True to his word and much sooner than I anticipated, Kevin called me the next week. He asked me if I wanted to join him that Saturday night in going to a graduation party. After meeting him at Kings Corner, he drove us to the party in his 1973 Malibu Classic. It was a beauty of an automobile and a magnet for the fairer sex. After the party, a bunch of us went back to Kings Corner to get our drink on.
Kings Corner became our home away from home for about a year or so. In an effort to stay relevant – an effort that ultimately failed – the management made a series of changes to the bar to keep the crowds coming in. Kevin and I, along with a few other Tally Ho friends, grew tired of the changes and looked for another place to imbibe in a few cold ones. Mike and Dee (this was prior to their move to Indianapolis) suggested we go to the Chug a Mug, a neighborhood bar located in Ball State’s village.
The Chug had a reputation as a place of dubious nature at the time. It was supposedly a place full of roughnecks where fights and shootings were a weekly activity. Kevin and I hesitated at the suggestion until Dee mentioned that the Chug was home to Dollar Pitcher Night every Monday. We were all there the next Monday evening.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The reputation of the Chug was ill-founded. Papa Lou owned the joint and ran a tight ship. All of his regulars there were great people and were a lot of fun. At the first sign of trouble, which was nearly always started by some dipstick college student, Papa Lou and a few regulars would jump in and put a quick stop to it, knocking a few heads together if necessary.
Word of Dollar Pitcher Night spread quickly amongst the Tally crowd that was of drinking age. Other than Kevin, Mike, Dee, and me, we never knew from one Monday to the next just who might show up at the Chug.
One night, Kevin brought an old friend of his named Joe along. Joe hid freakish blue eyes behind a pair of transition lensed glasses and had a mop of bright red hair. He looked every bit the Irishman that was in his ancestry. He was also about as full of shit as an Irishman. It took a few Monday nights, but I finally warmed up to Joe.
Kevin and Joe’s old friend Paul, a former Tally Ho regular, started coming to Dollar Pitcher Night more often. Paul had been a semi-regular at Kings Corner, though he went more for the dancing than he did for the drinking. His goal was to cut a rug with every young lady in the establishment. He never quite made it to all of them, but he often came close.
I learned that Kevin and Paul were friends from the early days of grade school, having grown up in the same neighborhood. I eventually learned that the two of them met Joe at a church retreat, the same type of retreat where they met Mary and Mitch.
Times at the Chug were good. Though it went against Chug policy for a group as large as ours could often get, the staff eventually allowed each of us to have our own pitchers. The staff liked to keep fewer pitchers in use so they didn’t run out of them on such a busy night. However, we proved ourselves capable of keeping the beer and the pitchers flowing.
Most of us at the table were Bud Light drinkers. The two exceptions were Mike and Dee. They drank Stroh’s. Week after week they would give the rest of us a hard time for drinking watered down swill. We’d give them the business about drinking Detroit River piss water. It was all in good fun until the night when Mike pulled one over on us.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Standard Operating Procedure for Dollar Pitch Night was to first grab a few tables to pull together. Normally, a waitress was at the tables to get our order before we had time to sit down. After that, we ordered our own pitchers when it became necessary.
One Monday night, Kevin, Mike, Dee, and I were the first ones in our group to arrive. We grabbed a few tables and found that the wait staff was particularly busy and couldn’t get to our table right away. Mike offered to go to the bar and get our beers. He pointed across the table at Kevin and me and asked, “Bud Light?”
“Yeah,” we replied. I threw in a little jab with, “None of that horse piss you two drink. Heh heh!” Kevin and I had a good laugh at their expense.
A minute passed and Mike was back with two pitchers of beer. “They’re running low on pitchers already so we can only get the two right now,” he told us. He filled up two glasses with the Stroh’s and two more with the Bud Light.
The first glass I had was superb and didn’t last long at all. As I poured a second glass I told the others, ”Man, the beer is good tonight! Must be a fresh keg.” Kevin agreed with my keen assessment.
Dee took a sip of her beer before saying, “Really? Ours tastes like it always does.” She asked Mike his opinion and he agreed with her.
“You’ll get that when you drink horse piss over and over again,” I chuckled. I didn’t hear Kevin laugh so I gave him a look. He had a mouthful of beer and couldn’t laugh out loud. He squinted and nodded to show his approval.
The two pitchers were finished off at the same time. Mike grabbed them both and offered again to go to the bar. When he returned, he topped us all off, making sure to tell Kevin and me we were getting Bud Light.
The second pitcher was actually better than the first and I made darn sure to let everyone at our table know it. This pitcher didn’t stand a chance; it was polished off faster than the first one.
“Damn, that was good!” I exclaimed. “I’m ready for another one. Are you?” I asked, turning to Kevin. He declared that he was done for the night. “Well, I’m not,” I told him. “It’s not often the beer here tastes this good.”
That was, apparently, all Mike and Dee could take. They both began laughing and slapping at the table. Dee declared that she was laughing so hard that she might pee her pants.
I gave them a quizzical look. “What’s so funny?”
“That beer you’re drinking?” Mike said. “It’s Stroh’s. You’re drinking horse piss.”
I recoiled in horror. No! That’s not true. That’s impossible!
“You’ve been drinking it all night.” Mike simply grinned at me over his subterfuge. Dee was resting her forehead on her forearm gasping for air. Just then one of the waitresses came to the table. “Have her bring you another pitcher and see for yourself,” my previously trusted classmate told me.
“What are you having, hon?” the waitress wanted to know.
I looked at Mike for any sign that he was bluffing. None was found. “Stroh’s, please,” I said shamefully. A minute later the worst was confirmed.
I had been tricked into drinking horse piss… and I liked it.