Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Lost Youth and Kobe Beef

I got an email from Armando over the weekend. He was flying up from Sao Paolo, Brazil where he lives and works. He would be in NYC for a series of business meetings and wanted to know if I was available for lunch.

"Lunch," I wrote back to him in an email, "is for fuckin' old ladies."

He got a good laugh out of it, but regretted that he couldn't get extremely wasted since he had important meetings. Armando and I have known each other since we were 18 years old when we met in college. He lived next door to me for two years in my fraternity house and he has witnessed first hand my wildest days as a raging alcoholic. My 30s have been tame compared to my rambunctious late teens. We were raging drunk every night, raising hell in the deep south. I was a loose cannon indeed, consuming a fifth of Jim Beam a day, and knocking back liquor like an Al Cant Hang clone.

I'll tell you one quick Armando story. Flashback to 1992 during our Sophomore year. We were drinking in my room doing an Hour of Power (the abbreviated version of The Century Club). That's when you drink a shot of beer every minute for an hour. Armando was friends with a bunch of Thetas, the girls from the Southern sorority, and they drank like fishes! To make things interesting, Armando and I added a shot of Jagermeister every ten minutes. By the end of the hour, I was shitfaced with 60 shots of beer in me and 6 shots of Jager. We went off to PJ's, the local Thursday night hangout. I headed straight for the bar and ordered more Jager shots. That's the last thing I recall before I blacked out. For someone who's been partying hard for almost fifteen years, I am proud to say that I've rarely blacked out. That night with Armando and the Thetas was one of the rare instances. At some point during the night at PJ's, I got into a fight with a dickhead named Billy, who was a Pike. The bouncers and bartenders were all members of the Pike fraternity and although they were dickhead jocks and muscleheads, they took a liking to me. I played basketball with everyone on their team and luckily that's what saved me from getting my ass stomped. Supposedly, I got a ride home from one of the Thetas, bought everyone in the car Dunkin' Donuts and passed out on our front porch. Burgess, one of my brothers, carried me down to my room where my roommate was watching a movie with his girlfriend and their friends. "Dude, this belongs to you," Burgess said as he pushed me in the room and I fell to the ground. I woke up six hours later on the floor of my room surrounded by empty Milwaukee's Best Light cans, with the worst hangover in years and I still have a rash on my arm that's never went away. On my way to class a few days later, my friend Holly came up to me and was so happy to see me alive. "Man, I had never seen you more wasted."

End college flashback.

I had not seen Armando in over two years since he moved to Greece then to Brazil. I met him at his hotel in Midtown and we took a walk to a place his mother suggested, Rue 57. Armando was buying me lunch, courtesy of his corporate card, and he encouraged me to get whatever I wanted. I settled for a draft beer while we waited to be seated. Located on the corner of 57th and 6th Avenue, Rue 57 looks like a cheesy, overpriced French bistro, a Eurotrash place I normally wouldn't prefer to spend my time at. However, it was not as bad as I thought. The food was excellent and service mediocre. Rue 57 is a Parisian brasserie and sushi bar, a unique combo, as was it's clientele, a mix of Midwestern tourists and Midtown suits on lunch. The interesting menu offered up sushi dishes as well as classic Parisian cuisine. Armando went for the Smoked Atlantic Salmon with Cucumber, Red Onion Compote, Creme Fraiche and a warm Dill Biscuit. I decided on trying the mini Kobe beef burgers. For $30, you got a small order of pomme frites (fries) and three silver dollar sized burgers. I never had the infamous Kobe beef before (insert Kobe Bryant attempted rape joke here) and was eager to experience the most expensive beef on the planet. The Japanese massage their cows and feed them beer and high grade food. Fine with me. As I lifted the tiny burger to eat, I took a medium sized bite and slowly let the Kobe beef dissolve in my mouth. Unbelievable! It melted in my mouth and was not saturated in fats and oils like a normal cheeseburger. I now had a last meal choice if I was to be on Death Row. I also decided right away that if I won the World Series of Poker, that the first thing I was going to splurge on was to buy my brother and myself a Kobe steak dinner.

Anyway, Armando and I quickly caught up on our lives. He reads my blog frequently from Brazil, so he had a general idea what was up with me and wanted to hear about the juicy nuggets of gossip about some of the people we went to school with and more importantly, he wanted to hear about all the cool and non-blogworthy things (the unabridged tales of sex, drugs, and aberrant behavior) I had been doing with my life in the last few years. I told him some of the highlights (like the phone sex girl) and lowlights (like the day of the dreaded e.p.t. purchase). We shared stories about all the guys and girls we went to school with that were having kids. Five years ago everyone was getting married. Now they're popping out kids at a disgusting rate. These were the same people who just a few years ago openly embraced binge drinking, experimental psychedelic usage, and sexual promiscuity (sometimes all in the same weekday night) and now they're living in Red states, working for the Man, and driving Volvos.

We touched on the usual topics we seem to talk about in addition to stupid materialistic Americans, corruption in South America, Eastern European cities, and Catholicism in Brazil. At some point the question was posed, "If you could go back in time ten years ago, what would you say to the 22 year old version of yourself?" I had mentioned a couple of general things that everyone would say. I would have told myself to worry a lot less about things I have no control over and I would have emphasized that I should take more risks, oh and to travel more (especially to see more Grateful Dead shows before Jerry died). Also, I would have told myself something about not being naive with the friends in my life thinking that I could implicitly trust them all of the time. The term friends is a loose definition and it's always been changing and shifting over the last fifteen years. I would tell myself to show more loyalty to my closer friends and be more cautious with trusting all friends in general. After all, who has not been betrayed by someone we thought we could trust? I'd be giving myself a stern warning. I also would have dispensed some much needed relationship advice. Not that I know anything more about women at 32 than I knew at 22. But I could give some tips like:
1. Never date a woman who... has more ex-boyfriends than pairs of shoes in her closet.
2. Never date a woman who... has more than two pets.
3. Never date a woman who... routinely abuses people in food service and customer service.
4. Never date a woman who... has no idea what Matthew McConaughey's greatest film role was.
5. Never date a woman who... drinks more than you.
If I knew those five things, shit, if I knew one of those things, entire sections of my life would have been a lot easier. All joking aside, it was great to catch up with an old friend. Eating Kobe beef burgers in a French restaurant with Armando was the last thing I expected to do when I woke up today. And he planted the Brazil seed in my mind. Yep, Brazil makes the short list of places I'd like to visit in 2005. Up there with Alaska, Paris, Nepal, and Norway (to meet Sigge and all those Nordic female groupies I have been hearing about). Let's hope I have a great run in Vegas and can scratch up enough cash for plane fare.

Alright, alright, alright!!

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