When I first heard about the Modern Drunkard Magazine convention I thought to myself: This is it! The drinking man's equivalent of One Lap! And the timing couldn't have been more perfect: I was out of work and sober. A quick call to Don Kahn of KML Racing and things were set up: Don, Carl and Sara Warren and myself (all One Lap of America veterans) were off to Vegas for a three day drunk-fest.
We started our trip at the Bradley International Airport bar imbibing on a couple of beers, three cosmopolitans and a black russian. Since our flight was on time, we had to transfer our pre-convention celebration to the first class cabin of our airplane where we were served more beer, a rum and coke, and at least six sea breezes. I say at least six because Carl had five and he wasn't sharing with Sara. Don ordered a Bloody Mary. Then another. "I think I've had enough," said Don. But Mary Ann, the flight attendant, insisted that a third was mandatory for pre-Convention training. Since Mary Ann was obviously an authority in such matters, Don acquiesced. Unbelieveably, Northwest Airlines does not, I repeat DOES NOT, serve tequila!
Changing planes in Detroit, Don, Sara and I decided to abstain but Carl just couldn't resist a margarita at the Jose Cuervo Taquileria.
The flight to Vegas was spent mostly asleep. A pleasent slumber only occasionally interrupted by Carl ordering more sea breezes. As unbelieveable as the flight to Detroit, this one didn't serve tequila either! I was outraged! Damn you Northwest!
At McCarren Airport we were greeted by our limousine which came fully equipped with... "Ooh! Look, champagne!" Sara squealed in delight. Carl opened his bag and produced a half gallon of Don's Punch. Don's Punch is a complicated formula involving industrial quantities of marachino cherries, brandy, rye, gin and, I suspect, just a hint of WD-40. We drank half the bottle. Carl chose to dilute his punch with champagne.
When we arrived at the Golden Nugget, Sara realized she still had a third of a bottle left.
"Can I take this with me?" she asked the driver.
"Of course," he replied.
As we stepped out of the car, Sara, east coast debutante that she is, became concerned about carrying an open container.
"Is it okay if I'm walking around with this?" she asked the doorman while wiggling the bottle in his face.
"Sure, ma'am. Just try to not hit anybody in the head with it," he said.
And speaking of hitting, an obviously lonely and very drunk, late middle aged woman started hitting on me as I innocently ordered a rum and coke. Flattered as I was, I had to be on my way to Don's suite for some much needed re-hydration. Besides, I'm married and I wasn't that drunk. Well, not then. But after returning to Don's suite and finishing the remaining quart of punch I had rectified the situation.
After spending most of the day visiting friends and napping, we met in Don's suite for a pre-festivities round of drinks. We were also joined by Don's friend Julie, a local girl whose size, we discovered, was inversely proportionate to her ability to swill down Heineken. Don and I then donned our head gear: genuine Modern Drunkard Magazine fezzes. Like the ad says, "It's the height of drinking sophistication!"
This year's Modern Drunkard Magazine Convention was held in the Celebrity Ballroom, an unpretentious venue just a block off of Fremont Street. At 6:30pm we arrived and registered. While Don, Julie and I had pre-registered, Carl and Sara bought day passes but were curiously issued press credentials. Apparently the Modern Drunkard Magazine staff had had a few pre-festivities drinks, too.
Being among the older attendees, we first sought seating arrangements as chairs were in high demand. Then, it was off to the bar. Gin and tonic for Don, Heineken for Julie and a rum and coke for me. I think it was Sea Breezes for Carl and Sara when the emcee, Titsa Galore started off the fun singing "When You're Good to Mama" from Chicago. More non-stop entertainment followed: strippers, gymnasts, stripper gymnasts and truly weird burlesque. Go Pony Girl! Go! It was like Weimar period German cabaret on acid.
Like any convention, there was more than just tasteful entertainment. There were several vendor booths offering samples and sales of their wares. At one booth, a lovely young woman was pouring shots of a seductively dark fluid. It became evident that if one were willing to partake of this liquid, one would be rewarded with not just a snootful of alcohol but with a T-shirt and LED lit yo-yo. Must have swag! So of course I asked for shot. As I was about to knock it back, the patroness told me that a ginger ale back is usually preferred. Just what was this I was about to drink? Bitters, she said. But not just any bitters, this bitters was fortified with ginseng, eychtenesia and a host of exotic ingredients guaranteed to cure any hangover and gout. Would a rum and coke back do? "Probably," was the answer. Good enough for me!
