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As an experiment to see how quickly I could undo the recent exercise I've been doing lately, I decided to indulge in a multiple-day drinking bender, beginning last Wednesday night. (i would detail how this came about through a series of social obligations, but listing one's social obligations feels a little braggy to me. if you're a careful reader, that last statement should telegraph the following: i am lame enough to have the instinct to announce to no one in particular all the wonderful things that occupy my night life, yet self-conscious enough to resist executing that list.) The nice thing about choosing a drinking bender over, say, entering a candy-apple eating contest, is that while a completed candy-apple eating contest rarely leads to several hours of heavy drinking, a drinking bender is very likely to lead to late night candy-apple consumption, or worse. Drinking loses points for creativity but it is inarguably a more efficient, more comprehensive plan for total self-destruction.

I had many wonderful adventures during my bender – I ate a late-night turkey burger alone in a crowded pub, and salted it with my bitter tears; I hassled a writer for whom I have great admiration and made him commit to reading at How to Kick People; made a friend storm out of a bar in anger; met a female bar owner who proudly advocates child abuse; met a guy whose dad is recently a biological woman who dates other women; argued with two perfect strangers about which Led Zeppelin album is the most precious (an argument i haven't engaged in since i was 16, when i led my high school debate team to a regional victory with the platform, "Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Grafitti': A Watershed Musical Statement, and Epic Salute to Smoking Drugs." my closing argument was, "dude, it's a double-gatefold; the hinge is ideally suited for catching weed shake."); endeared myself to two shifts of bartenders on the same night; left a bar with the metal security shutters locked down and in place; fell asleep sitting up straight, with my glasses on; joined the National Guard; deftly argued my way out of the National Guard by insisting I had my fingers crossed when signing all the paperwork; evaded a pair of Keystone cops who were giving chase, by dumping out a box of small ball bearings; and read some Bukowski and laughed knowingly at key passages.

I should have said this at the top of this passage, but I'm not not a big drinker. I've never been one, honestly. 98% of my friends can attest that they've never seen me drunk. Therefore, marathon episodes of drinking are rare for me, as are the social politics of a bar just after last call. On Friday night, my last night of serious drinking (i was half-assing it on saturday, frankly), I remained at a neighborhood bar until closing time. It was interesting to note the bar's shifting gender ratio as it neared its final hours of operation for the evening. It was a pretty even female-to-male breakdown for most of the night. However, around 3:30 a.m. nearly all of the female patrons disappeared and the bar was suddenly humming with extremely drunk men, alone or in pairs.

Not only this, but the few women who remained were subject to long, menacing stares from some of these men, particularly the men who remained alone, slumped over the bar or in low chairs around the bar's inside perimeter. This will sound like a very naive statement, but I think some of these guys just assumed that if women remained at the bar this late into the evening, they absolutely wanted to be ineptly fucked by a bloated alcoholic. I was speaking with a woman (brag) – an endangered species at this hour – and kept noticing a man with a searing gaze, directly over her left shoulder. His body was completely slack in an upholstered chair so he was left with no other option but to rape with his eyes. He was making the most of it, though.

Then, minutes later, another guy rolled up to the bar and positioned himself to the left of this same woman, leaving her kind of sandwiched between us. He had his jacket on and was headed to the door, but made this one last stop to ask her, without even a hello, "Is he your boyfriend?" I didn't hear this line of dialogue because it was delivered at a deliberately soft volume, in great confidence and hushed tones. All I heard was the woman's incredulous reply – "What?!" – and then saw the young swain give the hush sign, shake his head exactly fast and long enough to communicate the words, "never mind," and then make haste for the door. (he was also leaving with another woman. nice.)

Does this happen? Does it REALLY happen? Do men just troll bars at closing time and peel off women? I guess I expected it might happen in clubs with names like "Lotus" and "Om" and "Tongue", but not in fun neighborhood bars with good jukeboxes and a kindly buy-back policy. I would be lying if I said I don't fall in love every six minutes or so when I'm at a bar filled with attractive people, but I don't think it takes much restraint to know better and just finish sipping quietly at your Harvey Wallbanger.

EPILOGUE: As for the mysterious woman sitting next to me, here's what happened. I spent the remainder of the night trying to give her bus fare back to Kalamazoo, insisting, "This city is full of vipers, little girl, and I don't want you to get bitten. Now go back home and make some fella proud!" Then I threw up in her hair. And that's how mommy and daddy met, and made you.

WE FIRST MET ON 04.12.2004

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