Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
Since my very first Florida vacation, as an adult, there's been a tradition of trying to drink our way around The World Showcase at Epcot Center. The first year, my friends and I made it through Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, and Italy, before I got a text from another couple, and went back to Mexico. I *think* I drank my way around the world and a half again, but I have no documentation of that. So during my second trip with a different group of friends, we documented our journey in photos. Sadly, just as we finished Italy, it began to rain, and we retreated to the indoor rides of Future World, having failed at our quest.
Last year, Paul and I went on a Parkhopping Adventure beginning with Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and ending with the Drink Around The World Challenge at Epcot. It was still daylight when we arrived, but we only made it to Italy before they started lighting off fireworks and closing the park. This year, we were focused. We were ready. We ordered a Lyft to avoid driving. It was time to get Internationally Drunk. (Well, Mock Internationally.)
Perhaps a harbinger of our trip should be how long we stood in front of the house, anxiously awaiting a Lyft that was already in front of the house, just on the other side of the street. How long? No idea. Certainly more than two minutes.
Once at the park, we were greeted by a giant sign celebrating The Festival Of The Arts. As I'm sure you're shocked to discover, most of the art produced involved Disney properties. Lots of Mickey, Star Wars, various classic Disney characters, Frozen, Pixar products, etc. But quite a lot of them were inspiringly well-made, and didn't look like the basic Disney crud they sell in their stores 365 days of the year. The first thing I saw was the best, though: Louis Lochead's collage portrait of Prince. But we didn't go to Epcot to enjoy art. We came to drink.
In order to assure we wouldn't, for the third consecutive trip, end up stalling out in Italy, having only conquered five countries, we decided to start on the other end of the spectrum.
Waterfalls, a pool with no fish, Native-inspired totems. We hoped to start our day with an unhealthy amount of poutine (any positive integer number of poutine is unhealthy), and particularly Canadian beverages.
"What do you think their stereotypical Canadian drinks are?" Paul asked.
"Labatt Blue?" I ventured.
Paul nodded. "I'm guessing Moosehead Ale and Maple Whiskey."
We were both right. As they had no poutine, and only maple popcorn (or regular Pop-Secret Popcorn....the secret being...it's microwaved?), I made the first of many false promises that we would eat at whatever the next country was.
I had an Ottowa Apple, which was apple-infused Crown Royal whiskey with cranberry juice, while Paul had A Maple Cafe, which was a frozen coffee drink made with maple-infused whiskey.
"Gah! Brain freeze!" Paul gasped. "That's it! No more frozen drinks." This was the second false promise we made.
I'm not trying to neg on British food, but Paul and I had already made a pact not to eat any more British food on this trip, as we'd previously made a stop at a British restaurant in Clermont where, after cutting my appropriately anchovy-ish Caesar Salad wrap, they'd clearly used the same food prep items to make everyone else's food, so that everything had a strong Anchovy notes. Which is not something you want in a pork sandwich or a sausage. This might have had something to do with the restaurant in question being run by someone who didn't appear to know anything about food, business, or customer service.
I'm sure Epcot's England restaurant was Way Better. But a pact is a pact.
For the third time since entering the park, a stranger noticed my Jawas 2 shirt, and started a mildly flirtatious conversation. Leading me to write my theme for the day "Making friends....with my teeeeee shirt", which was sung several more times throughout the trip.
In honor of his cultural homeland, Paul had a Newcastle, and in honor of absolutely nothing, I had a pear cider.
We, then walked through one of the souvenir stores, where I heard The Most American Man In America chatting with the British cashier. "Where are you from?" He asked.
"London." she likely lied. "How about you?"
"I"m from Des Moine, Iowa." he said. "The. Heart. Land. Of. America."
"Oh wow." she likely lied.
On the other side of the store, there was a garden which, I think, is supposed to be from Alice In Wonderland, but Mary Poppins was the celebrity signing autographs, which Paul was too cool to stand in line for.
We opted to desert it up (because hungry and full of alcohol. Paul having the Creme Brulee, while I had a profiterole in the shape of a swan.
I made more friends with my t-shirt in Morocco, where Disney's Microagressive Family Of The Day made a bunch of I Dream Of Jeannie gestures, after declaring that all the clothes in the Morocco store were "hideous", which I imagined meant thy were a perfect match for their personalities. But they didn't end up buying them.
Paul ended up having another red wine. "Better than the one in France!"
I, breaking the previously mentioned No More Frozen Drink rule, had a Tangerine Daiquiri.
"My...throat...frozen...stars...gah." was my full review of the daiquiri.
"They don't even know what causes throat or brain freeze." Paul said. "They think it might have something to do with the constriction of the throat due to the temperature difference between the cold beverage and the warm air around you. But they're not sure because nobody is doing the research. Probably because nobody has ever died of brain freeze."
At this point, a Very Drunk Dad was yelling "JACKIE!!!! JACKIE!!!" at a sheepish little girl, who was being guided to him by one of the International Festival Of The Arts employees. "I Told You To Stay With Us. Where Were You?"
"I told you I." she whispered.