It was like swallowing death. But at least I got my t-shirt and yo-yo!
By nine o'clock, it was clear that if I was to make it through the long haul, I'd have to alter my drinking. Rum and coke is a fine libation but to make it through three days of heavy drinking I'd need something else: Kamikazes!
It was around this time that the light weights began to drop out. Like One Lap, this was an eight tenths event. How many times have we seen an incredibly fast 900 horsepower car perform brilliantly in the first two or three events only to litter the race track with engine bits on the fourth? Such as it was here. Those who couldn't pace themselves pulled out to an early lead only to find themselves aspirating their own stomach contents from the ballroom floor.
Alas, the entertainment went downhill the rest of the evening with bands operating under the theory that volume is a substitute for talent. They're wrong. Luckily, we were drunk.
At 12:30, the first night's event came to a close. Many of the world class drinkers headed off to the Double Down Saloon to continue their celebrations but we decided we weren't in their league and returned to the Golden Nugget.
Don, Carl, Sara and I go the Las Vegas Hilton so Carl and Sara can do the Start Trek Experience while Don and I repair ourselves to Quark's bar. I order ginger ale and Don orders the Romulan ale sampler (which I suspect is nothing more than various Samuel Adams beers with food coloring added). When Carl and Sara return (looking not TOO nauseuos) Don orders a Warp Core Breach for us to share - a 20 ounce hideous concoction of ten different rums, assorted fruit juices and dry ice for that science fiction ambience. My advice? Stick your finger down your throat. It's faster and cheaper.
After a much needed nap, we were rejoined with Julie and returned to the Celebrity Ballroom for round two.
We arrived a little late to find ourselves in the midst of the Drunkard Trivia challenge. Somewhat taken up with the spirit of the event, I started shouting answers to the questions.
Q: What is the name of the film that Scotch leaves in a glass?
I answer: Scum!
Q: What is the medical term for the DT's?
I answer: Delirium Tremens you fucking cretin!
Q: Before beer was available in cans, you could carry it home from the bar in a pail. What was this pail called?
I answer: A God damn beer bucket you fucking asshole!
Had we arrived a little sooner, I would have known that the answers were to be submitted in writing, not verbally. Sometime in the midst of the Trivia Challenge, Carl and Sara left the event for a romantic limo ride down the Las Vegas strip. It's safe to assume that none of the limousine's champagne was wasted.
Upon returning from said limo ride, Carl went over to the vendor booths and brought back several shots of bitters which he proceeded to knock back one after the other.
Don notes that this is one of the few places where you can see men dance alone (or with other men) without wondering if they're gay. They're not. They're just really, really hammered.
And speaking of hammered, Don had set his pace by keeping a Rum and Coke in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other. Me? I'm sticking with my buddy the kamikaze. Kamis never let you down!
It's 12:30 again and the bouncers started pushing us out. I seem to recall we were two members short in our party. Did Carl and Sara leave already? Don, Julie and I made it back to the hotel when Don decided that what we really needed was sushi. At the hotel's sushi restaurant it becomes evident to me that I was not as inebriated as Don and Julie. I also came to the conclusion that nothing good can come from a lot of alcohol and raw fish. So I left.
Carl and Sara left for the east coast that morning leaving Don and I to soldier on alone.
I woke up to find myself still drunk. Woo hoo! Head start on the day! I seemed to remember that my friend Mike Vogel (another One Lap veteran) was playing in a casino employees poker tournament at the Wynn. So I took a cab over to the Wynn where I was told there's no tournament that today. Hmm, maybe Mike said Caesar's. So I walked over to Caesar's to discover that there was no poker tournament there either. At this point, a few more of my neurons started to fire and decided to use my cell phone to call him.
It turns out the poker tournament wasn't until Monday and besides, it was to be at the Rio. Oh well, it was back to the Nugget for me.
Once again I returned to Don's suite to discover that Julie won't be joining us for the last night of the convention. For some reason, she wanted to spend time with her children. So, it was just Don and I staggering back to the Celebrity Ballroom for the home stretch.
