With possible Armageddon & my 30th birthday on the horizon, I’ve decided to dig deep into my well of memories and share some of my favorite stories from the last ten years of my life. FULL DISCLOSURE: While I will be as [karate] honest as possible in the retelling of these tales there will be certain things omitted due to a probable (more thank likely) drunken haze,  old-age forgetfulness, and the protection of the guilty innocent. This will also be done in a very non-linear style, since whatever story I post will be based on what pops into my head first, not chronologically.

In my previous musings about this once a year extravaganza, I mentioned what a defining event the Bartenders Ball had become. It wasn’t just hyperbole. When I look back at the last decade, the Ball signified some of my biggest highs while also containing some of my lowest lows as a human being. While that’s probably some heavy shit for an innocuous and wistful look back at a night of dancing and binge drinking, the proof is definitely in the pudding as the kids say (kids from the 1940’s that is).

As I embarked on the 2006 Ball, I did my best to convince some of my immediate crew to join in the festivities. And while I got a few “Maybes” from the Ruy’s and MTE’s, I knew they wouldn’t be attending this year either. Past attendees were also out, as Fitzy was on the road toward a DUI and forced rehab while Jess was in the midst of moving down to North Carolina to be with her future husband.

Luckily Annette decided it was time to return to the place that defeated her two years earlier, while JR decided to come back as well for his third go-around with this Skinny White Bitch™ in tow (one year later, the reconnection). By this point JR and I had already lost much of our friendship to an erosion of beliefs and viewpoints, but even with all that the Bartenders Ball brought us back together.

Being my third year I decided to rent my own room for the first time, splitting it with Annette and our friends Tammy and Elysia. This was the first year where I felt like I was really an independent force in going to the Ball. I bought my own ticket, hotel room, and tux. The 99 barely had any representation save for a couple of stragglers here and there, but on the whole the entire experience had evolved from a restaurant function to MY personal adventure. I had conquered the Bartenders Ball.

Elysia & my drunk ass
Elysia & my drunk ass

But it was still missing a spark…

It was a great time as usual, though something felt off about the action that night. Conquering the Ball was supposed to be a perfect moment for me, but as it happened I was just merely content that it was another entertaining evening in the procession of previous Ball’s. JR was consumed by the SWB™, hampering his enjoyment for the night. Annette was a great partner in crime, overcoming her rookie mistakes with great ease and grace. Tammy, Elysia, and their other friend who’s name escapes me all got drunk to varying degrees of entertainment, and the night went off without a hitch.

2006 was a transition year for me though in many ways. Toward the beginning of Summer I realized that my time with the Ninety Nine was coming to an end as I looked toward what I wanted to do with my life. I had been with the restaurant for nearly five years and while I had been toying with the idea of getting into management, I knew if I went down that path I’d regret it later on. I had stopped waiting tables and began supervising the Door Servers (Hosts) while I attempted to figure out my next move.

After three years, Carolyn had fallen back into my life. It wasn’t romantic, but it was the closure I had needed after things ended so badly for us when we went our separate ways. Reconnecting with her lifted a tremendous weight off of my shoulders, and was a perfect cap to put on this phase of my life. While Carolyn and I became re-acquainted I had also accepted a job with Bank of America (thanks to the Bass-tastic Rich Bass!) as a Customer Service Representative a.k.a. taking phone calls like a bitch. It was a big change in my life, but I knew going into management with the 99 wasn’t for me and I needed to branch out elsewhere. I figured with years of customer service under my belt already, taking some calls would be a cinch (SPOILER ALERT: Easier said than done).

As I began my new career I also did my best to meet people and put myself out there. Having made peace with Carolyn and leaving the soap opera drama of the 99 behind, I figured there was no time like the present to meet someone new. While I started hanging out with ‘Texas’ (my not-so-clever pseudonym for my BOA buddy), one of my other classmates offered to hook me up with a friend of hers named MeganMann. Megan was a good girl, though a touch a naive and a bit too innocent for my tastes. We went a couple of dates, and while I made things abundantly clear that I had no interest in a relationship with her, she continued to press on for things that just weren’t there between us.

