Tuesday, August 8, 2017

An Old Story about Drinking in Baltimore

This is another of my Old stories.

This one takes place in the summer of 1995.  I was working for Games Workshop at the time.  We were located in a small building on Benson Avenue in Baltimore, and we were quite the tight-knit group.  Sort of.  Maybe.  In any case, we drank together a lot.  At the time, the sales manager was a person who I'll call Mike.  Mike was a tall, broad guy- rather athletic, but a little past his Prime, and very arrogant.  I can't say anyone really liked him.

At the time, we are having problems with our mail order division, so they sent somebody over from the UK.  I'll call him Gordon. Gordon was a proud Scotsman.  In fact, he was one of the finest Scotsmen I ever met.  To welcome Gordon, and the person who accompanied him- I'll call him Chris.  We had a small reception so to speak, which means that most of us on the sales team, Gordon and Chris, and, yes, even Mike, went to the Baltimore Brewing Company.

The Baltimore Brewing Company was located downtown, and was a rather large Beer Hall.  On the day we were supposed to do this, there was a little trash talking going on between Gordon and one of my fellow salespeople, I'll call him Fred.  Fred was and still is an interesting person.  He and his wife were essentially Gomez and Morticia- think of them as 90s version.  Fred had a goatee and long hair that he kept in a ponytail, and he was talking all kinds of trash.

A Halloween picture from the 90s: "Fred" and me (as a cereal killer)

Yes, he was saying about how Americans could outdrink Scots any day the week, and, of course, the rest of the Americans were egging him on a bit.  Now Chris, having come over from the UK, well he was high up in the corporate hierarchy.  He was known as "the Chaplain."

The Chaplain was in charge of keeping the holy writ, so to speak.  He had the power to fire anyone in the company save the chairman of the board, and had done so several times.  Chris was also one of the best trenchermen I've ever met.  That man could Drink, and his reputation preceded him.  He watched as everyone brag about their drinking prowess with amusement.  He knew Gordon better than any of us.

That night we all got a table at the Baltimore Brewing Company.  We had some dinner, and then the contest began. The challenge was that Fred and Gordon were to drink the exact same things, and whoever drank more would be the winner.

So it went.  I took kept pace as well, just because I wanted to see how I measured up.  Sitting across from each other, Fred and Gordon kept it fun and light as they drank and drank and drank.  (I was seated to Fred's left.)  Eventually they began to get a little drunk.  Meanwhile, sitting across from me was Chris.  Chris was watching silently with amusement, and I noticed that he was drinking what they BOTH drank.  In other words, he was drinking twice as much as either of them.  At first I tried to keep up with him, but even I could not, and back then I was able to drink a LOT.

Behind me, a band started to set up: a three-piece jazz band.  They wouldn't start playing for a little while yet, but we knew it was going to be a little loud. Gordon had to go to the bathroom, so off he went, followed quickly by Fred.  Fred wanted to make sure that Gordon wasn't vomiting. Gordon was wearing biker boots as well as Fred (they were in style back then.) The story is that Fred went into the men's room and was standing at one of the urinals.  He saw a pair of biker boots in the stall next to him.  Thinking it was Gordon, he stomped on that foot as hard as he could, and heard a very loud Shout.  But it wasn't Gordon- it was a biker and he was pissed! Mike talked the biker out of violence somehow.  You see, Gordon had gone outside for a smoke!

While they were gone, Mike ordered two shots of vodka in addition to Gordon and Fred's replacement beers.  He poured the shots of vodka into their drinks and stirred a little bit.  He was upping the ante a bit.  No one was to tell those two what was going on.

Yes this was a jerk move, and, to my shame, one that I repeated some years later in California.

In any case, Fred came back first and related his story.  We could see the very angry biker across the room, and we sent him a couple of drinks that seemed to assuage his pain.  Fred did not drink until Gordon returned, and then they drank.  At this time, Chris said "wait a minute- you guys are going to slow you should chug this one!" and so they did:  chugging their entire beer with vodka included.  Now these were craft beers made by the Baltimore Brewing Company, not weak stuff, and this is when they started to exhibit real signs of drunkenness.

Eventually, they had to go to the bathroom again.  Unfortunately, at this point neither of them had any motor skills left.  Gordon stood up, fell over.  He was helped his feet by Chris, and then went to the bathroom. Fred on the other hand stood up, staggered, and fell backwards into the instruments setup by the Jazz Band, completely destroying the drum set.  As you can imagine, this made a LOT of noise!

At this point, it was deemed prudent to make our escape.  We paid the bill, and were told that we were banned from the Baltimore Brewing Company.  One of my co-workers named "Tim" took Fred home, and another co-worker, who was new to the company named Lonnie, took Gordon back to his motel room.  Lonnie was staying in the same motel until he found an apartment.

There are two different stories here now- I cannot vouch for the accuracy of either.  Well not really.

Apparently, on the way home Fred told Tim that he had to throw up.  Tim tried to pull over, but Fred then vomited all over the inside of Tim's new car.  This was not the first time someone had vomited in one of his cars- indeed it was said that you are not a member of the Games Workshop sales team unless they vomited in Tim's car.  (I guess I was never a member of the sales team, because I never did- not in his car anyway.)

So when Tim managed to drop Fred back at Fred's house.  Fred opened the door, stumbled into the entranceway, and fell flat at the feet of his new bride.  He looked up at her, smiled, and said "Honey, I won!"

Lonnie and Gordon went back to the motel.  Across the parking lot there was a restaurant called Pargos, and Gordon insisted that they go there.  So they did.  That night, they were having a strawberry daiquiri special.  Lonnie and Gordon had several each, so in the end Gordon really won.  Eventually, they went back to their respective motel rooms.

The next day, my Wife came down to Baltimore.  This is before she moved down.  The two of us were going to take Lonnie and Gordon to Washington DC for the day, as neither had ever been there.  (Lonnie was from California.)  So Lonnie was hungover but conscious, and we went to collect Gordon.  This is before cell phones where popular.  We knocked on his door; knocked and knocked and heard nothing.  We kept knocking and knocking.  Lonnie went back to his room, and called.  At that point, Gordon woke up.  He let Wife and I into his room, and went to shower.  The entire room was COATED with pink- even the ceiling. Gordon had apparently projectile vomited strawberry daiquiri everywhere.  He showered, drank some Gatorade, and he was ready to go.  So the four of us: myself, Wife, Gordon, and Lonnie, enjoyed a wonderful day in Washington DC.

Apparently Fred was sick for the rest of the weekend.

Tired GW staff at Games Day 1995

Here's a bit of a coda.

Some years later, after our convention called "Games Day," the big boss "Rick" wanted to take us all out to party- to celebrate another successful event.  We went to the Baltimore Brewing Company.  All of us were in our yellow Games Workshop staff shirts.  We were told we couldn't come in.  Rick spoke to the manager, and said in no uncertain terms that he had over 100 people with him, was going to pay cash, that we were going to drink and eat like crazy, and if they didn't want that money, we would go elsewhere.

We were welcomed with open arms.

Eventually, a large food fight started, and Games Workshop was again banned from the Baltimore Brewing Company.

The restaurant closed in 2005.

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