The much-anticipated, long-awaited, true-life story. Part I.
I feel it necessary to preface. The preface must include the list of times I have ever been as drunk as I am about to describe, because I do not want to create the wrong impression that I am a lush or worse. I have, in fact, never been as drunk as I am about to describe. I have come close on three other occassions. Once was in college, when the fraternity I was rushing introduced me to the game drunk driving. I was naive enough not to know you couldn’t win. I have always been competitive at games. The second time was my first year back home from college, when I threw the party that got me kicked out of my mother’s house. My best friend from high school and I split a bottle of SoCo and got as far into a bottle of Wild Turkey as we could. To this day, I cannot drink SoCo or Turkey. The last time was after five martini night, when Ensign, feeling left out, tried to witness the magic himself at the Berwyn tavern.
You see, four shit-faced, fall-down-and-crying drunk episodes over twelve eligible drinking years is not so bad.
So there’s this big convention every year in Columbus, Ohio, called ‘Origins.’ It’s for games–board games, miniature games, card games and roleplaying games.
That last one was why I was there about four years ago. I was helping my good friends at 9th Level Games pimp their wares, and I mean that with lots of respect. These guys are masters of convention marketing. How else could they lure traffic away from nearby tables with nary a booth babe on staff?
I rode a natural geek and clove high the whole show. (I was smoking then, and I mostly smoked clove cigarettes) My days were pimping wares, running games, getting no sleep, and basking in the glow of countless masses screaming, ‘All Hail King Torg.’ Actually, we did count. It was over 70, iirc. I need to find and post the video.
I’ll skip the rest of the subplots.
Five-martini night began with dinner on the last full day of the show. I was very tired and very hungry. The waitress sensed my mood. She got nervous. She had a stutter and her nervousness made it much worse. I tried to be patient. According to others present, I failed miserably. Later, I would feel bad. Later, I would cry about it, but don’t think it sensitive of me, because by that time I was crying about everything bad, good or indifferent. But at the moment, at dinner, I just wanted my food and my Irish coffee. Five-martini night should rightly be called two Irish coffee and five martini night, but that name is too long.
After dinner there was a mixer/party. Cake, 9th Level’s frontman, really knows the industry. At shows, he’s the consumate rockstar salesman–he knows everyone, can schmooze anyone, and the mixer/party is his natural element. He has an MBA, but you can’t imagine him in an office. He’d be the tazmanian devil in the zoo, this whirlwind of energy dissociated by a cubicle but not contained by it. Papers must fly everywhere. So, Chris is at the party and I’m just feeding off his energy and being swept along by it. He’s talking to industry big wigs, John Kovalic, Matt Forbek (not Sobeck), and on. The big wigs’ names are only important because they complete a joke for Ensign.
Cake also has a penchant for martinis. He was introducing me to, as he called it, the perfection of alcohol. I was into my second Bombay Sapphire when I decided I liked them a little dirty. (For the unintiated, dirty means with some olive juice.)
I was into my third Sapphire when I caught wind of the unmistakable aroma of clove cigarettes. I found the person burning one. We compared brands. We swapped. Seconds later, I lit up a Djarum Bali Hai for the first time in my life. The event should really be called two Irish coffee, one Bali Hai and five martini night.
Halfway into the second drag, the all-too-literal metaphorical warm fuzzy mitten slipped over my head.
Time passed. I had fun. I have no recollection of what happened between the structural column by the bar where I lit the clove, and the line for the bathroom. It wasn’t a blackout, there just wasn’t anything interesting enough to remember in the four years since. Or maybe, it’s just that everything to follow is so much more memorable.
I needed to use the bathroom, so I was in line. The line was very, very long and was moving very, very slowly. I thinkI told the guys I was headed to the john. I was in line so long, they assumed I went back to the hotel room.
In line, the three guys in front of me recognize I’m with 9th Level. They are 9LG fanboys. One of them is in a wheelchair. They start to talk to me. Normally, I might have just said a few words and been done, but how can you not stop and really talk to a guy in a wheelchair? Let alone one who’s a fan of yours (if only by association) and who will most likely be completely screwed by the facilities after he waits 45 minutes to use them. Jesus, of course I was gonna talk to these guys about whatever they wanted.
They had these heavy southern drawls. And in about two minutes of talking to them, so did I. We spent the next ten minutes listening to me obsess about why the fuck I couldn’t not talk in a southern accent. I looked for words you couldn’t possibly say in a southern accent. I discovered there are none. All words can be inflected with a southern accent. This is especially true after five martinis. We spent another five to ten minutes listening to me apologies for not being able to lose the drawl. They were very nice about it. Maybe they thought it was funny enough to ignore. Maybe they were fanboys enough not to care. Maybe they knew they were stuck in line for another half-hour with me. Whatever reasoning we all had, we all got over it. Then, we talked about everything else they wanted to talk about in a heavy drawl.
Back in the bar, everyone from my group is gone, so I order another Sapphire and settle in a seat next to John Kovalic. He’s talking. I have no idea what he’s saying, but I’m hanging on every word. If I said anything, there’s probably no one who remembers if it was intelligible, or in a southern drawl.
I’m just starting on another Sapphire when Cake, Dan and Kyle come back to the bar looking for me. I have consumed a monumental number of gin-soaked olives. Much later, I would be dubbed the ‘Olive Nazi.’ But that is an altogether different story and not in the next part of this one, which is still to come…