Or, today's reason No. 2 that Caps fans should come to RFK Stadium next Sunday afternoon. Mixed drink kegs, courtesy of a gent who's last name is, legitimately, Rumberg.
I'll be honest and admit that I was a bit worried when I boarded the Screaming Eagles bus on Saturday morning and the first thing I saw was a woman knitting. I mean, I'm all for multi-tasking, but when I decided to spend 14 hours going up and back to a soccer game in New Jersey with a busful of supposedly crazed supporters, I didn't have on-board knitting in mind. (No offense, knitting person.) There was also someone studying for a CPA exam.
Things started looking up, though, at approximately 8:09 a.m., when the bad kids in the back of the bus began opening up the Guinness pub draft cans. And things began further looking up when I realized there was a guy in the back seat with a "keg" of hard alcohol, doling out cosmopolitans on ice.
(Note to kids: alcohol is no joking matter. Please stop reading this entry; go play this World Cup video game instead.)
(Note to Barra members: yes, I understand, you drink more than the Eagles. Several BBs let it be known to me that if I was hoping to see on-board craziness and debauchery, I probably should have chosen the Barra Brava bus, whose members feature more tattoos, more drums and, possibly, more profanity. Apparently they sang some chant en route to New Jersey that involved cursing at traffic patterns.
When we met the BBs in the Meadowlands parking lot, I immediately ran into my old friend and Barra member Andy, who was holding a large bottle of
Ommegang's Cherry Lambic-influenced Three Philosophers, a beer that's nearly 10 percent alcohol-by-volume, part of his tradition of supplying beer from the home state of the opposing team.
Several BBs told me that they had polished off a keg of Yuengling before their bus reached the Delaware state line. "Fifteen minutes in, I swear, the back of the bus was drunk already," a BB named Charlotte told me.)
(Some supporters, incidentally, were concerned about the upcoming match, due to United's poor results down the stretch.
"Very, very worried," one said. "If we can get out of here with a draw, I'll be happy."
"You tie, it's like a win," another said. "I'd even be happy with a one-goal loss."
But my friend Andy had confidence, due to some sort of good-luck e-mail exchange he had with the [mom] of defender Facundo Erpen. I lost some of the details, but I guess the e-mail exchange worked.) [Edited for accuracy.]
(Shortly after I saw Andy, I ran into Brian and Jeff Carroll's mother, who predicted a 2-0 United win, while tailgating with some other United family members near the BBs and Eagles.
"Oh, they're the greatest fans in the world," she said. "Why wouldn't you want to hang out with them?")
(And in defense of the Eagles, vis a vis the Barra's drinking skills, one Eagle was roaming the parking lot with a bottle of Hpnotiq, plus I heard this exchange about early-morning drinking:
Eagle 1: I haven't done this since college.
Eagle 2: I haven't done this since [pause, thinking] last weekend.)
Anyhow, when I heard about the hard alcohol keg, I wandered to the back of the bus, next to the restroom and its lovely scent of apples and spice, where I met cosmo keg proprietor Michael Rumberg, who calls his contraption the Margarita Machine, although others call it the Horse-Killing Liquor Keg of Death. Michael is a compensation analyst for the Fairfax County government, and about three or four years ago he became interested in improving the Eagles' alcohol distribution abilities. So he invested in a portable keg cooler and C02 system to eliminate the use of hand pumps, and he and some other supporters devised a way to add a second tap, so that twice the beer could be dispensed at once. Such devises are, of course, commercially available, but the resourceful DCU fans are more resourceful than that and like to build their own. And I don't want to minimize the contributions of Duffman in all of this, Duffman being the Barra Brava fan who dresses like Duffman and runs around taking photographs during United games, and who has matched Michael Rumberg in the alcohol-distribution-innovation department.
Anyhow, at some point, Michael saw a CO2-powered margarita dispenser inside a friendly drinking establishment and figured that was the next step, and so, using five-gallon soda-fountain syrup cannisters and some good old American ingenuity, he built his own mixed-drink keg.
"I made it beautiful, and filled it with vodka," he said proudly.
And then, for good measure, he built six or so more. Such contraptions are also available commercially, but Michael's innovation was some sort of galvanized steel sleeve that covers up the warning stickers that seem to pop up on these cannisters; sleeves that can be painted and covered with D.C. United logos and made altogether more festive. So now, he gets drink recipes, and he multiplies all the ingredients in order to reach five-gallon land, and then he provides succor to the thirsty masses of soccer tailgaters or bus-riders.
On Saturday, as mentioned, the drinks were cosmos, which I suggested to Michael might be sort of a girlie drink, and which he pointed out featured 100-proof vodka. He said he wanted something in DCU colors, and that his attempts to make a black mixed drink have thus far achieved spotty results, which is why he chose red cosmos.
"Call it what you want, it's got more alcohol than beer," argued another fan named Lonnie, as the bus driver swerved and various Screaming Eagles crashed into each other in the back of the bus.
("I don't remember the road being this curvy," Lonnie said. "You don't remember the road at all," another Eagle said.)
As for the cosmos, by the time we got home 14 hours after we left, the five gallons were just about gone, and Michael Rumberg had once again fulfilled his duty.
"I figured out a way to serve five gallons of my favorite mixed beverage to my friends," he said, in summary. "I definitely have more friends since I started doing that."
See, Goat and Sam Horn Guy? You can experience such joy if you come out on Sunday.