We decided right away that neither of us was interested in driving and being Al escaped the house and forced limousine duty a few months ago, our options were limited. Our spouses - as kind, loving and patient as they may be - have limits and designated driving their progressively more obnoxious spouses from place to place was about as likely as "Dr." Marcus Bachmann liking boobies. Plus, stupid traffic laws actually say that in order for a driver with a learner's permit to operate a vehicle, the adult in the car must be sober (it's true, I looked it up). So Audrey was out of the question. That left two options - bus or bike. I love the bus - it's efficient, cheap and great for people watching. The bus is, however, one of those things (like reading or drinking a liter of Jameson) that is best done alone. Trying to hold a conversation with me on a bus is futile. Even if you get past the roaring of the engine and my progressive deafness and I actually understand you, I'm too paranoid of other people listening in on the conversation. This would not work with Adrian - there are few things Adrian enjoys more than talking (more on this later). So, we decided to bike it like the urban middle-age man hipsters we are.
We took off from my place about 4:00. Early, I realize, but as I had every intention of drinking until I was pretty and I can't trust myself to be awake past 8:30, I thought it wise to get an early start. So, we hopped on and headed down Central, but not before the eternal mother KT forced us to have our picture taken.
Two items of interest in this picture:
1. Yes, I'm wearing a helmet. Partly because I know I will be biking home intoxicated later and partly because not wearing a helmet while biking is one of the three things that KT will NOT tolerate (farting in the shower and watching animals hunt each other on Planet Earth are the other two). She is so strict on this rule that she still harasses Al about it almost daily and Audrey has given up bike riding entirely. Also, Adrian is not wearing a helmet. This is because Adrian is the type of person who drives motorcycles in triple-digit speeds.
2. If you look closely, you will notice that Adrian has a considerable amount of sweat soaking through his shirt under his right breast already. This is because he has already rode his bike all the way from his house to mine, which is exactly 1.4 miles, 1.2 of which are downhill. I won't pretend that I wouldn't have also been this sweaty, but it's always fun for the sweaty guy to point out other people who sweat profusely (shout-out to Steve S. and Todd A.)
So, anyways, we head down Central which is a nice easy ride, the majority of it downhill (we do, after all, live in Columbia HEIGHTS). After 15 or 20 minutes, we near Kramarczuk's and spy a menacing "Oktoberfest Beer Tasting" sign at Surdyk's, right across the street. They had me at Oktoberfest. We step inside and make it our personal mission to sample each of the 30-some beers, as well as all of the gins, whiskeys and tequilas. We do, however, draw the line at the wine sampling, because what are we, sissies? (side note: the beer experts who pour samples at Surdyk's are remarkable. Who knew that every beer expert was young, perky and looked amazing in a dirndl, miniskirt and thigh highs? Amazing!) So, after about an hour of this, during which Adrian was careful to chat up anyone within a six foot radius (remember, he likes to talk - still more on this to come), we have our first inklings of a buzz. It feels nice, our sweat-drenched shirts have almost dried, and the world is our oyster. Off to Kielbasa fest.
There aren't a ton of people at Kielbasa Fest, but it's early and the beer line is short. We pay our $10 cover charge, which includes a beer and a pretty cool mug as well. Before long we have filled and emptied our mugs a few times while watching some Ukranian folk dancing and stuffing down some obnoxious sized kielbasas. About this time, Adrian - not shy to begin with - starts to become extremely out-going. Anyone within earshot who makes the mistake of glancing in our direction is fair game and quickly has either found a new best friend or tells tales of the crazy guy at Kielbasa Fest. I, on the other hand, am slightly more reserved to put it mildly. I don't like talking in general and doing so to complete strangers is about as much fun for me as constipation. At one point, after Adrian had made about 14 new Facebook friends (I may be exaggerating, but not by much), he actually said to me "Every time I chat someone up you take at least three steps away from me, don't you?" I denied it at the time, but only because I don't like it when Adrian is right. Luckily (or perhaps unfortunately) alcohol is the great equalizer and soon I was joining Adrian in his quest to be on a first name basis with everyone under the tent.
