By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
No one here at the Institute of Drinking Studies is dumb enough to admit that he is a virgin. In fact, I'd guess that every representative has had carnal knowledge of someone, and I'd also guess that most members are fairly prolific, if not proficient. I base this on a spirited discussion from a few weeks back, when we were pre-lubricating at the Paramount Cafe (519 16th Street) before heading out to see The Forty-Year-Old Virgin (one of the five funniest movies ever). Everyone who was forced to listen to our conversation was surely impressed by our sensitivity toward those unlucky enough to have been persuaded to spend five or ten minutes of pure pleasure with one of us. As JP aptly put it, "I'm never more Christian than when I'm in bed."
Out of bed, though, we displayed our typical lack of respect for ourselves and others. The Paramount Cafe is located on the 16th Street Mall, in the middle of a busy block that's perfect for people-watching. We got to observe several packs of attractive personnel from the opposite sex walk by, and I'm sure our appreciative behavior reminded these women of the last time they walked by a construction site.
But then JP pointed out that there was something more important to watch for on the mall: the ultra-quiet, gas-efficient shuttle buses. While we applaud their environmental friendliness, we wonder if stealth buses are the best idea for such a heavily populated area. These silent behemoths prowl the mall, just waiting for the next jaywalker, homeless person, eerily accurate robot performer or congo-laden musician to set foot in their paths -- but if you can't outrun one of these suckers, you probably don't deserve to live. We here at the Institute are big fans of natural selection; that's why you'll never see one of us pass out in front of the others and risk waking up with a permanent Howdy Doody face carefully crafted by a drunken representative with a red Sharpie.
Not that Institute members made no mistakes this night. JP started off on the wrong foot when he ordered a Diet Coke, then felt compelled to comment on a companion's purse, saying it was "pretty cool." Stunned silence held sway for several heartbeats (to the joy of surrounding tables) as we frantically tried to muster enough verbal abuse so that no Institute member would dare say anything so crass ever again. But we were so flabbergasted that we could only question his manhood and call him Betsy Hoffman's favorite term of endearment.
JR tried to shirk the blame by claiming that the straw he'd been drinking through had led him to become "unruly." Which we bought for a second, until we realized that the theory holds that you get drunk quicker if you drink beer, not Diet Coke, through a straw. This was the reason the beer bong was invented. Now that we drink more expensive beer, the beer bong has fallen somewhat out of favor with our group, but we still have our favorite bong episodes. Our best effort involved stealing one of the pink flamingos from Steve McAlpine's front yard, cutting the tip off the beak and then pouring in the beer. The bird bong could hold an entire six-pack, but even better was when I got a two-liter bottle of Sun Country wine cooler (wine coolers were still cool early in my high school years) into the flamingo and then my belly -- and didn't throw up a kaleidoscope of colors until more than two hours later.
You can't bring a bong to the Paramount, which is unfortunate, because the slowest bartender in the West works behind the bar. But once we were seated, the food and excellent service sustained us. That, and the great vantage point for watching all the people who might someday help us remain non-virgins. If they remember to watch out for the buses.