The hangover from Friday’s revelries ached a little bit when I woke up on the sofa of our suite Saturday morning. Texas-OU weekend kicks off the Texas State Fair and the city was already starting it’s party at 7am. Despite knowing that, I was surprised to hear someone in the bathroom. Usually I’m the first one awake in our group but one of the boys beat me to the shower. Ike’s unmistakable voice was coming out of the shower, singing a Willie Nelson song.
Alex walked by right around that time, already showered and dressed in a white shirt with a burnt orange longhorn logo on the front.
“Yo dude – good morning.”
“Fuck Alex, when did you get up?”
“I’ve been up for about an hour. I ordered some coffee and Bailey’s from room service. It’s in the kitchen.”
“Anything to eat?”
“Nah, I thought we could just grab grub there.”
I stood there blinking at Alex for a moment. He showed no wear for what was now his third day of heavy drinking. He smiled at me. He actually looked fresh as a daisy. The guys seem to click into another gear when we’re on safari and clearly Alex had brought a spare liver and some extra brain for the trip.
I walked to the kitchen area, poured a coffee and cut it with Bailey’s. The day had officially begun.
On the way in from the airport the day before, we had loaded the car up with enough beer and booze to intoxicate an army of gorillas. The plan was to tailgate for a few hours before stumbling into the game. Ike actually had one more ticket so we planned to offer it to the first ticketless pretty girl we met, with the caveat that she sit next to us. We are diabolical like that.
All the local establishments around the Cotton Bowl, where the game is played, sell their available parking on game day for a king’s ransom. We found a local body repair shop with a sizable lot that let us park there for the day for a mere $40. We pulled our shitty little SUV into a spot, popped open the back and cracked our first cold beers of the day. It was going to be a good one. The guys who worked at the shop were in the garage doing a little work and hanging out. They were mostly Latino and in their twenties. We gave each of them a couple of beers and made small talk while waiting for the game to start. With our bellies empty, we filled up with beer and a few shots of whiskey.
By the time we were ready to make our way to the stadium, we were more than sufficiently lubed for any social interaction. It was about a ten-minute walk to the stadium from where we parked and we cut through the masses of people mingling for both the state fair and for the game. The air was already full of the aroma of any manner of things being fried. Supposedly the corn dog made its gloriously fried debut at the Texas State Fair. It only makes sense, as we passed long concession stands upon which they fried everything from the standard tomatoes and onion rings to Snickers bars and Oreos. Apparently, if it can be eaten it can be fried.
We stood outside the gates for a bit, trying to pawn off our ticket on desperate college girls but we were a little too drunk, a little too creepy and a little too impatient to give it a real college try. We ended up giving it to a woman working the concession stand outside the stadium and we made our drunken entrance to one of college football’s greatest rivalries.
The game was exciting but I won’t bore you with any kind of play-by-play. We never actually made it to our seats, but decided to stand on the concourse, close to where they were selling Shiner Bock beer. We had another 5-6 beers during the game and devoured some BBQ and nachos while watching Texas beat Oklahoma.
We joyously exited the stadium after the thrilling win, some of us far more hammered than others, with arms locked around each other’s necks. It was an unabashed display of male bonding, drunken male bonding at that. We felt the trip wouldn’t be complete without at least trying a corn dog and so we tracked down a proprietor of said fried treat and washed it down with more cold Shiner Bock beer.
I was dipping my dog in the pile of spicy mustard on my paper plate when Ike spoke up with some alarm in his voice.
“Holy fuck, gents, I am drunk.”
I should say he slurred most of that, versus actually speaking. I was surprised; I had never seen Ike in this state. It took a moment for it to sink in. How did he get so drunk? I thought we were right in step, other than his larger pulls from the whiskey bottle and his double-fisting brews for most of the game. He stood in front of me, slightly wobbly and his eyes glazed over with a whiskey cloud. His smile clumsily slithered about his chin. He was drunk. He was wasted. I was more than a little curious as to what would happen next.
He threw his arm around my neck and leaned into my ear and started laughing. He put his head down on my shoulder, knocking off the ballcap he had bought as a souvenir.
“Jackson. Jax – I gotta get out of here. I am unfit for human consumption. Let’s go back to the car.”
I looked over at Alex who had a grin draped over his face, his eyes chuckling with amusement. Neither of us had ever seen Ike this dismantled before.
“Ok, brother, let’s head back to the car. Can you walk?”
He laughed again and I could feel his weight pulling down a little more on my shoulder.
“Maybe. I think I need some help.”
I looked back to Alex, “How did he get this way?”
Alex just shrugged and laughed. We each put an arm around Ike and helped him back to the parking lot. For the most part he walked fine, outside of the occasional misstep. We had to weave through the thousands of vehicles trying to leave the fair grounds and while doing so, we made the decision to hang out in the lot and wait for traffic to die down.
We piled Ike into the backseat of the car, popped open the tailgate and started a fresh new round of brews. The traffic was brutal and more than a few other cars had the same idea, so we started a little tailgate party there in the parking lot. The guys working the shop joined us and we supplied with them some cold suds as well. Ike, reinvigorated by the party building around us, joined the fracas. There we were, in the Texas autumnal sun, drinking cold beer with strangers and reliving an amazing game. Soon a joint was being passed around and then a blunt. Our little gathering of twelve people was thoroughly enjoying life.
Ike then put his arm around one of the Latino guys who worked at the shop and whispered something in his ear. The guy looked surprised but then recovered and nodded to friend. The two of them headed for the garage and Ike punched me in my arm and motioned for me to follow. We walked into the garage and shut the door behind, leaving everyone else in the lot. The two Latino guys were facing us and one of them pointed to Ike, “How much do you want, man?”
Ike shrugged nonchalantly and said, “I don’t know. An eight-ball, two if you can get it.”
“You have the cash?”
“Cool, I have to make a call. It will be a few minutes.”
With that, the two guys walked through another door that led from the garage into an office area and we stayed in the garage bay.
“So, Ike, you decided we needed some blow?”
“Yeah, it sounds pretty good. I just hope they don’t try and fuck us around.”
It momentarily struck me that my recent scrape with the law meant I really should behave, but we were several states away from my last infraction. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?