Mardi Gras 1995 (Anatomy of a Hangover)

–BASED on a true story–

Quote of the Day:

“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” Ernest Hemingway

It all started out so innocently. Sweet came out of his eye exam, eyes dilated, vision blurry. The clerk had pretty hair, of that he was certain, a pleasing voice, and a friendly, outgoing personality. He drew out the process of settling his bill and ordering his contacts, making small talk, putting on the charm, because back in the day Sweet could roll like that.

A couple of days later he went back to pick up his contacts. The girl had a pretty face to go with her hair. He couldn’t tell much else because she was seated behind a glass window. I say “much else” because he could see the telling gleam in her eye–she wanted to give him her number. And so he got it, because back in the day, Sweet was the man like that.

That weekend TB came to visit, the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Sweet said he’d talked to this girl he recently met a few times on the phone and she was pretty cool. She even had a friend and they wanted to do something that weekend. Sweet stepped out and said let’s go down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and see the Endymion parade, so he called her and she and her friend were willing and so we set off at a moment’s notice, because back then Sweet was like that.

We stopped at the 7-11 and picked up a case of beer, a bag of ice, a styrofoam cooler and some Rolaids, because even back then, Sweet was like that. As we pulled up to the girl’s apartment she saw us coming and stuck her head out telling us to wait just a moment. I turned and looked at Sweet and he grinned hopefully, but not without uncertainty. The girls came out laughing and hopped in the car. I was in luck–the friend was really good looking. The girl….I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly. I’d never encountered anything quite like it before, or more precisely, quite like them. I kept trying to get a better look and it took awhile because I didn’t want to get busted. Sweet kept glancing blankly in my direction from the rearview mirror. He’d seen it/them too. A few beers later we all needed a pit stop. When Sweet and I had a moment of privacy I pulled him aside. “Are those cankles?”  Sweet just shook his head in resignation. “I think so,” he said dully. “How could I have known?”

So we all loaded back up for the rest of the drive and Sweet recovered quickly. He was like that back then. After all, the girl was cool and her friend/my designated target was hot so Sweet shifted deftly into the role of friend guy/wing man, a seldom played role for him, but one he could willingly take on when necessary. It turned out to be unnecessary because the hot girl viewed me (I must assume) in much the way Sweet viewed “Cankles.” No matter, we all somehow realized how things were gonna be among us and silently assented to having a fun evening as pals.

For some reason on this night, maybe it was because I held out hope for the friend, I had decided not to go overboard with the beer. Overboard, back then for TB, wasn’t easy to do. I could pack away a lot of beer. Really, a lot. So I was probably only on about my tenth as we made our way down to the parade route hauling a Hefty bag full of beer and ice–the styrofoam cooler made it less than ten steps from the car, so we improvised. Back then we were like that. The hot girl was lost in the crowd, probably looking for her boyfriend. Sweet was slapping Cankles on the back like an old construction worker buddy ahead of me as I took my turn dragging the Hefty bag. Cankles was playing along, laughing and joking–she was well accustomed to her role too it seemed.

We found a likely spot for viewing the parade. Sweet and Cankles were carrying on, dancing in the street, sloshing Bud Light on one another occasionally, keeping enough daylight between themselves to satisfy any junior high dance chaperone. I stood back from the crowd, sipping my suds like a gentleman, thinking on how I might turn the tide with the good looking friend. Suddenly the crowd began to part and all eyes turned to a girl marching down St. Charles dressed as a nurse and holding a twelve pack of beer in one hand and a funnel in the other. “I can outdrink anydamnbody here!”, she shouted repeatedly. “Who wants to funnel with me? I’ll drink anydamnoneofyou under the table.”

I chuckled to myself. A twenty-four and a half year old pre-professional, I’d outgrown such shenanigans but could still freshly recall the times I’d have taken up her challenge. That’s when Sweet accosted her. “You can’t outdrink everybody here!” The nurse stared back at him resolutely, mutely challenging him to back up his statement. A thousand eyes watched Sweet, including mine, as he paused just a heartbeat before replying. “He can outdrink you!” Sweet’s index finger and a thousand eyes turned to me. The nurse glared in anticipation of another conquest. Well, I wasn’t gonna take that crap. “Yep”, I said in a calm, assertive voice. “I can outdrink you.” The nurse smiled and said “I’ll go first.”

She funneled a beer, then poured one for me and I sucked it down. Within another minute we’d finished number two and in another couple of minutes went numbers three and four. After four, the nurse had had enough. The crowd was cheering, I was in the zone. It was time to claim the victory. “Give me another.” I drunk it down. The nurse wasn’t even paying attention now but the crowd was cheering. Sweet was taunting her one moment like Jimmy Hart, the Mouth of the South, and tussling my head in celebration the next. “Give me another.” The crowd roared. Sweet rubbed my shoulders. The nurse was on her knees. If I was gonna be challenged by God, by a girl no less, there wasn’t gonna be any doubt over the outcome. I put away number 6 and after that my memories of the night are soundless and few.

