Drinking game

I got back to Russell at 4:45 this afternoon. Instead of going straight back from Salina to Russell, I went south on Interstate 135 to Wichita. I needed to pick up things at Best Buy and buy some groceries I could not buy in Hays or Salina. I wasn’t feeling too well on the trip back. I think I’m coming down with something. I’m thinking a visit to Walgreen’s is in order, either before or after my 10:30 a.m. appointment tomorrow. I’d like to do it before, so I can drive straight from Hays to Salina, spend some time at Buffalo Wild Wings, and then head to Beloit for Russel’s basketball games.

I stuffed myself last night at Buffalo Wild Wings. I ordered two of the delicious menu items which are only available for a limited time, the New Yorker, a pastrami sandwich on a pretzel bun; and the buffalo mac and cheese, which I also ordered Monday. Tomorrow will be the last Friday I can eat meat until April 10, since Ash Wednesday is coming up next week.

I left Buffalo Wild Wings a few minutes before 8 so I could watch the new episode of Law and Order: SVU in the room. It was a bust: the reception was terrible, the episode was a little over my head (video gaming), and I fell asleep. I woke up just before midnight with a gastric problem. I’ll go no further.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of my first experience with alcohol, save for the times I drank Communion wine in church. It was totally unexpected.

It happened at the Parkway Tavern, a popular hangout in New Orleans’ Mid-City, located on Canal Boulevard only half a block north of its intersection with City Park Avenue. It was all bar, no food, and sports on satellite was the main attraction. In most Kansas counties,an establishment cannot serve alcohol unless 30 percent of its sales from food. Johnson County, the state’s largest, has this requirement, as do Ford (Dodge City), Finney (Garden City) and Seward (Liberal).

Some counties allow pure bars without food sales. The only counties in northwest Kansas which do are Ellis (understandable because of Fort Hays State University), Graham (Hill City) and Logan (Oakley). Most of the others are in the eastern part of the state or contain big cities.

From 1948 through 1986, liquor by the drink was illegal in Kansas except at a private club. A handful of counties are still “dry”, meaning a private club is the only way to get liquor by the drink.

The alcohol laws of Louisiana are far more lax. Unlike Kansas, where anything except 3.2% beer must be sold in a liquor store, residents of the Bayou State can buy all sorts of alcoholic beverages anywhere and everywhere, including drugstores, grocery stores, convenience stores and any other establishment with a license to sell such spirits. Until 1995, the drinking age in Louisiana was 18. Technically, it was still 21, but there was a huge loophole–it was illegal to purchase alcohol at ages 18, 19 and 20, but it was not illegal to serve people in that age range

I was still eight months shy of my 18th birthday on February 12, 1994. I went to the Endymion parade, one of the largest Carnival parades in the Big Easy, planning to meet some adult friends of mine at Parkway.

Eventually, Ray Maher, an attorney whom I had known for three years, invited me in. I asked him to get me a Coke while I went to the restroom.

When I took a sip of the Coke, I knew something was amiss. I know Coke is loaded with sugar, but this taste was not the sweet taste of Coca-Cola.

I went into the bathroom and spat it out. When I emerged, Ray and Tommy Mitchell, a coach at my high school, Brother Martin, had big grins on their faces. Ray admitted it was spiked with bourbon. I laughed it off as we walked down City Park Avenue to Orleans Avenue and the beginning of the parade route.

The parade began at 4:30 p.m. Ray, Tommy and a few of the guys who were originally in the crowd left the parade early. I stayed until 7 because I wanted to see the Andrew Jackson High School dance team. The captain? Stacie Datuerive, of course now Stacie Seube. Once I saw them, I went back to the Parkway, where Ray greeted me enthusiastically.

It turned out to be the next to last Mardi Gras parade I have witnessed. In about 17 hours, I would be done with Mardi Gras, this time for good.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on February 12, 2015, in Mardi Gras and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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