My first twenty-first birthday celebration took place in Reno two months before my actual twenty-first birthday, the night before my morning flight to Portland, Oregon, which was also the same morning my sister prepared for me her dirty eggs. It was the least she could do, considering that hangover was her damn fault anyway for leaving me with Mike and Keith.

Fourth Street in downtown Reno is akin to Fourth Street in downtown Austin in the sense that they are both home to a ridiculous amount of drinking establishments. We were on the far west end of the street on a Friday night, near my sister's apartment, at a tiny little dive with Keith, my future brother-in-law, and Mike and Jaime, who taught at the same school as Keith. They knew the bartender, which meant I could drink, and we were happily downing mixed pucker shots that tasted almost exactly like Nerds. After a few of these and some hurried glances at the increasingly brutal customers appearing, Sis and Jaime looked at their watches and, both claiming a need for an early start on the next day, called a cab. Suddenly this was a boys' night out.

Keith, Mike, and I stumbled a good mile or two down Fourth Street until we reached a sports bar at the edge of downtown. We were about to walk in when I stopped and said, "What, shall I just wait outside, then?"

Mike is the sort of guy who can't help but exude charisma. He's got a winning smile, a boisterous voice, a devil's glint to his eye: I should've known it was well within his capacity to score free drinks for minors. He pushed me through the door and screamed, "MY BOY HERE IS TURNIN' TWENTY-ONE TONIGHT!" We were cheered to the busy bar where the tender was already pouring shots. We left the establishment in good spirits and set ourselves towards downtown. Mike clapped his hand on my shoulder and said, "My dear boy, tonight we're going to get you laid."

Like most healthy young men, I am not averse to offers of this nature, but Mike was asking random women on the street, be they college girls or the poor toothless woman who asked us for some change. Mike offered her fifty bucks for a blow job she seemed enthusastic to give, but Keith pulled him away. "I don't think he's that drunk yet, Mike," and so we found ourselves in front of yet another bar. Mike lingered outside, talking to more college girls, and I shouted at him in this Irvine Welsh voice that comes from nowhere when I'm a few shots short of sobriety, "C'mon! Ignore those skanky hos! Let's get beer!" Mike shrugged and walked towards me, and I saw who he was talking to: one enraged brunette and one absolutely enchanting blonde. In my drunken state, I fell on my knees and pleaded, "Forgive me, lassies. Me friend 'as been tryin' all night ta get strangers to shag me. Ah did na ken 'e 'ad found 'is sense of taste." You should hear the accent: it's really quite bad. The brunette was tugging at the blonde's arm, but the fair-haired beauty seemed charmed by my sudden display of inebriated desperation. She introduced herself as Mericha, and said she'd meet us after the show inside.

The music inside was loud and bad. Mike and Keith were shifting at the bar. This was a college hangout, wall-to-wall frat boys and sorority girls, and I would've felt out of place as well were it not for the prospect of sex ahead. A sloshed football player at the bar was trying to tell me that he was making a movie and I could totally play the part of the nerd, but I just smiled and kept my eyes out for my shimmering blonde savior. Eventually Mike grabbed me by the crook of my arm and motioned towards the door. I was about to protest when Keith spoke knowingly, "Forget about it, man. She's been with Punk Rawk Pete." Every town has its scenester mansluts: Pete Mancetti was Reno's.

Two bars later we had given up on the street level and decided to hit the microbrewery in the Eldorado. Brew Brothers crafts a fine beer, but we weren't really in the state to enjoy their ales: we were, in a word, trashed. Keith sat me down at a table while Mike disappeared to the bar. Mere moments later, I was surrounded on both sides by two barflies who were all face. One shoved a tall glass of lager under my nose while the other cooed, "So, your friend tells me you're a virgin." I looked up at Mike, who was nudging Keith and winking at me. I eyed at the two women and suddenly felt the evening catching up to me.

"Excuse me," I said greenly, and made a hurried exit. On the way to the bathroom I threw up casually on a rack of slot machines without slowing down. Mike and Keith met me after I finished emptying the contents of my stomach into one of the Eldorado's fine porcelain fixtures and directed me down the escalators to the gaming tables, all the while trying to hush my shouts of, "You're paying to be robbed!" screamed at no one in particular. Mike paused for a minute to place a couple of failed craps bets, then we exited onto Virginia Street. Keith made the suggestion of seeing if there was anyone worthwhile at the Zephyr, about a mile or so away, and we resumed our epic stumbling journey.

