Wednesday, August 29, 2007

CSI: Southgate

The way I see it, there are several levels of drinking bouts and they can be rated in much the same way that NORAD classifies the threat of a nuclear holocaust. DEFCON 1 is a simple evening out on the town. You meet up with friends, you have a few drinks, share a few laughs, go home and go to bed. No harm, no foul and your biggest threat is a little headache when you wake up in the morning. This is exactly the kind of evening you are doomed to have if you bring your wife with you.

DEFCON 2 is typically what you are in for when you leave your wife at home. It is not all that different than DEFCON 1, but there will possibly be some vomiting involved and there are even odds of you arguing with your spouse once you have stumbled through the front door. The aftermath of this type of outing is waking up on the couch with brain pain that will need at least 12 hours of aspirin therapy to recover from.

DEFCON 3 is what you typically experience when you close the bar. The specter of vomiting graduates from being a possibility to more of a probability and you can usually look forward to an adrenaline charging ride on the Merry-Go-Sofa for at least a third of the four hours you have to sleep before going to work. Once again you will wake up in the living room, nearly fully clothed as you have only managed to get your coat and shoes off before collapsing on the Chesterfield. After a journey into this level of inebriation you can look forward to a hangover that is going to last for days, complete with a migraine that is impervious to Ibuprofen and a stomach unable to process anything stronger than filtered water and Sodium-free crackers. Your wife will probably give you at least 48 hours of silent treatment (which can come in handy during football season).

I am not really sure what goes on during a DEFCON 4 binge as my memory usually gives out right about the time the eleven o’clock news comes on. There are hours that are unaccounted for. One minute you find yourself toasting a successful game of pool and the next thing you know it is mid-morning and you find yourself face down on the kitchen floor. You see that you have tried to undress before hitting the couch but, having forgotten to take your shoes off before removing your pants, got your feet tied up in your inside-out trouser legs while your upper half became entangled in your coat as if you had been involved in some sort of hockey brawl in your underwear. This is the highest level of intoxication a man can attain and still reasonably expect to remain married. Make no mistake though, it will be years before your wife lets you forget about the night that you can’t remember in the first place.

Unless you have resided in a trailer park for more than a decade, it is nearly impossible to achieve DEFCON 5 in a single 24 hour period. It requires a sustained effort over the course of several days and typically involves distance as well as drunkeness. If you start off drinking in a benign place like Toledo, Ohio and come to your senses two days later in a 1980’s vintage Ford Taurus barreling towards Las Vegas at 115 miles per hour, you have reached DEFCON 5. DEFCON 6 if the Taurus’s transmission is in reverse.

You would not even know if you have ever reached DEFCON 7 unless there was a teetotaler in your crew taking pictures and even that may not work if the photographer gets picked up by the feds while trying to pay for his double-prints at CVS. The first clue one usually has that he had this much fun is when he gets sued for paternity in a class action lawsuit filed by dozens of women he has never heard of living on continents that he is sure that he has never visited.

In my service days, I was a reliable DEFCON 3 drinker though I journeyed semi-regularly into the realm of DEFCON 4. Maybe once or twice a year I made it to DEFCON 5 and in my entire life, I only had one instance where I might possibly have experienced DEFCON 6. DEFCON 7 is just simply unattainable to most people who were not born within the sphere of influence of the former Soviet Union.

Sacto Ritch and I typically set the DEFCON bar at 3 when we get together. 2 if we’re just meeting up for lunch. When we got together on August 18th however, not only were our wives with us, so were a couple of girls we graduated high school with as well as the husband of one. We were at DEFCON 1 from the evening’s larval stages and I was personally muzzled as my wife does not get out much and if I got us into trouble during the first time she’s been out to a bar in years, I was in for consequences more appropriate to DEFCON 4.

Jo, Ritch, Jake's Wife, Me, Jake, My Wife, Caretaker Matt

A lower DEFCON rating does not necessarily translate into a lower level of fun, and August 18th was a great example of that. I had a lot of fun catching up with old friends and I enjoyed myself immensely as I typically do in good company. Of course it helped that, since Sacto Ritch and I were not going to make it to DEFCON 4 ourselves, we sent someone else there in our place.

Our victim’s name was not Jake but since I do not use real names in The JEP Report (and the fact that he kept calling my wife Beth, which is not her real name) I am going to call him that anyway. Now Jake is the husband of one of the girls we graduated with and he is a big, boisterous guy. Though I have only had the pleasure of knowing him for a couple of hours, it was immediately apparent that he had a rather friendly disposition, an extroverted nature and held a rather lengthy repertoire of humorous anecdotes that rivaled the collection that I have been documenting over the last three years. He also looked like he could swing a mean bar stool if the need arose, which also comes in handy on occasion as long as we are not the intended targets of the wielded pub furniture. At first glance, it looked as if Jake would perfectly compliment the established drinking habits of Ritch and I.

