“I’ve got some booze at my place.”
That’s how it begins. You’re sitting there at last call, ready to stagger away from the bonfire of joy that has burned down to a bed of pleasantly glowing coals, and some lunatic has to throw that can of kerosine on the fire.
Going to a party after the bars have closed is akin to crawling to the peak of Mt. Everest then turning to your expedition party and declaring, “Right, nice view. Now let’s break out the toboggans and see how fast we can get down the other side of this bastard.”
It’s a wild, exhilarating ride, all blur and screaming, and usually finishes with a spectacular crash.
Except, since you’re loaded to the gills, it doesn’t seem such an insane notion at all. In fact, it seems like a perfectly fine idea.
Why should the good times end? a little voice whispers. Says who? The bouncer? The clock on the wall? Because you have to be at work in six hours?
Screw tomorrow! the voice continues, raging now. Tomorrow is the enemy if it steals one moment from today. Tomorrow is where your boss yells at you for showing up late, if you deign to show up at all. Real drunks live in the now, and right now we’d like to have some more booze.
And that is exactly the sort of insane bravado a proper after hours party demands. Most people, the sensible ones anyway, are done at last call. Six or seven hours of steady drinking provides enough joy to refill the vessel the workaday life empties. But others operate under the principle that too much joy is barely enough. That pleasure should not be so moderately measured, that the vessel should be regularly overfilled, that the joy should run down the sides in a glorious mess, and in that overindulgence true pleasure lies.
These are the sort you’ll be passing through the vale of madness with. They’re a spirited bunch, described by Jack London as “those broad-backed stalwarts battling the sober night, brave as rabid dogs and thirsty as marooned pirates.” In other words, exactly the crowd you want to get obliterated with.
Sometimes a potluck spirit will grip the group and booze will be rounded up from a number of domiciles. You’ll also want to stop at a convenience store along the way. You’ll want to buy all sorts of things. On a diet? Forget it. Diets are for the sober. A whole new world of forbidden snacks opens up to you. Red Hot Pork Rinds. Burritos the size of full-grown daschunds. Foodstuffs with titles that boggle the imagination: Nachoritos, Taco Dogs, Jalapeño-Stuffed Salami Cakes. Load up. And, for the love of all that is holy, don’t forget to grab a bag of ice.
You forgot the ice, didn’t you? Of course you did. A drunk’s heart does not linger on things that taste like water. What you want to do is ring up the late arrivals and make them swear to grab a bag. Which, of course, they won’t.
You should enter the premises like stealthy cat burglars, as most neighbors won’t possess your fine understanding of the Overflowing Vessel Philosophy. Of course, this will not last. Trying to keep an after hours party “quiet” is like jumping in the ocean and trying to keep a shark dry.
Don’t expect everyone to show up. Some will stumble and plunge over the side of the rickety bridge that sways over the river of Common Sense. Don’t bother ringing them up, the current will have swiftly carried them too far away to hear.
An after hours party needs a center, something to gather around. A home bar is best, but in a pinch a dining table will serve. What you don’t want to do is gather in the living room, because guess where all the furniture is pointed? That’s right, at the TV. TVs are the death of an after hours party. Next thing you know, everyone is falling asleep to VH1 or some movie you’ve watched a million times and the party is over.
After Hour Irregulars
Those steely and brazen enough to traverse that bridge into the shadow world that is the after hours party fall into five distinct categories:
They have declared a personal war against sobriety, they will rise against it at any and every opportunity. These are the guys whose faces pop into your mind when you hear the term chronic alcoholic. Just like yours pops into theirs.
Perhaps their significant other recently left them, maybe they just got laid off. They’re looking for a solid dose of oblivion to push back the pain, and the after hours party serves it up in buckets.
Good Time Charlies
Do they work? Do they pay rent? Who knows? What you do know is they are always up for something, anything. Especially if it involves free liquor.
They weren’t planning on going to bed anyway.
This gang is mostly made up of night workers, especially bartenders. Bartenders are excellent guests because they know how to mix drinks, are used to dealing with extremely drunk people, and might bring liquor from the bar, if you whine loud enough.
Types of After Hours Parties
You are probably aware that the phrase, “I have some booze at my place” has many different meanings, namely:
The One Note Wonder
These will have exactly one choice of alcohol, whether it be a case of beer, a couple bottles of wine, or perhaps a sacrificial bottle of Guest Scotch.
Pro: No bickering over the choicer liquors.
Con: There are no choice liquors to bicker over.
The Shockingly Well Stocked
When you were young you probably came to the hard and fast conclusion that discovering a large supply of alcohol in a drunk’s home was paramount to finding a month’s supply of smack under a junky’s bed.
