Andy was the first of us to get married, and he was thankfully doing it on the other side of the country, forcing his Sunset pals to go on a air-n-road trip. The wedding was in upper-state New York but we decided to take the opportunity to hang out in New York City before making the trek northward.

Nick Barrett had some friends from college living in Manhattan and, being the cheap screws we were, we took them up on their obligatory invite to stay with them. As you would expect with five early-20s guys from the neighborhood, we didn’t spend a lot of time  (none) sightseeing but rather sat our asses at McSorley’s bar for about eight hours each day just drinking and bullshitting. McSorleys was and old bar with older patrons. We saw two old dudes square off in a knife fight and then sit back down with each other and continue drinking. The bar had saw dust all over the floors and the beers were served in these mini beer mugs. Either that or the bartender had huge hands. Pictures on the walls showed American legends like Babe Ruth in the very same bar, which still seems surreal for West Coast kids that viewed them as more folklore than actual people.

Now, it may have been jet lag and the booze combined but time flew while we were there. Nick and I got in a heated debate about hard alcohol; While neither of us drank anything but beer at the time, he contended that nobody in the world likes the taste of hard alcohol, they just like the effect of it. I dared to disagree and theorize that someone, just someone in the world probably likes the taste.(I should note that these days Nick and I validate my contention on a nightly basis). At the time, it was so outrageous a thought that Nick accused me of also thinking the moon was made of cheese, which brought levity to the pseudo argument.

The bartender walked up the now sawdust-free path from the bar to our table with the next round of beers, about six mugs in each hand, like a surly St Pauly Girl. I posed the scenario to him and he was placing the mugs in front of us.

“My friend here thinks there is nobody in the world that likes the taste of hard alcohol.”

With an cock of his head and a narrowing of his eyes, and in my fading memory I picture him as Charles Napier, he growled.

“Well, I’d spend a lot of his money proving him wrong.”  Punctuated with a wink and a snap of the head.

Since we couldn’t improve on that line, that was the end of our argument.

That night was more of a blur than the day at the bar. I’m pretty sure someone in our group hooked up with a tranny in Times Square, but that’s a different story. Anyway, we all fell into the apartment and passed out in various corners. At around 4am, I woke up to take a piss. When I walked down the hall, I could hear not just running water but gushing water. I walked into the bathroom and there was a not-at-all-conscious Michael Tate in the shower tub leaning against the tile wall with a stream of shower water bursting off of his shirted shoulder. The water in the tub was just about to crest when I turned the nozzle off and encouraged Tate to dry off and go back to bed.

A few hours later, at about 7am,  it was already getting warm in the apartment. I was exhausted but had enough of a hangover to keep me from falling back to sleep. I needed water. I walked into the kitchen and over to the sink when I smelled one of the worst smells I can ever recall. “Where was it coming from?” I pondered as I hopelessly splashed water from the tap into my face in a failed attempt to ease the pain boring its way from the center of my skull outward. The smell seemed worse now. I blotted my eyes with a paper towel and when I opened them, I saw it. Well, I didn’t just see it  – I experienced it. With at least four senses. There, in the sink, was the largest shit I have ever seen in my life. My first thought was how an IBS-suffering Clydesdale got into the apartment and up onto the sink without waking the rest of us up. I then noticed the sink was quite high compared to other sinks, about lower-chest high. So whoever or whatever did this seemed to go out of their way to do it. But why? But who? I had a sudden flashback – the shower!

Since it was Barrett’s buddy’s place, and I wanted to see his reaction, I gently woke him up and quietly shepherded him into the kitchen. His sleepy eyes widened in disbelief- they were now only half closed – and he started to run down the theories about what could have happened. (Curiously he glossed over my Clydesdale scenario). When he ran out of ideas, I let my early morning shower encounter with Tate loose and Barrett flew into a rage. He was whisper-yelling, flailing his arms wildly to accentuate his anger like he was swatting an imaginary swarm of attacking bees. Start the timer…the premature end to our stay in Manhattan is rapidly approaching.

Now I don’t quite remember how Barrett woke Tate up, but Tate, still half asleep not knowing what he was actually being accused of, hopped up and immediately started denying whatever accusations were being volleyed at him.  He staggered around the room and away from Barrett like a loopy boxer just trying to hold out for the bell. When he eventually gained his footing and a bit of his bearings, he took a gamble and lunged out at Barrett with all his remaining energy with a bold assertion, hoping for a lucky knockout punch:

“How could it have been me!?” he got out, barely.

Barrett countered.

“How could it NOT be you!?”

A mortally wounded Tate fell to a proverbial knee. “Well, it was worth a shot,” Tate must have thought. With Tate’s storied history of blacked-out debauchery, he knew that he’d been beat. With his head hung low, he shuffled off into the kitchen to clean up his mess. [In hindsight, I should have yelled “Christ, he’s going back in there to take a piss! Stop him!]

We all started packing in earnest for our inevitable eviction. The roommates awoke and were surprised that we were on our way, but understood why when they caught a whiff of what Tate had just cleaned out of the sink. We all thanked them and sheepishly went on our way.

Tate, the last of us out, stopped at the door and addressed the roommates with nary a hint of emotion:

“Hey, thanks for letting us stay here. And sorry about the shit in the sink.”

He turned and walked out the door and into drunken folklore forever.