Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Can't Wait For The Santa Pub Crawl

Ok, I shan’t name names here, I promised Doug, I shan’t and I shan… Oops!

Anyway, certain people are girding up for the annual Santa pub-crawl. That is what A and his buddies call their annual outing of binge drinking. I know, it is not quite Christmas, but hey! There is no time like the present for a good thing, wot?

This is a ritual that has a long and rich tradition stretching back in time to, oh! Say, the mid 1990s. I don’t think any of A’s friends could have legally imbibed alcohol before that. Why! Some of them barely need to shave, even now. Anyway, they go from bar to bar around the city drinking. Well, anyway, bars that will let in two dozen, drunk sods dressed like Santa Claus, down to the beard and boots.

The list of obliging bars have been steadily shrinking in recent years, I have been told, as the Santas have become increasingly rowdy. I am sure the bartenders must hate it, especially when these guys make a bid for free drinks, pounding the bar with the glasses chanting – “Santa drinks for free… Santa drinks for free… Santa drinks for free…” You get the general idea! These juvenile attempts apart, A insists, Santa always pays for his drink.

I always thought the bars should be laying out the welcome mat for these guys. Two dozen drunken Santas, and paying ones at that, should be an amusing sight. Beside, the sheer comic effect of a bar full of Santas is bound to attract other people, who too would pay for a drink or two or more.

I must admit, there is a certain originality to the idea, walking around town dressed as Santa Claus well before Christmas. There are of course rules to the whole enterprise. The Santa suit cannot be washed, or pressed (even if you have puked on it the year before), a brush is the best you’re allowed. Suddenly, I am beginning to see why the bartenders are not too keen to have a houseful of Santas.

The crawl has kicked off, for years now, from a certain Ukrainian bar (no names). It is a festive occasion and the first drink, I am told, is on the house. But, not all the ale-house keepers along the road are so welcoming. At some point in the recent past the proprietor at an Irish bar we shan’t name, but whose sign features a large shamrock, booted the Santas out with no regard for their image.

The Santas accept there is always the danger for even the most decorous of events to deteriorate into a general fracas… And the crawl is no exception. As anyone with some basic experience with alcohol will tell you, a lot of booze of varying kinds don’t sit well together and tend to force themselves out of the system – while the reaction is entirely involuntary, it is not a pretty site.

Last year some Santas got into trouble for indulging in the sport of writing their names across the sides of buildings and bare walls... with bodily fluids… you get the idea!

But A assures me these unwholesome elements, who, though in an absolute minority, give their well-meaning trek through town a bad name.

The Santas who have completed their pilgrimage of the 18 or so pubs are considered the initiated. While extremely fulfilling (I have this on the record), the effects at the end of the run are not always pretty. On our office notice-board is the picture of a rather disreputable-looking Santa slumped against a lamp-post with a rather large wet patch across the front of his pants… and an equally large grin pasted across his face.

Last year our mutual friend B went along for the crawl, or was it the year before… Anyway, he was totally pissed by the sixth pub and was dragged along for a while before being left under the 59th Street Bridge, or at the entrance to some bar near there anyway. B has no recollection of most of the crawl, only that he came to, in the wee hours of the morning, a bum was swearing at him for taking “his spot.” With nothing wounded, but his pride, B managed to call a cab and head for home.

I have heard of a few score Santa crawls across the country. I know there is one in Atlanta and another in Baltimore. There is even a “how-to guide" online. Parent-types, who are reading this blog, might do well to check this out. You might then want to make sure your kids are safely locked down and secured on the night of a crawl, if your town does have one. The effect of a drunk Santa on the minds of the young and impressionable, could be disastrous.

Anyway, if there isn’t a Santa Pub Crawl in your town and if you feel adventurous enough to start one, maybe I could get A to sell you the exclusive rights… Ho! Ho! Ho!