"Yeah, it's called a Napa Valley Handjob. I learned to drink 'em from older Poly alums back in the day."
It's one of the most insane undergraduate cocktails of all time, a perfect mixture of the often unrealistic perception of life in California Wine Country, of 1980s Falcon Crest pipe dreams, and the typical American college kid's very real need to get completely shitfaced.
Basically, the cocktail is merely a high octane version of a wine spritzer, the kind of pussy cocktail served at teetotaler weddings, Rich White People (RWP) parties in places like the Hamptons and Connecticut, and artsy-fartsy gallery openings along the East Coast.
Instead of the stereotypical white-and-club mixture, however, one adds a shot of vodka and a dash of black pepper to cheap Cabernet, gently mixes with ice, pours the whole thing into a highball glass.
In college, the wine was, well, usually a jug of Carlo Rossi, and vodka usually referred to any cheap, clear liquor, usually with that cheap-booze rubbing alcohol flavor.
Even better with Everclear.
"The drink's a Myra without the vermouth, dude. Calling it a Napa Valley Handjob used to make the Aggie girls laugh, think you were high class and crude simultaneously.
"Much more appropriate name. And sometimes, guys did actually get handjobs from girls from Napa, especially the sorority chicks..."
The doubting barkeep laughed, saying he had no idea how to ring up a Napa Valley Handjob. But, well, a Poly student himself, he made a point of writing down the drink recipe.
Older alumni know best, after all.
An older couple at the bar, yuppie tourist types, probably from wherever Land's End actually ends, some plane of hell reserved for old men in penny loafers and tennis shorts, got up and left.
They didn't even finish their bottle of Zinfandel.
Oh well. Can't blame 'em. They chose a shitty vintage. Horrible bouquet. One of those fly-by-night retiree wineries. Smelled like rancid goat semen.
Like Carlo Rossi, except for the $40, tourist-ready price tag and $20 corking fee.
Would've been perfect Napa Valley Handjob wine.
* * * *
ATASCADERO, Calif. (ZP) -- Busted lip and all, the young girl picked herself up and brushed the dust off her baggy shorts.
Even from 20 feet away, along El Camino Real, I could make out the road rash from her failed feeble grind, the ground-in concrete from the sidewalk buried in her shins. She'd landed almost face first; if her knees and palms hadn't absorbed the brunt of the impact, her bloody lip probably would've been a busted nose or worse.
The skater shoved a finger into her mouth, checking for missing teeth or loosened fillings. Satisfied, she kicked her board back up to her side and sat down on a bench, right in the heart of Sunken Gardens park.
She peered from side to side, watching cars as they passed, looking out for the dreaded Po-Po, the ones who, sadly, are now responsible for citing those who refuse to practice the California State Sport within the sanitized confines of the local skate park.
The young fugitive from city-ordinance justice gingerly picked stone from her knees, spitting on her hands to wipe away the blood.
Another kid, a raven-haired Lancelot on his own banned wooden horse, pulled up beside her. He whipped off his shirt, stripped down to his own over-sized Dickies and his Vans and his broad, studded leather belt and his wallet chain. He tossed it at the young skater's lean, bloody shins, striking his best teenage, cock-sure skatepunk pose as the wifebeater fell into the girl's waiting hands.
And then he sat down beside her, put his arm around her, wiped the blood away from her busted lip. He kissed her gently on the cheek, and she put her head on his shoulder, pink liquid dripping onto his chest, their sweat and blood and teenage love perfect.
And to think - a woman recently told me, back in Oxford Fucking Ohio, that I wouldn't know true beauty if it stared me in the face.
* * * *
PASO ROBLES, Calif. (ZP) -- War stories.
That's the best way to describe conversations with "El Guapo," my former Oxford Fucking Ohio colleague.
We bellied up to the bar at the Crooked Kilt, right off the town square, less than a hundred yards away from one of the old Carnegie Library, the one the 2003 San Simeon earthquake didn't have the heart to bring down with many of the other historic downtown structures.
Eight drinks into our Association of Badass Fucking Librarians Conference, I realized something.
One does not simply leave Oxford Fucking Ohio.
Looking around the crowded bar, I also noticed something else, something that I've been missing for going on three full years.
Diversity. Real, organic diversity.
And we're not talking the complete horseshit, let's - substitute - Affirmative - Action - with - politically - correct - statistical - quota- building, either.
Blonde Barbie-doll looking women, hanging off the arms of tattooed Latino bikers. Goth girl waitresses getting hit on by middle-aged golfers. Bodybuilder bouncers discussing ska concerts with skinny dudes, popped-collars mingling with plaid pants and straw fedoras. Old alkies at the bar, too, ogling the Asian girl in the micro-mini, the probably fifth - generation Japanese - American woman whispering to friends.
And two gay guys on a date, out in the open, holding hands, next to the old rancher-looking guy. I know gay men and women in Ohio who can't get a date, who can't go anywhere, even when attached, in the NeoCon Disneyland that is the Greater Cincinnati Area, without worrying about some Bible-thumping zealot or some homophobic idiot ruining their evening.
"El Guapo" just bought a house, moved his family here, into the heart of Wine Country.
And I'm so jealous I could scream, downright envious.
"You know, California is really full of a lot of cool people," El Guapo said, as he returned from the pisser. "A lot of arrogant assholes, but, yeah, cool people."
After I dropped El Guapo off back at his house, I returned to downtown Paso Robles, a town I once called home, a hick town I once despised, back when all the old buildings were still standing and before the wrecked Carnegie was closed to visitors.
I wanted to cry.
Instead, I pissed through the safety fence, right into the manicured landscape surrounding the busted ol' Carnegie Library.
A young woman who I'd seen at the Crooked Kilt earlier in the evening, a woman El Guapo thought I was talking up every time he got up to hit the head, walked past, said hi, and asked if I had an extra cigarette - while I'm taking a piss.
"I heard you talking at the bar. You guys were cracking me up."
"Yeah. I was born in Cincinnati. I thought it was so funny, because I probably know people that go to [Local U.]."
We spent two hours talking in that downtown park.
And her advice?
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