What can you buy for $30? A book and a bottle of wine. A meal at a fairly nice restaurant. Or a ride around downtown Philly on a school bus full of drunk people from New Jersey.
This unusual dating opportunity was perhaps misidentified as a pub crawl, since our organizer insisted on taking advantage of our unlimited transportation even between bars that were a block apart on foot. Or four bouncy blocks of cobblestones by school bus. There were other unintended side effects of our vehicle. Like, when we arrived at one ill-chosen stop on our crawl– a colonial-themed restaurant full of senior citizens– an elderly woman asked if we were a school choir. Apparently, she had failed to notice that a good chunk of our group was pushing middle age. But it seemed like the participants themselves had forgotten this as they stuck their heads out the windows of the bus and hollered at total strangers.
Hollering had become the normal form of communication a few bars in, which is when I had my encounter with Crazy Chicken Wing Lady. I was sitting at a table with some fellow crawlers of both sexes, when she wandered up and observed that I was, in a vain attempt to absorb some beer, eating wings. “Look at this girl!” she shouted. “She’s eating wings!” Yes, everyone agreed. “Eating wings in the bar! In front of everybody! That’s so brave!” We all smiled and tried to return to our conversation. “Are you looking?” she screamed. “She’s licking her fingers. She’s like Princess Diana!” I’m not sure what Princess Di has to do with meat on the bone, but I was feeling more like a circus sideshow than royalty. At this point, no one even remembered what we had been talking about before CCWL appeared. So the table sat quietly and watched as I nibbled the rest of my wings and she enthusiastically narrated.
Of course, every terrible date story has a silver lining. When it was time to move on to the next bar, riding on a school bus hardly seemed like an embarrassment at all.