"NO." He said. "NO. You Do Not Leave Us." and then, showing his complete lack of self-awareness, he drank more of his beer, and said "You Need To Pay Attention To Your Surroundings."
As he said this, I was mildly bumped by a person in a mobility scooter.
The solution to throat freeze, in case you were interested, is Not a hot beverage. Particularly if you don't like hot beverages.
I'm sure my sake was a decent representation of plum wine. But I like neither plums, nor wines, nor hot beverages, so it was a poor choice on my part.
Paul had a lavender iced sake, which was not quite a single plum floating in perfume in a man's hat, but was close.
We also went into the Japan art gallery, which was mostly Kawaii, and made me wonder why none of my friends have written "From Ronin to Salary Man: The Changing Ethics In Japanese Cultural Icons" or "From Samurai Swords To Tentacle Hentai: What The Fuck Happened?"
I only managed about 3/4s of my sake. I poured the rest out in memory of my fallen comrades from the manga section of NEC Brookline (none of us have died, we're just clumsy).
The night before our Drink Around The World Challenge, Paul and I had met up with a friend for mostly sober mini-golf, and then drinks at a localish beer bar. I was psyched to see they had hard root beer on the menu, and I ordered it. So, of course, they were out of it.
I meant to order the hard root beer at the completely unnecessary United States Of America section of The World Showcase, "where you can get your picture taken with George Washington on his way across the Delaware to murder a bunch of British people. Or fight in a war. However you call that." Paul said.
He took a mulligan on drinking, which I think is totally acceptable considering we'd been drinking in the US all week, but I had a hard orange soda to go with my pretzel, which was, of course, in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head. I thought several times of taking a picture of it, but it didn't happen.
Mimes with whistles. Who knew that was a thing you'd encounter twice in your drunken tour around the Disneyfied world?
The one in Italy juggled with soccer balls and umbrellas, and antagonized adults, while being kind to children. I'm sure I've seen worse things while munching on a pretzel.
Paul had decided on prosecco while we overheard someone behind us say "I bought limoncello from this place last time. It didn't end well." So I decided an orangecello would be a safer choice.
I'm not a beer guy, but what else do you get in Germany? For the first time, Paul and I got the same thing: Octoberfest.
Other than that, Germany was entirely uneventful. Probably because we used up all of Germany's magic, spending an hour taking pictures whilst wearing a variety of hats on a previous trip.
Nothing on China's drink menu struck Paul's fancy, but I found a cream, vodka, and amaretto drink called "Fortune Cookie" which I thought was just a trite name for a drink in "China", but it actually tasted like a fortune cookie, so...well done, Disney.
Some day, I will be as happy as Hayden was with his bubble machine. We waited about forty-five minutes in line for the Frozen ride in Norway. Partly to give some space for our next drink, and partly because it's one of the few Epcot rides I've never been on. Throughout the entire ride, the kid in front us, who was named Hayden (which I know because every thirty seconds one of his parents would say "Hayden, stop it. Hayden, get over here. Hayden, pay attention!" had a wand that shot bubbles everywhere.
"How long do you have to work here," I asked Paul, "before you no longer notice that a kid has been blasting you in the face with bubbles for a full minute?" If the employees guarding the end of the line noticed the bubbles, it wasn't apparent.
While I made friends with my t-shirt, Hayden fired bubbles at his parents, Hayden made a bubble tower on the floor, Hayden made a bubble beard on his brother. When Hayden's dad took the finally no-longer bubble producing wand into his custody, he blew his own bubble with gum he was chewing, and Hayden burst the bubble and put the gum in his own mouth. Because kids are gross.
Despite being directly behind them in line, I don't think we ended up on the same boat as the Hayden Clan. But we did get on the boat, where I reassured myself that this was a ride designed for nine year olds who loved princess movies, and was probably not going to have any parts that would cause me to spew my own alcohol-fused bubbles all over Paul or anyone else in my vicinity.
I don't know if I was just the right level of inebriated, or just happy to be sitting down for the first time since France, but the Frozen ride was great, if brief. It's very much the same as the old Viking ride, but with singing snowmen, a bunch of unfamiliar songs medleyed together so hard that I couldn't tell you whether they included "Let It Go" (though they must have, right?), and creepy mini-snowmen. I would have gone on it again, but we were due for our Aquavit shots, which I forgot that I hated. Unlike the sake, I powered my way through it, and Paul and I headed to Mexico. Sans bubble wand. Stopping only to take the selfie, like we had at every country, but a helpful stranger took the photo for us. Thanks, helpful stranger!
We made it to Mexico! The final nation of the tour. Traditionally, we've grabbed some form of tequila based drink, usually a margarita, and then hopped on the Three Caballeros Grand Fiesta Ride. But fuck tradition. Tradition means we end up not finishing the quest, so we each violated the rules once again by getting frozen margaritas (Paul going for lime, me going with Strawberry).