But, you may be surprised to know, there are some who are capable of maintaining such an unlikely status quo. These are the responsible drunks—you may have heard of them. They have devised a brilliant replace-the-bottles-as-you-go system that confounds the average booze enthusiast. For some reason, they also tend to have a kink for retro furniture and fixtures.
Sadly, responsible drunks don’t host many after hours parties, not matter how long and loudly you pound on their doors at 2:30 in the morning.
Pro: Just like being in a bar.
Con: Just like a bar, the host will try to wheedle money out of you to “replenish the stocks for next time.” Only there won’t be a next time. Pound all you like, it ain’t happening.
This is perhaps the most common after hours party. If you’re lucky there will be a couple real bottles, but the majority will be an assortment of those weird liqueurs and pungent liquors that manage to stick around after regular parties. Vile coffee liqueurs, bizarre Asian concoctions, raw mescal and sweet vermouth number among the usual suspects.
Pro: As certain Disney movies prove, a ragtag collection of orphans can make for a delightful adventure.
Con: As The Omen movies prove, orphans are sometimes the Anti-Christ.
The Exciting World of After Hours Cocktails
Ever wonder what rum and olive oil tastes like? Here’s your chance to find out. The world is your oyster. And, yes, that dusty can of oysters in your cupboard is just dying to be introduced to that snooty bottle of banana liqueur. Oh sure, you could just drink that tequila straight, but where’s the fun in that, especially when you have a whole refrigerator full of condiments? As you may have gathered, the after hours party is a perfect storm for cocktail creation, and here’s why:
Your imagination is unbound.
You’re too drunk to entertain those petty prejudices that haunt the sober hours. Brandy doesn’t mix with milk? How do you know for sure? Do you think Tony Bennett was sober when he decided to throw together scotch, vanilla ice cream and black pepper? (Try it, it’s surprisingly tasty.)
Your taste buds are stunned.
All those shots at the bar will have beaten your taste buds into a coma, so you won’t have to worry about them cowering in the face of your Frankenstein-esque creations. Pickle juice and that weird bottle of flower-flavored liqueur some sadist gave you for Christmas? Get past the gag reflex and it’s not entirely disgusting.
You are more courageous.
The brave-making quality of inebriation will allow you to swill concoctions that would make you bawl like a baby while sober. Do your really think you’d have the guts to squeeze five packets of Taco Bell Fire Hot Sauce into a shot of mescal while your BAC is below .15? Probably not, which is a shame, because it’s quite excellent. Just steer clear of the medicine cabinet. Old Spice mixes well with nothing, I’m here to tell you.
You’re more willing to lie.
You can claim that the horrific blasphemy you just threw together is an actual recipe you picked up in Thailand, or any other country where insects and rodents are considered a delicacy.
Helpful Hints For Mixing After Hours Cocktails
Powdered non-dairy creamer is a fine substitute for milk or cream, so long as you shake the hell out of it.
Vodka mixes well with everything, including BBQ sauce, tuna fish juice, ketchup, mustard and horseradish.
Shots are better than cocktails. If your worchestershire sauce/sweet relish/scotch combo doesn’t come off as well as you expected, you’ll want to get it right out of the way.
Your experiment doesn’t have to taste good. It just has to be good enough not to regurgitate.
If someone balks at one of your ingenious monstrosities, menace his machismo with a loud, “I’ll drink it for ya, ya big pussy.” He’ll drink it all right.
About Blacking Out
There are those who get really freaked out when they discover parts of the previous evening have gone missing. They immediately assume that they transformed, werewolf-like, into an out-of-control monster with no greater interest than random mayhem and destruction.
Which is rarely the case. When you’re blacked out you are still conscious and you are still you. And you will not do or say nothing that isn’t already inside you. You’re just letting it out.
That said, the better angels of our nature are engaged in a constant struggle to keep those darker angels inside, and those better angels tend to become a bit distracted while loaded. Which is why drunk people are more likely to call their boss a motherfucker and throw a punch at a cop.
The thing is, you have to trust yourself. Blacking out serves the vital purpose of allowing you to release a year’s worth of built-up tension, with the built-in excuse that you “really didn’t mean it, I was blacked out for crissakes.” Furthermore, blacking out is, as Hemingway pointed out, a way of experiencing the great mystery of death, without dying.
Conversing After Hours
There are parts of our minds that serve as prisons for certain ideas. Those bizarre conspiracy theories, petty prejudices, eccentric beliefs, and lingering resentments that your sober self keeps under lock and key. Occasionally, they’ll individually slip past the guards in the guise of an embarrassing slip of the tongue, but after hours it’s a mass jailbreak.
You get to say things you wouldn’t dream of saying sober. So tuck your conscious mind into bed and wake up what Yeats called the “demons residing beneath our tongues.” For all their faults and flaws, they are a colorful and interesting gang.
