Drunk of the Week

Sometimes just a small, evil influence can tip a night over to the Dark Side. And while the Dark Side may appear more powerful, a bar will not hesitate to throw Darth Vader -- or anyone associated with him -- out of the place at the drop of a hat. Or a beer.

This particular evening started out at a nice dinner with lots of free beer and wine, and most of us were highly indiscriminate about what passed between our lips. For the Institute of Drinking Studies, this was the ultimate application of the Dr. Evil theory that threatens our very existence: It all tastes the same if you drink it fast enough. While conducting research in the controlled environment of a private party, we were relatively safe. But then we ventured out into the world for the inevitable after-party, and there were just too many kinds of booze tempting such impaired individuals.

We chose to continue partying at the Appaloosa Grill (535 16th Street), largely because we'd been there a few weeks back and had fond memories of listening to a great live band, dancing poorly and not caring, and watching as the Head of Sleeper Drunks sang into the rear end of the band's lead singer, who had her microphone stuffed in her back pocket. And initially, we were not disappointed in our choice, because there was another good band, and we found a large booth that fit nearly all of us, with only me spilling into the walkway.

But there was a disturbance in the Force, in the form of a nearby guy wearing a turtleneck and a sport coat. Looking at him, you just knew he'd proudly wear a dickie like Uncle Eddie in the Vacation movies; I wondered where his white bucks were. Anyway, he turned his nose up at the detritus that had been deposited next to him and made some comment to the woman he had paid to be with him that caused her to laugh hysterically. Knowing this was a shot at us, we decided to use all the powers of the Dark Side against him, and one of the guys at our table ordered him one of those Aspen non-beers. I'm not sure what finally made the guy leave, but we figured it had to be connected to our very loudly stated opinions that only a girl, or a guy in a turtleneck, could order such beer with a clear conscience.

Having cleared our area of its only entertainment potential, the group started breaking off in search of trouble. Fueled by the addition of hard liquor, a few shots and beer or wine chasers, we were ready for just about anything. While most of us went out and were social, or earned five-minute majors for elbowing on the dance floor, or just went and bellied up to the bar, one of our number decided to pass out in the booth. Because we were in public and without a permanent marker, we couldn't pull the usual pranks involving indelible faces and hands in warm water. We just occasionally went by and made sure she was breathing.

But the next thing we knew, the bouncer was in our faces, telling us we all had to go. Apparently our fallen comrade had gotten up and tried to break the land-speed record to the girls' room but didn't quite make it. Instead of hugging the porcelain, she settled for yelling at the floor, if you know what I mean. And so we were all ejected, but not before a spirited exchange between myself and the bouncer regarding the utility of throwing out the whole group versus taking care of one unfortunate soul. I can assure you that strict parliamentary procedure was observed throughout this discussion.

While the Dark Side is sometimes a necessary drunk -- especially after breakups, holidays and the latest loss by your favorite team -- the Appaloosa is not the spot for it. I'd find someplace that is friendlier to the hard-core drinker, like a frat house. And if you subscribe to Dr. Evil's theory of oneness between different drinks, just remember: It never tastes the same on the way back up.

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Patrick Osborn

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