Alas, I find myself stuck in the role by the weight of tradition. Or maybe it's just that when the question "So, who's going to write about this DFS?" is posed, I can barely raise my head from my sixth pint of beer before everyone else has already taken two steps back. "Oh, alright guys, I'll write it this time, too. Just help me back up onto my barstool; I somehow seem to have fallen off. Again."
On the way to a social, called the DFS on October 18th 1997 in Berkeley by some, a social yet to come, a social long past, a wind blew in the Diablo Mountains. It swept over the Oakland Hills and down toward the San Francisco Bay, where it came to an abrupt stop in a traffic jam at the confluence of highways 80, 880, 580, and 980, otherwise affectionately known as "The Oakland Maze". The wind was not the beginning, for this traffic jam began about 8 years ago with the Loma Prieta earthquake and has been continuing 24 hours a day, 365 days a year since then because the California Department of Transportation can't repair a freakin' 2 miles of road without taking 10 years and $100 billion, but it was a beginning.
Hours later, or what seemed like hours later, we reached the paucity of parking spaces that is known as Berkeley. Yeah, parking was tight. And there were ticket-writing police officers all over the place, swarming up and down the streets like ants crawling on a freshly killed squirrel. They were everywhere. I was stopped at a red light and I started scoping this babe with great tits.... The light turned green but I didn't notice since I was still ogling the beautiful boobs, until 3 seconds later when cop starts writing me a parking ticket for not moving soon enough.
Anyway, we orbited the vicinty of University and Shattuck avenues a few times before selecting a reasonably priced parking lot. From there we walked to Plearn's, a Thai restaurant we selected for the social.
Hawk, Julie Kangas, and I were the first to arrive. Hawk and I had threatened to wear lots of leather to this social, but we declined. Julie brought a few of her fish idols, though, and waved them menacingly at Rick Moen and Chad Orzel, who arrived next. Nathan Lundblad, Kurt Montandon, Mike Hoffman, and Dave "Kaxon" Scotton drifted in within the next 15 minutes, and we decided we had a quorum.
Anyway, the food and service were unimpressive, but we made up for their shortcomings with scintillating conversation. For example, this exchange between Chad and Hawk:
Chad: "So, who are we still waiting for?"
Hawk: "Troy has 'issues', Drew's working late, Phetsy is high on narcotics, and Cat's stuck in her garage."
Chad: "Only with this group could you have a statement like that."
Drew joined us later, as did Jeena Khan ("Cat") after she managed to escape from her garage.
We discussed many topics of the day. For example, Mormonism:
Hawk: "The reason the Mormons claim so many members is that when you convert, they convert all your ancestors, too."
Bill: "Wow. Mormonism is a cosmological pyramid scheme."
And the reforms in the US military:
Kurt: "You wouldn't believe the kind of stuff that goes on in the military."
Bill: "So, have you been raped yet?"
And other world issues:
Everybody: "It's all El Nino's fault!"
We passed the hat at the restaurant. Actually, we passed several hats. Hawk had a floppy red bonnet which we tried to stick on several people's heads, but only Drew liked it. Until he pulled it down over his face and it got stuck, that is. The wait staff was amused.
So eventually we ditched the bookstore and got on with real business.
Nathan: "What time is it?"
Bill: "It's beer o'clock."
Nathan: Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer.
Bill: It's a meme!
As we left the bookstore and started heading toward a bar, a number of things happened. Cat disappeared and Kaxon ran and hid. Chad and Hawk went separate ways to run errands, promising to meet us later. Rick almost got hit when walking his bike across the street, by a driver who wasn't looking. Someone said it's good the driver wasn't Novak, who would have hit Rick+bicycle while looking.
