It was Brewer’s Festival week, and for those of us with brewing-industry-related jobs, this means 5 days of manning a vendor booth and watching people get drunk and try to hook up… I mean, “sample lots of Oregon craft beer.”
There is a certain elegance to the drunk dance (two steps to the right, one step to the left, did she find that charming, or is she gonna hit him?). The Festival is always packed full of crowds of “Bros” and women in precariously inappropriate shoes, which appear to be compatible mating groups. So, aside from the complement of leiderhosen-clad hipsters, the unicyclist bagpiper dressed like Darth Vader (a local personality), and the unending competition for “who wants to be America’s favorite marching band” (my favorite totally didn’t show up, btw), watching the Bro-Trixie two-step is the best show on the air from the confines of a festival vendor tent, with the exception, perhaps, of being next to the medical tent — this year they used real glasses (since, recycling), which made for an impressive display of gaping, bloody hand lacerations when the delicate glasses broke in the Bros’ meat-paws. (Curses to that damn same kilt-vendor, who got the choicest seats to the bloodbath, but did come by to kiss me hello every day, so I can’t be too mad.) Anyway, regardless of what was in our immediate fest-i-vision, we all snugged up in our tents with our pretzels and modestly-single glasses of beer and strapped in for the show each day. I’d like to say it was like “The Dating Game,” but it was frankly much more like “Let’s Make A Deal,” complete with a creepy old leches leering at the young-and-lovelies spilling out of the sundresses you can only wear for three weeks each Oregon summer.
It reminded me of certain universal hookup truths: Long ago, when I worked in a TV studio, the build crew kept really weird hours (because, you know, the “talent” takes the stage during the hours that reasonable humans like to be awake and productive). Thus, when we finished up at about 1:30 a.m., our options for acquiring a placid after-work beer were fairly limited. We had the good fortune to be theatre monkeys in a city with a passel of 4 a.m. bars, i.e., bars that serve alcohol until 4 a.m. (or 3:40 at least), so we usually piled in a couple cabs and headed to one we called “Mistakes” (I’m sure it had a real name, but this one was so much more descriptively apropos.) Now, 4 a.m. bars are typically where the bar crowd goes after the regular bars throw their hammered asses out the doors at 2 a.m. When we arrive, sober, paint and sawdust-streaked, stinking of arc welding, we are 1) completely invisible, because apparently drunk people have “drunkdar” that allows them to home in on only the other drunk patrons, and 2) ready to be outrageously entertained by the free sideshow. Our favorite bet was “Is she going to go home with him…or puke on his shoes?” A dollar and bragging rights went to the winner, and we counted it as a win for “puke” if she urgently put her hand to her mouth and bolted. (For those of you keeping score, the odds were about even.) The show never disappointed. Our employer won Emmys, but for us, the real quality was in the after-hours entertainment.
We did notice that one real advantage of conducting the sex negotiations while drunk beyond the capacity for rational thought is that rejection is both far more brutally honest, and not nearly as crushing, as it would be sober. Actual exchange: “So…could I go home with you?” “No.” “Oh…” (the question hangs in the air, unasked, yet waiting for an explanation)… “Because I think you’ll suck.” ………….(YIKES!………….Response from the candidate?)………. “Oh. OK. Sorry.” Damn, alcohol is a kind drug sometimes.
The unfortunateness comes when you realize, sober, the next morning, that the wanker you casually gave head to in the bathroom (NEVER attempt to use a toilet innocently in a 4 a.m. bar, by the way) or energetically made out with at said drunken beer festival actually has your real phone number. You realize this, of course, when he texts you to ask for an actual date…and then texts you every few hours for the next intervening few days, at which point you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS DATE and have to come up with a good reason because you are a nice person and can’t just say “something’s come up” or stand him up like a coward and then lie about how your sister was in a terrible motorcar accident with a truckload of chickens and she’s allergic to poultry so you had to drive to Poughkeepsie to stab her with an Epi-pen and you’re really sorry you didn’t text.
Instead, you come up with something moderately embarrassing but credible, like, “I’m really sorry, but it’s shark week,” assuming he knows this means it’s that time of the month where there’s blood in the water and that is a TOTALLY valid reason you can’t meet up for a date where sexing might be on the menu, which is completely reasonable until one of your friends points out that it’s actually Shark Week on The Discovery Channel, and all of the sudden your legitimate excuse may be easily confused with you potentially bailing on the pleasure of drunk-fuck’s company to watch sharks enthusiastically snack on seal kebabs. Which may or may not be an acceptable reason to get out of a date, but certainly makes you seem like a real piece of chum.
(As an aside, I’ve actually effectively used “I’m moving to another state, indefinitely,” when I acquired a stage-4 clinger (hourly texts and discussions of moving in together following an overly-aggressive concert culminating in a terrifying array of visibly broken bones, which the gathered crowd promptly erased from our memories with copious amounts of scotch and subsequent copulatory pairings-off) quite fortuitously a week or so before I was, in fact, relocating 2500 miles away. This excuse is not a good choice as a lie, however, because in a city of 3.1 million people, you absolutely will run into that gentleman when you are alone in the ghetto and he turns up as the only cab you’ve seen in 45 minutes of hailing…promise.)
This year at the fest, although we did have to endure a 15-minute harangue about one Trixie’s woeful life (like, her friends want her to get them free stuff? and her dress is difficult to bend down in? and she is so regrettably heterosexual? and she HATES African food, why would they have a booth selling it?), numerous Bro come-ons which more confused than enticed us, and uncomfortable hugs from acquaintances who seemed to wish to be very much more than acquaintances, we left the festival with no regrets, no day-after problem texters, and nothing to apologize for at confession or create crafty excuses to avoid.
I’m calling it a total failure.