About the time of our sixth or seventh beer, I again noticed a giant sweat stain covering Adrian's shirt. This was confusing as we hadn't been on our bikes in a few hours and although it was unseasonably warm, it wasn't soak-through-your-shirt hot. I was about to ask him if he was alright, but soon solved the puzzle. I watched as Adrian lifted his mug to take a drink and proceeded to pour the majority of the swallow onto his shirt. Instead of recoiling or becoming embarrassed (we were, after all, talking with his newest Facebook friends), he didn't notice it at all. He could not have possibly gotten more than a few drops of beer into his actual mouth, but never broke his continual conversational stream. Me, being the assholic opportunist that I am, couldn't let this pass without trying to shame Adrian. I pointed out his now soaked shirt, made some sort of brilliant snarky comment (I don't actually remember what I said but I'm sure it was brilliant. Drink much? Saving that for later? You get the point...), and expected him to be shamed into submission. Instead, without ever stopping - or even pausing - his conversation with whomever he had just met, this happened:
Three items of interest in this picture:
1. Notice the psychotic look in his eye. This wasn't a trick of the camera. This is how he looked from about 7:30 on.
2. I'm fairly certain that had I been standing behind Adrian, 3.5 inches of ass crack would have been visible.
3. Good golly he is a hairy motherfucker.
As is probably apparent, Adrian whipped off his shirt in the midst of Kielbasa Fest and changed into his newly purchased souvenir. Awesome. I decided then it was probably time for us to move on. Instead, we stayed for a few more beers, made several more bestest friends and finally realized that it was time to go to ensure we didn't miss the band.
We jumped back on our bikes and headed downtown - not nearly as daunting as it may sound as, despite our altered condition, Minneapolis is so damn bike friendly now (I'm not complaining) that it is easier to bike than drive or probably even walk). We ended up arriving a few minutes early and decided it was probably best that we get some food and some water (gasp!) into us before we began drinking more. We walked a few blocks to a pizza joint - uneventful except for Adrian intertwining himself with a bachelorette party, stumbling and nearly falling down a couple of times and saying "I'm loaded!" no less than 17 times - had a few slices and some much needed non-alcoholic beverages and were on our way to the Entry.
I've only been to the 7th Street Entry a few times since the smoking ban was enacted (see: Middle Age Man Syndrome) and although I am immensely thankful for the ban, I hardly recognize the place when I can see from one end of the room to the other. My memories of the Entry are indelibly infused with a giant, thick smoke screen which is awesome at the time but makes your hangover about eight times worse. Regardless, the music was great - Steve's band was incredibly poised and tight for their first live performance - the crowd was wonderful and full of friends and we had a great time. I also had several more beers. Adrian fell in love with his camera and became too busy to drink beer, instead taking extreme close-ups of just about everyone in the place. It was probably for the best, considering we had a long and very uphill bike ride home in front of us. We stayed through Steve's band and most of the next act before saying our goodbyes and leaving to pedal for home.
We stepped outside to the sight of about 70 police cars, lights flashing, and all the roads blocked off. We didn't, however, see anything which might of caused this show of force. After asking a few questions, we were informed that we were in the midst of a riot, which was baffling as we didn't see anyone but a few bar patrons (who seemed to be doing far more watching than rioting) and police officers. We walked over to our bikes about half a block away and chatted with others wondering what was going on. I was "feeling no pain" by this point and was having a pretty monumental struggle with my bike lock. Consequently, I was looking down for a few minutes when I heard Adrian simply say "Whoa!". I looked up to see a swarm of people rushing towards us. We were soon in the middle of a giant mob of mostly teenagers moving down the street in a hurry. They weren't rioting - most were either crying, making panicked phone calls or just looking really frightened. After the crowd rushed past us, we saw several police on horseback riding behind them shouting "Keep moving! You can't stay here! Nobody is allowed on the streets!" Coincidentally, Adrian and I happened to be on the street. One of the cops stopped his horse directly in front of us. I was expecting to be chastised for being on the street and was preparing my "I'm just trying to unlock our bikes" excuse while muttering "you're drunk, don't be an asshole" over and over to myself. Instead, the cop looked down at us from his steed and said "Do you guys need a safe way out of here?". I was rendered speechless. Adrian, on the other hand, has never been rendered speechless. He roared with laughter and said, "Do we need a safe way out of here? From what?" He then stopped the next officer, asked him the name of his horse (Wilbur, which was the funniest thing Adrian had ever heard), patted the horse on the rear a few times and we were off.
The ride home was fairly uneventful - apart from stopping after several blocks and remembering that I had both of our bike lights tucked safely in my backpack rather than on our actual bikes - and I was home just before my self imposed curfew of midnight. Exhausted, I showered and went to bed, sleeping straight through 'til 5:45 Sunday morning. Sunday, I rewarded myself by staying awake for most of the first three quarters of the Vikings game. To top it off, I may repeat the revelry this Saturday as rumor has it there is a killer double bill at the Cause Spirits and Sound Bar. Who says middle-age men don't know how to party? See you there.