Saturday, May 16, 2009

Upon the Request of Shannon Borntrager:

Months ago, I received a request from an certain Shannon Borntrager, either to post an entry on a mud wrestling event staged with Chinese midgets, or else to write a compare and contrast essay on the drinking habits of Mr Borntrager himself versus the habits of an illustrious drinker of my choosing – any that I might meet during my travels.

I have found a worthy comparator. But I have neither the energy nor the inclination to write a full-fledged compare and contrast essay. Instead I will just mention in passing that the illustrious Mr Borntrager’s drinking habits tend towards drinking 1.56 liter bottles of the horrendously toxic Korean beer Cass Red (known in some circles as formaldehyde lager) on casual, stay-at-home nights, or else either (a.) taking a KTX to Seoul Station, then a subway to Itaewon Station and indulging in various draft beers (namely, Cass) at such stalwart pubs as Polly’s Kettle and Old Town, or else (b.) ducking into Santa Claus Pub in Daejeon for a few of the same.

Mr Shannon Borntrager’s drinking opponent shall remain unnamed. This is because he is a high-ranking Mongolian official. His drinking style differs significantly from Mr. Borntager’s. He is from a former Soviet state (Mongolia), and thus he has been trained to drink no other liquid than vodka.

Here is my account of this to-be-unnamed drinker of Mongolian origin, who compares very favorably with the aforementioned Borntrager:

While waiting in line to pass through the fiery trial of Mongolian immigration, I met a tubby man in a suit and tie, with a wristwatch studded in diamonds. He was gregarious in a cunning and persistent way. I soon discovered that he was a high-ranking official of the Mongolian Olympic Wrestling Association. Once in the boarding lounge he produced a bottle of Chinggis Vodka - the vodka of Genghis Khan. There was nothing to drink the vodka out of, so he was forced to take a long draught from the neck before passing me the bottle.


By the time the level of the Chinggis had sunk below its halfway mark our plane had arrived and offloaded its passengers. At this point it was already thirty minutes past the original boarding time. I clinched inwardly when I heard what sounded like a huge argument break out between the Official and the airport security. But this was only a maneuver to initiate boarding. The doors of the lounge swung open and we were soon comfortably seated on the small  SCAT Airlines vessel.

Both the Official and myself were catching another flight from Ust-Kamenogorsk to the former Kazakh capital of Almaty. In common Mongolian fashion, the wrestling official had been given a parcel in the Ölgii airport to deliver to someone in Ust-Kamenogorsk, and this second party had rewarded him, when we landed, with another bottle of vodka. This he cracked open in the Ust-Kamenogorsk boarding lounge. The lounge’s florescent lighting was encased in square sections of tape ribbon grills, I remember. Somewhere far off beyond the tarmac a train passed. Slowly.


On this last flight, the wrestling official took the precaution of asking permission from the airline staff to drink the vodka. When he pressed the call button on the wall there was no response. He began to push his button repeatedly, then moved on to some other buttons. When this didn’t work, he coerced all his neighbors to push theirs. Finally a lithe, blasé stewardess appeared. Permission was granted. A few shots later the official passed back a plastic airline cup half full with vodka – perhaps the largest vodka shot I had ever seen. For the remainder of the flight I admired the stately carpeting on the floor and managed to read a page of two of Darwin: On the Breeds of the Domestic Pigeon.

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