I’m a pretty simple guy; put me in an empty room and I can usually keep myself pretty entertained with my phone (or just staring at the wall with dead eyes, mouth agape like a punished toddler or stoned teenager). I don’t really complain much about boredom. But when it comes to my birthday, I’ll be frank: I like to blow the fucking roof off of every building I approach.
A little backstory here: I did not have what most people would consider “The College Experience”. In college, I was adamantly against drinking and really partying of any sort. My college years involved playing World of Warcraft instead of going to class, and then…well, playing World of Warcraft instead of doing pretty much anything. And then, every Thursday, my friend JJ would come and pick me up from my dorm and drive me an hour back home until Sunday night. In short, my college experience was a lot like my high school experience, but with a lot more traveling. It wasn’t until a year after college that I just basically looked at myself and said “fuck it”. I went to the bar with some friends determined to do what so many had done before me in their early teens: Have a beer. Cracking open that first, ice-cold Bud Light was like stepping through a portal to Zion (The Matrix Zion, not Jerusalem–that’d be just weird).
Sort of like this, only with less sweat-soaked dreadlocked men reaching orgasm from a drum beat and more me throwing up after 4 beers, a mudslide and McDonalds.
So naturally, when my birthday came around, I wanted to partake in the time-honored tradition I had been missing out on: getting really, really messed up. But I didn’t wanna just employ the local watering hole for this misadventure. No, I had bigger sights in mind: New York City, baby! It was good timing because mere weeks earlier JJ informed me of a place called Ninja New York. If you have never heard of it, do yourself a favor and click the link. It has an underground passage to your table and ninjas serve you food on katanas and they have really good food and HOLY SHIT NINJAS SERVE YOU FOOD ON KATANAS?!
OH HELL YEAH.
That was enough for me: My friends and I were on the first bus to New York City. After about three hours, we had arrived, and after cramming eleven people into one tiny hotel room in a laughably blatant and non-discreet manner, off we were to Tribeca for the ninja festivities. After waiting in an impossibly cramped lobby, we were finally escorted to our table, where we met “Genichi”*, our ninja waiter. Seconds after he introduced himself as Genichi, he reneged with a dismissive, “Nah, I’m just fuckin’ wit’ y’all. My name’s Jay”. Way to kill the immersion, dick. No matter though. We went on with the night, and it was a wonderful, if jaw-droppingly expensive, meal. I got a chicken teriyaki dish which, as I I recall, was literally just chicken teriyaki with a bowl of simple white rice (which I dumped about a cup of soy sauce into, creating what Russ referred to as a “befouled concoction of filth” and “pure garbage in a bowl”. As is custom.) and it ran a paltry $28. Surprisingly, the cheapest thing on the menu was beer. A bottle of Sapporo was even about half the cost of a mere soda. Well, that’s about all I needed to hear.
After a veritable bevy of these tawdry rice/alcohol amalgamations, I was good and sauced by the time the “entertainment” marched into our room. At Ninja New York, you come for the ninjas, but you stay for the penniless, virgin magic peddlers! I wish I could remember our socially gangrenous guide’s name, but alas, no luck (those goddamned rice beers). When I asked Russ if he remembered his name, his reply, verbatim, was “No clue. Nor do I care to remember. Just call him Quentin P. Faggot or something”. So, there you have it. If you forced your brain to compile every stereotype of a 4chan /b/tard and throw them into one neckbearded monstrosity, you would have this uber-nerd. No lie, this man’s cell phone ring tone was Vegeta repeatedly exclaiming, “IT’S OVER 9000!”. Ostensibly in response to the question, “Vegeta, what does the Sanitation Scanner say about how many days its been since this man took a shower?!”
But, hey, what do I know? As much as it physically pains me to liken myself to one of his ilk, I am the guy who ignored every phone call from, and neglected to pick up his (at-the-time, as if that needs to be said) girlfriend at work, leaving her to traverse seedy downtown Providence by foot, so I could be there when my Warcraft guild killed a dragon. Hey, whatever man; phat loot isn’t gonna farm itself. Girls just don’t understand.
After the meal and the “entertainment”, we decided to continue doing what we had done up to that point: drink. Our platoon of eleven people had dwindled to three at this point. After roaming around Tribeca and talking to locals here and there, we settled upon a place called The Patriot Saloon. When you imagine the phrase “dive bar”, The Patriot Saloon begins to form in your head. And I mean that in the best way possible. As soon as I noticed the huge-ass chandelier covered in nothing but bras and panties, I knew we were in for a good time.
I almost wish I could take credit for this, but this is actually their recruitment process.
Thanks to the hospitality of the (usually pretty damned hot) bartenders, it was I who felt like a spoiled, shameless slut with all the free shots and beer they gave me, like any halfway attractive girl on any given night. Russ and I haughtily and ham-fistedly downed a lion’s share of PBR drafts and free shots, so when a bartender offered to light Russ’ nipples on fire, we were all for it.
