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Trip Report Baltimore Bacchanal: An Overly Verbose Trip Report

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Saturday, 0715: Got my bagel, got my coffee, and my little dude is running around in his PJs babbling in his toddler Aramaic when my friend comes roaring up the driveway to get me for our girls weekend. She is ready for action; when I pour half a bottle of champagne in her OJ she doesn't even blink. This is my first overnight away from both my guys, but I am confident they will have a blast doing Boy Things (eating lots of meat, laughing at flatus), so after our goodbyes we race out. Within the hour our duo is a threesome (hey now!) on our way North to catch our Southwest flight South.

Meet my friends: Pam Pecan, a cross between Glenn Close and Amy Winehouse – beautiful, fierce but funny, and whether it's a bar fight or a boardroom, you want her on your side; Polo, our NE blueblood - sweet, beautiful, tends to teetotal, thighs of a baby giraffe – you may ask why in God's name she's with us but we may need her for bail money; and Piper, the prodigal one, another beaut, Amy Sedaris meets Julie Andrews, the reason for the trip – she rambled South to the New New Jersey a year ago, and we are meeting her halfway in Baltimore in order to mock her for this in person.

0950 - 1200: Pam has snagged the Coveted Group A, so she saves us seats, and after the quickie 50-minute flight we land amidst the late-July smother of Maryland. With shouts and rude gestures we greet our waiting Piper, and grab a cab for the 20-minute ride to the swank Pier 5 hotel in the Inner Harbor (cab fare $40, http://harbormagic.com/Pier5/pier5_default.asp?SP= ). The desk clerk is a gregarious and funny lady by the stellar name of Empress who informs us that our room isn't ready yet, so the four of us head to the bathroom to get the necessary swag from our bags/reduce our clothing, emerging less than 10 minutes later to the amazement of a male guest who's been hanging at the desk. I manage to score a v significant discount on the room, which I will hold over the other 3 for the Rest Of Their Lives, and then, hooray, the room is ready. The hotel is a modern, purple-y rectangle with only 3 floors - our double-double is a nice big room overlooking the water and the Pier 6 concert pavilion, and Thank God it has a long counter in the bath as in toto we've more product and sundries than a freakin' CVS. I hand out clothespins with our initials on them for towel identification as I love my friends, but I'm not wiping my face where their arses have been. I am immediately slagged for this, but hunger yells louder and we're off to Little Italy to scare up some eats. We discover the Austin Powers Magical Suite on our way out of the 3rd floor (hey now!), and naturally it becomes mandatory to dance like Austin past this suite for the rest of the weekend.

1200 – 1430: A very short walk past typical Baltimore brick and faux-stone-front rowhouses takes us past the little fenced-in lot where the neighborhood gathers to watch films projected from a third floor bedroom across the street (mostly mob movies, natch). We wind up at Amiccis, (231 S High Street, www.amiccis.com), surrounded by posters of said movies, where we order like girls, splitting orders of their large house salad (vg vinaigrette), garlic cheese bread (to counter the salad, duh), Penne Amicci (excellent sausage, huge mushrooms), and eggplant parm. There is plenty of delicious food to go 'round, and it cost all of $39 before tip. As we head back towards the hotel we notice swarms of Yankees shirts – apparently the O's have a 3-day home stand, and they are severely outgunned in the fan dept. Back in the room, Piper checks in on her family (her husband misses us so – Pam moans suggestively, I yell at Polo to stop hogging the nipple clips), and then we're off to poke around the Inner Harbor and take a harbor cruise.

1430 – 1800: We hit the new steel-and-glass Baltimore Visitors Center just past Harborplace for coupons towards hourlong cruises on the Prince Charming (www.harborcruises.com) and soon we're off with loads of other sweatsoaked tourists. Polo tries to keep the "riding prince charming" jokes in check as we're surrounded by families, and the captain supplements the recorded info with some newer observations such as the 1.2 million asking price for the cheapest of the Ritz-Carlton condos (in Baltimore?!?) going up on the Federal Hill waterfront. The tour passes the iconic Dominos sugar sign atop the deathtrap Dominos building, container ships and ro-ro's in port, Fort McHenry, etc. and was a nice, if hot, way to pass the time. Afterwards we wander a bit - Polo and I discuss the pecuniary implications of retiring third world debt on the Senegalese middle class; Piper and Pam start singing showtunes from "Carousel." We're noticing an oddly high concentration of firefighters, which makes Pam even more hot and bothered, so we again head back to the sanctuary of our A/C'd room. Pam and I hunt and gather wine and beers from the adjacent McCormick & Schmick's (there's a small door near the front desk where you can sneak into the restaurant), and we drink and catch up before taking the hotel's free shuttle to Fell's Point, where we have reservations for the 7 PM Ghost Tour.

