(Technically this is the only story on the list that happened when I was a senior. In reality it’s kind of not, but when this happened I had successfully completed my finals and therefore, was kind of a senior)
My 21st birthday was something of a revelation. I had been waiting my entire alcohol drinking life to take my artistry out from the basements and dingy apartments and into the streets, and during Spring Break 2009, I finally got that chance. My parents gave me a very nice watch to commemorate the occasion, and some drinking money to help me take those pesky years off the end of my life. There was one catch with the drinking money though: it was in the form of a change jar, so I had to take it to the bank and get it all counted up. It was a pain in the ass, but when all was said and done, I had $149.32, six NH highway tokens, a guitar pick, and a piece of costume jewelery.
So I drank. And drank and drank and drank. And got so drunk that I bought a table of complete strangers a round of drinks. And so on and so forth. It was a successful first outing as a legal drinker, that’s for goddamn sure.
That night, while we were out drinking $2 pints and $3 Maker’s Marks (thanks Strange Brew Tavern!), I was babbling on about “how much fuckin’ money” was in that change jar. My roommates and I decided that since we all had change scattered around our apartment just hiding everywhere that we should try and fill the jar as much as humanly possible, and then when finals were over we would go on our own unofficial Portsmouth pub crawl.
Over the next 2+ months we dropped every penny, dime, nickel, and quarter we had into the “change hoggle”, as we called it, and when the day we had set aside as our Portsmouth pub crawl day came around, we had a supple $80 in the jar. Which came out to less than that after the Coinstar face fucking fee (seriously, it’s so diabolical it must go to the nuclear program in North Korea), but it was enough for us to at least get half in the bag in a place like Portsmouth, so we hopped on a Wildcat Transit bus and headed east.
We arrived at Market Square around 6pm, ready and raring to get smashed. The first stop was the Portsmouth Brewery. Between Brett, Bob, and myself, we probably drank around eight beers in the hour or so we were kicking around there, Brett and I had a small bite to eat, and then immediately went to Ri Ra, which at the time was pretty new. I had another two pints there and left while Brett and Bob were ordering their third to see some friends who decided they were going to dine at the Gaslight.
When I arrived I ordered a whiskey sour. I looked at the time, and it was only about 7:30. I’d done some work on this pub crawl so far, and our waitress could tell, since she was kind enough to make fun of me instead of throwing me out.
Then this is where if we were at the Academy Awards or something there would be a giant “REEL MISSING” being projected on the screen because I have little to no idea what happened between being at the Gaslight and regaining awareness of myself at 9:30 at the Coat of Arms Pub. I assume nothing too bad happened, but I can’t say for sure. But there I was, nursing a Newcastle while Brett was double fisting a plate of fish and chips into his mouth and Bob was face down on the table. When the waiter came around to check on us, I asked for a glass of water, and when he returned with it he looked at me like he’d seen this boozy, moral bankruptcy happen a thousand times before and was sad to see it happen to such a promising youth.
We soon realized that our bus, the last bus out of town, was coming at 10:40, and we rallied to catch it. But not before going to Bullmoose Records to drunkenly buy a combined $110 in vinyl records (my contribution was the recent pressing of Polar Bear Club’s “Sometimes Things Just Disappear”, a great pop-punk album if you haven’t checked it out yet).
The time now was 10:30. It was a nice night, comfortable enough to wait ten minutes for a bus to come pick us up, so we picked a bench at Market Square and began the long, arduous sobering process.
I’ve neglected to mention before now that our Q3 Pub Crawl was scheduled for a Monday night during finals. I don’t know if you’ve had to take the last bus home from downtown Portsmouth on a Monday night during finals, but it’s kind of scary in its own way. The normally bustling seaside city is unnervingly deserted. All the shops have no lights on. And did I mention the vagrants? I didn’t? Yeah. The vagrants. It just so happens that they’re the only thing around the Mouth at 11pm on a Monday. And we were about to get closely acquainted with one.
His name was “Pop”. He wore a black Red Sox hat by New Era, a camouflage jacket, jeans, and a dirty pair of Nike sneakers to bring the whole ensemble together. He chain smoked and swayed with some sort of intoxication as he spoke to us. He was surly enough to be drunk, but a little more erratic than that. Not crack erratic, because he wasn’t robbing us, maybe just cocaine erratic, but he looked too destitute to afford cocaine. But I digress. Long story short, this guy was fucked.
Anyway, he introduced himself to us, then asked who we were. I gave him my pseudonym “Mike”, and Bob gave him his real name. Brett decided to throw us under the bus and play with his iPod Touch, and as such was pretty much a non-factor for the entirety of this encounter.
Pop proceeded to tell us that he had been away from Portsmouth for “many years”, though he was very wealthy and very powerful. How did he come across this money and influence? Well folks, he ran all the drug farming communities in Southern Maine, that’s how! Then he interjected here to ask if we did drugs, to which we said “no”. But yeah! He ran all the drug farming communities in Southern Maine. Even a couple in Coastal New Hampshire! Business was booming, expanding all the time. That’s how he bought his fancy hat.
Then he recognized that we were probably college students. He told us how he never graduated high school, but that he did know enough to kill a man. Then he described how his preferred method was to do the “Nick Cage in Con Air” move and punch a guy in the nose so hard his schnoz bone would fire into his brain, lodge there, and kill him. He was getting so into it, talking about punching angles and shit, that I was concerned that he was going to demonstrate on one of us. Not because he was out for blood, but because he was so into his murder clinic that he just had to show how it was properly done.
Finally, the bus arrived. I had never been so happy to see a bus in my life. But Pop wasn’t quite done with us.
“WHEN THEY ASK YA, YOU TELL ‘EM THAT POP IS BACK IN FUCKIN’ PORTSMOUTH!” he shouted after us, which would have been pretty terrifying if I wasn’t worried that he was going to follow us to Durham.
We sat shoulder to shoulder on the bus, not really talking about what had just happened. Then Bob freaked out and convinced his drunken self that I was going to beat the shit out of him and started rambling on about how if I struck him just once “that’s it, man. I’m fucking outta here. I’m going to pack my shit up and I’m going to call my Mom to pick me up, and that’ll be it. I’m fucking gone”. Of course, that meant I had to mess with him and seem even more threatening, then karate chop him in the arm when we got off at our stop. He never did go through with the whole “moving out” thing.