Again, my memory of this night is hazy at best. I consumed more alcohol this night that I probably ever have in my life. If I were to describe it first hand, it would go something like “We were drinking and then suddenly Russ’ shirt was off and his nipples were on fire and I think Jesus was there”. Even if I did have a stenographer’s recollection of this night, I don’t think I could do this particular event justice. So I think it’s best to get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Here’s Russ’ recount of the event:
[ Let’s get one thing straight. Alright, a couple of things. One, this was not my proudest moment. And two, my actual nipples never caught fire, nor were even one fraction of their beautiful, gem-like surface or the surrounding areolas singed or licked by the warmth of the dancing flame. Am I a weird and imbecilic bastard for partaking in such an event? You bet. Was I harmed in the process? Thankfully, no. I, like Pat, don’t remember much about what happened. Either on account of the inebriation or the extreme humiliation.
What I do remember is the scantily clad redheaded bartender giving me looks of desire (or maybe just what I misconstrued as desire but what was actually pity) and free drinks. Lots of them. Old woodpaneled walls giving in to rot. Bouncers asleep on their chairs, apparently hard at work, their enormous heads bobbing capriciously. A sourish stink pervading the air. And everything blurred; like I was looking through tarnished glass. Time elapsed. Garbled sentences were exchanged, the topics of which I will never recall. The beer at this point going down like a sweet, sweet water.
The redheaded bartender came back upstairs, a mesmeric sway in her hips. She came to me holding a beer, told me she was an actress. I remember scoffing at her, asked her why there were so many bras pinned to the walls in a concatenate trophy display even Charlie Sheen would find distasteful. She told me to take my shirt off and even the score up a little bit. Even in my inebriated state, I refused. Hey, I may make unabashedly poor decisions on a daily basis… but I’m not some piece of meat. She told me she would light matches off my nipples. I looked at her with an expression of pants shitting bewilderment. She repeated herself. For some reason this sounded like a better idea than simply taking off my shirt. She removed my shirt for me. I felt a blush flourish the extent of my newly denuded torso. Her hands traced my neckline, my shoulders. Then I remember her somehow keeping the matches suspended there around my nipple line.
“Is this going to hurt?” I asked with a precarious whimper. She just shook her head and laughed. She didn’t use a staple or some kind of clamping device, that much I know. Maybe she held them there with her fingers, maybe it was some kind of wiccan ritual and I had descended into the eighth level of Dante’s hell. Shouts of “Jersey Shore,” started up in the room. I could barely stand. She was smiling. Licking her lips. I could have sworn the pink sliver that peeked from her glossed lips was forked. Laughter everywhere now. Pat asking me “What the hell are you doing, man?” Me looking away in shame. Everyone’s voices coalescing into one blaring cacophony. Blackness.
Next thing I knew I woke up in the hotel room. Veins I didn’t know I had throbbing pumplike all across my head. Moral of the story: Don’t ever scoff at an aspiring actress in public. Or drink with Pat in New York again. Ever. ]
After the fireworks display, the two of us (our numbers had dwindled even further to just Russ and I by this point, which, for the record, was about 4:00am. Pussies.) shared a couple more pitchers, chatted with an overtly friendly Boston sympathizer (you don’t have to tell me you don’t hate me for being a Sox fan, dude, I don’t really care), and called it a night by stumbling around the streets of Manhattan like two newborn fawns growing accustomed to their own legs, and somehow navigated back to our hotel room which, remember, had 9 people sleeping in it at this point. At about 5:00 am. And we managed to wake up every single one of them effortlessly. I immediately demanded a spot on one of the beds, where I faceplanted and remained for the rest of the night (which ended up being around three or so hours). Russ, inexplicably, decided to “take a walk” and did god knows what on the streets of Manhattan in the wee hours of daybreak. I’m sure even if I asked Russ what he did during that spontaneous adventure, he would have no idea.
The next morning was one of about three times in my life I can say I was hungover. I don’t know if it’s because I’m relatively new to the drinking game, or because I drink more water than probably anyone I know, but I don’t really ever get hungover. This morning was a skull-piercingly painful exception. Russ was in the same boat, and after we dragged our dehydrated, probably alcohol-poisoned corpses around New York City for an hour or so, we hopped on the ever-reputable ten dollar Fung-Wah bus home. Our normal boisterousness and child-like excitement was replaced with this brief, shameful conversation:
Russ: “Welp, don’t expect any entertainment out of me on this bus ride.”
Pat: “Nope, me either.”
Followed by the both of us passing out immediately for the four hour bus ride home.
What a painful, horrendous morning.
Man, I really wanna go back to Manhattan.
*Not the actual Japanese name he gave. I don’t even remotely remember what his Japanese name was, so I Googled “Japanese boys names” and “Genichi” was the first name that popped up. True story.