Best friends forever: Part two


Continued from yesterday’s “Best friends forever: Part one.”

I resumed scanning the room. Across from me in at the bar was a skinny middle-aged blond man I’d seen a few times over the last week and who—to my perhaps overly enthusiastic mind—was either pretending to have, or actually only had, one arm. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that his other arm, strung up in a sling, was obscured by his blue jean vest. He was accompanied by what looked like a younger clone—but with two arms—and indeed, my previous companion had suggested this was his beloved son. They got the father-son special: a pitcher of sangria for 13 Euros.
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Best friends forever: Part one

Everyone knows real estate is about location. A young couple picks a home so as to be in a good school district, a businessman to have an impressive address in an upper-class enclave, a hippie to be close to “nature.” An Enthusiast is no exception.

But an Enthusiast’s real estate concerns are about how far it is to whet one’s whistle. Such is doubly important when an Enthusiast is away from his home real estate, whether on a honeymoon with a blushing bride or on a lark with a favorite prostitute—or waiting on a new visa for one’s adopted home country in the closest neighboring nation and hoping that the discovery of a nest of one’s adopted home country’s spies in one’s original home country would not derail one’s plans.
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I’m sorry about last night


The cold, clammy memory of last night’s apology-necessitating act is every Enthusiast’s nauseating-yet-necessary champion-breakfast appetizer (breakfast of course being Kentucky coffee and a fist full of aspirin). But there are as many types of dristakes as there are Enthusiasts to make them. What is the best way to handle your victims the morning after?

1. I’m sorry I puked. You’re going to have to replace or thoroughly clean whatever you emptied last night’s Nail plus last night’s Double Down on. If you regurgitate on your friend and they demand you bathe them to undo your damage, do your enthusiastic duty: roll up your sleeves, and start gently cleansing their bare flesh with a warm, sudsy, over-sized sponge. Whether what you’re doing is literally cleaning up yesterday’s chunky over-enthusiasm or merely fulfilling their previously-repressed fantasies about you, just go with it. And if your vomit victim’s eyes roll back as you sponge away and they start muttering “nurse … nurse” in between satisfied gasps, keep sponging—you’re on the path to forgiveness. Besides, as an Enthusiast you’ve experienced and enacted far stranger things. Alternatively you could offer a revenge-heave. Gets you out of soaping them down, and/or paying to dryclean their “swayed” jacked and/or having to bleach their car’s air conditioning vents. What do you care about a return regurgitation? You’re wasted!

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The bap

In Russia, for some goddamn reason, they call a restaurant a “pektopah” and a bar a “bap.” But you could certainly argue that the bar in this particular St. Petersburg hotel deserves a word of its own. I might call it a “movie,” because that’s what it feels like when you’re here.

It’s a long movie, to be sure, what with us hanging most nights past 4 a.m. But putting in the hours means we get to see the whole story arc. How the hookers, who don’t look like hookers at all—in the US of A they’d be the most elegant broads in the room—periodically shift tables and then one after another stand to troll the crowd. How the smooth-as-silk manager signals to them with a silent nod that he needs their table and they temporarily move to the table in the hall. How each hooker (and this small bap is generally stocked with four, distributed among two or three tables) has a rose-colored drink, non-alcoholic, on her table with a straw in it. Some kind of red-light sign, but mostly, I think, to remind the staff what’s up.

But enough of my ogling the whores. What I wanted to tell you about was the gangster part of the movie from last night.
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The Nail


Today I’m going to tell you about something all Enthusiasts know about, have experienced, or are going to experience (for all you beginning your journey of enthusiasm).

It’s called The Nail.

Some of you might call it The Kicker, The Obliviator, The Long Kiss Goodnight or How I Met My Husband, but it’s the same thing the world ‘round: it’s the last drink that puts you over the edge. The one that makes you want to swear off drinking the next day, the one that makes you call and text everyone you know that you were with the night before asking:

It goes like this: all’s well, you’re out and about getting enthusiastic with enthusiasm. The drinks flow, the conversations are rolling. Typical effects of enthusiasm occur:

  1. I am a GREAT conversationalist!
  2. I am Hilarious! I should really think about going into stand-up.
  3. My God! I never knew I could sing this well!
  4. I am an AWESOME dancer! Yeah, I’m totally gonna talk to Rihanna ‘bout getting in her entourage …

And then:

“Less go get one more shot at the bar. No, ‘mfine, ‘swon more and then we out, promise.”

No matter what you end up ordering, the next drink you have is going to be The Nail.

The Nail. It comes in many forms:

  • A freebie of Fernet from the bartender
  • A shot of something you NEVER drink normally: “Gimme a shotta Aftershock, you got any a that? How ‘bout Goldschlager?”
  • Something super strong and expensive to keep the bartender from cutting you off: “He’s ordering a double Johnnie Walker Blue, I’m not passing up the tip on that!”

Whatever your Nail was, one thing is certain: you are done.

