A pedestrian St Paddy's Day indeed. Jessica and I walked from our house to Old Main Street Thursday night with the mutual purpose to keep our reveling to a minimum. We both had to be at work by 8:00 am the following morning, and we knew that we could not do so after a night of boozing it up. I decided to bring a to-go John Daly for our walk (Sweet Tea Vodka and lemonade aka an alcoholic Arnold Palmer), and Jessica had a bottle of water. I packed a 20 ounce spare drink in my man-purse for future use and also to save a little coin. It was only about a 10-12 minute walk from our house to the bars, and we enjoyed the calm stroll.
The calmness immediately wore off as soon as we joined the swarm of people gathered on the street. Hundreds of people were packed onto the narrow thoroughfare. There were food vendors, beer stands, a live band, and a few random tents of people selling their wares. Jessica and I were solely in search of drinks and a nice place in which to sip them at our leisure. Our friend Kenny is the manager of a new bar that was scheduled to open that night, so we went there first. As we approached, we could see that it did not look very busy. Bad news for Kenny and his new boss Thomas, but good news for us. Unfortunately, it was bad news for all those involved when we realized that they had not completed the renovations , and the bar was not yet open for business.
We turned and went back the other way to go find a spot at one of the other local watering holes. Old Main Street in Bradenton is home to four such establishments already, and is about to add two more in the coming days and months. We slithered our way through the crowd to find a seat in one of them. I had finished my to-go drink and my cup was in need of ice. We chose to go into Corks Cigar Bar where I got a Vodka Bomb and Jessica got a beer. I basically paid $5.00 for a cup of ice that came with a free drink inside of it. We sat down at a table and after I spent a few minutes posting something I thought was witty and perceptive on Facebook and Twitter, I turned my attention back to Jessica. We sat there talking for a little while, and I suddenly had the urge to urinate. Yet another benefit to being a paying customer (besides the free drink in my cup of ice) is the convenience of a bathroom much cleaner than one of the Port-O-Lets outside.
The few minutes I spent waiting the line to use the restroom was full of experiences and people watching. The line to men's room was significantly shorter than the one for the ladies. I also did not see many ladies in that line. There was the gaggle of blondes with their fake-bake tans and bedazzled cell phones that whispered to one another and giggled incessantly. There were also a couple of more masculine women in line that had taken to openly insulting the Latino man waiting in line two places behind me. One of those women knew the guy standing directly behind me in line and she was asking if she and her friend could go in front of him and use the men's room. He obliged, but I was worried about the set of events that was unfolding. I explained to them that there would be no double occupancy due to the fact that there were two toilets in this bathroom, but no divider between the two. They eventually comprehended my reasoning, and let me do my business by my lonesome.
When I emerged a mere 48 seconds later (give or take a few shakes) there was a river of people trying to get from the back room to the main bar area. I merged into the stream of people and began taking baby steps back to my table. Directly in front of me was a young man who seemed to be sober, but the same could not be said for the elderly man in front of him. The young man was rather familiar with the inebriated man, and took to guiding him through the crowd. At one point the elderly gentleman stopped dead in his tracks. I feared for the worst. Was he about to vomit a puddle through which we would be forced to sidestep or worse yet muddle through? Did he lose something and was about to drop to the floor looking for it, therefore causing an even more backed up line of people? Luckily, he was just drunk, and his brain has ceased sending signals to his feet to continue moving. The younger man tried to urge him to move forward with slight nudges in the small of his back and words of encouragement. The elderly man stood there still. Finally he said “Grandpa, just follow the guy in the green shirt.”
This struck me as a ridiculous direction for two reasons. One, because this man was so drunk he probably had lost the ability to differentiate green from any other color in the spectrum. And two, because it was St Paddy's Day and every single fucking person in front of this man from here to the door (and beyond) was wearing a green shirt. Eventually the old man kicked it into first gear and made his way to the bar for another drink (just what the Irish Doctor ordered), and I was able to make it back to the table where my wife was impatiently waiting.
Shortly thereafter, we made our way back onto the street where I refilled my cup with the back up drink from my man-satchel. We wandered through the crowd and stopped occasionally to say “hello” to the people we recognized. An awkward conversation was had with a girl I knew from middle school who explained that her brother had moved to Utah with his crazy baby's momma (now his crazy wife). We also had an extended encounter with a Roller Derby girl-friend of ours who seemed to be enjoying the holiday as well. She is the proud owner of a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, but was having trouble with any words that passed the three syllable mark. Finally, we came across a friend of a friend whose sole purpose of the evening was getting to another bar where she could meet up with some girl to whom she described as being “a hot blonde with decent tits.” She had also walked there, and was asking how much a 5 mile cab ride would cost. I have lived in Bradenton for almost 30 years and have yet to take a cab anywhere in town. I was of no help to her.
We finished our drinks and matriculated our way back home. When we reached our final destination I looked at my phone to see what time it was. The screen showed “10:24 pm.” A pedestrian St Paddy's Day indeed.