The clock seems to tick slower and slower in the “Collegiate Times” office as I eagerly await the warden to grant my release. Please, oh please, approve my pages so I can flee Squires and go officially start my weekend.
Finally, after a few agonizing and frenzied hours, I’m given the “all clear” to run along and begin my night’s festivities. It’s my friend’s 21st birthday, so the stakes are high. I know I’ve got to reach the birthday girl quickly to give my well wishes before things get too out of hand.
I eagerly enter Sharkey’s and immediately spot my friend, but of course I have to wait for the bouncer to check my ID. The line is never long, but man do I hate those stamps. Forget getting a tattoo; just go to Sharkey’s.
Suddenly the birthday girl charges me shouting, “Collegiate Times!” I had told her about the article I would be writing about going downtown and she seemed excited about it, but this was quite the welcome. Perhaps her obligatory 21st birthday “dinner” at El Rod’s had really brought out her enthusiasm for the publication.
After sufficient birthday wishes has been bestowed, it was time to belly up to the bar. Unlike many weekend nights I’ve seen there, the crowd seemed pretty manageable and the service at the bar was relatively quick.
With the lack of crowd, standing around just talking to friends is both easy and enjoyable. However, after a few more drinks we all come to that horrible point where one is faced with the decision to break the seal or hold out a bit longer. I decide I last awhile longer, but my friend decides to cave, passing me her drink to hold onto while she’s away.
This seemingly simple action leads me to an intense internal debate about the etiquette of sip stealing. What is allowed? Surely my friend didn’t expect me to hold onto her beverage and not take a few samples. I decide to indulge, but come clean about what I’ve done when she returns. She’s not upset, so apparently sip stealing isn’t too horrible an offense.
While I’m having a good time listening to the bass-booming music and catching up with friends, I know that something is missing. What’s missing is Andrew, my journalistic counterpart.
Meeting up with someone downtown is always more difficult than expected. Despite texting and countless ways to stalk people on social networks, it’s still tough to find people in the crowded mess known as “DT.” It’s always a hassle to move your herd of friends to a new location, and even once there, it can become a real life version of “Where’s Waldo” to find someone. Try that after a few adult beverages.
After a few awkward moments of scanning the crowd and glancing at my cell phone, I’m reunited with Andrew. We each did our own thing to begin the night, but now are ready to chronicle our journeys together.
We order two large Blue Moons, unsure of what saying the word “large” actually meant. The bartender then brings over massive 34-ounce mugs, garnished with an orange slice. What had we gotten ourselves into? We refused to accept defeat though, and powered through it.
The crowd was beginning to thin, though the night was still young, so we decided to move on. Besides, we had just spotted a girl wearing gym shorts, which was a clear indication it was time to leave Sharkey’s.
Our next stop was Big Al’s, which for me is a staple any night I go downtown. The bouncers are friendly and don’t subject you to a ridiculous stamp. Don’t underestimate the importance of that.
As I slide my way into the main bar area, the “Cheers”-like atmosphere hits me. This is my bar, and while not everyone knows my name, it’s always crawling with familiar faces. I’m instantly greeted by what seems like dozens of people, ranging from close friends to those that look familiar but I can’t quite place.