Actually, I’ve kicked off some of my most serious, drinkingest benders by going out by myself and then running into friends and saying to them nonchalantly, “Oh, I’m just having a couple on my way home” – and honestly believing it. (After a few months of this, my Bender Friends and I began to joke that the phrase “having a couple on the way home” was really code for “I plan on partying until six in the morning – would you like to join me?”)
What happened to Last Call last Thursday night is a good example of the fickle nature of Cowtown’s booze gods.
The evening began with The Nutcracker. My designated driver for life and I spent two hours in Bass Performance Hall watching Texas Ballet Theater’s version of the Christmas classic. As with any Nutcracker, a concert-goer should focus on the quality of the orchestra and the dancing. There is no “plot” … unless you’re stoned. Then the story goes something like: A big family has a Christmas party, one girl gets a nutcracker that looks like a soldier, the girl goes to bed and dreams the wooden apparatus to life while watching foreigners folk-dance. Though my partner and I each had a $6 flute of decent champagne during intermission, we were not stoned. The music and dancing were still enjoyable.
Anyway, being a production of The Nutcracker, the performance filled Bass Hall with kids, and if you know me, you know that nothing makes me happier than watching ballet along with dozens of tiny, young monsters; better yet is spending time with these creatures as they push their lifeless, soul-destroyed, craven parents’ buttons. By the time the finale came around, the 5-year-old seated behind me was beating my chair like it owed him money. I just wanted a drink – a cold, hard, strong drink. And some cigs.
Before the curtain even hit the stage, my partner and I had thrown open the Bass Hall doors and thrust ourselves into the cold December air. We earlier had decided to gladly deposit our fate into the secure, warm hands of the City of Fort Worth Planning Department – even though we had no idea which bar we were gonna hit, we knew we would have our choice of hundreds of places, right? (Right?)
Now that Angeluna across the street from Bass Hall is closed, the first option available to concert-goers is the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. On the night of the show, the Saucer was too packed for comfort, and there seemed to be live rock ‘n’ roll pumping from the joint’s rear – after listening to two hours of beautiful classical music, the last thing your ears need is to be bombarded with sheer loudness. Next.
Fizzi: too empty and oddly bereft of smokers and/or cigarette smoke. Next.
Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille: way too loud and way too packed with dudes. (Yes, too many women would have been a problem, too – life’s all about balance, people.) Next.
Blade’s Prime Chop House: The swank bar was on fire – literally. The place (which, FYI, has since closed) was so clouded with dense cigar smoke that my guest and I couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. Gag, cough, choke, wheeze. Next. Gag, choke.
Paddy Red’s: fine crowd and good service, but every once in a while a hint of some sort of potent cleaning agent or wood polish wafted through the air. The Tom Petty songs (gag, puke) on the jukebox didn’t help. Defeated, we headed home.
Cruising along in the Mach 0.10 (Last Call’s craftily named conveyance) on the way to the manse, my partner and I realized that, due to our ineffectual search for a groovy downtown spot to imbibe in, our urge to drink out of frustration had become even greater. On a whim, we popped into an old standby, where – don’t ya know – a bunch of friends were hanging out. I don’t remember much after the initial hello’s, but I’m positive that there was some drinking, there was some laughing, and there was a helluva lot of folk dancing.