Down and Out in Denver

New Year’s Eve in Tahoe!

Posted in bars, food, gays, parties, travel, wine by Blake on January 4, 2010

Greetings, readers.  First of all, as one half of Down and Out in Denver, I must acknowledge that the other half, a mere two days ago, celebrated a very-close-to-momentous birthday.  Happy Birthday Alastair!!!

I will allow Alastair to recount his birthday escapades as I was not present.  The DOD boys escaped Denver for the New Years festivities, both of us to San Francisco and environs but with slightly different agendas for the weekend.  I went to see the Gentleman Friend (as well as others) and Alastair hung out with his own pals and celebrated both NYE and the B’day.  But we met up on the eve of the eve for a cocktail celebration (like a little warm-up!) with all of our Bay Area peeps: drinks at the Blackbird on Market by Church.  I like this bar.  It’s gay, but not overly so.  Women welcome, even of the heterosexualist variety.  And while I’ve been there on crowded nights in the past, this time there was plenty of room to move and indeed to sit.  They also have a good and changing selection of wines by the glass, unusual not just for a gay bar, but for any bar.   Following cocktail hour(s) a few of us headed out to dinner at Starbelly (16th and Market, where Asqew used to be), the new sister restaurant of Beretta (23rd and Valencia).  Lots of good appetizers: the chicken liver pâté was excellent; tasty salty fries with three homemade dipping sauces.  The salads were also great, especially the apple and celery root.  Finally, pizzas: our table had a margherita, a mushroom, and the GF and I split a mixed salumi, cherry tomato, and fresh mozzarella.  Very good: a little crispy and, though fancy and thin-crusted, there was definitely enough cheese.  Following dinner we met back up with the crew at what we heard was to be the last night at the smoke-filled Amber (14th just above Market) before it was revamped into something swankier.  All flavored vodkas were on sale as they tried to rid themselves of extra alcohol.   The GF and I headed out around 11 because we had to get up the next day for a trip to Lake Tahoe with his friends.

Lovely Lake Tahoe

Tahoe.  That’s right.  This non-outdoorsy, non-skiing, non-snowboarding urban homo flew from Denver to California in order to go to a ski resort town.  Go figure.  Apparently that’s what a very fine Gentleman Friend can do to you.  I will not go into all the detail about the lovely meals that our group of nine had, or the very pretty views (see above), or the drunken card games (apparently I am very bad at Taboo after too much wine, and I’m not half bad without, though the GF is far better), all because I have a much better story to tell instead.  Here goes: The GF and I lost a coin toss and were allotted the futon in the second-floor loft.  All of this would have been inconsequential except that the loft was open to the staircase and the living room below, meaning that in the wee hours of the first day of the New Year, I heard increasing groans coming from below where one of our fellow Tahoers was sleeping on the couch.  At first I thought it was someone having sex, and when I realized it was someone alone downstairs I thought he was having a bad dream, or one in which he wrestled.  Then I heard him being very ill in the bathroom and assumed he’d had too much to drink.  As he moved about downstairs bumping into things and falling over, still groaning aloud, I thought he must be sleepwalking.  Finally the GF woke up and we consulted: he went downstairs and the friend (whom I’ll call Randy) indicated that he needed to go the hospital.  And pronto.

Dear reader, never again will I disparage the iPhone.  Without the GF’s iPhone we would have been in serious trouble.  That trusty little GPS app guided us from our condo to the Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, all as Randy suffered the most excruciating pain to which I have ever personally borne witness.  Agony, I tell you.  Upon arrival we rushed in and, because his pain was pretty obvious to the receptionist, Randy was ushered into the inner sanctum with very little delay.  Thus began our odyssey at the Barton ER.  Picture it: New Year’s Eve at a resort town famous for its gambling and partying.  Who do you think might have been there?  My estimate, based on our three hours between 4:00 and 7:00, is that the clientele was pretty equally divided between the unbelievably intoxicated and those who had been injured in alcohol-fueled altercations (sometimes overlapping categories, to be sure).  Those were the ones being treated, of course, but the demographics of the patients and those waiting were actually pretty similar.  I could tell many, many stories but I think I’ll have to limit it to just 2 or 3 of my very favorites.

It was quickly apparent that our BFFs in the waiting room were going to be the three hipsters from San Jose who were waiting for their super-drunk friend, Angela.  They explained to us that she was small and had been drinking far too much – beer and shots – which resulted, not surprisingly, in a trip to the ER as they feared she might have alcohol poisoning.  The hipsters were themselves slightly drunk and very chatty.  At one point they were called to the desk to consult about Angela’s imminent release and when they asked, were told that her blood alcohol level was a point 2 (.2).  The boys’ knowledge of the law or medicine was not what it could have been and so they concluded that this meant, as they exclaimed, “She isn’t even drunk! Why are we even here?”  Of course the legal limit for driving is actually a .08, so Angela’s levels were more than twice that, but this was lost on the hipsters (and indeed on the GF and myself until we used that handy iPhone again to look up blood alcohol levels).  A “sober” Angela was released to the arms of her loving friends.

