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An April Fool in Chicago

Justin Zalewski (Photo by Tim Baker)

The recent passing of April Fool’s Day has me thinking about the foolish things I’ve done in my life under the influence of alcohol. It’s time to sit around the campfire and have a little story time from Z.

One of the not-so-memorable moments of my life occurred about five years ago in my favorite city: Chicago. The story that’s about to unfold is the drunkest day of my life. Mistakes were made, my friends, but more importantly, lessons were learned.

Several of my closest friends live in Chicago and I make a pilgrimage there several times a year to kick back and have a good time. For this fateful trip I flew out on a Sunday morning after working my shift at the bar. So I’m flying on no sleep on my way to partake in a booze-filled three-day trip. To make things worse, I’m a horribly anxious flyer — I am talking gorilla-who-lost-its-baby panic. I am prescribed Xanax to calm such anxiety, so I took my recommended dosage as a tranquilizer to get through the flight (Mistake No. 1).

Once we landed in Chicago, my friend and I took the train to meet a group of friends for lunch. At this point, I’m excited but also a little sleepy. To counter this feeling, I did what any irresponsible adult would do and took one of my prescribed Adderalls (Mistake No. 2).

Feeling somewhat balanced and needing a bite to eat, we met at my favorite burger-and-heavy-metal bar to fill the gut with the necessary fuel for a proper day of tomfoolery. It was at lunch when things took a quick turn towards Shitsville. A few beers turned into a wave of Jameson (Mistake No. 3).

After food and enough Jameson to put an elephant down I realized I had to use the bathroom. As I stood up for the first time in hours, I looked like a baby giraffe on roller skates. My equilibrium was in an intense battle with prescription drugs, egged on by hours of drinking, and I had a battle of my own going on as I tried to gather myself to make it to the bathroom.

Upon my return, I learned there had been some planning in my absence. The group had decided to go to a rooftop day party that Lil Jon was DJing (Mistake No. 4). When we arrived to the club I was still feeling the effects of the Jameson, but I was just getting started. The place was packed asses-to-elbows, and the GM had us jumping between unsold tables until he could sell them. We started off with a bottle of Ketel One to share between the four of us (Mistake No. 5).

Drinks began to flow again, and things began to escalate. The BAC was rising and the levy was getting ready to break. Things started to get a little foggy for me as we continued to move from table to table. That’s when nature called and I had to use the bathroom again. I should have used the buddy system (Mistake No. 6).

When I arrived back to the table my friends were gone. Now I was left alone to navigate this rooftop club in search of friends. At this point I am pretty ham-boned, walking around the club like Frankenstein with a blindfold on (Mistake No. 7.) and that’s how I walked right into a massive bouncer. He took one look at me and told me to kick rocks. So I was put into the elevator and taken to the lobby and showed the exit.

This is where I should have cut my losses and called it a night, but of course I didn’t (Mistake No. 8). I called my friends, who talked to their friend, the GM, and he brought me right back into the fray. I didn’t find the guys immediately, however, and found the bar instead, ordering a few more shots (Mistake No. 9).

As I tabbed out and began stumbling around the bar, it was like déjà vu. That feeling only intensified when I ran into my old friend — no, not the ones I came with, but the bouncer who had shoved me on an elevator earlier in the day with hopes to never see me again. He grabbed me up with the quickness and escorted me out for a second time. This time, I decided I wasn’t going to go easy, and that’s when I opened my smartass mouth (Mistake No. 10). Little did I know that management had already called Chicago’s finest.

When the elevator doors opened, three officers greeted me. As I attempted to walk away from the officers they tried to arrest me for trespassing. I explained that I had already left the bar and would be going on my way before walking off at a brisk pace (Mistake No. 11). I remember being whacked over the head at one point, then several hours later I awoke in Cook County Jail.

My biggest takeaway? Vacation or not, never get so hammered you cannot function. Also, never second-guess the bouncer. And as always, tip your bartender!

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