The evening went well. The beer flowed freely and Mallie’s, the establishment in Southgate Michigan that hosted us, served us nachos, buffalo wings, fajitas and burgers that were all very tastily put together. We all caught up on old classmates and were surprised to find that to date, we only lost one of classmates who had succumbed to a drug overdose a few years ago. I found this surprising since my social circle outside of school, which was far smaller than my graduating class, lost three. Apparently, turning gay was a far more prevalent threat that we had lost six to.

By the time dinner was finished, we were comfortably numb and despite the presence of our spouse and old friends, I decided to up the ante and try to take our session to DEFCON 2 by ordering shots of tequila. Ritch, who I do not believe has allowed tequila to pass his lips since 1990 when it made him gag a Tijuana cab driver, was even persuaded to do a shot. Remembering what transpired the last time I saw him drink tequila, I kept myself ready to leap out of the way in case he broke out into another fit of Technicolor laughter. Ritch was quite a trooper and though the look on his face betrayed the fact that he had not missed a whole lot of tequila over the past 17 years, he suffered no ill effects.

Shot Time

Fortunately, the same could not be said for Jake. He seemed to do the shot fine, but not long afterward he completely disappeared.

Now, we liked Jake and could not just let him go off on his own in the condition he was in without the protection of the pack. In the shape he was in, he could have gotten into a scrape with a bouncer or something and if we were not watching his back, well, we could have missed a really good fight. Ritch went outside looking for him and after slipping in some evidence, stumbled upon a trail that lead him directly to Jake’s car where he was passed out cold. Unsure of what to do next, Ritch came back inside and sought my counsel on what to do next. Based upon Ritch’s description of Jake’s condition, I told Ritch and Jake’s wife that my medical opinion was that Jake was afflicted with a condition that could only be remedied with women’s make-up, a digital camera and internet access. Ritch agreed and once we got our hands on some cherry red lipstick, set out upon the only right course of action in that sort of situation.

As I said before, Jake is a pretty big guy so we had to proceed with caution. We needed to be sure that he was out. We decided to start with an investigation of his stomach contents. The great thing about dealing with the highly intoxicated is that you don’t have to wait to do this post-mortem like the guys on CSI: Miami do. All you had to do was grab a flashlight and study the parking lot. After cataloguing a copious amount of shredded chicken, ground beef, nacho chip fragments, corn, some peppers and potatoes, we were able to deduce that there was not possibly enough solids in that man’s gut to ruin his buzz so it was safe to proceed. When the mission came to the moment f truth outside of Jake’s car though, we were still struck with a moment’s hesitation. Ritch turned to me and asked, “What do you want to do, the camera or the lipstick?”

“I, uh….I could…uh…I dunno…”

Ritch handed me the camera. “I’ll do the lipstick. You’ve got twice as many mouths to feed at home than I do.”

It was a wise decision. The way I saw it two things could go wrong with our little stunt. The first was Jake could wake up swinging and if that was the case, Ritch undoubtedly had a better dental plan being a union employee and all. Second, in Jake’s twisted state of mind he could wake with the weird realization that he was into being made up like a woman and in the highly unlikely event that this happened, well, I just felt more comfortable with Ritch being the one holding the lipstick. Living in California, I imagine Ritch being just a trifle more open-minded about that kind of thing than I am.

When Ritch was through, Jake was a little startled but it appeared to me that he was mostly oblivious to the whole thing. We made him up, took pictures and were prevented from having anymore fun with the guy by his wife who decided to drop him off at her parents’ house around the block to save him from further humiliation. She came back later and described a chaotic scene as she tried to get him into the house. Apparently Jake was pretty much dead weight and she had to have her father help get him inside. Their two kids were also not used to seeing their father in that kind of shape either and apparently went into some sort of hysterics when they saw him, being far more traumatized by it than she had anticipated. That is no surprise. Coming home drunk is one thing. Coming home drunk AND tarted up in your wife’s Mary Kay ensemble is something else altogether. I’d freak too if I were them.

So what was the final verdict on Jake? Overall, I would say that he passed every criteria there is for joining our drinking circle with flying colors and I look forward to downing tequila shots with him and his wife again sometime in the future. There is only one thing left that we have to before we officially welcome him into the fold:

See how he reacts to having his picture posted on the internet while wearing his wife’s lipstick.

-This article brought to you by Jep and Sacto Ritch


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was his own fault. He should have known not to be the first to pass out.

Would have loved to see the kids' reactions, though.

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Lee said...

