I woke up without a toenail, covered in bruises and scrapes. My head was pounding and everything seemed just a little bit foggy.
Ah, the vicissitudes of aging.
It seems that I am no longer the herculean drinker and doer of deeds that I once was. Time and my body have betrayed me to the point that I can no longer sustain the epic feats of debauchery that would have made my undergrad years so unforgettable (if I could remember anything that happened during them). You would think being in law school would mean that I am still in touch with the youth of America, but the truth is that their bacchanalian revels now leave me spent and wasted, battered and broken. Other people don’t seem to have this problem. Maybe it’s because my law school is only a law school and not attached to an undergrad university so I am not surrounded by college kids all the time. Or maybe it’s because the school is in a city and I’m no longer in a college town. Or maybe it’s because I am old and decrepit. In any case, I can’t handle this sort of thing any more.
Take this past weekend for example. My exams are over, the 1L year is officially behind me (assuming nothing devastating happens during the grading process) and the SemanticSister is town visiting so I was in a festive mood. Unfortunately, San Francisco was conspiring to use my desire to settle back and let off some steam as a means of luring me into damaging myself.
Things started off well enough at the Oyster Festival at Fort Mason. This was actually my second annual visit to the show, and the second time that the headliner band was an Irish rock band. This time it was Dropkick Murphys, which is another band I love but one with a slightly more aggressive sound than last year’s mellower Flogging Molly. That did not bode well.
Things started out calmly enough. The weather was nice and breezy after the unexpected heat wave that had been plastering my shorts to the back of my knees for the last few days. The sun was shining, the grass was freshly mowed, and the oysters flowed freely. I now live only a few blocks away from Fort Mason, so I decided to spend the morning doing some pre-drinking on the roof deck. I would soon learn that a half bottle of Bushmills before noon is a mistake. The powers that be decided to streamline the oyster fest experience by making everyone by tokens in order to buy beer. This had the effect of shortening the beer lines, because there was no messy mathematics involved. 1 Token = 1 Beer, nice and simple. The downside was that the line for tokens was ridiculously unwieldy. Intelligently, I bought an assload when I first got there and it proved to be more than enough to keep me heading back to the Port-O-Potties, as well as towards my doom. For most of the day and most of the day things were fine. I sat on a hill and listened to all the Bands Who Were Not The Dropkick Murphys played. I sucked back my oysters and all was right with the world.
It’s not so much the drinking that did me in, but what the drinking inspired. I had decided before hand that I would not be gracing the mosh pit with my presence. The kid was gonna sit on the bench for this one, and in order to encourage myself to stay out of the fray, I decided to attend the Oyster Festival wearing flip-flops, which should have been enough to keep my fat ass on the sidelines. But the whiskey and the $7 beers wouldn’t let me sit by the wayside while everyone else was rocking out. I tried to stay out of it. I stood with my girlfriend and listened to the first song or two, but before “Shipping Up To Boston” had even kicked into the second verse I was leaving my flip flops and hat with the civilians and waded barefoot into the middle of the pit, a look of stupid determination on my face.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but when all was said and done my left big toenail was gone, my knee was swollen and I was forced to limp home without my hat. 45 minutes of fruitless searching had revealed neither the hat nor the missing toenail even though I had claimed someone’s torn-up t-shirt and was running around waving it like battleflag in order to draw everyone’s attention to my quest. There was nothing to do but head home, order some Chinese food and Drunk-Dial my friends back in Florida and yell at them for not living in the same state as me. Good times.
But that wasn’t the end of the fiasco. San Francisco saw fit to follow up the Oyster Fest with the Bay To Breakers. Not so much a race or marathon as a never-ending parade of drunken lunatics in garish costumes pushing shopping carts filled with kegs up hills. I missed the event last year, so this was my first exposure to it. I was torn about whether or not to attend.
On the one hand it involves both running and fabulous costumes, neither of which I like.
On the other hand it is also about drinking and rowdiness, both of which I like.
It also takes place at an ungodly hour of a Sunday morning. 8:00 AM is a time when most normal people are at home in bed, moaning softly to themselves as they try to regrow missing body parts and catalog the multiple bruises running up and down their arms. In a concerted effort not to be lame, I dragged myself out of bed and threw myself on a bus headed directly into the heart of darkness. I did not run. I did not wear any gold lame. I just stood around, beer in hand and watched the madness unfold around me from my vantage point of the mid-level hill wear Hayes crosses Fillmore. Water balloons were thrown. This being San Francisco, there were more than a few prominent displays of full-frontal male nudity, but no one seemed to really care.
There were an inordinate number of pirates, and more than a few superheroes. The women seemed to favor uber-80s aerobics-instructor style looks with lots of leg warmers and body stockings. The men seemed to favor short shorts, and there were even a few Spartans present.
On Monday I was a wreck. A mere two days of drinking, moshing, walking, and hanging out in the sun took its toll on me. In my younger days, it would have been nothing. A weekend like this would be nothing but a warm-up for some real debauchery. At no point did I lose control of my basic bodily functions, or even feel “the urge contrary to swallowing” which were the bare minimums for a truly blow out FSU-style drunkfest. Yet, I was still physically destroyed. Even two days later I am still a wrecked empty shell of a man. I had to attend an unrelated doctor’s appointment and was told in no uncertain terms that I look like shit. The dude at the post office seems to concur with this diagnosis.
Better luck next year.