Some visitors to the ER that night, however, were not so lucky.  Consider the case of two young women whom I’ll call Courtney and Ashley (we never learned their actual names and indeed it’s unclear whether they would have remembered them at the time).   Ashley emerged from the inner sanctum after we’d been there for about an hour.  She looked dazed but had a slight grin on her face.  She walked outside into the snow and promptly turned around and came back in.  The cab that the ER staff had called for her had not yet arrived.  Somehow, across the waiting room, she started to talk to Courtney, whom she did not previously know but with whom, it turned out, she had much in common.  They had both awoken in the ER wearing hospital gowns and little else, their clothes having been removed by the ER personnel, presumably.  They had no idea how they’d gotten there, where their friends or phones were, or, in fact, where they were at all.  After treatment they were both released to wait for cabs.  Of course they also couldn’t remember where they were staying but this did not stop Courtney and Ashley, by this point fast friends, from linking arms and heading out to a cab destined for “the strip”; they’d find their way together!  A drunken New Year’s Eve friendship was born right there in the ER.  It was all rather heartwarming.

Finally, there was perhaps the most dramatic of waiting room pals: a group of three waiting for a man who had been injured in a bar fight.  One of them was his girlfriend and the other man might have been her brother.  Their friend had been knocked upside the head with a bottle of “Dom P,” as the man told us.  (One of our friends later noted that at least it was a decent brand and not something cheaper like Korbel.)  He was having stitches on his left ear, but not quickly enough for his girlfriend, whom I’ll call Mary.  Mary was, in a word, impatient.  She explained to us and all others present that the only way to get in to see a doctor was to fake unconsciousness – that’s what she’d had her man do, and it had worked! She encouraged others still waiting to adopt this tactic. (The GF and I were something of an anomaly in the waiting room in that Randy had not actually spent any time in it and his ailment seemed entirely unrelated to alcohol; we thus did not need her advice.)  In the meantime she tried to persuade the receptionist to let her into the back to see her boyfriend, whom she claimed she could see lying on a stretcher not being helped by anyone.  The receptionist was having none of it, even when Mary increased herself to the status of wife (“I need to get in there and see my husband!”).  The receptionist’s intransigence prompted Mary to go off on a tirade, and provided the two best lines of the night: “That bitch is out of control!  This is like being in a Mexico hospital!”  We had difficulty stifling our laughter because “that bitch” (the receptionist), far from being “out of control,” was actually preoccupied with a Janet Evanovich novel and should have ignored Mary far more than she actually did.

Oh, but I could go on.  The entire experience was actually so amusing that – combined with how much pain Randy had clearly been in – it was impossible to be resentful of the three hours we spent there when we should have been nestled snug in our bed.  There definitely could have been better reading material – Forbes and the ESPN magazine are not going to cut it for two liberal homos – but so long as someone else was actually present in the waiting room, it hardly mattered.  Finally, dear reader, you will be glad to know that Randy was released after he passed his kidney stone – not appendicitis, as I’d thought – and we headed back to the condo, and back to bed.   Certainly the most unforgettable New Years Eve I’ve had in the past 20 years.


8 Responses

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  1. mamamonroe said, on January 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    OH MY GOD quite the adventure! I also recently spent an excruciating afternoon in the hospital with a member of the Denver Omelette Men’s Auxillary (my brother-in-law) suffering from a kidney stone. How horrific. I was truly sick over the all-consuming pain he was experiencing. I’ve heard it is akin to childbirth!

    You are a good friend Blake. Glad you’re home…

    I really do need to get back to SF one of these days. I will consult before leaving so that I hit the right places!


    • Blake said, on January 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm

      Indeed it was an adventure! I have also had a kidney stone and I was definitely not in nearly as much pain as was Randy. And this was his second!

      We need to plan that DO/DOD get-together. I’m away (again!) this weekend at a conference but after that…

      Happy New Year to the Omelette!

      • mamamonroe said, on January 5, 2010 at 8:13 pm

        well well globe trotter… i am away the weekend following. what are you and alastair doing on Friday Jan 22? i’m HOPING tossing back old fashioneds at the thin man with the Denver Omelette…?

  2. Blake said, on January 6, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Unfortunately that won’t work either as Alastair has a big work event that night that I’m going to as well. The next night — the Saturday — is a possibility but Alastair won’t know for a little while. Same for the next weekend. Alastair might be away but might not.

    I’m not sure how we actually came to have such complicated schedules. Can we check back closer to that weekend?

    Are you going on a Midwestern work trip with large men who will inappropriately admire your footwear?

  3. GayProf said, on January 6, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Well, I can say that I am little disappointed that the story didn’t end with a small alien larva emerging unexpectedly from Randy’s stomach and then creating havoc in the ER. But I suppose a kidney stone is interesting, too. My guess is that it felt about the same.

    Courtney and Ashley left me a little sad.

    Overall, though, it sounds like you had a mighty fine time with the GF.

    • Blake said, on January 6, 2010 at 10:58 am

      Yes, Courtney and Ashley were definitely a little sad. They remind me of the discussion going on over at Historiann right now. They both seemed to be of college age or maybe just graduated. There can be drunken irresponsibility post-college!

  4. mamamonroe said, on January 6, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Sadly, Blake, no Siberian work trips with large servicemen are in my near future. HOWEVER, I am journeying back to my home state of New Jersey next week. I’ve ordered extra ‘bump-its’ so that I can make sure my hair is extra tall. I want to fit it.

    The 23rd is out for me. Going to a concert that night… we WILL figure this out soon. Possibly a weeknight?

  5. Blake said, on January 6, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Yes, indeed we will! I actually just had a long conversation about ‘bump-its’ over New Years. I hope you have occasion to use the extra-large “formal” bump-it at some point in your trip home!

    Weeknights can certainly work for me. Thursdays are particularly good, and others particularly bad, I bet we can figure something out.

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