Since we'd forgone the Three Caballeros, I suggested we end the night on another ride. I'd hoped to do the Soarin' ride at The Land, but as we approached, I noticed that, in addition to The Land, which I was familiar with, there was The Sea, which I've never been to. So we headed in that direction, and entered the Finding Nemo ride because I really wanted to say "I've never been drunk on a slow clammobile ride before." There was also what would have been a very impressive aquarium, except it was not as impressive as the one we visited at I-Drive 360, and it had a manatee tank with what appeared to be the two most depressed manatees in the entire world.
"How do you know?" Gary asked. "Don't they all just look like that?"
If all goes well, the next time I'm in the Orlando area, we'll be drinking around Galaxy's Edge, where Han will take his shot first.
Kissimmee: Despite Winter Storm Inga, Shit Storm Donald, and Storm Drain Clowns Who Rip Arms Off Of People From Maine When It Rains, the sure sure sure you know how long it's been annual drunken mini-golf event without a hitch. Not a single person married.
After having his undefeated streak crushed during The Martha's Vineyard Bros Games of 2014, and then having a steady decline during the three round Ariel-Baker-Gibberish Drunken Putt Putt And Oh God What Was The Name Of That Card Game That Chloé Cunha Had Us Play? 2015 Cape Cod Summer Slam, it looked as though Adam "Consesually Comes From Behind" Stone has reclaimed the tarnished but somewhat respected trophy.
The tournament started sober as, after an hour long journey through a flea market that barely hinted at the decline of American civilization, despite being located next to a patriotic machine gun range, this year's combatants were eager to throw off the stress of the impending government shut down, and the aforementioned winter storm, and get to chasing brightly colored balls around a Congo themed mini golf course which is about as accurate representation of African culture as Paul Simon's Graceland.
The front nine of the first round was mostly unremarkable, save for the constant interference of Doomsday "I Don't Need A Middle Nickname My Fucken Name Is Doomsday Honeymoon" Honeymoon, keeping Daphne "No I'm Not Happy To See You, I Have A Chihuahua In My Cleavage" Gottleib out of the running.
Hole Eleven, the famed Drop Of Doom(not named after the wiggling sharkhuahua), was the beginning of the end for then leader, Gary "You Didn't Even Realize I Was Playing Until I Was In The Lead" Hoare. Alas, Heartbreak Hill, which has resulted in a lead change every year the course has been played, led to Robert "Rookie Of The Year, But It's Only January, So Don't Get Used To Your Title" Lashley usurping the front spot. but losing it on the next hole to Adam "I Told You My Middle Name Was Consensually Comes From Behind" Stone, who held it steadily until the end of the first round.
With the first round scores being:
Stone - 50
Hoare - 53
Lashley - 54 and
Gottleib - Stop Wriggling, Tiny Dog!
the crew went to the historic Orlando Crapplebee's where they avoided botulism by not eating any food, but procuring some drinks. Gottleib had a Maker's Mark neat, Lashley had The Designated Driver (which isn't a pun on a putt-putt course), Hoare had a Sam's Winter and a Lagunitas IPA, and Stone had two Patron Margaritas and then a blend of Jack Daniels products in a fucken fishbowl. All this while, across the bar, a couple of derelicts who were also between rounds at the mini gold course tried to lie their way to a comped meal by exaggerating the twenty seconds the server took to get their order to twenty minutes. Because most people suck.
Gary Hoare began the second round losing his composure and his ball on the Dukes Of Water Hazard Hole. It is still unclear where the ball went, but that may be due to the dyed color of the water matching both Hoare's ball and his shoes.
The whole tournament was just about even through the fifth hole where some stationary rocks threatened to take Stone out of the tournament. Lashley and Gottleib alternated taking the lead through such controversial holes as #NotAllHoles, #AllHolesMatter, and Mein Shaft, the triumvirate of shitty misogynist, racist, homophobic, and misandric holes on the "Congo" course where the front 18 is called Stanley, the back 18 is called Livingstone, and they play more jazz guitar than you'd expect in...well...anywhere, if you're lucky.
After accidentally off-roading on That's A Long Hallway To Walk Through Just To Get To The Lobby, Stone managed a Hole In One, despite the interruption of a roving band of children and what Gottleib accurately labeled Alternate Weekend Custody Dad. Still, Lashley and Gottleib held the joint lead, even when Hoare could no longer hold his bladder at the prospect of having to reconquer Heartbreak Hill. (He used a bathroom, he's not a monster. Though Gottlieb, Hoare, and Stone had all had Monsters previously.)
Gottleib took the solo lead, shocking the world by getting a Hold In One on Heartbreak Hell. It seemed no one could catch her. But then Stone used his meticulous murder hands to win each of the last three holes, and steal victory.
Stone - 51
Gottleib - 52 (thanks to Sleepy Doomsday)
Lashley - 53
Hoare -Fuck This, Let's Get Barbecue
There was some post-tournament alligator feeding, where Stone tried his best to feed some very cold and very stupid reptiles who were more focused on chewing on plastic tweezers than the meat attached to them. This was followed by some human feeding at a barbecue restaurant which was much more successful. So successful that the entire crew overslept manatee swimming and water parking, and are now debating whether it's time for Rounds Three and Four of the tournament to take place at an indoor glow-in-the-dark course. Stay tuned. Same wriggly time, same wriggly website.