Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Short Story: Written for my Northwestern University Class

"Whiskey Dunk Tank" by TQ



David and Jim, as if on autopilot, purposely walk through the Binny's Beverage Depot towards the whiskey aisle. Not being distracted by the various new displays and or specials, their conversation that started when they were in the parking lot, continues…

"…she's got that hourglass figure, but most of the sand is in the bottom half. Jill's younger sister'll be there, but she's still in college…"

Jim was providing David with a party roster of sorts. They had stopped at the Binny's on their way to a get-together at Jim's longtime friend Jill's house in west suburban Lisle. Being older than boys, but younger than men, it was agreed to purchase a bottle of whiskey to bring to the event. Jim wanted to purchase vodka, but changed his mind to agree with David's whiskey strategy after an empty threat of staying home by David. Jim reaches for a bottle of Jack Daniels.

"No, not Jack." David says in a tone that would have been interpreted as insulting by anybody else. "If we're gonna get that, we might as well get your raspberry vodka."

"Blueberry… These girls like blueberry vodka."

"I'm done buying drinks for girls I don't know. If I'm buying, I'm drinking, and it's gonna be the good stuff." David reaches for Bushmills Black Bush, which has a suggested retail price of $45.

"Dave, easy now - I'm not buying half that… Besides, are you a protestant now?"

David doesn't understand the comment until Jim reached for the bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey and tipped it forward. David questions, "Who do you think you are? McNulty?"

"Touché." Jim eases the bottle back to the shelf as an acknowledgement that his semi-historical Northern Ireland comment was accurately detected as a reference from The Wire. Viewers of the under-watched HBO drama, which include David and Jim, are known to frequently quote and reference the program with the fervor of the early Christians.

"Jameson is overrated, and if you're worried about price, you can get much better for the same amount." David takes a very fancy looking bottle of Michael Collins Irish Whiskey off the shelf and leaves Jim in his wake.

Jim points to the Kentucky Bourbon section consisting of Southern Comfort, Maker's Mark and Jim Beam as he calls out, "Hey, what about these?"

Without looking back Dave dismissively says, "Amateurs."

Picking up where they left off at the register, David asks, "Who else?"

"Jasmine, the high school teacher. Ashley, (then said in a tone an octave lower) Engaged. And Maribeth, (then said in an even lower voice) Married."

"What subject in high school?"

"English."

David acknowledges the response with raised eyebrows.


* * *


Although he doesn't need to convince his friend any further, Jim continues to pump up the potential of the event while back in the car. "Jill's a great hostess, she throws these things all the time – not just on New Year's. They'll probably be some board games-don't give me that look- trust me board games are totally different when played with adults. There's plenty of seating, more food… "

The reminder of the car ride consists of pessimistic stereotyping and theorizing for the worst.

Jim anticipates, "Someone will push hard, very hard, for a game of darts."

David promises, "I'm going to start a mental count of how many missing boyfriends will be mentioned by attractive women."

"What about the count by unattractive women?"

"That count will stay at zero." Although this comment was meant more for humor, it was the perceived truth embedded within that made David and Jim laugh.

Jim sarcastically said, although David knew his sarcasm was hiding his true desire, "I hope there are a few Eddie Murphy Quality (slipping into a bad impression of the 1980s dance hit) 'Party All The Time, Party All The Time, Par – Tea - All – The – Tiiime.' Girls."

David, knowing that Jim actually preferred partiers, quickly replied questioning if Jim was referring to any pre-op transsexual prostitues. The actor in question, during an infamous 1997 night in West Hollywood, picked up one said P.O.T.P. on Santa Monica Boulevard.

The hour-plus-long car ride ended with a quazi-symposium to evaluate the more worthwhile group: prostitutes or party girls. Since no legitimate separation could be made between the two groups, in their minds, there were no conclusive findings.


* * *


David entered Jill's house and immediately surveyed the entire environment. Three girls, not two, were closely flanked by clear significant others in the living room. Joining the couples was a lone, sad looking, girl holding a wine glass the size of her head. Over in the kitchen area was Jill's sister. David deduced this from her being the only other girl besides Jill over 5'9" and her tank top featuring Greek letters the exact size of her breasts.

Jill took David and Jim's jackets before leading them to the kitchen area. "We have way too much food so please eat up. Oh, thanks (taking the whiskey bottle from David's arms and placing it on a counter). These are my coworkers: Clyde, Doug, Paul, and my baby sister Jamie." David didn't pay attention to any of the introductions, he was transfixed on how his Michel Collins bottle, although prominent in its own right, was dwarfed by receptacles of rum, vodka and tequila large enough to have glass handles incorporated into each bottle's design.