The next thing you know, it’s tomorrow. Your “recently dialed” log on your cell looks like someone put the thing on random autodial. Hazily, the fragmented conversations come back to you:

College buddy:

“Dude, dude, dude … did I wake you up? What’s up, man? Haven’t talked to you in soo long, bro, What’s up, man? Is someone crying? You have a daughter? Wow, man …What’s up, man? Did I wake you up?” Click.

Your ex:

(Softly) “Heeeey you …what’s happening? I miss you. … I been thinking about us a lot recently, you know, the times we had … man, I should have never let you go. Are you at home?”  Click.

Directory assistance:

“Um. Illinois. Shaumberg. Kendra Duck. D-U-C-K. Thank you.”

Girl from high school:

“Kendra? Kendra …’sat you? Oh man! Wow! It’s me, Jason! From East High School! What? Oh fuck, man I forgot it’s like two hours later where you are. …What?” Click.

“Hey! Don’ you hangup on me! What you wrote in my yearbook was a lie!! A LIE! Cocktease.”

Pizza place:

“Yeah, I’m gonna need an extra large with pep, onion and mushroom … um, and 30 wings. And then, um, six wings.”

“Wait, what? Do you want 30 wings or six wings?”

“D’you sell beer?” Click.


“C’you … C’yoo … C’you … um … uh … find me with yer Jeepy S?” Click.

The pieces come back slowly, but they are horrifying as they reassemble into the Assout omelette that was your night last night. You hope against hope that you didn’t drext.

Did you drext?

You drexted.

Your boss.

Same ex.

Dude you met just pre-Nail.

Your wife.

I think you get it. So rather than try to wrap up with a witty dénouement, I shall leave you with this parting shot:

Whether it be the one that’s coming for you next, or the one you just survived and are living down right now, know this: The Nail is ours. A Nail will come out, but its hole remains … so let’s love The Nail and embrace The Nail. The stories, the shame, the laughter and the adventures at the edge of Oblivion. Painful as it might be, enthusiasts, The Nail is our way of showing that we’re only human, after all.


First nail photo courtesy of Clearly Ambiguous,  flickr.

Quick update: This post was dedicated to Sean Chapman—the guy that introduced me to , and has served me many, many, many of The Nail. He’s a good friend, a great bartender and a kickass artist. Do yourself a favor and check out his work here.



Last night a Fernet saved my life.

Fernet Branca

If you live in our lovely city by the bay, then you may already be familiar with this potent elixir of joy.

But if you are visiting this blog from somewhere other than San Francisco or Argentina (welcome, fellow Enthusiasts!) you may not know much about this local hero of a beverage.

For us, Fernet is an “industry drink”—the “industry,” in this case, being the one that is often ironically referred to as “hospitality.”  This would include restaurant, hotel, theme park, general tourism, and though I have no experience with it, I’m pretty sure retail overlaps quite a bit. For the purposes of this post, I speak about Fernet from the POV of the corporate restaurant sweatshop worker, as that is how yours truly became quite the fan of this little bit o’ Darth Vader in a glass.

It’s bad. I mean, really bad. For non-industry people, just the smell is enough to put them off drinking for a good long time. They look at you in bewildered confusion—why on earth would anyone voluntarily drink this stuff?
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The museum of Jack Daniel’s

Have you ever had a good idea, only to find out that not only has someone already done it, they’ve taken it to a level you never even considered? Such was the case on our recent trip to Spain. We were heartily enjoying the varied nightlife of Barcelona and then Cadiz and I noticed that in every bar we went there was a distinct lack of bourbon. Not matter how nice the bar, how many different bottles they had on the wall, they only served Jim Beam and Jack Daniel’s (which, as we all know, is actually Tennessee whiskey, not bourbon). Despite this, I began to fall in love with the country and started scheming on moving to Spain.

Now we’ve always dreamed of opening a bar. Naturally, this lack of decent bourbon, rather than indicate to me that there was a lack of demand, strongly indicated that there was a lack of supply. I mean, there must be others like me, or at the very least, potential bourbon lovers who just hadn’t had the opportunity to experience what the beverage could truly achieve. So I got to talking about how we would move to Cadiz and open a bourbon bar to support ourselves. Dream come true.
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Young love

What was the first bar you ever fell in love with? Every Enthusiast has their first—for me, that place is now-renamed-and-under-new-ownership SE Portland dive bar, Grandma’s.

With walls adorned with Last Supper-esque, moderately religious wood reliefs and elderly woman-style purses, the decoration alone was reason enough to spend hours here every afternoon and evening and night. Add Turkey Hunter, three video poker machines, pool, a working fireplace, cheap-ass drinks and—I’m getting giddy just reminiscing about it—KARAOKE THREE NIGHTS A WEEK! WHERE YOUR PERFORMANCE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A MAN PLAYING A BLUE BLOW-UP GUITAR! And suddenly we are catapulted into the awesome-dive-bar-stratosphere’s-stratosphere. Times infinity. Infinity times.
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