Isn’t it funny how a random collection of words and phrases can send the mind into a tailspin of imagination? I mean take the above headline for example. As of this very moment, you have no idea what this post is going to be about. An exciting jet-setting journey perhaps? A chance encounter with a professional golfer’s parental units? A…uh…um…I got nothing for the turkey leg. The possibilities are endless. You have to prepare yourself for anything at this point.
Ok, enough with the suspense. So what do all three of these things have in common? They all featured prominently in one wild night in Disney World. Before I begin, let me give you a little history lesson about a little place known as Epcot. A long time ago, a man by the name of Walt Disney designed Epcot around the idea that the unique and prominent countries of the world should be represented for all to see and learn about. Their customs, styles, and livelihoods should be honored and accurately depicted as a way to help us embrace our differences. When Epcot’s “World Showcase” was completed, Walt and his cohorts stood in front of their masterpiece and congratulated each other on a job well done. After several moments of reflection, one of Disney’s imagineers broke the silence with a question.
“Now what?” He asked.
Walt looked at him, then over at his friends, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Let’s get drunk!” And just like that, “Drinking Around the World” was born.
Ok, that might not be entirely true. It’s possible he said s@%*-faced or wasted instead. I don’t know, I wasn’t there that day. But I’m pretty sure that’s how it went down. Anyway, since that fateful day, friends and family alike have traveled to Disney’s Epcot for the authentic experience of multiple cultures…and the alcohol they are known for. Last Wednesday night, it was our turn. With Iz and the Jakester in the capable hands of Grammy and Grampy, Jen and I (and the rest of our family’s motley crew) entered Epcot sober as a judge. We did not, however, leave that way.
Our first stop on this world tour of intoxication was Mexico. Perhaps this was our first misstep of the night as the drink of choice for our neighbors to the south was the margarita. After paying the requisite arm and leg for the tasty tequila concoction, I will tip my hat to the folks at Disney and say that while they may charge you through the nose, at least they don’t skimp on the alcohol (as the below picture confirms). Notice the amount of red deliciousness still remaining in the cup as it relates to the already squinted eyes of my beautiful wife.
After successfully negotiating our way through the first of 11 countries on this journey, we headed north to Norway. While I can point out Norway on a map, I wasn’t very familiar with their customs so I went the safe route and selected one of the few beers on tap. My brother-in-law however, chose the more risky potato vodka option. Personally, I prefer my potatoes in the oven rather than in my drink…but that’s just me. He claimed it was smooth going down. I’m not sure it was the same coming up.
As we left Norway and made the long trek to China, it was clear by the increased volume of several members of our party that someone would not win the night. Entering the third of 11 countries, it was not yet apparent who that person would be. After seeing that Yuengling beer was on tap and excitedly stating, “Wow, I didn’t know Yuengling was Chinese”, my money was officially on Jen. A couple of beers and a plum wine that tasted oddly similar to Robitussin were the drinks of choice at this oriental watering hole, so we downed them and moved on.
Germany was the next stop on our road to inebriation, which meant only one thing: Oktoberfest! As a self-proclaimed beer snob, this was probably my favorite visit as the choices were beer, beer, and more beer. After agonizing for several minutes, I went with the beer. Good choice. Before leaving Germany, my brother-in-law’s girlfriend took this lovely group shot. I believe it might be the last picture where everyone is relatively cognizant of what’s going on.
Having visited four countries with no major incidents to report, we were definitely playing with house money when we arrived in Italy. There comes a point during any night of drinking when you say to yourself, “I’m definitely feeling these drinks now. I think I’ll just have one more and call it a night.” And we all know that when you’re having that internal monologue, you’ve already crossed that blurry, double line and things are about to get silly. For our group, Italy was that blurry, double line.
As we sat drinking our wine/beer/mixed drinks, someone still sober enough to do a head count realized we were one cohort short. The man who had deemed himself our “chaperone” for the evening, Uncle Rick, had gone missing. So like a scene from Streetcar, we took to the fake streets of Venice yelling out “Uncle Rick!”. Eventually, we realized he was simply in the bathroom and we all had another drink to calm out nerves. Apparently worn out from the exhaustive search for Rick, I inquired about and accepted a piggy-back ride from my brother-in-law as we left Italy and headed for the good ol’ US of A.
After crossing that invisible line between sober and “let’s make some bad decisions”, things started to get a little fuzzy at this point. The next four countries are a bit of a blur so I’ll just mention a few of the moments that stick out in my mind.
- Jen and I dancing in the street to no music at all.
- Jen sitting down in the middle of the street after dancing to no music at all.
- A shot of hot sake was consumed in Japan (I did not partake…at least I don’t think I did)
- Jen joined a wedding processional in France.
- Morocco was in there somewhere, but I have no recollection of it.
And that brings us to our friends from across the pond, the United Kingdom. We pulled up a few stools at a friendly little pub in fake Ireland where a bartender by the name of Mo served a few Irish car bombs. While chatting with the locals, we made a discovery that would be the highlight of the night for my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, Lesley. You see Lesley has a bit of a crush on a young Irish golfer by the name of Rory McIlroy. Perhaps that’s understating it a bit actually. I am fairly certain her name is on a legal document requiring her to stay at least 500 yards from him.
Being that we were in fake Ireland, and several sheets more than 3 sheets to the wind, we assumed that the friendly blokes next to us at the bar must know young Rory. To our surprise, one such fella claimed to be from the same small town as Rory’s mum. Lesley stared at him, much the same way Izzy stared at Mickey the first time they met, and was speechless. Before she left though, I’m pretty sure she gave that guy her number…you know, to pass on to Rory’s mom.
We ended our dizzying trip around the world with a couple Labatt’s Blues and a free carton of popcorn in Canada. I’m also pretty sure I recall singing a rendition of “O Canada” as we gracefully exited the World’s Showcase. Before leaving Epcot, we were able to convince some unsuspecting bystander to take a group shot. Here we are, along with some random dude on the right. Notice we’re all standing…pretty impressive.
The next day, eight of us were back in action as we visited more parks and attractions. However, if you take a look at the picture above, you’ll notice there were nine of us (you know…minus the random guy walking on the right). Jeff, second from the left, took the brunt of the evening. He claimed it was the turkey leg he had eaten earlier in the day. I’m thinking it had more to do with the potato vodka, hot sake, and terrible Canadian beer…but hey, you gotta watch those turkey legs.