I finally collapsed on the second landing of the stairwell. I stared up at the shadows of the rot-iron railing cast against the ceiling of this extravagant mansion. Perhaps in some ways, and this lifestyle had become a prison of it’s own. But no use looking for the answers now – the only thing my mind could process was how to keep myself from peeing on the persian rug. No – if I wanted to find the answers, I’d have to look back.
There is no greater joy in this world than a Monday night in Oxford, Mississippi. Sure, it’s not the biggest city (we don’t even have a Target), or the most socially equal one (black people were illegal here until 1984), but it has a certain southern charm that makes even the most seasoned of alcoholics feel right at home. And it is on these special Monday nights that The Rooster has two dollar pitchers and three dollar wing baskets. A social gathering I’ve lovingly come to refer to as WANG NITE.
After basket number two and pitcher number three, I’m ready to start spinning my tales to the eager yet easily distracted audience at my table. “So then the hispanic guy starts getting frustrated, and says, ‘No, me amigo. My friend say he want to party wit you” – suddenly my phone rings. It’s Rob, texting the only possible phrase on earth that could pull me away from wang nite.
“DUDE, ALL THE BOOZE IS FREE. Parrish’s is closing, tonight is their last night and they’re GIVING EVERYTHING AWAY”
I’m blazing my way out the door when I’m stopped by an old female friend of mine. “Shut up Johnson! No time to run game right now!” says Brain. I’m out the door when the doubt starts to set in. “Free booze? Rob is drunk. Does he even know where he is, let alone how much things cost?” But as soon as I walk in the Parrish’s, it’s completely obvious he was right. Every breathing creature in sight is obliterated out of their minds. I quickly spot Sarah behind the back bar bouncing about to the blaring sound of Three 6 over set of speakers that have popped their last body.
“BLAKE BUCK! WOOOOO!” she shouts which is Sarah for, “Hello sir. I hope you are having as fantastic of an evening as I” After taking up position behind the bar, I proclaim it to be shot time, but the it looks like the bar ran out of shot glasses a long time ago. So I tell Sarah to open her mouth as I pour straight Maker’s Mark and Evan Williams into her mouth – a combination I was calling the “Chocolate Thunder” at the time.
Three hours later, I feel like I’ve just discovered every secret of the universe as my motley crew and I are shoved out of the bar. “Let’s go geocaching on the square guys” Rob proclaims from several miles away from me. No one seemed to think that was a good idea, which I wholeheartedly agreed with considering I was unable to see my legs. After what feels like a 2 hour walk and an 8 hour drive, we arrive at Rob’s house.
I’d been to this mansion once before – 8 bedroom, 6 baths, a painting given by Frank Sinatra, and every room a potential cover photo for next month’s Southern Living. This is a place where great statesmen go to retire; tonight, however, Rob’s parent’s were in Antartica, and it was a place for the kids to play. More or less the college-age version of Chuck E. Cheese.
We raced through the house with a beer in each hand, trying to find the hidden passages and where they stored the slaves. But after cramming five of us in the master shower, watching the pool cleaning robot make his rounds for half an hour, and breaking the floppy disk drive on the $50,000 player piano, we found ourselves dissatisfied. Was this all there was to be had? We ended up just sitting in a circle and talking, more or less like were in Parrish’s a few hours earlier.
After a few hours the talk waned thin and I wandered alone up the stairs and collapsed on the second landing. That’s when it hit me – Parrish’s is closed forever. And for what? The hope that Mr. Parrish could perhaps one day afford a home and things as nice as this? That didn’t seem like much of a fair trade at all. I pull my phone out and look at Rob’s text again:
“THEY’RE GIVING EVERYTHING AWAY”
You know, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to puke in the yard.