Fall became Winter and soon enough Winter turned to Spring. I had successfully steered Megan into the friend zone, managed to finally get a grip on the call center environment (while still not excelling at it), and could finally see the 2007 Bartenders Ball on the horizon. With this being my first Ball outside of the Ninety Nine realm I knew I would have to recruit some newcomers to join me, and as luck would have it young Jon Thornhill had promised to be at my side for this glorious event despite breaking his ankle at NCW the month prior (definitely not my fault). In addition to Thorny coming with I would also have the pleasure of one Malin Melin, my new-found Swedish friend, joining the festivities as well.

JR also returned from the great abyss to join the Ball, the first time he and I had really talked since he had dicked me over with the BOA job. You see just about a month after I graduated onto the production floor at the Bank they were getting ready for a new hiring class. Being the guy that I am, I referred JR since I knew he needed a job, plus I knew he could handle the responsibilities. JR was an amazing bullshitter having known him since I was 14, and sure enough I was right on the money. JR was a “star” of his training nest, and graduated as the MPV of his entire class. Within a year this guy would have been promoted or become a Team Manager…

So it should be no shock that JR quit a week after graduation, walking out in the middle of his shift and never coming back. Fuck me… So after that I didn’t talk much to JR, having been burned for the umpteenth time. Here he was resurfacing just in time for the Ball however, and who was I to turn down a party guest.

It was great having Thorny there, even though he was Mr. Gimpy. It was great having Malin there, even though she’s Swedish and she loves those Swedish Fish. Hell it was even great having JR there, but man did it suck having MeganMann there. Oh yeah, Megan came too along with her friends from her work. Though we had established we were just going to be friends, I found myself playing hide-n-seek with her for the majority of the night while also hanging with my crew.

Yes I look that stupid in real life…

As the night proceeded I saw Thorny & Malin over at the vendor tables, buying more drink tickets (Rookie Mistake #3). The night soon became a blur for me, and before I knew it the night was already wrapping up. JR crashed in my room while Malin & Thorny left. Hindsight being what it was, Jon definitely shouldn’t have driven home (Rookie Mistake #1), as he ended up dropping off Malin and passing out till the morning on her couch.

Bastard took my glasses, so I took his crutches.
Bastard took my glasses, so I took his crutches.

This version of the Bartenders Ball was a pretty good success all things considered, but I knew we could do better.

The year came and went without much fanfare. In my opinion the biggest thing to come our way and shape what the 2008 Bartenders Ball would be was our fateful trip to Canada for HELL YEAR 08′. The group dynamics were in flow, the pace for our partying was set, and with Mikey P joining the fray as our new rookie I had every bit of confidence 2008 could take the cake as the best Bartenders Ball ever.

And shit was it ever.

The Suit...
The Suit…

Things almost fell apart before the night could come however, as Thorny wasn’t going to be coming with him impending nuptials so close by. Saddened, it seemed like it was only going to be Mikey & I until an 11th hour Hail Mary pass secured Thorny’s entry to the Ball. Buying his ticket day of, the boy was in need of a tux. With nothing to buy on such short notice (Mikey & I both opted to buy tuxedo jackets and pants from Building 19 as opposed to renting) I brought one of my patented “JC Marxxx” suits for Jon to wear, three sizes too big.

Luckily with a wedding so close, Jon was able to wrangle some SHOOOOOOOES to wear for the night.


Game. Set. Match.

Everything I had built up in my head about the epic-ness of the Bartenders Ball since that first night back in 2005 was reaffirmed with the 2008 version. Mikey, Thorny, & I ran that shit hard. We schmoozed with the drink girls (Sarah!), we posed with the P-Diddy cut-outs, we made friends with anyone who walked by us. We were the life of the party. MeganMann was there too, but it didn’t matter this time around. Enough distance had been put between us since the year before, and now we could enjoy each others company without the awkwardness.

And truth be told she was a pretty good time. She got along with Mike & Thorny, danced and hung out with us, and then jumped on my hotel bed before heading off with her friends for the night.

Class of 2008
Class of 2008

That was pretty much the last I saw of Ms. MeganMann. She started dating a dude who I was quite sure was gay, and was basically using her as a beard, but that was just hearsay on my part. Later when I nearly died and was put into ICU for a few days due to complications with my Diabetes and the Flu, her reaction seemed par for the course when it came to her emotions.

“Good I hope he died, he didn’t say Happy Birthday to me on my birthday!” 

…Bitches be crazy. Anyway, where was I?