1800-2130: The cobblestoned streets of Fell's Point have seen many a drunken sailor, and since some of us have, too, it feels welcoming. We head towards the bar of Eat Bertha's Mussels (www.berthas.com), a funky, narrow joint claustrophobically decorated with bizarre chandeliers and bastardizations of their eponymous bumper stickers, reigned over this eve by Diane, a testy but amusing Bawlmer barwench with piled black hair and red hornrimmed glasses. Piper and I order a bowl of their rightly famed mussels with garlic and basil sauce ($10) and I down a nice Hoegaarden (hey now!). A middle-aged gent comes in with an adorable puppy and I joke to him that he's trolling for babes (it's totally working); not 10 seconds later Pam is laughing her arse off as her gaydar is redlining, and hers is Never Wrong. Oops. We soak up some puppy love and chat with the guy and before know it we're back out in the heat for the ghost tour.
Which sucks. Well, it's probably not bad for family entertainment, but our guides' limp storytelling abilities do nothing to retire any of our trenchant cynicism, making the bars we pass look more and more inviting.

We ditch halfway through and Pam spots a rooftop bar overlooking the water above Maggie Moos ice cream, so we make our way up to Woody's to eat lots of meat and laugh at flatus (OK, so maybe just me). We split massive nachos ($8), Piper and I snag beers, and the four of us again order like chicks and split fish tacos ($12) and a burger. Honestly, I can hear DH mocking me all the way down here. After resting a bit more (read: shredding each others' reputations), we walk back to the hotel down Aliceanna street, and I'm happy to report that there's so much revitalization going on that I never even think about the up-till-recent stupidity of this during the 15-or-so-minute walk.

2130 - 2200: We dress to go dancing; despite four women in one room, it's not the movie farce you'd expect (there's an Arctic Monkeys song waiting here). Piper and I look meaningfully at the clock, then each other. The moms of the group, it is damn near our bedtime. Seeing this glance, Pam introduces us to Mr. Red Bull. Amen, Pam. Amen.

2200: Our merry band heads North up to the Power Plant area towards Mosaic, a newish club at the end of a row of bars/clubs with pounding house music and a trendy couch/tent oasis outside. The alley that it's in has been attractively strung with white box lamps, but we're more concerned with the fact that the bartenders are moving like tectonic plates and the place is still too empty, so after a while we head a few doors back to a confluence of outdoor bars/clubs. We stop at Mex.

2245: …where I cannot help but notice that we are in the middle of more firefighters than a Pam fantasy. I also start counting up the bachelorette parties, and find at least four stapled-on veils within a 40-body radius. Yeah, it's THAT kind of night. Pam, Piper, and I accelerate our drinking. We occasionally yell at the brides-to-be not to do it.

2300: We have attracted attention, not all of it wanted. One blond, middle-aged fireman corners me, he's nice enough, but earnestly drunken and sweaty, and soon I would rather be talking to a tape dispenser. Or arborvitae.

2315: Pam has made a new friend; not a firefighter, kinda short, but a v g dancer. Polo bails to go order por-, er, take a shower and collapse back in the room.

2330: The dancefloor at Mex is suddenly parted by black-clad bouncers escorting about 6 nubile young women who climb up onto the bar. They are wearing bikini bottoms, but all else God-given has been body-painted to advertise the various bars in the area. Firefighters stampede like Bud-drenched buffalo, and soon a forest of RAZRs and Motorolas is in the air clicking away like mad. I take a great picture of this.

All Balls: Back 2 Mosaic. Not surprisingly, the firefighters are not here. Piper, meanwhile, finds a new friend! I take a great picture of this as well, in retaliation for her gleeful provocation that she has already cruelly abused my towel.

0030: God save me from drunken, braying 23-year-old buttboy Tweedledums, BECAUSE MY FRIENDS SURE AREN'T.

OhDarkThirty: Collapse back in the room after raiding the vending machine. No pictures taken, but sleep aids might be. Damn you, Mr. Red Bull.

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