Pabst and Paperboy

How does one recover from a 50-hour work week, in which you are responsible for managing a unit of emotionally disturbed teenagers at a residential treatment facility? Actually, it's not a very profound question, as I just thought of about 20 ways. However, only a couple of those wouldn't destroy my liver, kill my brain cells and/or result in at least one night of incarceration and deep regret. So, as I seek active recuperation from the emotional toll of being a social worker, the question remains: how does one cope with the rigors of social service in a non self-destructive manner?

I think I may have figured it out: Donkey Kong and Paperboy, mixed with a little Pabst Blue Ribbon to take the edge off. Yes, it's a great combination indeed. And as you think to yourself, "How boring, drinking and playing Nintendo at home!!," let me correct you; this can all be done in a public place, and amongst other PBR drinking eightiesphiles (not sure that's a word, but if it were, it would mean someone who has an affinity for the eighties) nonetheless. Before I get into that, though, let me rewind a bit and start the story from when I got off work.

As midnight neared, and I'm just preparing to finish up my work week (they tend to feel like two wrapped in one), I give Oldie a call to see if he's still up. As it turns out, he is awake and he's training his cat, Frisco (see this ferocious cat's picture in post below), how to kill on demand while also watching some obscure, B-rated (that's generous) Japanese film he checked out from the library. Naturally, he's willing to go out, and being sympathetic to my end-of-the-work-week-blues, he's up for a little adventure. So, I leave work and head to his place to pick him up.

Because of my long work day, I tend to get a severe pang of hunger around 11 pm. To satisfy this urge to stuff my face, we stop at Burger King (this is taboo in Portland, as it is corporate, not local, and nowhere near being organic) on the way downtown. As I pull up to the drivethrough window after ordering, I notice an advertisement for BK's newest sensation, the Frypod. For some reason the word "frypod" intrigued both Old and I, and we quickly decided to incorporate this into our vernacular. So, as the window opened and I was greeted by the BK employee, I muttered to her, "How's your frypod tonight?" With a confused look, she responded, "huh?"

"Oh, I said how are you doing tonight."

With a look of embarrassment, she says, "Good, thanks. That'll be $2.42."

After receiving my two Whopper Jrs with cheese and change, just before closing my car door (I have to open the door for such transactions because my window doesn't roll down), Oldie yells, "Frypodddd!" As his uttering clarifies the BK employees earlier suspicion, I get ready to pull forward to avoid the embarrassment of having just yelled "Frypod" at someone. Well, this was not possible, because the big SUV in front of us, despite having already paid for and received their food, did not pull completely out of the drive through. I was now stuck in the drive through, with the lady in the window at my side looking at us very curiously. As any normal road-raging driver would do, I honked my horn at the guy in front of us. Gave him a few seconds. No response. Honk again. No response. Try again. Awesome, the older gentleman wakes up and pulls forward about two inches. With no room to drive around him, Old rolls down his window (I can't roll down mine) and asks him politely to move forward some more. No response. I honk again. Either being very unaware of what's going on, or just plain oppositional, he scoots forward about one more inch. Still not an acceptable amount of room, I grow impatient and drive over the curb around him. I pull out of the parking lot and up to a red light at the intersection. As I look back toward the drive through, I notice the next car in line suffering the same frustration with the SUV, as he still had not pulled forward enough for people to drive around. The cars are honking, people in the parking lot are staring, and Old's harassing him from the passenger-side window. Next, the guy gets out of his SUV and amazingly walks away, leaving his idling car blocking the drive through. He walks up to a couple of thugs hanging out in the parking lot, says something, then continues walking toward the inside of the restaurant. He looks in the glass door, turns around, and heads back to his car. As he does this, he starts swearing at all the people honking and staring at him.

By this time, my light turned green and I continued on my way downtown, albeit against my urge to see what was to unravel in the parking lot. As we approached our destination, I searched for a parking spot in Oldtown. Finally on foot, Oldie and I navigated the streets through homeless encampments, drug dealers, and lost suburbanites looking for a night on the town. Old led us aimlessly around the block about six times (it's ironic that while we were getting ourselves lost, tourists were asking us for various directions) before he finally remembered the exact location of Ground Control. Yes folks, this is where I unravelled after 50 hours of playing dad/cop to depressed, angry, and confused teenagers the past week: Ground Control.

When you enter Ground Kontrol, you get the feeling you're entering an eighties dance club. As we walked through the door, overwhelmed by the loud electronica records being spun by a DJ, we were greeted by a bouncer who asked for our IDs. This dude was straight out of the 80s, but not in a cool, retro, or rad way. Rather he was a creepy 30-something with long hair, tight jeans, and a fruity air about him. The guy was creepy. No matter, though, because behind the gay-80s guy were arcade games aplenty. There was Donkey Kong, Pac Man, and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was an instant time trip to my 10th birthday...with a twist, though, because I couldn't drink then. Now, because of the genius of some local entrepreneur, one can drink beer while slaying ghouls in the game Ghosts and Goblins. Yes, it sounds like a dream, but drinking PBR and taking jabs at Glass Joe's glass jaw (from Mike Tyson's punchout), while listening to a DJ play 80s tunes is indeed a reality. Maybe our world is not as fucked up as it seems. Yes, the polar ice caps are melting and the terrorists are trying to take away our freedoms, but at least we can now get a proper buzz alongside other folks who appreciate 80s music and a good game of Rampage (you know, the one where you get to be King Kong and destroy all of the skyscrapers in New York).

This place even serves locally crafted micro brews (another Portland tradition) for those with refined palates. What's more, if you don't feel like wasting your quarters on antiquated arcade games, you can chill at the bar and cozy up to a large screen TV that is fully equipped with the original Nintendo Entertainment System. In other words, if Tetris and Street Fighter aren't your thing, you can play Super Mario Brothers or Duck Hunt at the bar....for free, mind you. Does it get better than this? I'm not sure. You can see for yourself at 5th and NW Couch street in Oldtown Portland.


Anonymous said...


luckygreen said...

Pabst Blue Ribbon = PBR = cheap beer

Anonymous said...

I know what Pabst is, just didn't take you as a Blue Ribbon boy.