We took a Spring Break trip to Myrtle Beach two years before we turned 21. That was the awkward time of wanting to acquire alcohol right before being legally able to buy it. I had tasted the devil’s sweat and couldn’t wait to do it again without worrying about getting busted. When on home turf, there were always older friends to buy or bars that friend’s dad owned. On the road, it was a little tougher. That’s why we decided to take our own. Not in bottles, cans or in wine skins. But in a 5 gallon, insulated coffee dispenser in the form of Hairy Buffalo.
There are two parts of this story: The Container and The Contents.
Eric went to school at Miami of Ohio’s Western campus. Or as it’s know to those who really care, The School of Interdisciplinary Studies/Western College Program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. We knew it as the hippy side of Miami U. It’s a very liberal college where everyone seemed to have long hair (back when it wasn’t fashionable) and hairy armpits (which is never fashionable.) Notwithstanding my mocking, it was a wonderful school and Eric loved it.
During Eric’s tenure at Western, Folgers Coffee had a marketing campaign aimed at getting college kids addicted to coffee again. (This was back when Starbucks only had 125 stores. They were all within three blocks of each other, but you get my drift.) To get the kids addiction rolling, they strategically placed 5 gallon, insulated, coffee dispensers all around the Miami and Western campuses. In the mornings, a truck would drive around with full containers. A dude would climb out of the truck, unchain the hopefully empty 5 gallon container, replace it with a full container, refill the cups and toss the empty container back in the truck. It would take the guy about ninety seconds to complete the transaction.
You may not know this, but Eric has the unique ability to borrow a 5 gallon, insulated, coffee dispenser off the back of a truck in about thirty seconds. Though it was not in his plans, the one he borrowed was full of hot coffee. For you that are unfamiliar, five gallons of hot coffee weighs about 41.8 lbs. With the container at a slim 16 pounds, he was lugging a total hot load of 57.8 lbs. If you did not check out the link above, you will not know that the container was tall and thin with handles at the top. One would have to lug the container with arms hanging down and legs spread apart in a sort of half crab walk.
Eighty seconds into his delivery, the coffee dude turned around to see a long haired asshole, half crab walking across the green carrying off one of his containers of coffee. Eric had a fifty second lead and all the guy could do was yell and take a few worthless steps in Eric’s direction.
I’m sure this container, God knows where it is today, could tell a number of stories of the original coffee that was drank from it and the dozens of other liquids that filled it during it’s time in Eric’s dorm room, then law school and perhaps all the way to Chicago. Since the container is not here, I will tell the one story that I know.
I think the whole reason we decided to take Hairy Buffalo was based on the fear of getting busted for speeding on the way down to Myrtle Beach and having the cops search our car and take away any bottles of liquor. Somehow, a huge five gallon container of red liquor fortified punch would slip by the eye of Deputy Dawg in his search for contraband.
Somehow, Eric had acquired an insulated, five gallon container that would be perfect for transporting hairy buffalo. It had a locking lid and a spigot at the bottom for easy dispensing. We were divided up into two groups: those finding the required alcohol and those buying the fruit and mixers. I can’t remember what group I was in. What I do remember is that Russ was in the latter group and arrived at Eric’s house with rhubarb. Rhubarb? What the fuck is rhubarb? Rhubarb is basically a weed that you find next to okra in the Natural Foods section of the supermarket. See, Russ had been eating Rhubarb for years in his mom’s cherry-rhubarb pie. As a pie, it was like tasty celery swimming with cherries in a crust. Why wouldn’t it taste good in a hairy buff? For one thing, you have to drown rhubarb in sugar to make it palatable. It’s also a good idea to bake it as well. Russ wouldn’t have any of that and chopped it up along with the watermelon and strawberries.
The dudes who were in charge of alcohol did well and came back with various bottles of alcohol as well as sugary liquors like DeKuypers. A fine mix of alcohol to mix with the juices and the other fruit and the fucking rhubarb which I’m sure is a vegetable.
So we placed the 5 gallon container in the middle of Eric’s mom’s priceless, hand-woven Turkish carpet and began to pour the bottle of liquor in it. We had dumped about four bottles in when someone noticed that the container was not filling up. That statement made everyone shut up just long enough for us to hear the noise of liquid pouring out on to a priceless, hand-woven Turkish carpet. We had cleaned and rinsed the container out and in doing so the convenient spigot at the bottom of the container was open and the liquor was pouring out and on to the thirsty carpet.
This was a problem for two reasons: First, almost a third of the alcohol was not going to be leaving Ohio. Second, we just figured out how to turn priceless rug into a less-price rug. Eric was a little pissed off, but shit, it was his container. He should have checked the integrity of the tap before handing it over.
We closed the tap and pulled the container away from the spillage area. There was a growing two foot diameter stain. Towels were brought in and we scrubbed and cleaned as best we could. I’m unsure if Zud is the best stain remover for Turkish carpets, but that’s what we found under the kitchen sink.
We cleaned the top as best we could and then rolled back the carpet to see what had happened to the underside. The padding under the carpet was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was like a natural mesh of unwoven reeds or weeds or jute. Whatever it was, it was soaked in liquor. The natural material had taken a liking to the liquor and wasn’t about to let go of the red coloration. We soaked up what we could and laid the carpet back down.
There was still a red stain on the carpet at the point of impact. It was about the size of the bottom of a vacuum cleaner. As luck would have it, Eric had a vacuum cleaner and we placed it directly over the stain. No one would ever suspect a thing. At least until we were out of state. Three hours later we were out of state with a 5 gallon, insulated coffee container that was not full enough of hairy buffalo.
There is much more to tell about this Myrtle Beach Trip: Tony’s sunburn, the MMS, the pummeling on the beach, Shag, Vertical Smile, Papa’s Pasta Palace, and the Oil Leak. But let me leave you with this: After two days the slices of rhubarb grew fuzzy and with the addition of alcohol still tasted like shit. Who the f puts rhubarb in a f’ing hairy buffalo?
I found a photo of the dudes from the Spring Break trip.
From left to right: Eric, Brett, Russ, Greg and Tony. Kit is smack dab in the middle. (I'm taking the photo. I might have been wearing a t-shirt that said "Nothing phases a ceramic engineer.")
Brett reminded me that it was the bananas in the Hairy Buff that went fuzzy. The rhubarb just absorbed the alcohol and converted it to starch.