I would like to present the latest Institute of Drinking Studies breakthrough in applied physics: the Bathroom Theory of Relativity. You're engrossed in a discussion -- say, about what to name your friend's impending child -- and finally must sprint to the bathroom because you've held and held so that you could continue making ridiculous suggestions that would piss off your friend's wife. When you return two minutes later, you assume the conversation has moved on, because the group is now talking about the Geico commercial cavemen. But then the subject of excess hair turns the talk back to infants, as your balding head is compared to that of a newborn. This is why you never walk into the middle of a conversation.

Todd, the Professor Emeritus, made this mistake one recent night when he joined me, my wife and the Professor Emeritus of Stereotypical Wisconsin Drinkers at Caldonia's Tavern and Roadside BBQ (2252 South Parker Road, Aurora). Caldonia's is farther south than we usually drink, but since we're rapidly approaching the end of my wife's sentence as designated driver, we decided to take advantage (of her) and branch out. Todd and I had both been to Caldonia's during the summer, when the place really shines. It has a large patio just made for an afternoon drunk; the adjacent sand-volleyball courts are the perfect place to hurl your flabby, drunken body around in a display of stupefying athleticism; and you may even be lucky enough to share the courts with some young ladies who have a much more appropriate body image than you do.

Not that inaccurate body image is a problem unique to the Institute. Guys everywhere think they are much better-looking than they really are. Deep down, we're all like the Geico cavemen, only much less sophisticated. How else do you explain a guy who goes out in public with jeans held up by a belt and suspenders? His head may sport a total of eight hairs, all skillfully arranged to cover a tenth of his cranial surface area, and his T-shirt may be stained with food and B.O. -- but he'll still become indignant when some attractive young lady shoots him down, and inevitably will question her sexual orientation and/or sanity.



2252 South Parker Road, Aurora

Fortunately, we didn't see any such displays at Caldonia's on this night -- although I have in the past -- and were able to enjoy our dinner and drinks without visual disturbances. But after a few of the drinks served here, no one else's behavior would have mattered anyway. Just a few Maker's and Cokes were enough to blur our vision; if I wanted to catch the game on the big screen, I had to hold a hand over one eye to avoid vertigo. Besides, after overdoing the liquor, we knew we were the only good-looking guys present. In fact, we were so attractive that not even the sight of us stuffing our faces with wings or slopping ranch dressing on ourselves from the fried pickles (which I would never eat when sober) drove my wife away. We smiled our appreciation of her tolerance through masks of grease, cheese and Buffalo sauce.

Despite our sadly inept waitress (we finally had to corral one of her co-workers), we left Caldonia's fully satisfied -- although not satisfied enough to quiet the inner Neanderthal who demanded that my wife drop us off at the College Inn so that we could have those crucial last three doubles and stumble home. As old Air Force buddies brought back together despite obstacles of geography, timing and responsibility, it was only appropriate that we go down in flames together. But the Bathroom Theory of Relativity was not the only discovery stemming from this evening out. The next morning, we discovered the Drunkard's Theory of Relative Age: It's a real bitch when you go to bed 35 and wake up 90.

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