Oh what a night! Is what I’d say if we hadn’t all spent it writhing around with stomach pain. Our day was fantastic, the night was an exhibition in food poisoning 101. Our delicious streetside burgers from the suspiciously sparsely named “Burger Bar” got the better of us. Pity, ’cause they were both cheap and abundantly tasty. I guess the greater cost was unseen. Our reactions ranged from repeated vomiting, to sweating and cradling our bellies. I either spent the night sleeping or hallucinating. I’m not sure. In any case, I feel oddly refreshed this morning. Maybe it’s steadfast determination made manifest. Today we’ll bounce back. Today is Barbecue Day and by God I’m more hungry for ribs than Eve.
Yesterday was Day Drunk Day, a theme we Krushed, Killed ‘n’ Destroyed like a nice 90s video game. Starting in the Rainey Street district, everything looked oddly deserted. Another bar hop area, it was all patios and lawn games, The sky was overcast and grey, dampening the atmosphere. Still, drinking was our prerogative and we were gonna make it happen. As we walked further down the street, we noticed more people. We heard music, a jazzy ensemble playing popular covers. The place, Bangers, was pumping. The line stretched down the street. We joined, until a staff member told the line there was a three hour wait for brunch. Holy shit. Maybe we’d grab something quick elsewhere, then come back for the atmos. We picked up food truck barbecue sandwiches (mine was stacked with buttery fall-apart brisket and thick spicy sausage) then headed in.
Here’s the thing about Bangers, it was go big or go home. Their trademark was colossal brunch and Manmosas. A 1 litre mimosa containing an entire bottle of champagne. It was so potent that they refused to sell it to anyone who hadn’t ordered a full plate of food. They also had a tap wall of beer with a selection of around 60 or so beers. Crazy, creative beer catalogued into sections like “light and refreshing”, “dark and malty”, “Belgian and farmhouse” and “Nitro”. My friend grabbed a sake/pizza flavoured beer, which was oddly accurate though too savoury for my palate. Anything under 5.5% alcohol volume they’d also serve in a litre jug. Good times guaranteed. The band played and they were fucking fantastic. Lively and talented, neat twists on songs we all knew. There were bridal parties everywhere with themed shirts (which, I dunno, seems to be a Very Austin Thing). So many friendly dogs (I met a wonderfully docile and soft Great Dane called Nico). The sun came out and we had a blast dancing along. The Buzz was true and our moments felt full of love. After things quietened down, our stomachs full of beer, and hearts filled with joy, we headed out to see what the rest of day would bring.
We had a couple of impromptu photo shoots along the way, goofing about as was our way. I had my heart set on Easy Tiger Bakery, ’cause I love bakeries. I was hoping to find a cute little store with nice chocolate chip cookies or something. We wandered along to our map’s instructions and found the place. It was nothing we expected and everything we didn’t know we’d wanted. A big canal ran alongside an outdoor courtyard filled with ping pong tables. The bakery also had a full beer hall, and here I was just wanting a cookie. I ordered a chocolate chunk cookie and lost my mind. So, back home in New Zealand we have this cookie brand called Cookie Time. They’re large cookies with a crispy exterior, soft interior and big chunks of chocolate. They’re one of my all time top favourite things, and utterly remarkable for a mass produced product. This Chocolate Chunk cookie was a near perfect recreation of a Cookie Time, but also freshly baked. I found my bliss. There was no way the day could get better from there on out. I’d reached peak holiday.
Then we found our new plateau. We dithered around trying to figure out what to do, while overly accommodating one another. The result was us getting a little pissy and nothing getting done. One of us wanted to see the Capitol, but also get goofy tourist shirts. I wanted to find cheap drinks. My friend was saying we should get the drinks I wanted, while I wanted her to have her shirts and Capitol building experience. Canadian politeness, eh? We’d passed a bar earlier where everyone inside shouted at us to come inside. “TWO DOLLAR DRINKS” they’d yell. “COME ON IN”. We’d learned in school not to bow to peer pressure, so we told them maybe we’d come back later and walked on by. After my friend and I argued about why it was better to accommodate the other, our fellow friend took executive decision and walked back to the peer pressure bar. It was settled.
Turns out peer pressure was the best thing that could’ve happened to us. The $2.25 drinks were decided by big Wheel of Fortune style wheels above the bar. It cost money to spin the wheel, which would change the drink affected by the wheel. One wheel for beer, one for shots and one for cocktails. The cocktail on offer was a $2.25 Bacardi Mai Tai, so we figured there wasn’t a lot to lose. EXCEPT OUR MINDS, it turns out. The drinks were delicious and the bartender was a great bloke. He was this super down to earth guy and we all had a rad time chatting to him. One drink stretched into seven or eight as others flooded into the bar. The crowd were good hearted locals and it was interesting hearing their perspectives. The kind of people whose political views were so different to our own, but what was interesting was how little that got in the way of communication.
We really noticed that while people in America hold steadfastly different views, they steadfastly defend the right of everyone to have their own views. It’s such a staunchly individualist society where people care about their right to live or die by their own ability to take care of themselves. People loathe the concept of paying into a system of healthcare where your money goes to other people. It’s anethma to them because the belief is that if you can’t support yourself, you don’t deserve to be helped. The American Dream says that everyone is entitled to reach heaven if they can get themselves there. It’s embodied in tipping, for instance, which is predicated on the notion that the better you are at making people feel welcome, the more you deserve. The satisfaction isn’t in doing a job well, but in immediate gratification for your work.
To be clear, I couldn’t disagree more. The three of us listened to these views respectfully, then told them precisely how and why our more “socialist” society worked for us. How we felt okay about paying more in taxes so that everyone could access the system. That we earnestly believed that people’s lives shouldn’t be ruined or ended because of broken structures. The concept of someone needing to choose between going to the doctor or not leaving their family in debt was inhumane. I hope some of the message got through to them, but who knows. In any case, we were drunk as skunks when we followed one of our new friends to the fateful Bad End of Burger Bar. We all know how that turned out. Or at least, I did this morning.
Oh, and The Curse of Cookie Monster has finally worn off. I’m back to brown town. Barbecue Day is truly Hashtag Blessed.