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Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's Amateur Night, Oh What a Night

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us as well as March Madness. But then again, that is what March Madness is around the bars today and tonight.

Let’s face it, anytime you designate a holiday as a reason to go out and drink, you run the risk of inviting all of the people not field ready to participate and cause problems.

I was a bartender in a former life and absolutely hated working on New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day. Why? It wasn’t because of the crowds and the busy bars. It was because regular, everyday people tried to imitate the professional drinkers, like a bunch of kids who just watched Jackass and thought it would be cool to light off a firecracker placed between their ass cheeks.

Now, New Year’s Eve is a time for joyous celebration and revelry. But if you feel that you have to go out and get shit faced just to say, “I went out on New Year’s Eve and got shit faced” then you are part of the problem. You get all loaded and then you get all belligerent and start fights.  Then you go and wreck your car or worse.  The real drinkers are not a two night a year partying type. They do it on any day that ends in ‘Y’. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Super Bowl or Arbor Day. They don’t need a holiday to find an excuse to drink, but for the most part, they understand the boundaries.

Granted, there are plenty of drunks out there that cause problems regardless of the occasion and I’m not trying to glamorize or romanticize their lifestyle.  I simply mean that there are people who realize what they are doing and don’t need to go out to a bar and wear a stupid green Styrofoam hat or blow into a noise maker to enjoy some libations.  I am not a heavy drinker and I am quite comfortable sitting in my own home and having a drink on New Year’s Eve, during the Super Bowl or during a holiday meal. But I also know that anybody who comes to my house to do the same and will either spend the night or be cleared for departure at the end of the evening.

But I am not without fault.  I, too, felt the need to be a part of the celebration.  I finally realized how silly it was to go out for going out's sake when my wife and I decided that we just had to go out for St, Patrick's Day and did everything we could to find a place to go drink at.   Yet, all we were met with was busy and overcrowded places that held ridiculous amounts of drunk people.  Then, just to say we did go out, we stopped at a local motel bar and had  drink, then left.  It was at that moment I said, "Eff it!"  No more going out on holidays for stupid reasons.  But my life was checkered with doing such things for the sake of doing them.  I was an amateur in my youth.

When I was in my teens, I thought that if I didn’t go out and party on New Year’s Eve, then I was missing something important.  I had no intentions of drinking at that age, but mandated to myself that I had to go out, regardless.  I simply stated, “It’s New Year’s Eve. We HAVE to go somewhere!”  One particular year involved me organizing a trip to the nearby ski resort, just hoping that something spectacular would happen. My friend came over and we decided that we were going to drive the 45 minutes up the mountain to participate. I didn’t have a license, and technically he didn’t either, though he claimed he could drive a stick shift.  That bit of information was important because the only vehicle available to use was my brother's old Plymouth Horizon.  He was at college, my parents were out and so were his.   The Horizon had seen better days and at this point, I didn’t even know whether or not it had tags or insurance on it, let alone gas in the tank.

I had all these grand visions of showing up to the resort and immediately being thrust into an adventure of epic proportions involving older twins in ski boots. We’d pass for somewhere in our 20s vs. 15 and 16. Maybe we would end up in some kind of spy mission or win a downhill race or at least a hot tub. This would happen by way of improbable yet totally believable 80s movie logic which would only require us to master skiing or spying in the length of a three minute rocking montage. Yes, it would be an epic night involving a stolen sports car, secret microfilm and a bevy of beauties who never bothered to check our IDs. My thoughts were filled with a John Hughes style grandiose plan that would certainly get us a medal of honor and a trip to the White House.

The next morning, my father came up to me and said, “Where did YOU go last night?” He had somehow sensed that we didn’t just stay at home. We were very careful in returning the car to exactly the spot we left it. I was painstaking in returning the keys to the exact same spot on the hooks in the kitchen as to never give anyone reason to suspect we had gone anywhere. But, yet, my father, the master craftsman of bullshit sniffing (He spent 24 years on the board of the Municipal Authority in our town) knew something was up. I had to come up with some cover story as to not risk National Security over our night of decadence and death defying feats of excellence.

I worked out the details in my head. Disavow any knowledge of mischief and instead misdirect his suspicions. In essence I came up with a wonderful lie disguised as the God’s honest truth.

I confessed to my father that we didn’t go anywhere. Somehow, I knew that wouldn’t fly. He knew we at least were in the car. But, how? I then shifted the story to a botched attempt at going somewhere. I told him my friend attempted to drive and ended up stalling the car, repeatedly to the point of flooding it. We managed to make it nearly three feet before giving up. We then threw it in neutral and pushed it back to where it was originally parked, went inside and just watched Dick Clark. That was it. That was the flimflam story I sold my father and he bought it.

Now, I wish I could divulge what really happened that night. Unfortunately, the involved parties are still around and could be in grave danger if I were to reveal any details. Let’s just leave it at the story I told my Dad. I’ve said it so many times it almost feels like the truth anyway. The official record of our actions, that night, is sealed to the public, but let’s just say, America avoided an International incident on December 31st 1990.

So from one amateur to another, stay home tonight. Enjoy a beer at home or at least make it look like you never went anywhere. The safety of the American people is your hands.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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