Once Again, "I am NOT Russian"

Originally Posted

What the hell was I thinking? I went to a party last night that I had been looking forward to for several weeks. It's an annual outdoor affair, thrown by a good friend, and I always look forward for the chance to again see folks I met in previous years as well as to meet the newcomers that get invited every year to a broad mix of people, nationalities and disciplines.

So, one of the guests was this Russian Weightlifter (I cannot remember his name) who enjoyed having a vodka toast about every 5 minutes or so. I am not a vodka drinker, though I do always enjoy trying out new things and the first vodka he had for us to try was an interesting dark blend of vodka with honey and pepper. I tried that out and didn't regret it at all. Smooth, tasty and the pepper definitely ignited one's entire thoracic region, though that part would have felt better during a winter outdoor party. I swear, during the old Soviet days, that stuff could have been used as a substitute for Central Heat!

However, once that was gone, the only vodka left was a big, outdoor temperature bottle of Smirnoff. I know. Now, the Russian knew what he was doing. In between each toast he would go load up a plate of food and inhale it. I'd had a big corned beef sandwich before I arrived, so that I could limit my grazing to the most interesting looking dishes I wanted to try out. So the Russian kept appearing and inviting those of us standing around the bar (a mistake in itself) to join him in another toast. Anyone who declined got a look from him like they'd just insulted his mother, so I kept giving in. Otherwise, I had only been nursing a beer or two.

One of the reasons I had been standing by the bar was that I was enjoying talking to a guy named Don. Don is an IT guy who gets those gigs where he gets paid to hack into a company's system so he can report to them on how their security sucks. He was also being kind enough to man the bar and the ice cream maker. After I had joined in on at least a half dozen or more of these toasts, I noticed Don was sitting, for the first time, and very quiet. He'd been there longer than I had. A little later he vanished completely. I notified my gracious hosts that we had a bartender MIA. He was soon after found passed out in a tub.

I got the clue and got away from the bar, but it was too late. Within the next 20 minutes or so all that vodka caught up with me. The party was just hitting its prime, too. My wife helped to get some food and water in me, but it just wasn't going to be enough. We had to leave (she drove) so I could pass out in my own bed.

That was a bummer. I feel nearly as bad as if I'd blown off the whole affair. Next year, if I get invited back -- not that I made a fool out of myself or anything -- there will be no more Russian Roulette. I'll take the dirty looks. I just don't understand how I could have been stupid enough not to take them last night. I like the one guy I met, who showed up in the middle of one of our toasts and, when offered to join in, said, "No, thanks. I'm that last guy on the list -- the Teetotaler!"

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Night at Flying A Gas Station
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