Imagine a pizza.
Its crust: sumptuous braids of golden garlic knots, drizzled with olive oil, enough garlic to kill a small clan of vampires, and a metric ton of parmesan cheese.
The pie itself? Just sliced tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil, again drizzled in obscene amounts of garlic and even more parmesan cheese.
Then you have to go to Ramunto's Brick n' Brew in Hanover, New Hampshire, and order the Garlic Knot Pizza. It's even better than I've described, and you won't regret it. Tell them Major Chafage sent you.
The above spiel is more or less the same as the one I'd been giving since Georgia or North Carolina, to anyone who would listen. And I meant it. Someone told me I was doing such a good job evangelizing for the place, they should, at the very least, give me free pizza. I kind of liked that idea. I spoke to my sister, a Dartmouth alum, about it, and she offered to send the proprietors of Ramunto's a letter to that effect, telling them how I was spreading the word, and how cool it would be if they gave me a free pizza when I arrived.
And she did.
And so, when Veggie and I walked into Ramunto's for lunch, we found a sign proclaiming, "Welcome, M.C.! We have a Garlic Knot Pizza waiting for you!"
The staff quickly recognized me as M.C., and the day manager—so overjoyed to make my acquaintance—even offered to buy Veggie and myself a round of drinks while we ate our lunch.
Which is to say, we were drunk when we left. I hadn't had a drop of alcohol in nearly three weeks at that point. My tolerance had gone down, understandably. Also, Veggie hadn't eaten anything for lunch. She's vegan, after all. She gave her slice of free pizza—all thru-hiker's get one—to me, and that was that.
When we returned to the frat house, we found Buckeye and Sativa James had just arrived. Buckeye was in a celebratory mood and suggested we go find a bar. Sativa James, meanwhile, was getting stoned and making ready to troll the town for loose women.
We left Sativa James to his debauchery, and went in search of a bar. Looking for a bar at two o'clock in the afternoon makes perfect sense when you're already drunk, by the way. Long story short, we utterly failed to find any adequate drinking establishment. I suspected that Hanover was more of a "buy a twelve pack and get hammered in your basement" kind of town.
So that's exactly what we did.
The three of us strolled down to the Dartmouth Co-Op and bought a six pack pack each. I got some tasteful Woodchuck Cider, made in nearby Middlebury, Vermont. Veggie and I convinced Buckeye to get Long Trail Double Bag, a strong, dark amber ale that's 7.2% alcohol. Veggie got some vegan, soy frozen yogurt for dinner, and another six pack of something or other. Details are a bit hazy.
By the time we got back to the frat house, and after doing our laundry, everyone was feeling hungry again, so we headed back to Ramunto's. This time Sativa James came with us, although I would later wish he hadn't. I gleefully collected my free pizza—that I actually had to pay for half of—and another round of free beers for myself and my friends. It was a party!
I ended up taking half of the pizza back to the frat/hostel with me. I figured I'd eat it for breakfast in the morning. It wouldn't last the night.
Buckeye, Veggie, and myself started drinking and playing pool in the frat's basement. Sativa James snuck back out to seduce some waitress he met. I felt a surge of pity for the poor girl, and for every other local who crossed his path, but also a certain glimmer of relief that he was no longer around.
Some of the frat brothers—and sisters, it was a co-ed frat—eventually came down to play beer pong and chat up some dance team they'd sequestered. We chatted with them amiably, and made three startling discoveries. One, this was, or had been, a dry frat. Two, they proudly proclaimed themselves to be the "marching band frat." And three, the three of us were, by far, the coolest people in the room. Also, the drunkest.
After Sativa James (surprisingly) returned with his queasily young conquest, details start to get hazy. My box of leftovers grew ever smaller. My cider all got drunken.
Then Buckeye passed out on the pool table. I got annoyed with everyone and decided, "To Hell with them, I'm going to bed!" And promptly lay down on a bench. Only to be woken up not terribly long after by the sounds of Veggie dry heaving into a recycling bucket.