Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lent in the Gump: Week 3: Sunday Blues at the Capitol Oyster Bar, Tuesday Night Cantina Baseball and a Saturday Fall From the Wagon.

Yes, they serve PBR at the COB on feast days.

My head is throbbing as I write this.  I have always known that one should never blog with a hangover.  But since I am probably still a bit tipsy, I have paid that no heed. So here goes:

Sunday is a feast day, I am told. For those who observe Lent, that means you can have whatever you gave up for Lent.  As you know by now, for me that was alcohol.  I understand I am not alone.  I have heard that a Methodist pastor with a large flock challenged them all not only to give up alcohol for Lent but to donate the church the money they would have spent on booze during Lent.  I do not hold with the latter part of that equation.  It would be very embarrassing  for someone like me to write that check.  "Wow," the bursar would exclaim when the check arrived at the church office.  "Mr. Allpots just sent in a Lenten check for $[Here you can fill in some obscene number indicative of a slight alcohol problem]!"

No other restaurant in the Gump can offer this view....

Sunday at the Capitol Oyster Bar.

Anyway, back to the fable.  Where was I?  Yes, that's right. Sunday is a feast day. It is also "Blue's Sunday" at the Capitol Oyster Bar which is now located at the Montgomery Marina on the Alabama River. So it was with great pleasure that I accepted Precious's invitation to accompany her to a birthday party for one of her friends.  Normally, at such functions, I would serve much the same role as a parrot on a Pirate's shoulder.  But as the women huddled and completely tuned out the presence of the menfolk (except when their glasses were empty), I bellied up to the bar for a nice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon only to learn that if I could survive the women until 5 p.m., I would be able to enjoy live music by Bob Margolin. "What a capitol idea!," I remarked to the bar wench with a wink.  Alas, she did not get my pun so I took my cold bottle and strode the premises.  That is where I found the PBR sign near the basketball court. See picture above. It was a fine Sunday afternoon. A clear sky and mid-70s temperatures reminded me why I prefer the Gump to the County Down.

While waiting for the three-man band to assemble and set up, I took the opportunity to snag one of the best cheeseburgers in town.  I know the COB is known for its fried seafood and po-boys, but I have always been partial to their cheeseburgers and fries.  When the order arrived I was there in a corner (away from the prattle) with a cold PBR in my left hand and a warm juicy cheeseburger in my right gazing out across the Alabama River toward downtown.  My dream was disturbed only by a tap on the shoulder from Precious wanting another beer for herself and also wanting to know why I had not ordered her something to eat.  Oh well, back to reality.
Stealing Gasoline by Bob Margolin

I did prevail upon her to remain to see the show which featured some really fine blues guitar and harmonica playing. Why, I was so taken by the event that I actually reached into my own wallet for $20 to buy the CD "Stealing Gasoline." What a better way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon (after going to church of course) but to eat a fine cheeseburger, quaff a PBR and listen to some gritty blues at a bar on Shady Street.  Sounds like the makings of a good blues song title to me.

Capitol Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday at Cantina! and Riverwalk Stadium:

They have this little rivalry here in Alabama between two universities and they force you to choose which one you will support. They also have a game called baseball which they refer to as a national pastime.  And here in the Gump, they have a beautiful baseball stadium called Riverwalk near a pretty decent entertainment district called "The Alley." All of these are combined once a year when Auburn and Alabama play the Max Federal Credit Union Capitol City Classic.

I prevailed upon Precious to go with me.  A poor old Irishman trying to understand the local culture and just wanting to see his "first" baseball game?  Tears formed in the corner of her she began to laugh.  "You don't fool me you old coot," she said. "I saw that Evan Longoria Montgomery Biscuits bobble head on your shelf."

 Foiled again!  But she agreed to go anyway.

Although the food at Riverwalk is surprisingly good (they have burgers cooked on a grill and some pretty mean bratwurst), Precious said she would like to try the Cantina which is located in the heart of the Alley.  I recalled that the LITG had been rather hard on the place when it opened but I agreed that we ought to try it out to see for ourselves.  It was a good call.

The Alley itself was bopping.  I mean high energy like Bourbon Street bopping.  Not only was the pre-game crowd hanging out drinking beer at the outside bar for Dreamland and AlleyBAR, but there was also a crowd in the Alley eating before a performance by Ed Asner impersonating FDR at The Davis Theater. (I can't picture him as FDR myself.  Maybe John Adams or some other short, fat, bald president but not FDR).  Heard he was very good though.

