01 June, 2007

Another Milblog Conference AAR: Falling Off the Barstool*

*The following is simply a light-hearted snark on a couple respected friends. And yeah, the conference was a month ago, but I'm way behind in blogging... so sue me.

Those who know me well know I don't drink.

Those who attended the MilBlog Conference won't believe that for a moment. Here's why...

It started at the Friday night reception. Frankly, I was too excited (and busy) to eat. After forcing down a small soft taco, I was done. But as the reception moved into full swing, my blogpapa kindly offered to buy me a drink. I initially declined. But in a gracious and extremely subtle (hah!) attempt to balance the scales for a vaguely-remembered time past in which there was a wallet on one side of a military gate and its owner on the other, I accepted, with the caveat that I didn't really like alcohol. End result, Lex ordered me a glass of lovely white wine that I was surprised to find enjoyable. Oh! And I shared the half-remembered story with an appreciative audience, too (I blame it on the wine, of course...).

Over an hour later a bunch of us are hanging out at an offsite bar and I'm enjoying conversation with Lex and V5. Ankles hooked in my barstool's crossbars, I lean forward to better hear Lex's bon mot... and my off-balance stool pitches me nose-first toward the floor. Fortunately, the quite-forgiving solidness of Lex was there to literally catch me before I connected with a the quite unforgiving solidness on which he stood. Certain persons who reportedly couldn't hold their liquor have made snarky comments, but we know what really happened...

That was just the beginning.

Saturday after the conference, a number of attendees retired to the hotel bar and I was again encouraged to avail myself of the options. I again declined. But upon observing Lex (notice a recurring theme?) enjoying something clear in a martini glass accented with a strip of citrus peel, my curiosity was piqued.

FbL: "Whatcha drinkin'?"

Lex: Vodka Martini.

FbL: What's in it besides vodka?

Lex: Lemon.

FbL: Just vodka and lemon?? Actually, that sounds kinda good...

Lex: *somewhat surprised grin* It's very good. Try it.

FbL: *sip* [replacing the glass on the bar by feel] *choke, wheeze*

Lex: *smirk*

FbL [shaking head]: Tasty, but that's some serious stuff! Whoooh!

Lex [gleam in his eye]: The second sip is 10 times better than the first.

FbL [eyeing the glass suspiciously]: It is, hunh?

Lex: *grin* Definitely.

FbL [disbelieving, but rarely one to decline an unspoken challenge]: *sip... pause* Ooh! It is! All smooth and citrus-y...

Lex: Told ya! Would you like one?

Well, to make a long story only slightly shorter, I ended up drinking half a vodka martini before I was hurried out the door by other friends for dinner and a movie. At that point I was exhausted and had eaten almost nothing that day. I aver that the fact I was sleepy and my usual clumsy self all evening had absolutely nothing to do with vodka martinis!

But the coup de grĂ¢ce was yet to be--and it wasn't my fault! Properly fed, post-movie, post-conversation, I found that sitting out in the garden at midnight made one quite chilly. A return to the bar led to the discovery that the party was still in swing, and being that Lex had proven himself of such discerning taste in beverage selection, it seemed quite reasonable to call out when I was offered a drink, "Hey Lex, I'm cold from sitting outside. What should I get to warm me up a bit?"

A lilting Irish accent with a hint of Virginia was heard from down the bar, "Why, an Irish Coffee, me lass!" After thoughtful consideration, in which I decided there couldn't be that much alcohol in a cup of coffee, I agreed.

It turns out I may have erred.

Someone soon passes me a lovely tall drink topped with a straw and a big dollop of thick cream. It's delicious, with only a hint of alcohol content. After a few sips, I discover Lex is trying to get my attention again as he holds out a glass containing a bit of what looks like coffee with milk. "Here, this wouldn't fit in your drink; it was too full. Just pour it in."

Heh. I'm among friends, so I do as I'm told. My next sip leaves me with a mouthful of something very strong, but after a stir it thins out and I think, "I guess the bartender didn't stir my drink enough, or the alcohol settled in the bottom." I think nothing more of it.

Thirty minutes and much humor and superb companionship later, I find I've warmed up quite nicely. I also notice something surprising: my face is numb... interesting feeling for someone who's never even been the slightest bit tipsy. I ask the assembled group, "Is a single Irish Coffee supposed to make your face numb?" I am advised that no, it is not, amid much laughter.

I am also reminded that Lex had handed me a little something "extra" for my drink...

Lex's fellow naval officer SMASH (who kindly offered his arm) had the line of the night on that topic. "Fighter pilots... they're all the same," he began.

"But Lex doesn't fly anymore," I interjected.

"Doesn't matter. Put a female in front of them and they revert to habit: try and get her drunk."

I about fell off the stool again--this time, from laughter. But Lex got what he deserved in the end: a hangover. ;)


Snarkage aside, Lex is a gentlemanly friend whom I know I can trust. In fact, he was following in some excellent footsteps in playing such a joke on me...

At the post-conference bash in 2006, Chuck talked me into a mixed drink and told the waitress to make it a double. A "double?" Being the non-drinker I was (am), I figured that meant the entire drink was twice as large as a regular. Let's just say I knocked the last half of it in my lap with a clumsy wave of my hand.

The postscript to that story is that Chuck ordered (in his brook-no-argument command voice) that we unaccompanied ladies who had hardly drank would either take a cab back to the hotel or allow him to escort us on the DC Metro. For our protection, of course...

What actually happened was that we ladies talked and laughed our way through the Metro at 0200 while Chuck, who was still recovering from IED wounds, laid on the concrete benches at every stop and groaned, "Oooo... I can't remember the last time I drank so much... oooh."

Men. Gotta love 'em.

I think... ;)