Hawaiian Punch

Riding a swell time at the surf bar

"Um, you're out now," I responded and nodded toward her beverage. "And it's a school night."

She claimed that her cousin, who was sitting next to her but was not very chatty, had made her come out "just for one."

"I moved out of my parents' house when I was 18, so I already did that stuff. Now, I'm kinda boring," she said, flashing a perfect smile, which gleamed far brighter than the twinkly diamond stud in her nose. "I want to prove to them that I can do it. I refuse to give up and move back."

Tony Gleeson

When she asked me what I did for a living, she chirped, "So you're like Carrie Bradshaw!"

"Sorta, I guess," I shrugged, but then I extended a leg so Geralda could see the plastic flip-flop that dangled from my toe.

"Except they ain't Manolo Blahnik's," I sniffed indignantly and gave her a good laugh.

As the musician, who had introduced himself as Justin Enco, played pot-smoking anthems like "The Joker" and "Burn One Down," someone had evidently decided to take a legal approach to a good buzz: The bartender was mixing up something in a snifter glass that was bigger than my head.

"What the hell is that?" I asked.

"Alcohol poisoning!" the fellow next to me interjected, pointing to the menu.

I followed his finger to "Nui Loa Mai Tai," a 60-ounce mai tai topped off with 151 rum. The drink description ended with the strange command "Remember!"

"What is it that you're supposed to remember, do you think?" I asked when I'd followed the drink to its recipient, Craig. "Your hangover? Or do you think it's so powerful, it brings back forgotten memories?"

"I think it's a joke," Craig said.

Um, yeah.

I asked if he was there alone, and he told me he was out supporting his buddy Justin while he played his gig. Sometimes he even plays the tambourine.

"He's not gonna play after drinking that!" Justin assured me, as he claimed his beverage — a water — from the bar.

OK, so Justin was superprofessional, but that's not much fun for me, so I told Craig I'd check back in when he was finished with his drink to see if he remembered anything. I had to claim my seat anyway since now, after 11 p.m., the place was quickly filling up and seats were becoming precious.

Matt came over from his pool game to offer me a drink.

"How about a Wipeout?" he said, extending his beverage. "Try it. If you like it, we'll get you one."

With my mother's flippant counsel Germs can only get you if you believe in them ever in mind, I sipped the tropical concoction. It was quite good, but as the girl behind him pulled her sweatshirt on backward so that the hood hung like a feedbag beneath her chin and with Mac's own recent wipeout as reminders of the possible consequences, I declined.

Not only had things become busier but the crowd had changed. The casual clan of hippies, surfers, and in-the-bizzers (Matty had noted earlier that the place is so cool, employees hang out there even when they're off-duty) had given way to a more frenetic group of clubbies, dressed for pickup action. They poured in from JBs across Ocean Boulevard.

"It's Douchebag City," Mac had warned when I asked about the club across the street, which was so packed that clientele flooded its driveway.

"It's all pretentious. If you don't have the right labels... ," he continued, so I decided to wait for a night when I had on shoes that cost more than ten bucks to check the place out.

As I surveyed the new blood — girls with lots of makeup, sequined cami-tops, high heels, and guys with lots of product in their hair and wearing buttoned-down shirts — I noticed Eric was now leaning against the railing of the walkway outside with some of his hippie gal pals.

"You're like the pimp around this place, always with girls around you, aren't you?" I joked as I approached, but he wasn't in the mood for light banter. He just kept muttering about riff-raff. I started to suspect it was his code for the citizens who evidently invade every Sunday night when they need a break from the crowd across the street.

Before I left, I noticed Craig had finished his colossal drink — and was considering another.

"So, do you remember anything?" I asked.

"The name of my second-grade teacher at Florinada Elementary: Miss Parillo," he replied.

I suggested he have another to see what other memories surfaced.

"Then you're taking him home!" Justin interjected as he packed up the last of his gear.

Nice guy or not, that was definitely not a memory I wanted to make. So what if the evening wasn't epic? It was time to follow the directive of the surf logo printed across my chest: Split.

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