It was around 10pm when those famous last words were echoing throughout my mind. Normally the little birdie inside my head would have told me to knock it off, but the high of having both Mikey and Thorny with me caused me to throw caution to the wind as Jon & I bought $20 more in tickets (Rookie Mistake #3). This chain of events brought me out to the dance floor, where Mikey was dancing with a kind older woman, probably in her mid-fifties. Before I knew it I was being shunted out onto the dance floor in Mikey’s place, cutting the proverbial rug with this elderly madam.

Cutting that rug.
Planning my escape.

After our twenty-minute dance marathon, I did my best to escape her clutches. Grateful for the time of her life, she proceeded to thank me with a big kiss on the lips. Of course it was photographed. In fact while looking for some photos to post I see there were about 80 photos taken of me dancing with this old bitty.

It was nearly midnight, and the party was almost over. In typical fashion the drunks were now giving away their unused tickets, throwing in the towel for their night of drinking. Thorny and I grabbed a fistful o’ tickets and made our way over to the Jager table before last call. We then did about ten Jager-Bombs, getting more belligerent after each one. Oblivious to the ruckus we were causing, we soon drew the ire of a local police detail who had been eyeballing us for the last half hour.

Coming up behind us, the Officer startled us.

“You boys driving tonight?” He inquired.

“NO SIR!” I proudly stated while holding back tears of laughter. “We’ve got a room.”

“Can I see your room key?”

“Absolutely,” I replied while  fiddling through my pants pockets. I was dropping everything. A key chain, napkins, gum, money, ID. You name it, I dropped it. I finally found my hotel key card, and practically shoved it into the Cop’s face just to prove him wrong.

He nodded, smiled, and then told the Jager vendor to stop serving us immediately. “Have a good night,” he smirked. That Motherfucker just cut us off.

Down but not defeated, Thorny had a plan. “This way,” he whispered while pushing people by to reach the next vendor. As we approached the UV Vodka table, we found Officer Dicknose waiting by, arms crossed and ready to pounce. We were screwed.

Realizing time was of the essence Thorny had one plan left to get us some last-minute booze.

“RUN!!!” He bellowed as we began zig-zagging from the liquor tables back into the ballroom. We then cut through the dance floor, barged over some dining table and slid through the other side of the ballroom in record time. We popped out over beside the Narragansett Beer table, which was packing up it’s beer for the night. “Hey, will you serve us? We have these tickets,” Jon pleaded.

“Yeah sure, whatever you guys want.”

We ended up getting two beers each and despite my hatred for Narragansett, a victory was a victory. As we turned around double fisting our precious bouillon we found the Cop staring us down with his laser eyes. As I saw the burly gentleman grinding his teeth all I could do was raise my bottle to him and throw a wink his way. Begrudgingly, he nodded back.

Officer Dicknose had conceded defeat.

Mikey had already went up to the hotel room, and Jon & I were now stashing our beers into our pockets so we could retreat back to the room as well. This was the first year (and only year) that the hotel hired security to ensure everyone heading back to the rooms were actually guests of the Crowne Plaza. Once we got to the security checkpoint (the elevators), we introduced ourselves as John Howard & Mike Paiva. I couldn’t tell you who was who, but the names matched the list and we were allowed to head on our way.

Returning to the room, I realized all that running around didn’t do me any good as I suddenly was hit with a massive headache. Before I knew it I had passed out right on my bed, still completely dressed in my tuxedo. When I woke up around 4am Mikey was sleeping and Thorny was nowhere to be found. I still felt shitty, but was proud to see I hadn’t gotten sick. I got up to use the bathroom, only to find towels all over the place. On the floor, in the tub, on the sink. It was bizarre. I thought nothing of it, took a piss and went right back to bed.

When I woke up that morning I had to ask Mikey what the hell happened. “Did you get sick?” I asked.

“Did I get sick?? You don’t remember?”

“Hm, nope. Was it Thorny?”

“It was all you man. You went to the bathroom and just started puking everywhere. It was like the Exorcist! It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen. Jon left shortly after,” he replied laughing. Mikey just blew my mind.

Despite the gross-out factor I was still oddly proud of myself. I somehow managed to have a bloody massacre of vomit come out of me uncontrollably, but still didn’t get a drop on my tuxedo. Color me impressed.

It was an amazing time, and may have been the apex of my experiences with the Bartenders Ball. If it had ended here, it would have been going out on the highest of highs.

To Be Continued…