To the MAX!
What do you call a pub crawl using the MAX bus system? Well, over at the Pitch, we’ve deemed it The First-Ever Night Ranger Drinktacular! ™
We recently had the epiphany of riding the new rapid bus service for lush-like purposes when we noticed that, hey, there are a shit-ton of bars within walking distance of many of its stops. When our despair over the insane gas prices coincided with our fascination with this great city service, we had to try it out immediately.
The MAX (Metro Area Express), which made its debut in July, is an ideal enabler for such drinking endeavors. It travels between Waldo and the City Market and hits the cool neighborhoods in between (see www.kcata.org for the route). Some pub crawl-relevant facts: On weekend nights, the buses run about every half-hour, and the service ends around 12:30 a.m. Day passes are available for $3 and can be purchased as you board the bus (exact fare required).
After checking out the route, we were excited to discover that there are about 25 bars along the way that are easily accessible from the stops. Our initial plan was to start in Waldo and drink at nearly every stop until we reached the City Market. (We were quasi-inspired by the John Cheever short story, The Swimmer, in which the protagonist makes his way home by swimming across the county through his neighbors’ pools — but, uh, substitute a bus for a pool.) However, our pal Soren, who had organized a pub crawl last November using the city buses (which also inspired the Drinktacular), warned us about the difficulties of herding drunk people around. So we narrowed down the bar list to six bars, sent out a mass e-mail to our Research Assistants, and, on Saturday, August 20, embarked on our little adventure.
4:38 p.m.: We boarded the bus at the stop by Night Ranger Headquarters downtown and were instantly enamored with it. The bus was clean and fast (except for the couple of blocks when we were stuck behind one of those damn horse carriages by the Plaza Library — stoopid, traffic-blocking surreys); we barreled down Main and Brookside Boulevard, and made it to Lew’s Grill and Bar at 75th Street and Wornall Road for our appointed meeting time of 5ish.
Even though the bar was dead at that time, we still thought it was a good place to start the crawl. As we filled up on the oh-so-important, alcohol-absorbing bar fare, we passed out “Hello, my name is … ” name tags to the Drinktacular participants. Our Research Assistants dutifully put their fake names down; our party included a Ron Mexico (Michael Vick’s faux name to the woman he be-herped); Steve Holt (from Arrested Development) and Wang. The Night Ranger’s alias? Why, Max Power, of course (a Homer Simpson alias, in case you forgot). The NR subsequently felt gratified when, walking through the bar to the restroom, she passed a guy who read her name tag and immediately burst into the Mr. Plow song.
6:30ish: We were already off the Drinktacular schedule, so we headed to the next stop: Fred P. Ott’s on the Plaza. While we were waiting for the bus to leave, we noticed that a fellow passenger’s sweatpants were sagging dangerously low, exposing quite a bit of butt. Our new name for the MAX: ass transit.
We commandeered a section of the great patio at Ott’s (we had about 16 people in our group) and enjoyed our $2.75 glasses of Boulevard Wheat. The scene there was mellow; also sharing the patio was a bachelorette party and a group of guys from the tennis courts across the street, digging into a post-game dinner. We were dying to ask the tennis guys if they’d ever used this line before: “If you can’t beat me on the court, care to beat me off?” But, alas, we refrained, since their kids were present.
Instead, we chatted with Sarah, our terrific server, who told us that a couple of guys who designed the MAX recently came in wasted. Apparently they, too, were testing out the bus line. “I tell everyone it’s our beer bus,” she said. Excellent choice of words — that’s definitely up there with ass transit, we thought.
As one of the tennis guys walked out, he, too, had some good words of advice. “Don’t drink too much,” he said with an Australian accent. “Just one at a time.”
8:33ish: We were going to hit the Levee but, being bus neophytes (and slightly drunk), we didn’t realize we had to pull the request-stop cord, and we blew on by. We ventured on to Harling’s (39th and Main), where Australian Guy’s advice was soon broken by RA Erik: “Hey, is this my beer, too?”
Much like the first two bars, Harling’s was dead, but that also worked to our advantage. As the NR switched to $2 wells, she got the top score on Ms. Pac-Man. Until that was topped by the doublefisting RA Erik.
10ish: We kept going northward to Bar Natasha, which was the first lively place on our circuit. After paying the $2 cover, we made a beeline for the bar, where we ordered our favorite drink there: the Infrusion, which is basically the bar’s fruit-infused vodka. Light pink in color (we renamed it the Pink Triangle), served in a martini glass and lethal in its candy-like goodness (and also pricey at $10), we quickly downed a couple of those.
Sitting at the bar was a person of interest: a cross-dresser in a long, curly blond wig, flashing earrings, a pink-and-black-striped top (that revealed a lot of cleavage) and a pink-and-black-paneled cheerleader skirt. The NR wanted to interview her but was politely rebuffed: “I read your column. That’s why I don’t want to be interviewed,” she said. Fair enough. Our new friend was awesome, though; she was telling the NR a scandalicious story involving her wife and girlfriend traveling together. Just then, at a little after 11 p.m., RA Kelly informed us that the last bus would soon be leaving the Crossroads, so we had to flee the bar to make it aboard the nearly empty bus.
11:20ish: We decided to skip the rest of the downtown stops and headed directly to Harry’s Country Club, the end bar of the night. As we were walking to the bar, we noticed two guys in ’70s garb strutting along in front of us, so the NR ran up to find out their story.
Chris, 26 and Gaston, 24, were about to go into a building for a disco-themed birthday party. They were going to invite us up — until our growing party of people caught up with us. This interesting tableau was completed when a guy dressed in a black leather vest, an X-shaped chest strap and a biker hat appeared in the doorway.
Before we left, we snapped a picture of Chris and Gaston. “Oh my God, I look so Asian in this!” Gaston said. (Yeah, we have that problem, too.) The fun didn’t stop there, though. Later on in the night, when we were sitting on the patio, we spotted a guy in tight short shorts run across the parking lot. We jumped up from the picnic bench and ran after him.
Bonka, 25, was in the parking lot where his luv interest, Jamie, 23, was taking off her roller skates. They, too, were party attendees. The NR also introduced herself to Daniel, 30, who was showing a large amount of chest via his unbuttoned shirt.
“Miss Power, we’ve met before,” Daniel said. Apparently, we interviewed him at the Peanut (the NR was lit then, so unfortunately, the details escaped her). We found out that they all met via the transitive property of friendship: Bonka met Daniel at NV; Bonka knows Jamie, so therefore Daniel met Jamie. Q.E.D.
By this time, we had missed the last bus, so the people who parked at the City Market shuttled everyone back. On our way, though, we encountered another random sight: a white stretch limo slowly driving down Grand Avenue. Two women were hanging out of the sunroof, and as we got closer, we saw that they were flashing their tits.
We were too maxed out on alcohol and bus riding to register much shock. All we could do was go home and collapse, and revel in the fact that we put the mass — and not ass — in mass transit that night.