Look who crawled out of the gutter! Harold returns.—Lewis
It’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve been in something of a late winter funk, more cynical than usual (as if that’s possible), and generally feeling less than creative. Maybe it’s Bush fatigue. Who knows?
It’s certainly not been for a lack of good meals. Just a month or two ago I had the great pleasure of eating at i nonni with an old friend of mine, himself a restaurateur, who at one time manned a kitchen with one of the culinary magicians there. We were treated like royalty with several-course off-the-menu meals that were truly over the top. I’d provide details, but I gulped down so much vino (all expertly paired with each course) that the whole extravagant affair is now little more than a pleasant hole in my memory. I do recall that the food, service and conversation were all eminently delightful. At least when I wasn’t yammering…
Anyway, my persistent foul mood lifted that night, and it should have been ushered out the door today—St. Patrick’s Day—as well. My dear wife sent me a link this morning to The Nomad World Pub’s website, where I was greeted by perhaps the most ingenious beer swilling special of all time. Beginning at 2 p.m., all persons in the bar would enjoy free beer until somebody broke down and took a leak. They call it the Break the Seal Challenge. Second annual.
Brilliant. Imagine the peer pressure not to pee. How long could it last? Several hours? I’d know, except I couldn’t find a single person willing to go with me. Excuses ranged from the completely legitimate—“my wife is on bedrest and I have to be there in case she goes into labor”—to the merely passable—“I have a meeting at four o’clock”—to the downright sorry—“I’m too hungover.” With friends like these…
I considered going alone, as Lewis suggested, and typing up a play-by-play for you, dear reader. And as I sit here now, glum and resentful, I wish I would have. I’m guessing it’d have gone something like this:
2:13: Nearly finished first pint. No pee urge at all. The crowd is lively and confident. General consensus is that it’ll last at least two hours. Everyone’s looking around for the weak link.
2:36: Midway through pint number two. Beer tastes great, but I’m consciously pacing. Again, no pee urge. Crowd still appears relaxed. Thank god I’m not at work.
2:57: Just ordered pint number three. Caught an evil eye from some dipshit, but please, it’s not possible to drink any slower than this. Starting to see the first signs of pee dancing from one gal in particular. Feeling confident myself.
3:23: Pacing is out the window. Well into pint number four and am sensing a turn in the group dynamic. The more cunning of us are migrating from a “we’re all in this together” mentality to the “I’m going to drink as much free beer as I can before some small-bladdered louse wets himself” strategy, an inevitable turn of events.
3:49: Small crowds are forming near the taps. It’s a race now between each of us and the smallest bladder in the room. Visible consternation on many faces. Pee Dance Girl is starting to turn a greenish-yellow. I’m maintaining, though I should’ve worn darker pants, just in case.
4:14: I’ve lost track, but I’m thinking this is pint number eight. This is going longer than I expected; I credit fear. It’s palpable in here, with this increasingly drunken mob looking threatening. Poor Pee Dance girl is balled up in the corner with her hand in her crotch. I’m holding.
4:31: Bartender gives me a look like he might cut me off. He wouldn’t dare, I hope. The end has got to be near, and many are pining for it. Soon the collective desire for more beer will give way to the collective desire to urinate. Who will break?
4:37: Having trouble typing. Still no seal breaker. Amazing. I’m drunk. Would really like to piss and have a smoke. I can’t be the one. Pee Dance Girl appears to be passed out, though no sign of wet pants. Very tense in here.
4:44: Overheard two guys talking about a group pee. Seems like a copout, but I pray they do it. Pint number twelve, and the bartender is eyeing me warily. Doing the pee dance myself now. Ignore it and keep drinking!
4:53: Still going. Unbelievable! Convinced another guy to get me a beer. Really slurring now and seem to be numb down south. How will I get home? Walking is NOT an option.
5:21: Awake to “Paul, what are you doing?” It’s my wife. I’m lying down and my head hurts. Feel pavement under my ear. Where’s the laptop?!? She has it, thank god. “How did it end?” I mumble. “Check your shorts,” she spits. Damn.