Nathan surreptitiously led us on a route that went past his house, where he disappeared inside for dru^H^H^Hunspecified reasons. The rest of us, outside, decided to retaliate for the delay by starting a riot. We didn't get very far, though. When Drew yanked a loose piece of wood from the fence, we decided it'd be funnier to sign our names on it than throw it through Nathan's window. I started by signing "Chad 'OilCan' Orzel". Julie drew a fish with fangs. Rick drew himself getting eaten by the fish, I think. Drew and Mike signed their real names and then passed it back to me. I wrote "Novak wuz hear." Nathan came back out of his house, looked up on art with appreciation, and grabbed a brick from the garden to pound the wooden stake upright into the ground. (Hey, Nathan, is it still in your garden?)
We ambled our way on to Telegraph Avenue, the main strip through the part of Berkeley where one finds all the sleaze, beggars, bars, and used CD mega-stores. The ten of us remaining (me, Hawk, Rick, Julie, Chad, Chad's sister, Mike, Drew, Nathan, and Kurt) took up residence at Raleigh's Pub. The kind waitress there informed us that the kitchen's grill was broken, so they couldn't serve grilled food or Harp's Lager. (That was such a shame. I'd like to try a good grilled beer sometime. I've tried to cook it at home a few times, but the beer keeps falling off the barbecue spit.)
Raleigh's served beer in 3 sizes: pint, something larger than a pint, and something about the size of a bucket. Mike and Nathan opted for buckets. We ordered several baskets of onion rings and french fries. I inhaled about half of them and offered to buy the next round.
A few quotes from Raleigh's:
Drew: "That's not a drink, that's a lifestyle."
Bill: "I'm feeling kind of full from all that beer.... I think I'll switch to hard liqour."
Bill: "Drew looks like a punk Greek fisherman."
Mike: "I think he looks like a German taxi driver."
After a few rounds at Raleigh's, Chad and his sister, Rick, and Mike offered their good-nights, leaving six of us -- me, Hawk, Julie, Nathan, Kurt, and Drew -- to turn the evening's Pub Sit into a real Pub Crawl.
We left Raleigh's and ambled over to Blake's, stopping briefly at a smoke and sex shop. (It sold mostly pot-smoking paraphenalia. What a waste; it used to be a great fetish store.) Blake's was crowded, so we left without getting seats.
Nathan led us on to Kip's, where we settled down long enough to knock back a few pitchers. We talked about stuff. I don't remember most of it. Kurt and I tested each other's knowledge of 1960s and 1970s rock-n-roll. An amazingly high number of our exchanges involved me saying, "Yeah, I saw them in concert this year." Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Paul Rogers (Bad Company), ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, etc. (ObPlug: Fleetwood Mac is THE concert of the year. Forget the Stones.)
Nathan drifted in and out of the rock-n-roll conversation. He joined us long enough to offer to play lead guitar with Drew in a band that Drew's thinking of starting. Kurt volunteered to sing, and I volunteered to burp in harmony. Nathan went back to ignoring us after that (classic rock never was his cup of tea, he says) and occupied himself with trying to understand the strange variety of rock-paper-scissors that a loud group of Asian students at the table next to us were engaged in. Hawk and Julie withdrew to the other end of the table for 'girl talk.' They focused mainly on the lack of good-looking men in Berkeley. Kurt and Nathan took it personally.
We left when Kip's ran out of beer. (No, they didn't run totally out of beer; they just ran out of the one good variety they had on tap.) We stumbled over to a posh-looking place called O'Henry's next. The street outside was full of Lexuses and the dining area inside was full of fraternity boys. We got seats but then decided the "spoiled rich kid" quotient was too high, so we left.
We made a second try at Blake's. We actually got seats this time, but left before ordering anything. I proposed that we go to another few places, grab seats, and leave after 5 minutes. I can imagine the conversations between restaurant workers the next morning:
Waitress 1: It was really weird. This group of six people came in TWICE, but left both times without ordering.
Waitress 2: Hmm. I think I saw those people, but they only did it to me once.
Waitress 3: Me, too!
Waitress 4: Y'all must suck. They bought 2 pitchers of beer from ME.
After faking out Blake's a second time, we made abortive stabs at some billiards parlor and a bar called Jupiter.
And there the evening ended: not on a bang, but on a whimper. Much like this retelling.
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