The Cantini Cuban with garlic fries...Muy Bueno.

But back to the Cantina. I liked ordering at the bar and paying first (which is the way they do things in many civilized countries in Europe) and the food comes very fast, which is important when its only 30 minutes to the first pitch.  The Cuban Sandwich with garlic fries were the bomb!  Very fresh. Made to order. I do not understand why more places don't serve garlic fries here in the Gump. Would have tasted even better if I could have had a Precious with her fancy nachos.

Cantina on Urbanspoon

Oh yes, Auburn won.

We even made it to our seats for the first pitch which I should more accurately describe as the "first pitches."  They were a hoot. Apparently, sponsors were allowed to designate persons to be recognized as they threw out a pitch 60 feet from the mound to home plate.  A child and teenage girl did well.  But poor Rich Thomas of Channel 12 did not.

Rich almost bit off his tongue during his attempt to hurl a small object 60 feet.

Not only did he look goofy, but he didn't even get the ball to the dirt surrounding home plate....a three-hopper. Threw like a girr.... (Ok, that sexist). Threw like a retar....(oops, insensitive). Let's just point out that some professional heckler, after seeing Rich's 45-foot pitch yelled in one of those voices that carries even in a crowed stadium: "Take her out coach!"

Again, the weather was perfect and the sell-out crowd was all happy until Auburn began pounding the Alabama starter and in the fifth inning the Alabama coach came to the mound. At that moment the same heckler, who must have been an Auburn fan, yelled: "Leave her in!" Even the Bama fans giggled.

Watching a game with friends at Riverwalk cries out for beer.  But I was good. I bought Precious her souvenir cup of Bud Light and I selected that farce of a beer called O'Douls.  As the urban dictionary says: "O'Douls is made for that poor suckka at the company Christmas party who can't be trusted with a real beer."  Actually, it was a waste of money and valuable stomach space which could have been better spent on some freshly-popped popcorn!  Regardless of my beerlessness, it was still a very enjoyable evening. The fireworks were spectacular.  Which reminds me, the Biscuits open April 15th and I've got to order a ticket package again this year.  Yes, Precious, you were right. I am a season ticket holder.

Saturday Engagement Party Ends Badly....

Which brings me to the end of this sad tale and the reason I am writing this with a headache: The Engagement Party.  Those of you natives know that the Gump is steeped in the tradition of hosting engagement parties for their children who actually bother to get married and do not elope.  Precious was hosting just such an event Saturday evening for The Younger and his ballerina bride, and she insisted I come not knowing that I would have gone to support one of our LITG gang members regardless.  Of course, I let her think she made me go and acted the part.  That was my first mistake.

My second mistake was striking up a conversation with a few party goers about our decisions to give up alcohol for Lent.  Soon we had convinced ourselves that we could substitute the Sunday feast day for a Saturday evening party with an open bar stocked with top-shelf selections.  What a brilliant idea.  Yes, they even had Crown Black and the "Big Fella."

After the first two whiskeys my lowered alcohol tolerance began to take its toll.  I do not remember much after that but it appears my mistakes began to cascade over the falls.

It is said that although I was not invited to give a toast, I insisted and proceeded to give a bawdy Irish toast in my native language. Unfortunately, the dirty words sound much the same in English. If that were not bad enough, I am told that I insisted in taking the Michael Collins bottle home with me only to find this morning that it was empty.  Hopefully I was not the only person drinking from that bottle.  However, my head tells me otherwise.

Oh. I should also add that one of the sure signs that you have been over served is waking up in your bed with your feet at the headboard or assbackwards as you say.  Another is to see the answering machine blinking with an unusual amount of messages from Precious.  I hope the Dear Lord disabled all video capable cell-phones at the party and that I do not appear shortly as a viral video on YouTube. I can just see the caption: "Drunk Irishman Gives Dirty Toast in Gaelic."

Perhaps Precious will take me back and The Younger will forgive me.  I am, after all, suffering today for my misdeeds and steadfastly trying to climb back up on the wagon.  Wish me better fortune in week 4.

Oh no. I just realized that Saturday March 17th is St. Patty's Day.

Put me on your prayer list.

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