I was stone sober and faced with a moral crisis. How can I be expected to host a Beer Club meeting, accurately cover the event, or even do a suitable job of representing the drunks employed by Creative Loafing if I don't partake in sampling this month's beers? I don't want to be a charlatan or mistaken for a creeper who doesn't like beer. More importantly, how can I be asked to abandon the one tenet of my personal credo: never pass up free beer, especially free premium beer?
I turned these questions over as Trini and I stood at the entrance to Fly Bar, IDing people as they lined up to sample Penn Brewery's St. Nikolaus Bock, Never Summer Ale, Stoudt's Winter Ale, and Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale.
"Four cocktails and you'll be fine," advised Cindy Marquez after asking why I wasn't drinking.
Four cocktails and I'd be illiterate, and possibly shirtless. I asked Cindy and her friend Lisette Bellizzi what the hell kind of jobs they had for which they could put down four cocktails and be fine.
"We're professionals," Lisette said.
I didn't know if she meant they were paid to drink or they were paid well enough that they could afford to build up a four-cocktail tolerance. The two were full of professional advice. They suggested that I write a story about single Tampa women. It was a good idea, but in a way I cover that story every week (which is not to say I'm bored with the subject). Beer Club was loaded with more than a few ladies who fit the profile.
Tien Pham was surrounded by no less than four groupies at all times. I knew first hand about her charm. After a double fisted bum-grab a few months ago, my cheeks still clenched every time she passed.
There was Krystal Sousa with her quick witted radio-personality, minus the radio-looks. She made such an impression on an older gentleman that he bought a round for her and her guy friends.
Then there was Michele Pryor, who I met when she asked me why I didn't ID her. Usually I get this question from women who look like my mother stuffed into my sister's clothes. This wasn't the case with Michele. She could've been a trophy wife if she wasn't so damn independent.
"An underage girl wouldn't go to a public bathroom alone," I said, "Let alone walk into a bar by herself and proceed to pinball between the huddles of men."
We got to talking. Michele told me about all the clubs and organizations she was involved with (she was even on a bowling team). Before she left me to mingle with "Pete in the leather jacket," I asked what her secret was for staying young and feisty.
She shrugged and said, "I'm divorced, without kids."
Suddenly I was faced with a brand new moral dilemma. How could I be expected to meet a future ex-wife if I was still sober?
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