Step 1 – Organization – Pick a day around the end of your senior year of college, say a week or two before graduation, and invite a diverse group of people to play Hard-Ass Club. The recommended amount of players is 4-8, ages 21 and up. Some of the players should be your friends, maybe not your best friends, but friends you secretly resent because they stole your pizza rolls, or used your electric shaver to trim their taint, or shit cupped you sophomore year (not sure what shit cupped is? See other instructional manual, “Shit Cup: How to Leave a Cup of Shit in you Roommate’s Closet”). Do not invite your girlfriend. This is a Man’s game. Do not tell her either. She will not understand the purpose of the game and advise you against playing. You will be wise to forget about her entirely. Forget her, okay?
Once your core group is established, select a location, preferably an unfinished basement without carpeting whatsoever. But make sure it has dust. And spiders. And cigarette butts. Make sure the radiator and plumping pipes are conspicuous and intruding into the small cellar.
Tip: If you’re at DePauw University, there is a pale yellow house on 512 S. Jackson Street with a perfect basement for Hard-Ass Club. Maybe the friend who shit cupped you two years ago will live there. He does? Perfect!
Step 2 – Required Materials –Chairs, a CD player with loud speakers, an Anal Cunt CD, and a bottle or handle of whisky depending on how many players. Acceptable whiskies: Jim, Jack, something cheaper.
Also note that every player must wear a sleeveless t-shirt and a bandana. This requirement is nonnegotiable. You can buy a bandana for $3.00 and cut the sleeves off a junky t-shirt. You should already have all this stuff from the biker bash informal you took your girlfriend to last semester. TIP: Do not be the player who wears a sleeveless Optimus Prime t-shirt. You will be abused.
Step 3 – Starting the Game – Position the chairs in a circle and sit down. Place the bottle of whisky in the middle. Insert the Anal Cunt CD into the CD player with loud speakers. Turn the volume up to the highest level. As your ear drums bleed from the ruptured vocal chords of Anal Cunt’s lead singer, scream and shout profanities (any variation of the word “fuck” is appropriate). Jump out of your chair. Roar along with the homophobic and racist lyrics. Feel the adrenaline pump through your veins. You’re still thinking about her but you will forget once the game begins.
To start the game, open the bottle of whisky in the middle of the chairs, and then point to another player. Take a long swig of whisky. Drink as much as you can but, remember, please drink responsibly. When your esophagus burns raw and stomach turns, stop drinking and scream. Scream and slap the player you pointed at as hard you can. One slap in the face as hard as you possibly can. You have just completed the first round of Hard-Ass Club.
Tip: After handing the bottle to the player you slapped, sit the fuck back down. Standing makes you an easier target.
Step 4 – Keep Playing – Don’t worry. You will get the hang of the game after a few rounds. Wait your turn. Someone will select you soon. Your best friend will point at you and tell you to stand the fuck up. Do not be afraid. Stand the fuck up and face the music. Be a man. Your best friend who you’ve lived with for three years will take a medium swig then bring the bottle down. Close your eyes. Here it comes. A whip of air. A cold bite. A burning cheek. You will hardly feel it. Adrenaline.
Now grab that bottle and choose the shit cupper first. Scream and drink. Swallow and slap. Don’t rush it. Wind back your arm, twist your shoulders, swing your wrist, connect hand to jaw, feel the hot sting on your palm as the shit cupper’s cheek caves in and ripples back, his face flinging sweat and drool. That felt good, didn’t it? Now sit down and wait again. Notice how you didn’t taste the whisky? You don’t taste the whisky because of the slaps. And you don’t feel the slaps because of the whisky. Next time, pick someone else. Maybe that asshole prick who used to be your best friend, the one who picked you first. Call him an asshole prick to his face. Forget that you live with him. Forget the vacations you’ve taken and the times you had. Remember he slapped you first. Remember he stole your pizza rolls. Drink then slap the shit out of him.
Try to slap everyone once, just for good measure. Even people you have nothing against, slap them. Slap them harder than the others. Sometimes your slap won’t have that satisfying smacking sound. Loosen your wrist and concentrate on whipping your hand. Whip, don’t swing. Keep screaming too, even when your throat feels like sandpaper. Be careful not to slap your fat pledge brother with the Optimus Prime t-shirt too much. Sure, his round cheeks make your slaps sound amazing, but he is stronger than all of you. His slaps crush face.
Tip: Try playing with cigarettes. The smoke and smell really contribute to the atmosphere of the game. Advanced players may even try keeping their cigarette in their mouth while being slapped. Good luck!
Step 5 – Another Round – Play until the bottle is empty. Congratulations! You’ve finished Hard-Ass Club. Some other players may want to continue playing. Some may even just want to slap or be slapped without whisky.
Avoid these players.
You aren’t that strong and although your face doesn’t hurt, it feels tight and warm. Go look in a mirror. As you proceed to the bathroom, the shit cupper will suggest getting another bottle and going for another round. Most people will nod and shout yes. Even you might agree. Ignore them and yourself. The adrenaline will fade and so will their spirits. Go upstairs and go to the bathroom. Pee and check your face. You look fine. Just wipe that blood off your nose and dip you face under cold water.
Someone will mention Moore’s. This will be a great idea. There are a few other bars at DePauw, but Moore’s is a townie bar. Since you and your friends are already dressed up as townies, you will think Moore’s is the best idea since Hard-Ass Club. Take this time to check your phone and text your girlfriend:
You: Going to More
GF: Sick, not going out.
