Chapter

Holiday Booze … er … Cheer

Well, it’s the holiday season during which we all like to get plenty of … cheer. This can take many forms – ranging from egg nog, to hot rum toddies, to 190 proof-throat- blistering Everclear. In other words, cheer is often times defined as alcohol.

Alcohol doesn’t really make life more fun, but it sure makes it seem so at times. For example, it seemed really funny when I was at a Caribbean themed Christmas party a very long time ago, and someone dropped a red solo cup filled with frozen margarita. In one of those amazing quirks of fate, it landed upside down on the kitchen floor without spilling a drop. But that wasn’t the funny part.

Seeing several tequila-infused partiers trying to figure out how to pick it up without making a mess was hilarious. I think my favorite idea was poking a hole in the bottom, kneeling over the cup, and sucking the margarita out through a straw. The engineer in me wanted to explain why that wouldn’t work, but the “cheer” filled me was more interested in watching someone try it.

Years ago when I was living in Dallas, a new hot spot called Pepe Gonzalez opened. It was packed the Friday night we decided to try it out, so we were seated in the bar until a table was available. During our very long wait, I consumed not one, not two, but three fish-bowl sized frozen margaritas. “There’s no alcohol in these things,” I recall saying just before I decided to make a trip to the men’s room.

The instant I stood up, I went from “Hey, I’m Frank having a great time,” to “Heeeyyyyy, I’m Fwaaaannnk. I was wong; dey dooooo put tequiwa in dose tings.” As my buddy and I travelled through the restaurant, I was absolutely, positively convinced I was flying about three feet off the ground. “Wow! I’ve never flown like this before,” I can recall saying, no doubt quite loudly and much to the chagrin of those fortunate enough to be eating without having ingested mass quantities of Pepe’s frozen drinks.

I keep emphasizing the long passage of time between the craziness and my current, refined, and infinitely more sober state. But I do admit to doing some really, incredibly, mind-bogglingly-stupid things under the influence – in my younger days. Only through the grace of God did I survive without killing myself or someone else.

Anyhow, when I worked out at the NASA site, I started a scuba diving club. Each year we would have a Christmas party at a victim’s house. I say this because when one of our single female members foolishly volunteered to have it at her house, it did not end well.

She had this really nice free-standing fireplace. During the evening, the fire began to die and so the MenDivers volunteered to do the manly thing and fetch more firewood.

I had never heard of fat pine and paid little attention to the fact that this one oddly shaped piece was off to one side and appeared different from the other “normal” pieces of wood. So inside we went, tossed the wood on the dying fire, and presto, the fire was restored to its former glory.

Except that it began to blaze higher and higher, impressing the more inebriated dive club members until the paint on the outside of the fireplace started to smoke. Our not-so-inebriated host took notice of this development and began to question us.

“Frank, you didn’t happen to toss in that piece of fat pine that was off to one side, away from the main firewood stack so that no idiot would use it by mistake, did you?”

Instantly, I knew what had happened, and as my mind raced to come up with an answer that was politically acceptable under the circumstances, I decided there was none. “Yep,” I replied.

It turns out that a three-molecule-sized piece of fat pine is roughly enough to burn down an average sized city. So our host replied with a string of very bad words that ended with a suggestion that I extract the flaming fat pine knot and put it in a place that frankly, was ridiculous. I did get the fireplace tongs, and I did remove the fat pine knot, but I did not put it where she suggested. I also never did get invited back to her house.

A year or so later we had another dive club party. Randy, a very good friend of mine, was responsible for slammers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this particular drink, it consists of filling a shot glass with roughly equal quantities of tequila and Sprite or 7-up. Or maybe it was a whole lot of tequila and a splash of Sprite. Anyhow, you then put your hand over the top of it, slam it on the counter, and shoot it before it foams all over the place.

According to Wikipedia, “The slamming action releases gas bubbles from the mixed drink, causing it to foam vigorously. It will then quickly escape the glass if not imbibed immediately, the result (and intention) of which is swift intoxication.” I swear I did not know this. I simply thought it was another fun drink variety like a Sex on the Beach or Red-Headed Slut (which really is a drink).

Red-Headed-Slut-Shot

Red-Headed-Slut-Shot

Being the enterprising soul that he is, Randy wasn’t going to do plain old ordinary slammers. No, he brought along a motorcycle helmet.

“A motorcycle helmet?” you ask. Yes. The idea was that the victim … er partier, would take a seat on a bar stool, at which time Randy’s assistant would strap the helmet onto their head. Randy would then pour a slammer, place his hand over the top of the glass, and slam it on top of the helmet, after which he would pour it into the recipient’s mouth.

While I at first viewed this ritual as ridiculous, I admit that in the next few minutes, it was quite a spectacle to see the long line of grown adults waiting to “suit up” for their slammer. Randy made a LOT of slammers, and at some point in the evening (being a responsible adult, I’m sure I had gone home to bed by this time) the helmet actually cracked.

One burly guy, who had been a frequent slammer customer, called Randy the next morning .

“What happened to my to forehead? I’ve got this huge swollen, bruised knot.”

“Uh, when the helmet cracked last night, you said, and I quote,  ‘I don’t need no stinkin’ helmet,’ and proceeded to continue the helmet-slammer routine without the helmet,” Randy replied.

I’m guessing that helmet-slammers were probably never part of his holiday cheer again.

Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.

Invite Frank to speak to your next conference, corporate retreat or club meeting. Ask about having his speaker's fee waived when you purchase his latest novel for each of your attendees!

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