StayCation 3: The Revenge of the Bergin

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 10:42 am

And they asked the boy at the bar full of gangsters what he’d like to drink.  His friends had ordered vodka.  But he didn’t want to seem like he was simply following them in lock step.  He remembered what his father would order from time to time, and he looked to the barman, and said simply, “Bergin.”

“What was that?”

“Bergin.  Bergin with water.”

And the barman repeated it loudly enough for the room to hear.  “Bergin!”  And the man sitting next to him, repeated.  “Bergin, for this one.”  And the room whipped into laughter.  Soon everyone was ordering “bergin, bergin with water, please.”

The boy had his drink in silence.  And he drank every “bergin with water” that was bought for him.

And good fucking God, the next mourning he and his liver had words.  Very, very pointed words.  And so the boy took his liver to a spelling bee.  John and Liver, sad sad sad.

(Sorry, Mr. Albee, but it did feel appropriate to open an entry about a spelling bee with an alternate misspelling of a word I still fight with.  There’s an ‘o” in bourbon?  Why does that ‘o’ always elude me?!)

I am quickly realizing the greater challenge of this going-out-every-night project might not be the finding of the wackiness.   It might well be the slow battle of attrition being waged by fermented liquids and my own body.  Actually, in all honesty, it’s more like the battle with liquids in general.  My attempts to stem the anger of cranium on the morning of StayCation day three with coffee left jittery AND hungover.  An absolutely wonderful combination to attempt productivity in.

I did manage to slap another layer onto the abomination, but when I looked to my laptop sitting there awaiting my typings expectantly, I wilted like a prom carnation two days past the event.  The best I could manage was to scream through the Osirus Ritual, a book I’d borrowed from the keepers of that magical bergin.

But I had made a promise to the internets to get myself out.  And this I was going to do even if my liver was still spouting epithets like a Tea Partyer at a town hall meeting.  (Yep, that reference is a solid year old, but I’m sticking to it.)

I made my way to Pete’s Candy store, and in deference to my condition ordered a heady beverage in the form of a Stewart’s Ginger Beer.  A rock star I am not.

Luckily the event itself was rather fantastic.  For a solid six years Jennifer Dziura and bobbyblue have been quizzing the denizens of the Burg with words ranging from balefully banal to exasperatingly esoteric.  (Enough links for you in that line?)  I had hoped to throw one of my more literary friends into the fray, but she demurred.  My gathered friends had intended entirely to see me try my hand, to the point that they nearly lifted off my feet and threw me forcibly onto the stage. Even at my best, I’m not sure I could compete, and in that state, I’m not sure I could have properly spelled cool.  (K-E-W-L, obvi.)

To be honest, I could have gotten quite a few of the words, but by the finals I would have been completely at the mercy of my inquisitors.  In fact, while looking for an exasperatingly esoteric word to link to, I found I couldn’t spell the word I wanted well enough for google to tell me how it’s actually put together.  (Phonetically: Vish – y Swa.  Rhymes with Fishy blah.  A good description of my reaction to sushi.  I never took French.  So sue me.  UPDATE:  It’s vichyssoise.  Thanks to Lauren who worked it out and sent me a comment!)

The idea of a spelling bee sounds like it would be a mildly amusing dalliance, but it turned out to a much more interesting show that I could have expected.  Between host Jen’s Micro-Machines-Man challenging pace, and her muggy resuscitation of each term, the entire event was kept moving at an amusing pace.  Bobbyblue, acting as her sidekick, armed with bell and a score-sheet, tripped sparingly into the conversation to drop a quip when the time called for it.  While we knocked through over a hundred words, and a couple beer breaks, in less than two hours, they still found time to turn one of the getting-to-know-you questions into a three minute comedy routine.

Jen: If you were rewriting the song “Twelve days of Christmas,” what you have tweleve of?
Contestant: Umm…tweleve whores a laying?
Jen: What?!
Bobby: Did he say horses?
Crowd: Whores!
Contestant: Whores a-laying…
Bobby: What are the horses laying?
Jen: What?

That continued for a bit to the honest amusement of all.  Meanwhile in my corner, I sipped down my ginger beer, as one compatriot gleefully clapped at each new word Ms. Dziura read that she could  appropriate in some way or another.  In fact she started collecting them up into one long impressive moniker for herself.  After she got up to five adjectives, I made her write it down.  She complied, but I’m still waiting for her to give me her final draft.