I’ve never been one to pass out for too much drink. I black out. I go catatonic. I do crazy ass things, at least I did back then when I was like that. There are a few hazy images that survived the night in my memory. I remember the hot girl coming back and perching recklessly on my shoulders to watch the parade. I remember KC and the Sunshine Band. I remember the pit stop in an alley and the cold ride in the bed of a random cajun’s pickup truck. I remember a gray Motel Six hallway. And I know I had one of the worst hangovers of my life the next day. But Sweet took care of me, we made it home, and on this story I’ve gotten my props now lo these many years. Sweet’s like that after all. As for me, I retired from funneling after that day. That hangover must’ve been really bad. It’s funny, I think, and telling, that the memory of how it came about lasts longer than the memory of the pain. Hangovers are like that, and that’s one helluva silver lining.

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About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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24 Responses to Mardi Gras 1995 (Anatomy of a Hangover)

  1. irvineredd says:

    Nice.

    That sounds like my St. Patrick’s Day spent in Dublin.

    I was found in the car rental section of the airport the next morning around 5. I was curled in the fetal position. That was a horrendous hangover.

    I met JL in the train station in Liverpool 5 hours later. I’m sure I looked great.

  2. sweet says:

    I’m pretty sure that after you vanquished the little nurse, you stuck your chest out and challenged the throng of revelers with a “DOES ANYBODY ELSE WANT SOME OF ME!” …..and no one did. Thats one of those stories where the headline the next day reads “4 bodies found under a….or in a….
    And did me and you wake up in bed together with the two chicks on the floor?

  3. Um, I’m quite certain we did not. Let us never speak of this again.

    As for the story, the only thing that would’ve made it better, tho a lot less funny, is if I’d outdrank some burly football player type instead of a nurse.

  4. larry says:

    And did me and you wake up in bed together with two chicks on the floor?

    Sounds about right. Sweet is like that after all.

  5. I should’ve added how we got the Hefty.

    We were taking another break in a little alley and were confronted by the homeowner and asked to stop. Better yet, he said, just come in. Sweet told him we were through but thanks anyway. And as our styrofoam cooler had just broke, did he have something we could put our beer in?

  6. Mac says:

    Great story TB. It revived memories of a fateful trip that Nelson, Krebs and myself took to New Orleans. Awesome, hazy memories.

  7. Samsmama says:

    This is possibly the greatest story ever told. Seriously. I never ever put LOL because that’s usually not the case, although I occasionally LQTM, but this one? LLOL!!! I was giggling away at all the “back in the day” and “back then” mentions, then the story just kept getting better and better. And then when I got to “Let us never speak of this again” I full on cried from laughter. I’m so glad I broke my rule about long posts, thanks for the heads up!

    *Stands up and claps*

  8. Harmony says:

    Great post! I think I could read post like this all day long.

    “If I was gonna be challenged by God, by a girl no less, there wasn’t gonna be any doubt over the outcome. ~ Besides all the “Sweet could roll like that” comments, this is my favorite line. I love that you took down that nurse…even more so that she was just a nurse and not some burly football player.

    This story reminds me of the night I learned that bars do not close in Reno. Ahhh memories.

  9. smilyj says:

    I can remember nites like that. They usually ended up with me taking care of TB. Sometimes Sweet. A few times Greekson. I never could understand there penchant for overendulging with alcohol. I always prefered the casual moderate drinking method. Avoiding such hangovers and embarrassing behavior.

  10. Your N.O. story, the main one at least, is coming soon big boy.

  11. ZEEK says:

    How ’bout a few Senior cruise to the Bahamas stories……..That was how we rolled back then!!!!

  12. bwbuzz says:

    I did not put the BW in front of the BUZZ just for the fun of it, Sweet said I could, because back in the day it was an honor!

  13. Jessie Lou says:

    Very good story and I cannot believe I’ve never heard it before in all these years. I would love to see the live version. That said I do remember the eyeglass girl but that story had a different ending – maybe there were two?

    I’m wondering exactly what year you both gave up such behavior?

    The first and only time I’ve ever funneled beer was with Fig and Kevin. Aside from the fear of choking I kinda liked it.

    I seem to remember another hangover after a wedding that was pretty bad for both of you – worse for TB if I had to say. From what I recalled you spent alot of that night propped up against a jukebox. The next day you both showed up at my house and I had to get a cool rag for each of you while you momentarily recovered. I remember looking out my bedroom window and seeing that you had left your car running and the driver’s door open. I think you were in a bit of a hurry to lay down. Two pitiful pearls that day.

  14. calicobebeop says:

    DAMN! Remind me never to challenge you to a drink-off! 🙂 Awesome story!

  15. sweet says:

    Jlou, there were two eyeglass girls….and I remember the day you are talking about. I think the car sat outside running for about an hour and a half

  16. I might combine that story with another one from around the same era for literary purposes. They involve said wedding, Korbel, champagne certainly NOT Korbel, a panty raid that Sweet and I were completely innocent of participation in, tire marks in a lawn, juke box, orange street construction barriers and a trial unrelated to our boorish behavior.

  17. Jessie Lou says:

    If I recall the two of you were piled up in my bed and there was no room for me in the Menage a Nap scenario. Sweet innocent? I’m just saying…..

    Girls may come and girls may go but TB/Sweet are BFF 4ever.

  18. Madd Dawg says:

    JL,
    you just made sMiley cry.

    I never knew why/how/when BW got added to Buzz—now I know.

  19. Jessie Lou says:

    Now I win!

  20. quail09 says:

    sounds like bromance

  21. ZEEK says:

    More like straight up man on man action.

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  22. Fish says:

    geny to geny, Woooo!

  23. [muttering]….bunch of philistines….

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