Varenka wants me to write about her birthday, which happened on Tuesday. She turned 22.
On paper, V had the perfect birthday celebration planned out. We were going to go to yoga (as we fitness fanatics do), then to a food place for Taco Tuesday, then to a whiskey tasting night. She was going to provide the friends and the entertainment. I was going to provide the excessive sarcasm and inappropriate that’s what she said jokes.
Yoga was yogic. Nuff said.
Enter Taco Tuesday.
I should note that I’ve been living in this town for upwards of 10 years now and that I consider myself a townie. I could name for you offhand at least 5 local swimming hotspots of questionable legality. I have been on the roof of almost every major building downtown. I could give you a brief but detailed history of the 6 restaurants that have occupied a certain building since I’ve lived here (all of them were various Asian cuisines, oddly enough).
However, there is wide swath of ground here that townies dare not go while school is in session, for perched on the top of the hill like a vulture is a major university that has, like a dying wolf, latched its jaws onto my hometown and refuses to let go. A school that swells our modest population by almost a hundred thousand people and turns our usually deserted streets into cramped traffic jams held up by idiotic freshman running across the road to class, with a thriving Greek community that makes a habit out of knocking our mailbox out of the ground and has a curious fondness for adopting Saint Bernards.
To avoid confusion, let’s just say that I live in Westeros and that this university is the King’s Landing. It’s technically a powerful entity that controls a lot of what goes on here, but it’s a stuck up pain in the ass a lot of the time.
If you don’t watch Game of Thrones, you’re irrelevant and you can make up your own analogies.
Anyways, there’s a bunch of bars near the university I never go to because they’re crowded and annoying and hip and full of people far younger and smarter than I am. So I had a good amount of trouble even finding where we were supposed to be. The joint was a tacky, moody hole-in-the-wall named after a famous dead guy who murdered a bunch of people, because common sense can pipe the fuck down, apparently.
We get there and enquire about the tacos. Apparently they are 75 cents each, but only after 10:30. It’s 7. We’re not going to wait for it. We order off the regular menu. There’s 8 of us, so it takes a while to get our food. Meanwhile, a bunch of random middle-aged people dressed in slacks and button downs are causing a ruckus at the bar… getting shitty… at 7pm… on a Tuesday. This proves to be more sad then entertaining.
The food comes. Varenka ordered a burger with sprouts and guacamole on it. Her boyfriend Rory also got a burger of some sort. I got a depressing looking pulled pork sandwich that was definitely neither fresh nor homemade.
It was bad. Like, really bad. But I choked it down on the promise of drinking to be had. Varenka ate hers and claimed her stomach was upset about twenty minutes later. No one was surprised by this information.
We end up going to get Pepto-Bismol in a sad little Quickstop that absolutely hasn’t been mopped since the start of the semester. Most of our gang takes some. Then it’s off to whiskey night.
None of us had been to this thing before, so we didn’t quite know what to expect beyond, I don’t know, drinking whiskey. We go into this posh like restaurant and are handed a pretentious little menu and are told to wait until 9 to go downstairs, which means we have to wait for half an hour pretending not to watch people out on first dates that are not going well.
Eventually they let us go down into the posh cave that is their basement. It is way too hipster for my liking. There is a man that looks like the guy from Portlandia sitting near me. Someone was wearing a fedora. It was awful.
We are told it’s going to be 16 bucks for the evening and that we were going to be tasting four 1 ounce pours of “infusions”. The first was a jasmine tea gin (hello? whiskey night? no?) that smelled like someone poured nail polish remover on a bed of roses. It tasted about as good.
There’s an hour of this. The pour girl is blathering on about tannins and proportions. At some point Varenka goes and pukes up our rancidly awful dinner. Rory does as well. I drink approximately none of the crap they offer me and note with dismay that I don’t get service down in the hipster dungeon. The bacon infused whiskey in every way resembles bottom shelf booze with lard poured into it. There’s a hops whiskey that is essentially a terrible IPA in a shot of lukewarm Jameo. They close with a cinnamon sherry that is admittedly good BUT IS NOT ACTUALLY WHISKEY. FALSE ADVERTISING.
My soul died.
Never again, internet.