UPDATE: Me: What was your full title by the end of the evening?
Jill: umm…. redoubtable something jill who is wershmeltz?  the second word starts with a ten
me:  I thought I told you write it down, Jillian!
Jill:  i’m sorry…

My other cohort, the aforementioned Kevin, had decided to attempt a full on Barney Stinson for the evening.  Dressed more than a few notches over his usual thinkgeek t-shirt and torn jeans, (I once had to request he go home a change since the fly on his jeans was busted and cracked open like an inside out cootie-catcher.) Kevin had thrown on the southern accent of his youth, and was attempting to scam a number off a girl, by introducing himself as the son of an oil potentate from the Great State of Texas, just come up to Brooklyn to find himself and his purpose.  I won’t say this is the first time my venerable fellow has attempted such a wild gambit, but this is the first time he’d dressed up for it.  The man was in the full getup, complete with formal shoes and a tie, that, by all appearances, wasn’t a clip on.  It was like seeing Iggy Pop in a cardigan.

In the spacious back garden, between rounds, we chatted up contestants and audience members alike.  Well mostly, Kevin did the talking.  Half because he’s better at the babbling than I am, and half because I was enjoying watching his accent slide in and out of existence from line to line.  The best bits were always when it slipped away from him and he leapt back onto it to compensate, momentarily becoming Cletus the slack jawed yokel.  Well, that and him attempting to pronounce a few of our new vocabulary words in said drawl. Just try saying ‘lugubrious’ in a southern accent and try not to laugh.

The event closed up rather dramatically, as after the final round there was a tie at hand.  A tension filled the air as Jennifer flipped to another page of her ready made booklet of etymological torture; the bright lights flickering off her brightly epauletted jacket she herself described as a hold over from her “Rhythm Nation” days.  The two combatants stared off.

It’s a mother fucking spell-0ff, y’all!

It was a classic stand off.  One, an old hand at the game, was already on a first name basis with the hosts, and had taken down a tourney in the past.

Jen: Maddie, your word is…Prohibitionist.
Maddie: Oh, I remember that.

The other was a young upstart, vaulted up into the arena by pure gumption, and deft linguistics.  The battle was epic.  There was much gnashing of teeth and long dire pauses, but for this night, the master held her throne once more.  The enfants terrible would have to await the finals to get her revenge.  The three finalists all received their booty in order, and all were showered in the riotous applause they richly deserved.

Despite the company of a good friends, and an odd collective who’d proven without a doubt to be amazingly entertaining, I felt the shrill ghosts of bergin past running up my spine and made my way for home.  It was a fine Monday, and of all the odd bits I’ve visited on the last three days, this may be the only one I’m destined to return to.  Jill and I both promised to throw ourselves into the fray at the next edition.  Here’s hoping I get past the second round.

Of course, as I slipped myself into my sheets, saluting slumber sanguinely, my phone buzzed.

Kevin: Got a number.
Me: With the accent?  And the whole story?
Kevin: Yes, sir.
Me: I tip my cap.

I shoulda hung out man.  Stupid bergin.

(Wondering what all this StayCation business is about?  Read from the beginning.)

P.S. Someone actually found this blog by googling DJ Dog Dick.  I have a minimal internet presence!

Tuesday: I was a stand up for a few years.  (My one man show is online somewhere, if you’re feeling industrious and want to challenge your google skills.)  I performed in a club on Times Square for a while, and there honed my set into a weapon of mass hilarity.  (Okay, a weapon of halfhearted giggles, but still.)  Doing five shows a night with the same crew day in and day out meant we knew each others routines by heart.  One fantastic night, at the midnight show we rarely ever put up, we proved that fact.  Each of us did someone else’s set verbatim.  The worn crowd barely made a peep, and seemed increasingly confused and maybe a little put off by the fact that the comedians in the back of the room were cackling all over themselves.  It was a fine evening, but it proved the point.  We all wanted to do new material, but doing new material in front of a regular audience was generally death.  That’s why I’m loving the idea for this show.  Tell Your Friends is described as “Liam McEneaney’s “workout comedy room” offers established comics a place to try new material.”  I know it won’t be the most polished material in the world, but I love seeing funny people exploring their new ideas.  Thanks Time Out for the directions!

  1. The objective of any vacation is to not be sober as long as possible. It’s good to see you continuing this tradition!

  2. Hey, that word you couldn’t figure out? It’s vichyssoise. Which is a soup, usually some sort of pureed leek/potato/cream/stock concoction.
    And yes, I knew how to spell it without looking it up. I TOLD you you should just text me about these things!

  3. Thanks for the help on the word. Consider the post amended.

  4. […] 3. Bergin makes the bell go ding. There’s an “o.” A “u.” And I got the host’s name wrong. #jennifersarenotjessicas […]

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