It’s a fact you can get a glimpse of your friends’ inner souls when they’re drunk at the bar, but after hours you will see their souls laid bare to view in minute detail. Raw, oftentimes ugly, but entirely honest.
It’s damned liberating. Come morning, you will feel, hangover aside, oddly unlimbered. You will have cleared your mind of all those evil thoughts you’ve had locked up. Or at least given them a bit of exercise.
The best thing about it is everything you say will be forgotten, come morning. It’s like tossing squeaky rats into a bottomless abyss, never to be seen or heard from again.
Which brings up the one and only rule of the after hours party. Nothing said at an after hours party can be held to account later. No one gets to remember anything, even if they can.
After Hours Debating Strategies
That nasty little filter that restrains your lizard brain from saying ridiculous things while sober has been lost along with your jacket, so turn your mouth nozzle up to full blast. You don’t have to have a point—just start talking. It’ll come to you as you go, and it usually goes something like this: “You know, what I was saying was—and there’s plenty of times when I think this is true—that if everyone got behind this, the whole world would be that much smarter because, see, the problem is, people don’t understand nothing and that’s why I’m right about this thing.”
What thing? Who cares? You made your point brilliantly! Who could argue against that splendid brand of logic?
Arguing is a blast when you’re blasted. Problem is, your closest friends are likely to think the same way you do, so you might not have much opportunity to enjoy a real knock-down, drag-out row of wits. The answer, of course, is to abandon your belief system and attack any and everything your chat mates utter. Once you get in the groove, you’ll find it remarkably easy.
First, no matter what they say, always respond with a double-barreled blast of “Bullshit!” For example, if someone takes a seemingly inarguable stand, such as that whole Hurricane Katrina thing being a tragedy, say: “Bullshit! Buuuuuuuullshit! It’s been proven on several occasions that hurricanes are Mother Nature’s way of striking back against the ghastly behavior of humanity, and weren’t those Katrina victims human? Are you trying to tell me they aren’t human, you racist bastard?” And always finish up with, “That’s a fact, and you goddamn know it!”
After hours is an excellent time to get a few things off your chest, mostly the things that you don’t particularly like about your friends and acquaintances. Even if you just met them. Those annoying little quirks you barely notice while sober will suddenly seem glaring and horrific character flaws that need to be immediately addressed: “You know what drives me crazy about you, pal? You wanna know? Well, I’m gonna tell you anyway. The problem with you is, you say ‘dude’ too much. It’s a goddamn nightmare for everyone around you. You’re ripping people’s hearts out. Ask anyone you want. I’m just trying to help you. Knock it off and the whole goddamn world will be 20 times happier. Also, you should do something about that haircut.”
If you’ve known someone long enough, you’re sure to have witnessed some of his most embarrassing moments. Isn’t it fun to revisit those incidents? For example: “Hey, remember back in high school when you asked that girl to the dance and she laughed in your face ‘cuz you were stuttering like an idiot, then she told all her friends and whenever they saw you they’d be all like, ‘Y-y-y-you wan-n-n-n-a g-g-g-o t-t-t-t-o the d-d-d-d-ance?’ Remember that shit? That was hilarious!”
And you can bet your friend will soon enough recall a couple tragic comedies starring yourself.
We all feel very strongly about at least one subject, and usually have a nice well-rehearsed speech that goes along with it. You know, it’s the one you always give when you’re roaring drunk. It could be about how only you and your bandmates know what rock and roll really is, or how few understand, least of all your spoiled-from-birth wife, what it’s like to grow up dirt poor. And if someone brings up the fact they’ve heard it a hundred times before (and they have), just sulk for fifteen minutes and roll it out again. Only louder this time.
Fisticuffs, Rasslin’ and Other After Hours Sports
Fights might break out. It’s natural. The secret is not to freak out, because the two combatants are likely to be declaring their undying love with their arms around each other’s necks a few moments later. Then back at each other’s throats. Then more hugging. Man, it’s all part of the beautiful cycle of life.
Timeline of an AHP
A regular party starts at the bottom, builds to a peak, plateaus, then collapses rather quickly. An after hours party, inversely, starts at the top, plateaus immediately, then begins a slow and gradual decline toward oblivion. It’s a game of endurance, as the chart below demonstrates.
When The Party Is Over
Things will most likely have collapsed before the sun rises. A few stalwarts might still be slumped near the bottles, moving like gila monsters during a cold snap, but most will have crawled into corners like poisoned cats or split after the second time the cops showed up.
But it was quite something, wasn’t it? You rode that toboggan down the other side and lived to tell the tale. You voyaged far past the edge of the map and perhaps have some fine stories to tell.
Except you can’t tell them. Remember rule one.