something that was orange. And since I drank all that, I also figured that if I didn't have a booze-sponge of some sort in my stomach, I'd be really sorry in the morning. So I stopped at Whataburger and got the three-piece chicken strip meal. With an extra chicken strip. And I burned the roof of my mouth.

To my credit, I went for a short jog prior to going out, but the good it did was minor compared to the crap I ingested over the subsequent hours. Oh well. I did better today--the only thing I ate out of package were some pretzels. Hopefully, I'll get a run in after I've digested the salad I ate for dinner.


Monday, June 16, 2008


Just went for a short jog and not a moment too soon; I just measured the gut, and it's almost 39 inches, which is almost where I started from last year. Sheesh. So hard to achieve, so easy to undo. Unless it's a tight belt.

Line? Line???


Irony? Nah, just bratwurst-fueled pathos.

One interesting detail I failed to mention about my renewed interest in healthy eating is that part of my motivation came from an article in Time about how American kids are getting increasingly fatter. While that in an of itself is not all that interesting, I think it's funny that I was reading it while lying on the couch in partial misery after eating four bratwursts at the pool.



So anyway

I turn thirty today. The big three oh. What a milestone. And how have I spent it thus far? Well, it's a funny thing--I'm grappling with a bout of insomnia right now. Earlier, I thought I'd be responsible and get the apartment ready for the week (laundry, clean the kitchen, clean the bathroom--I swear, no meth was involved) and while moving some stuff around my closet, I managed to overload the flimsy wire shelf and it tore itself out of the wall. Needless to say, this was pretty noisy, and seeing as how it was about 12:30 am at the time, I won't be surprised if I get the stinkeye from my downstairs neighbors.

So why am I still up? Well, I'd like to say that I am reflecting on what it means to turn 30, but the simple truth is that I drank a Red Bull on the way home for the grocery store at about 10 pm, and wouldn't you know it, it's kept me wide awake. Thus far, I've done the following:

  • Cleaned my apartment
  • Walked the dog
  • Beaten Contra on Xbox Live Arcade (and I used a sum total of 72 lives-- why did Konami make their games so fucking hard?!)
  • Taken a shower
  • Eaten a sandwich
  • Had faint hallucinations about a bug in the bedroom
  • Imagined the light fixture on the ceiling fan turned into a face
It's going to be a long day. Red Bull totally puzzles me. During the week, when I drink one to stay awake on bartending nights, I still feel faded, sleepy and totally inured to them. Why in the hell did it kick in now? It's really foiling my plan.

Speaking of that, I'm supposed to be up in fifteen minutes, in time to stretch and head to the gym. See, around March, I managed to successfully drop about fifteen pounds (from 197-180ish, give or take) and I got rid of three inches off my gut (from 40 to 37). My weight loss was a slow, steady effort begun in October, and while it took six months, I felt a lot better. Of course, I cut my beer intake to almost nothing and exercised a lot more (mostly jogging), but I kept it simple and burned more than I took in. It paid off.

Of course, three months later, I've totally fallen off the wagon (okay, so really, I fell off the wagon in early April, and now have finally taken stock in the consequences), and while I've only put half an inch back on, that somehow translates to ten or twelve pounds. My goal is to break 170; I entered college at 167, and I'd like to hit that mark again. This is why I bought good groceries, and why I planned to hit the jogging track first thing in the morning. Best laid plans, etc.

Anyway, while today might end up a wash (how's that for positive thinking!), I'm committing to reaching my weight goal. I guess I should also shoot for a gut-circumference goal as well, though I'm not sure what's reasonable. If I could measure 35 1/2 around, that would be awesome. We'll see. I've learned that you can't really crash diet, and you also have to stick with the good habits once they're in place. Anyway, for the time being, I'll be posting stuff about this "journey," mostly as a means of staying accountable. Feel free to read, comment, ignore, etc.