GF: Staying in.
Tip: Don’t think about the beginning of the year when you met. Don’t think about when she stayed in and her ex-boyfriend came to town and fucked her brains out. You weren’t dating at that time. You were just hanging out. So it doesn’t matter. Don’t think about that.
Step 6 – Winning – Winning the game is simple. You have to be a hard-ass. Glide into Moore’s with your bros, red faced and shit faced, covered in sweat and smoke. Ignore the glares by the townies. Tell the bartender what you guys did. He will laugh. Try not to look at the neon bar lights or ceiling fan or the mugs and glasses and hillbilly flair on the wall; they will make you nauseous. Order a round of Bud Lights and take a sip. Stay calm. You are going to puke. It happens. You drank a lot of whisky. Run out the front door and puke on the street. Rinse out your mouth with the Bud Light but be careful, the taste of beer may trigger your gag reflex again. Gum is a safer alternative. Ask someone at the bar for a piece of gum then go back to nursing your beer.
Talk to a girl at the bar. Maybe it’s the girl who gave you a piece of gum. You will know this girl. She dated a friend long ago. Freshman year. She’s won’t be as hot as your girlfriend but right now she has hair and skin and boobs and all her teeth. She will be from the cool sorority, the one with the girls who smoke pot and look like they don’t shave their pits. Don’t worry, they shave their pits. Sit across from her in a booth. She will make you play some game with a spoon or fork. You won’t understand but it doesn’t matter, just play along. At some point, she will stretch out her legs under the table, resting them on the booth right beside you. Bring your hand down and feel her smooth shins. Go farther up her legs and you will be able to reach her kneecap. Play with her kneecap. Such weird things, knee caps. She will say you are being very flirtatious. Say sorry, but don’t move your hand.
Later, at the bar, order another Bud Light because you threw the old one away after it got warm. Don’t take a sip; you just need to have something in your hands so you don’t feel awkward. At the bar, the girl will whisper that she can keep a secret. Don’t get excited. Wait. Wait for all her friends to leave. Wait for everyone from school to leave. In fact wait for everyone to leave. Wait till the bar closes. Then offer to walk her home back to her sorority. Take her back to your fraternity instead. On the way back to campus, stick your tongue between her lips, lick the roof of her mouth, give her a piggy back ride all the way home.
You won’t remember too many details. You’ll get stuck at the electronic lock at the front door, inputting the wrong numbers three times before hearing the unlocking mechanism finally click. The frat will be a ghost town populated by empty natty lights and wounded soldiers. No one will see you except maybe a squashmore on the stairwell. He will see you and the girl. Ignore him and walk up to your room. Inside your room, pull out the futon and leave the lights off. Remove the girl’s shirt and bra. You will need her help with the bra. She will say something about how she never does this and how she really likes your girlfriend as a person. Put your fingers in her mouth to shut her up. When that works try to take off her jeans but she will stop and tell you to get naked first. Take off your clothes. It shouldn’t be too hard because you are wearing a sleeveless shirt. Unbuckle your jeans and shuck them away. Stop at your boxers. You can try to jiggle your whisky dick but it won’t work. Make up a lie. Tell her you feel awful about your girlfriend. Tell her you can’t do this. Put your clothes back on and offer to walk her home. No kissing or holding hands or piggy back rides this time. Walk her home like a gentleman.
Tip: At the back of her sorority, tell her goodnight. She will then say she something vulgar. Want specifics? Fine. It may be something like how she would have taken you completely in her mouth and let you come down her throat. Her words will cure your whisky dick so kiss her and she will drop to her knees and loosen your belt. After about a minute she’ll stop and take you away from the sorority back door. She will take you to a playground nearby, one of those green and brown plastic fortresses. Let her blow you on a tiny bridge leading up to a slide. Stare at the empty swings as you feel the back of her throat.
Step 7 – Losing – The game never ends. You don’t have to lose. Keep playing. Be a hard-ass forever. Go home, pass out on your futon, and start again tomorrow.
Tip: Don’t call your girlfriend as you walk back alone. Don’t see if she will pick up. Don’t think she is banging her ex. Don’t be surprised when she does pick up and say how she hasn’t been able to sleep because she’s stuffed up. Don’t think she is pretending to be sick, pretending to sound like a nasally toddler.
Believe her and go home.
Don’t tell her how you feel sick too. Don’t tell her how you played Hard-Ass Club and drank too much. Don’t tell her that instead of walking home, you’re outside her door. Don’t wait to see what she does. Don’t believe you have caught her red handed with her ex, because you haven’t.
She is alone and sick.
Don’t follow her inside when she unlocks her door and lets you in. Don’t let her give you a bottle of water. Don’t let her put a warm wash cloth on your puffed up face and rub noses with you. Don’t say you want to stay there with her all night. Don’t tell her how cute she sounds with a stuffed up nose and how clean her hair smells and how even without make up she still looks like a painting. Don’t cuddle with her in her twin bed, listening to her snore and struggle to breathe. Don’t bury your head in her soft Tempur-Pedic pillows. And don’t you dare fucking cry.
Rob Alexander is a former swimmer and swim coach from the mid-west. He has degrees in writing from DePauw University and University of South Florida. He currently lives in Tampa, FL and teaches composition and creative writing. His fiction has appeared in Columbus: Past, Present and Future, and poetry in Perceptions Literary Magazine.