Looking at the pictures on the Jep Report I realized something about myself. Every photo I have of myself after the age of 18 I am either A.) holding a drink, B.)holding a child, or C.) lighting something on fire. I have all kinds of cool childhood pictures but I look like an idiot in all my adult pics.
In most of your pics you are either A.) holding a drink, or B.) holding a child.
My theory is that cameras are the leading cause of alcoholism and pregnancy (and several google searches on "photography" seem to verify the latter conclusion).
Just thought I'd throw that out

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Jo said...

Who is this Jo? She looks brilliant and kind :)

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah what a grand evening. Not only was it indeed wonderful to meet up with Josie, Jeanette and you, but to meet our newest friend "J". He hopefully has taken all this in stride and in the joyful spirit in which it was intended. I would expect nothing less from you or him. In fact, I would have expected worse since you know my temperment, and he's merely the size of a giant and probably has no fear of other humans. In fact, he probably has no fear of any creature smaller than a sperm whale.
Our evening could've gone to DEFCON 5 or 6 quite easily if it weren't for Pat. After we put one of our own under the table the focus began to shift towards one another. I felt stirrings in me that I haven't felt since the army. I wanted to put you into the "Kennedy" zone. (minus the Ms. Kopeckney part of course,) I wanted your morning to rival mine after the Tijuana Travesty. I wanted to drive you to Des Moines and drop you off in a cold tub of water in a cheap motel and leave you a note to call a doctor. You know I love ya' man, but I wanted to see you face down in the parking lot with the spins so bad you had to hold on to a parking block for dear life so you wouldn't fly off the face of the Earth like a rodeo cowboy on a pissed off, nut-less bull. 8 seconds, hell, I wanted 8 days of alcohol induced pain. And it would've all been OK because Caretaker Matt was present.
But I digress. I truly hope we can move back to MI soon so the possibility of such evenings are much greater. I had a fantastic time, and to meet up with old friends and new is something I would like to do on a far more regular basis. I miss you guys.


5:43 PM  
Blogger JEP said...


Somebady's got to be the first.


You are absolutely right. You have also made me realize that I do not have nearly enough pictures of me setting something on fire though.


Yeah, she's also really modest too.

And Ritch:

In Pat's defense, she had to spend an hour in the car with four tired kids and a husband who had the potential to projectile puke at any second (fortunately for her though, she got off easy and only had to pull over once so that I could take a leak in the parking lot of the Oakland mall).

As I said in the article though, we had no chance at Defcon 5 with our spouses present. We need to get the four of us alone in a Third World country in order to hit that level. I also noticed that Caretaker Matt got very little mention in the article, though he is a critical part of the Defcon 5 recipe. Without him, we'd probably still be rotting away in a Mexican prison.

Can't wait for you guys to move back out here! I have few drinking partners that I would even consider competing at that level with and would relish the chance to leap at at least one, and possibly several, monumental DEFCON 5 benders before I die (Though it would be awesome if I could legitimately have "Croaked at DEFCON 6" engraved upon my tombstone). Once you're out here, you could also make it to Salmon Camp, where DEFCON 4 is the norm.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was an enjoyable evening. I'm just glad that I didn't wind up behind Jake (our new Chris Farley look alike) pushing him up the stairs in some dirty Tijuana bar. I think I may have been road pizza. I must admit that I didn't think Jake was going to be the first one down that night. He looked as if he could hold his own in the Inebriation Olympics. I thought for sure that Ritch was going to be the first one under the table since he did that shot of Te-kill-ya. I must give you your due as well Mr Jep. You have been studying up on your Jedi mind tricks to get that nasty ass Cuervo down his gullet. I was tempted to join you, but I was worried that if I had joined in, then I would have lost my title as "caretaker" and I had no idea what Ritch's reaction would be once his favorite shot was re-introcuded to his system. I 1/2 expected him to have a Linda Blair reaction and see his head turn 180 deg allowing him to breathe technicolor on the window, thus warning any perspective patrons that Defcon 5 was attainable in this establishment.

I sincerely hope that Sacto and fam make it back to the "Mitten" state. It would be good to get you gentlemen away for a bit to relive some times from our youth. Hell, Detroit is almost a 3rd world country, we could make it happen. I definately have to make it up to the Casa de Jep to watch some college ball too. I've gotta see the carefully choreographed dance moves that you and the kids have worked out.

Thanks again for a fun evening where I didn't have to bail anyone out of jail.

Caretaker Matt

10:14 AM  
Blogger JEP said...

It was great to see you again Matt, despite the fact you always seem to end up as the unsung hero of our misadventures. Oh well, its better to be unsung than under-hung as that creepy old guy that always hung around the playground used to say,

8:23 PM  
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4:12 AM  

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