ALL YOU STRAIGHT boys want to show me your toes, and I don't want to see them. Don't get me wrong. I love straight boys


Um, go Dawgs?

Beer and loathing, college-style.

ALL YOU STRAIGHT boys want to show me your toes, and I don't want to see them. Don't get me wrong. I love straight boys and straight-boy stuff—your frayed baseball caps, your T-shirts with beer logos on them, your TiVos—but wearing flip-flops in a bar on a Saturday night? What the fuck is wrong with you?

I don't care if you're in college, Frat Boy in a Fresno State T-shirt whose toes I've just inadvertently trampled. You're going to have to learn how to make good decisions, and wearing flip-flops tonight was not one. This place (Big Time Brewery & Alehouse, 4133 University Way N.E., 545-4509) is packed—nice and rowdy, especially in the back shuffleboard room. If you were wearing shoes, like a normal person, it wouldn't have hurt as much.

I've just returned to my table to finish off my nachos (which are soggy and way too heavy on the black olives but made better with a side of chili for dunking) and my beer, but landing on your stupid squishy toes put me over the edge: I'm not hungry anymore.

We're outta here—my boyfriend and I. We're not buzzy at all yet. On our way up the Ave, we wonder why the hell it's called "the Ave" (since it's not even an Avenue, it's a Way), and we discuss Frat Boy's terrible fashion choices. What is with all the T-shirts from California state colleges? And what's so great about Fresno, of all hellholes?

We're headed to the infamous Lock Stock, which is the Lock Stock no longer because it's been replaced by Tommy's Nightclub and Grill (4552 University Way N.E., 634-3144), which is lame, lame, lame—not in the least because they're charging a cover tonight. Where are we, Belltown? Just what does this cover buy you? Judging from our vantage point (the sidewalk windows), there are about six and a half people inside, and they all look like they have the flu. Must be the neon lights. (Or the food?) We pass.

At Earl's On the Ave (4720 University Way N.E., 525-4493), one block up, there is no cover, though they take ID checking very seriously. (Flashlight dude stares at mine for, I dunno, five minutes, as if this were the destination to beat all destinations.) Inside is a sleazy-looking lounge with cranberry leather chairs and onion-ring refuse carpeting the floor; pool tables and boys drinking straight from pitchers; and, toward the back, video games, with the dart-throwing lanes right the fuck in the way.

More boys in flip-flops. It's incredible the way bad taste spreads. (Confidential to the blond guy in the 1997 chess champs shirt: You're so gay. You should know better.)

A BEER IS A BEER is a beer, and they all taste like piss to me, so while I am begrudgingly drinking them, I'm judging each place based upon the atmosphere and the nachos. The kitchen at Earl's is terrifying—and a little too affordable, if you know what I mean. Eight jalape�oppers, eight mozzarella sticks, 15 fried mushrooms, three egg rolls, a basket of fries, onion rings, super nachos, and 12 chicken nuggets are yours for $3.99 (not $3.99 each but for all of this). Probably not the highest-quality chicken, I'm thinking.

And we have places to be. We talked my boyfriend's sister into meeting us at the Ram Restaurant & Bighorn Brewery (4730 University Village N.E., 525-3565), and we're late. We get there and sit at a table in back with a good view of a boothful of hotties. We ask about the fruit beers—straight boys drink fruit beer? "Yeah, I got guys in here all the time who order it," our server says. "They're always like, 'Dude, you're not gonna talk us out of our fruit beer.'" I order it. Smells like blueberries. We also get the nachos—huge, heaping, totally chowdownable, except for an access issue: We have to ask for forks.

Last stop is the Duchess Tavern (2827 N.E. 55th, 527-8606), a "bar and social club" it says above the door, which, despite its obscure location, is the busiest place we've been to all night. Must be the compelling TV programming: They're playing some show about fuckwits who launch their Jeeps tumbling down hillsides.

I approach the bar, where I discover the reason everyone comes here: The bartender is a god. He doesn't have nachos, but he does have Tim's Cascade chips in four flavors. He sizes me up in an instant. I get a Pike I.P.A. and quit my whining.

I have about half a sip of my beer, which is so unbelievably, astoundingly bitter (to me) that I decide there's just no fucking way; I abandon the whole frosty glass. I need something sweet. Surely all the preppy boys here—who know better than to wear flip-flops in public ever, much less out—understand. I want pancakes. I want IHOP!

On our way out the door, I catch the writing on back of Adonis-the-bartender's shirt: "24 HOURS IN A DAY, 24 BEERS IN A CASE. COINCIDENCE? I DON'T THINK SO."

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