It’s Saturday night and you’re six blocks south, in line at Rick’s, your pregamed vodka beginning to subside as the queue ahead claims your college-bar spirit.
I’m on my third round at Cosi, and my night’s just getting started.
To answer your first question, yes, Cosi has a bar. And no, you’re not supposed to get drunk there. But why not? Most bars on Central Campus are packed by the evening hours on weekends, and if you try to go to any of the bars on South University after 10, you’re in for a long line controlled by bouncers with a generous eye for a lot of people who aren’t you. Besides, once you get in you’ll barely be able to move, and a drink will be impossible. The scene is grim.
Reader, there is an alternative. You probably think of Pizza House, for instance, as that place you go on the way home from the bar when you’re too drunk to realize your mistake, but it too has a bar, newly expanded and ready to be misused.
If it seems as if anywhere on campus with a reasonably equipped bar is overrun on weekend evenings, you just need to know where to look. By the time you get to that third drink at Cosi, your waitress, as mine did this past weekend, might begin to approach you with a bit of a tentative gait, but with those rounds of $4 rum and cokes behind you, I’m not sure it matters. The obvious, natural solution to these anomalies is abuse.
Of course, I won’t encourage you to binge drink. I suspect you do that well enough on your own. But after my first real week of fall-term responsibility, a friend and I aimed for obliteration, and we achieved it, all night, without waiting in a single line. That’s not to say we didn’t miss them along the way.
Our story begins at Salsarita’s, the new-ish Mexican place on Liberty Street rumored to be unnecessary. We went there because it says it’s a cantina. It’s not. No liquor license, no tequila. The woman at the counter deadpans us, and after an obligatory taco (not that bad, by the way), we move on.
Our self-assurance scuffed but not repressed, we travel up the block to Cosi, and the first thing our waitress asks is if she can get us a drink. Yes, waitress, you can. I order a rum and Coke. She does a double take, then IDs me.
This place is only open until 10, and it’s already almost 9, so we need to get moving. We cave and order food – this’ll be too weird if we don’t – and we down our first round so the waitress will be forced to ask us if we want another.
She walks back toward our table with a hint of restraint. “Do you guys need more drinks?” she asks. “Yeah, sure,” we respond. Why not?
Our food isn’t here yet, so we allow ourselves a few minutes with this one, the Cokiest rum and Coke I think I’ve ever had. We will not fail – we’re going to get drunk, and we’re going to do it at Cosi.
We order our third round. There’s palpable awkwardness now, or at least bemusement. The waitress giggles as she orders it from the bar. Maybe this will be harder than we thought. Whatever: We’re feeling it, and it’s only 9:20.
Just after she brings us that round, the waitress drops our bill on the table with confidence and tells us she’ll take it up when we’re ready. We’re not belligerent enough yet to object, and besides, at $37 – an atrocity the Jug would never let happen – we’re ready to get out of here. Pizza House awaits.
We arrive at 10, order our first round (long islands and whiskey sours now – it’s getting late) and begin to look around. This is a mistake. We’re across the way from Rick’s, the sleaziest social miracle I have ever encountered, and so Pizza House’s combination of football-at-the-bar runoff and GSIs who don’t know better is a bit of a buzzkill. Where are the people falling over, the half-bench at a table in the far corner where it’ll take 45 minutes to get a seat, that girl I haven’t seen since freshman year and now act like she’s my best friend?
Here my memory of the night becomes a little dubious, but I have the (fortunate?) aid of the notes I took at the time, which are bizarre and I hope incomplete. When I started this, I was curious if, absent the mental vacuum that is The Brown Jug, my mood would improve or if maybe I’d have a conversation not about how drunk I was last night. The answer is not really. My notes range from a meditation on gender and straw use to this: “Lloyd Carr took Russell Crowe to Chop House. What a fucking sham. Russell is kind of a sham.” No idea what prompted this – and I like Russell Crowe – but I think I’d rather talk about how good the bar specials are.
Our final predestined locale is Caf