Spring break began for us on a bright and sunny Friday afternoon. Unlike most of our compadres, we couldn’t leave Thursday night due to poorly scheduled classes/clinicals. However, it is probably better that we weren’t present, since I received a text at noon Friday from my buddy—we’ll call him Beechnut—that read ‘Already got kicked out of my hotel. Epic.’ I feel like any added fratitude would have fueled the aforementioned chaos into Beechnut and me being ran out of the city entirely. Anyways, we loaded up the car—with KMart throwing all his stuff into a large plastic storage bin he referred to as his ‘TupperWare’—and hit the road. We headed south and we would have made fantastic time if not for one small inopportunity. The slow down happened just outside Kansas City, where the Missouri State Police pulled KMart over for a little chat about the excessive speed at which he was traveling through their fair state. This put us about 30 minutes off track. It was also at this time we learned that Creighton’s basketball team had lost, making this trip near superfluous. Pistol P cheered a cheer of anti-basketball tournament joy, and I balked at his treason. From there, equipped with an awesome pump-up playlist, it was smooth sailing. Well, for awhile, at least.
We cruised in to St. Louis around 10:00 and established base camp Stronghand’s posh residence. In my book, a 10 p.m. arrival in a city means a 10:30 arrival at the bars, but this pack of Marys just had to have their precious showers. Finally, around 11, we caught a cab and headed to Morgan Street, where we were set to rendezvous with some tried and true pals. However, more complications arose. Turns out, if your fake ID is a fake Missouri license, you probably shouldn’t try to use it in Missouri. What’s more, if your fake ID says you are from St. Louis, you probably shouldn’t try to use it in St. Louis. KMart—or any of us, I guess—had any of those thoughts, and before I knew it I was being dragged out of a crowded ball full of all my old—and a few new—pals to another cab that was to take us to out night time domicile. We rectified our losses by drinking all the beer in the house, and I mean all the beer, and watching 9 before retreating to sleep.
Day 2 dawned with us waking up in our unique sleeping set-up. Point of information: since Stronghand went to college, his mom and dad have since sold off their house in the suburbs and moved downtown to a very nice condo. However, this very nice space is not made to accommodate five dudes. We were given the run of a small bedroom with two twin beds and enough floor space to (kind of) fit three sleeping bags. KMart and Stronghand claimed the beds, leaving me, Pistol P and the Undertaker to sleep in a jumbled heap of sleeping bag on the floor. Negotiations came up to zip all three into some sort of “UltraBag” or “SuperSack” but these talks never came to fruition. Shame. We ate breakfast then spent our Saturday walking through the ‘Loop’. This is an area of St. Louis with some restaurants and shops and stuff. I’m not really crazy about it, but Pistol P loves it so he can flex his indie nuts in various record shops and vintage clothing stores. I did, however, score a lovely Boone’s Farm T-shirt that will be worked into my wardrobe often and the Undertaker scored a DVD copy of Big Trouble in Litle China. We viewed that cinematic masterpiece, maybe ate supper, then headed out once more, leaving poor, poor KMart behind. I might be a bad friend.
Nonetheless, we headed out, back to Morgan Street and the Morgan Street Brewery. This is one of the most interesting bars I have ever been to. I guess the story goes that it started as one bar and as they made more and more money they bought the bar next door, then the bar next door to that one, then repeated. The result is a conglomeration of 4 very distinct spaces all housed within one door. The first part is more of an alum area where the oldsters back in town for the tourney can chat about their mortgages. The second area is geared towards the “I Love College” crowd: dance floor, shitty DJ, a reek of sweat, cologne my brother wore in junior high, and Bacardi Limon. No thanks now, no thanks ever. Finally, if you had the stomach to soldier your way through this offal, you are rewarded with an area of the bar I alternatively referred to as “The Promised Land” or “Oregon” since the rigors and hazards of the journey there mirror those found in the classic original Apple game “Oregon Trail.” This backroom bar was great. For starters, not that many people went that far back in the bar, so the crowd was mostly people I knew and liked. Second, this small crowd equaled quick service at the bar. Third, and most importantly, it had tables and booths. Maybe I’m getting old, but I’ve discovered I would much rather post up in a booth than make laps through the bar, so ample seating is a must. This is where I stayed for the most part until the end of the evening, which came at bar close, which was—in a pleasant surprise—3 a.m. But my night was far from over. While the rest of the 31/Chi team hopped in a cab, I followed Beechnut to a nearby casino. Most of my knowledge of gambling comes from Kenny Rodgers’ classic “The Gambler” but at this point I was down for anything. The casino was a nightmare. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a casino at 3 in the morning, but it’s a nightmare. Everywhere you look, you are struck with the thought “I hope I never end up like this.” The casino part of the night is a little blurry, so I’ll try to recap the highlights: I lost 40 dollars in 4 hands of ten a hand blackjack, almost got my ass kicked by a bunch of middle-aged Wichita State fans, and watched my friends leave, one by one, shaking their heads at the money they’d just lost. Somewhere around 5 a.m., Beechnut and I crafted a master plan to see the sunrise at the Arch and began mass texting in search of company. Beechnut had been evicted from his hotel and my current crash-spot was in a different part of town so we headed towards a hotel where we knew a lot of Creighton kids were staying. After a walk through a rainy, eerily quiet Morgan Street we arrived to find a lobby of like-minded sunrise-seekers. About 30 people were sitting in the hotel lobby, consulting various online almanacs as to when the sun would appear. The consensus: 6:24. We had an hour and 10 minutes to wait, which sounds easy, but proved near impossible. The number in the lobby rapidly dwindled, while Beechnut and I were only able to hang in there with the aid of warm Bud Light and Packard Club Snuff. In the end, only seven people made it to the Gateway to the West to greet the day before stumbling back to the hotel to crash on the first available floor. In my case, this was the floor of the room shared by seven girls, who were probably very surprised to wake up and find the Geico caveman asleep by their door. After two hours of refreshing floor sleep, I scored a ride back to Stronghand’s place where our customary noontime breakfast was waiting. Over bagels I gathered that I was not the only one who had a late night adventure as Pistol P regaled us with a tale of friendly cab driver who took him to Jack in the Box for a late night meal and Stronghand’s dad treating KMart to his liquor cabinet.
How would we follow up the night before? How do five rough and rowdy college kids spend the day after a strange night of hard partying? We went to the zoo, drank some beers, went to Shutter Island (two thumbs up), then drank some more beer. Life was good. Monday saw the departure of Pistol P and the Undertaker, while Stronghand, KMart, and I prepared for our long, Tuesday drive to Texas. We were treated to a lovely supper by Stronghand’s mom and dad, and then drank some beers. Of course.