David thought maturity meant ordering pizza exclusively from Lou Malnatti's, never again drinking beer from a can and only wearing athletic shoes in athletic situations. He was professionally successful, romantically cynical and borderline elitist. Most of his discretionary spending was to boost his vanity under the disguise of investments. He instantly abhorred the next guy who walked in the door.

Nicky was Jamie's boyfriend. He wore a bright red hooded sweatshirt with different Greek letters contorted to match the three letter abbreviation of the school he attended. His cologne was marijuana, his shoes must've been white at some time and his attempt at a goatee needed to be stopped was the description David would describe in an e-mail the following night. He literally yelled, "Who wants to party?!" Seriously, I'm not inventing that.

By the force of his will, and the laziness of the other partiers, Nicky took control of the party. "Who wants a Flaming Dr. Pepper?" Nicky yelled as he mixed, as scientifically as he could guesstimate, the proper ingredients. This particular drink was accented by a thin layer of Bacardi 151 that was ignited by his Phish logoed Zippo. "Just blow it and drink it!"

David wanted no part in any of the concoctions Nicky was serving. Three Wisemen, Liquid Cocaine, Donkey Punch on the Beach were a sampling of the drinks which grew in alcoholic potency and profane monikers. He tried to slip past the circle of debauchery that the kitchen counter island had become when he went to refill his glass – not Silo cup mind you – of Michael Collins when Nicky beat him to it-

"This drink is much better with Jack – but this Mick should make due" Nicky exclaimed. "It's called the Whiskey Dunk Tank… Jill, do you have any Gatorade?"

No. David thought, He's not going to waste my bottle that way. "Nah, you guys don't want that drink, that's an old drink."

Psychologists have theorized that, when faced with a conflict, people tend to respond in one of two opposite ways: fight or flight.

"What do you suggest Davy?"

In a remarkable adlib worthy of any improv club David said, "How about Rob the Laundromat?" Before anybody could respond David grabbed the two closest bottles to him: Tequila and Ginger Ale and poured both simultaneously into a double shot glass. He handed it to a different tank toped beauty who had walked in an hour after his arrival.

David and Jim quickly assigned this young woman the nickname of "Bra Strap." She was one of Jill's coworkers. The name, which kept as an internal label between Jim and David, was referring to Bethany's clear non attempt to cover the colorful undergarment. Bethany was a mid twenties accountant who looked closer to 40 than 20.

"This is great!" said Bethany as she looped her arm around David's waist, "My name is Bethany – got any more?"

Party Historians, if there were such an occupation, would classify Whiskey Dunk Tank as the definitive turning point in Jill's party. The drink that posed a threat to David's enjoyment had become the impetus in David's rise to party power. Not only did David successfully win a duel with Nicky, but also David was going to drive the party to wherever he wanted. Fight AND Flight: The title of the ficticious Party Historian's dissertation.

Realizing that these people were too drunk to have any real discerning taste, and the fact they were just killing time until two others were supposed to return with a keg, David invented more drinks out of his ass which were pure alcohol delivery systems. After one drink he called "Musket Blast," which featured a maraschino cherry crammed into a shot glass, he realized the entire momentum of the party was at his disposal. The crowd was putty in David's hands.

Jim, knowing how bogus David's act was, brought the rest of the party to the new center of attention. As if it was planned, Jim effortlessly played a masterful sidekick by reinforcing the validity of every fictional drink. Jim was having as much fun as David, even as his role of straight man which was usually reserved for David.

It wasn't until Jaime turned to Nicky complimenting one of the drinks that Nicky finally manifested the displeasure of his unofficial party demotion. "That's not how you Walk the Plank!"

"Really now?" said David.

"Yeah, no… it's supposed to be with that special Captain… uh, the"

"Captain Morgan Tattoo?"

"Yeah."

"You must be thinking of Booty Bandit, that's different"

"Oh I love that too" Bethany said, her arm now a fixture of David's back in a perpetual lazy back rub.

David said while coldly staring at Nicky, "Exactly Beth, thank you."

"It's Bethany Motherfucker!"

David quickly glanced down at Bethany, expecting to see a mad face, but instead saw her with both eyes closed and a wide tooth smile. And just as he went to announce his next drink, in a piece de resistance that would culminate his coup, Bethany vomited all over David.

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