The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is a grotesque golden dome on the corner of South Virginia and Mill streets. It is a spiky turtle shell covering an underground concert hall, extending to the ground at three points. Often it is merely an eyesore, but to three drunk men with too much energy, it is a jungle gym. As we approached the dome, I looked at Mike and said, "Race ya!" and we scattered up like the inebriated monkeys that we were. Keith just wanted to get to the Zephyr for one last beer, but reluctantly followed. By the time he made it up, Mike and I had each settled supine in our own indentations. "I can't believe you told those women I was a virgin," I chided Mike, laughing. "I can't believe you threw up on a row of slot machines," he howled back.

We were men on top of the world that night, well out of our capacities, but alive like never before. For all of high school I avoided drinking because I never once figured you could grab onto a moment and feel so immense while under the influence of alcohol. Sure we had made asses out of ourselves, but it is our most ridiculous moments that make us human. Embarassment is proof that you've lived, and straight-laced naysayers be damned: morality is just disguised envy. To complete the evening, we relieved ourselves off the side of the building and descended, laughing, to the street.

The Zeph was dead. A fight had driven away the bands an hour before we rolled up. We had a drink while waiting for a cab, relating in slurred speech the exploits of the evening to anyone who pretended they wanted to listen. Mike had given up on his quest to get me laid, but he didn't need to. The evening was a resounding success.

At my sister's, Keith and I made our way in as stealthily as possible and I fell asleep as soon as I hit the sheets. My sister woke me up the next morning with a smug smirk and a cheerful, "So, you ready to get on that plane?" Ugh. No, I wasn't. I normally don't get hangovers, but I also don't normally have twenty-first birthday celebrations that involve drinking enough alcohol to fuel a tactical assault on casino property. Luckily for me, my sister had made breakfast...


All right, so here's what you need to make my sister's famous dirty eggs, with some help from The Naked Sneff: The night before your drinking binge begins, make sure you have all of the necessary ingredients. You don't have to prepare anything except possibly the excederin. The morning after, roll out of bed and down the medicine without water as quickly as possible. Excederin's a nice medicine for hangovers because it contains caffiene, which speeds up your heart rate and delivers the painkillers to your brain faster. Stumble through the house until your caring volunteer stops questioning why they put up with you and makes their way into the kitchen.

The first thing you're going to have them prepare for your lame, wasted ass is the brown rice, which will take a while. If you have instant rice, you're fucked. The texture will be all wrong and you don't want to be eating something that'll make you relive the fine conversations you had with the porcelain people last night. Get the water boiling (about a cup and a half. have your chef read anthropod's writeup on wild rice for some good preparation instructions), make sure your nurturing volunteer throws the rice in for you after you leave the room (every grain hitting the pot will be a bullet in your cranium) and let it simmer on low heat for fifty-five minutes. Collapse on the couch and pray for the headache medicine to kick in. Watch old episodes of Reboot or Small Wonder. No longer doubt the existence of a vengeful diety.

About forty or so minutes after the rice starts simmering, yell at your cook to start fixing the eggs. Eggs should be broken on a flat surface to minimize the chance of shell ending up in your meal, and a splash of milk makes everything extra nice. Cilantro's pretty easy to chop quickly, and can be done quietly enough to not interfere with the unceasing pain of your cortex pulling away from your cranium. Just a dash of Mrs. Dash, and, as for the onion salt, you don't need a fuckton: just enough to create a thin and even layer settled on top of the whisked eggs. The eggs should be scrambled and cooked until they're dry enough to get past an overactive gag reflex, but still moist enough to be tasty, and they should end up done around the same time as the rice. Walk into the kitchen to pour yourself a nice tall glass of Gatorade (vital to the restoration of much needed elecrolytes to your poor poor body) just as your hero finishes dumping the egg into the rice. Make sure they mix it thoroughly and, moving quickly in order to keep things hot, dump the cheese on top gradually to let the meal do the melting. sneff, wise soul that he is, even suggests broiling it for a couple of minutes. With one last doleful look, urge your best friend in the whole wide world to get it all on a plate for you.

This is an ideal morning after food. Good wild rice wants to stay in your stomach, and it wants to keep the eggs and cheese down there with it. Protein will help your body cope with the day and keep you functioning like you stayed at home and played Scrabble all night. And, man, get your roommate some flowers or a hooker or something: you totally don't deserve someone that cool, you cheapjack boozehound.

Incidentally, you can totally substitute spanish rice and this dish becomes huevos sucios, but I don't have any vaguely amusing stories of crapulence about that.

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