By Jamie Swinnerton
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I don't know if it's the wasabi, the gallons of alcohol consumed or simply the social act of gathering over raw fish, but something about our sushi runs makes the Institute of Drinking Studies wax poetic. We should videotape the proceedings so that we can later review them and figure out why things that were so hilarious at the time became so inscrutable a few days later. On our recent foray to Sushi Tazu (300 Fillmore Street), we could have used an entire TV production crew; the night was better than your average Real World outing.
While we were waiting to be seated, we knocked a few back -- but somehow failed to order a beer for the Redneck's angelic wife. A stymie -- a drink left by someone else -- sat in front of her, but she wouldn't go for it, which inspired a rousing discussion of when it's proper to consume stymies. There are safe stymies that are left behind by friends, neighbors or loved ones, and there are hard-core stymies that are left behind by strangers who may very well have criminal records for assaulting small woodland creatures. I can't say that I blame the Redneck's angelic wife; starting off with stymies is not recommended. But they're fine for later in the night when you've been cut off for being too obnoxious. That's when you park it by the waitress station and cherry-pick stymies as they come back to the bar. You've got to be a gambling man to do this, though, because slamming a cigarette butt can really put a damper on your evening.
From stymies, we moved to a quick dissection of craigslist -- which the Redneck considers the Thrifty Nickel of the Redneck Internet (as invented by Al Gore and refined by Ted Stevens). The sheer volume of choices on the home page is an assault on your eyes; you can search every state, most countries and the Andromeda galaxy from this one portal. And in each of those places, you can find housing, merchandise of any sort and even a mate, human or otherwise. I'm pretty sure we could have placed our sushi order online.
No Institute night would be complete without a discussion of relationships or what passes for relationships in our stunted realities. First we broached the subject of intimacy as my wife got on my case for never sitting next to her. "I live with you!" I answered. To me and the Redneck and every other guy there, this seemed like a reasonable reply. The women did not agree. Even though at home you may share a toothbrush and, on occasion, various bodily fluids, apparently it's a major statement to sit next to each other in public -- and groping your partner under the table does not count. While I don't understand this, I acquiesced, since I'm leaving Denver for Korea in just a couple of months and after that, I won't be able to sit next to her at all.
Once we'd organized our seating arrangement, we ordered an ocean of sushi. As the platters started arriving, there was no more talk; we kept our mouths otherwise occupied with wasabi and Sapporo. In retrospect, it's a good thing there was no TV crew to document how we stuffed our faces with Tazu's sushi. And washed it down with stymies.