A late-season binge can break almost any vow.
Before leaving for Novemberfest--a 12-hour charity pub crawl in Center City--I sit myself down and say, "Self, you will not mix drinks. You will drink only beer, with a glass of water between each round. And no late-night pizza or cheesesteaks."
And I do so well. Until I get to Oscar's Tavern, the first stop, and order one of the infamous Long Island iced teas. Then my friend Suzanne and I do a shot of J�germeister.
Nodding Head and Fad� are fairly uneventful--with more than 100 people wearing Novemberfest T-shirts or stickers, but still uneventful.
Which explains this text: "Good group. Nice polite pub crawl." (Texts are my way of remembering what happened as I progressively head toward no memory.) Apparently Fergie had received a phone call from the owner of Nodding Head warning him about us.
Fergie--who isn't nearly as robust as I'd imagined--talks with me for more than 20 minutes. He's concerned we took a well-placed "fuck" out of one of his columns. Fergie also realizes he could show up in this article: "Make me seem funnier than I really am."
Text: "Do you see all those people getting tables before us?" Philly Quizzo master Johnny Goodtimes is growing concerned that we won't have a table at McGillin's. He abandons Suzanne and me as we wrestle outside Fergie's. I'm trying to physically pick her up for a "strongwoman" drunk photo. She fears I'll drop her, but I'm convinced of my own drunken strength. I clumsily wrench her off her feet in front of an applauding crowd. And we get the picture.
McGillin's is packed with pub crawlers. We sit at a table procured by Johnny Goodtimes and Art Etchells (creator of www.foobooz.com), and the discussion gets deep.
"That's the whitest jukebox in Philly. Can I get an amen?" says Goodtimes. After taking inventory--three Backstreet Boys albums, two 'N Sync, two New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and one Nick Lachey single--we decide no respectable hip-hop fan would listen to this jukebox.
And then my memory begins to fade. Two texts I sent myself in an attempt to jog my memory:
"So who likes hummers?" That was Johnny Goodtimes, but the context is gone with the alcohol. Poof.
"The opportunity is the beauty of being American." Totally stumped here.
Our departure from McGillin's is quite a smash, literally. When I stand to leave with my coat over my arm, a beer mug from the neighboring table smashes to bits on the ground. All heads turn to me and I exclaim, "I didn't do it!"
I continue to argue my innocence, and next thing I know some girl's pocketbook is on the ground. How did that happen? After I stoop to pick it up, once again pleading, "I didn't do it!" someone says, "Just leave." Or maybe they don't, but it's certainly the vibe. Once outside, Suzanne informs me that I did do it, and everyone but me knew it.
We end at Vintage with a bottle of red. You know the end of the night is near when the cravings hit. I practically run to my bicycle with visions of pizza in my head. Since I haven't yet mastered eating while riding, I sit down at the pizza place.
"There are bugs in that shit!" a customer hollers at the pizza guy behind the counter. She hobbles over with her evidence. "Yeah, bugs. You see that? I'll never eat here again."
I gobble up my pizza. Not even bugs can make me keep my vow.