Drunk of the Week

Do you believe in miracles? The continued marketing of Zima and of Aspen low-carb "beer" certainly qualify. So does having a clear conscience after excusing four nights of drinking on the pretext that "I haven't seen so-and-so for a long time." That the suspiciously close relationship of SpongeBob SquarePants and Squidward continues to get airtime on "legitimate" cable news shows is one of the most profound miracles I've ever witnessed. In fact, it's topped only by this: The Executive Council of the Institute of Drinking Studies did not get kicked out of Elway's (2500 East First Avenue) the other night.

We had been looking forward to experiencing Elway's even before the Cherry Creek steakhouse/saloon opened last November; we had little doubt that it would be populated by beautiful people who would want nothing to do with us. So we prepared all week, building our alcohol tolerance to such a level that it would be at least ten o'clock before we were out of control. The Head of Sleeper Drunks put himself through an especially rigorous protocol that involved a mild head injury; I must say, the sympathy garnered by the gash over his eye surprised us all.

From the minute we walked into Elway's very nice bar area, it was obvious that we belonged in this place about as much as a Raiders fan. The other patrons were dressed like they were out for an event. They'd seen hairdressers. They wore furs. Highly attractive women sported impossibly short skirts with slits on the side and knee-high dirty boots, yet gave an overall impression that was positive and not at all Colfax-esque. Guys boasted more jewelry than I've given to others in my entire life to date. These were the sort of people whom John Elway could talk to (as he did that night) without embarrassment.

After a quick stop in the men's room -- the fountain at the entrance is guaranteed to wreak havoc on your bladder -- our first task was to synchronize our watches and place bets on when we would be escorted from the bar. Nobody would gamble on more than an hour, because instead of looking mildly presentable, we looked like we had just left the Ward Churchill Memorial Clown College. J.P., decked out in an orange North Face vest and soul patch, would've seemed more at home in one of the Titanic's lifeboats than in the classy digs of Denver's favorite son. Working hard to fit in when we stuck out like a sore thumb, we seemed to say something extremely inappropriate about anatomy or relationships during every dip in volume. Even Jennifer, the singer with the killer pipes at the piano in the corner, wasn't safe. Toward the end of the night, Dr. Etiquette couldn't stand the tension any longer and when she asked for requests, he bellowed, "Play 'Freebird'!" This was answered by the laughter of exactly four people.

Despite our overt displays of immaturity and social ineptitude, we were fairly popular in some areas. Perhaps it was pity for the Head of Sleeper Drunks' injury, but more likely it was a sense that such moronic guys could never be a threat. To women, at least -- the other men at the bar no doubt wondered why those high-class ladies would give such a pack of idiots the time of day. We were wondering the same thing ourselves. Despite not being able to keep our stories straight (why the Head of Drinking Regrets decided to tell the truth for a change is beyond me), none of the women accosted in the hopes of sharing a mutual regret summarily shot down any in our group. Their massive confusion over who they were actually dealing with may have overloaded their normal defenses.

Or maybe it was the quick service and exceptional libations provided by the extraordinary staff that put all of us on an equal footing. If you need a bar that will impress a date or client, Elway's is a safe bet -- you could end up having a stimulating conversation with someone way out of your league. Just be on the lookout for members of the Institute trying to drag you down to their level. Bigger miracles have happened.

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Patrick Osborn

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