We quickly ordered drinks and found a table when the entertainment started up with the Drunken Poetry Chenga Challenge. This involved the reading of bar room poetry by one of the MDM staff. At random points in his recital he'd shout "Chenga!" and one of the comeptitors would drink a shot of tequila and then remove a piece of wood from the Chenga tower. Somehow, one of the competitors, was designated "bartender" and it was his job to pour the shots. The man this duty was thrust upon was Oggar (pronounced "ogre"). Oggar is about six feet and somewhere in the 270, 300 pound range. Just to be friendly mind you, Oggar would see to it that each contestant did not drink alone. Oggar was drinking a shot of tequila with each contestant. Sometimes he'd have two shots. Occassionally three. This was very entertaining to watch but had the effect of draining the tequila bottle well ahead of schedule.
Every year in One Lap, there is at least one team that blows up an engine or catches fire and they spend the whole night heroically making repairs so that they can return to the frey. The Modern Drunkard Magazine Convention saw similar feats. One of the attendees passed out in spectacular fashion. Down, out and then the convulsions began. The paramedics arrived and were able to revive him. He then refused further treatment, ignored the invitation to be taken to the hospital and instead (drum roll please) went back to the bar to order another drink. Truly dedication worthy of any One Lapper!
Then the Drunken Olympics started up. I recall there being eight events to the Drunken Olympics but I can only remember four of them: Chug-a-Beer, Hit-on-a-Floozy, Call-That-Drink and Drag-A-Drunk.
Then there were more strippers and gymnasts followed by the convention zenith when Titsa Galore Jello-wrestled some fat guy wearing a mask and Sweet Mother of God! a g-string! This was better than being on the set of a John Waters movie!
Alas, the entertainment took a serious nose dive with some astonishingly bad and loud bands. (And one good band: The Pandas!) These bands were so loud, so crappy, they literally drove half the attendees from the ballroom. But with ears bleeding, Don and I stuck it out to the bitter end. As the farewell speeches began, Don and I ordered a final round of drinks (kamikaze for me, rum and coke, and gin and tonic for Don). When the lights were turned up, we realized we had done it, we may have lost Carl, Sara and Julie but God damn it, we made it!
With some difficulty we headed back to the hotel. As we entered the lobby Don said, "We should pick up some middle aged homely women. Where do we go?"
"Good man! Set your sites low! Follow me!" I said. I steered Don to the casino bar where I was hit on the first night. Sure enough, there were two, unescorted middle-aged women sitting at the bar playing video poker. We ordered drinks (gin and tonic, kamikaze), Don sat next to one of the women and said, "Hi, where are you from?"
The woman said, "Vermont."
"No you're not!" said Don and then he proceeded to argue with her about where she came from. After eight seconds of this abuse, the women left. "Ingrates!" said Don, "We need sushi!"
Perhaps I too may have had a bit too much to drink because unlike the previous night, sushi sounded like a good idea.
When we got to the "Noodle Room" we were having serious motor control issues but Don was somehow able to order some unagi and California roll while I wimped out with a poststicker. Don then said to me, "We should buy some women drinks. Are there any women here?"
There were only two other tables with patrons: one with a Japanese couple and another with three thirty-something women. "Yup, right over there," I said.
"Waiter! I want to buy those women drinks!"
The waiter had a somewhat limited command of the English language and after much explaining seemed to get the idea and headed straight for the table with the Japanese couple. This diners spoke neither English nor Mandarin. Despite Don's cries of "No you idiot! The other table!" the waiter pressed on until the Japanese couple were able to communicate their refusal. Then the waiter went to the table with three women. I saw the women look over to us with expressions of revulsion on their faces. "Sorry, we've had enough," they said.
That was enough for me. I shook Don's hand I returned to my room where I collapsed on my bed in a near-blackout coma...
...until my phone rang. I looked at the clock. One thirteen a.m. It was Don, "Hey, there's a party in the suite upstairs. Frank Kelly Rich and bunch of the Modern Drunkard staff are there. Come on over, now!" And he hung up. I said to myself, "Must... go to... party..." The next thing I know, I'm looking at the clock: six thirty-five am. I checked myself. I was in my underware. I'm pretty sure I didn't make it to the party.
Much, much later, I joined Don in his suite. Considering that some of the party upstairs had spilled into his room, there was surprisingly little damage. And, two very confused women left Don their phone numbers. "I think I know who left this one, but I don't remember anybody else."
It was about this time that Don noted the final similarities with One Lap:
1) When it's all over, you feel like shit.
- and -
2) You start planning for next year.