The best part about our faux light rail: It gets us to the bar on time.

To the MAX! 

The best part about our faux light rail: It gets us to the bar on time.

What do you call a pub crawl using the MAX bus system? Well, over at the Pitch, we've deemed it The First-Ever Night Ranger Drinktacular! ™

We recently had the epiphany of riding the new rapid bus service for lush-like purposes when we noticed that, hey, there are a shit-ton of bars within walking distance of many of its stops. When our despair over the insane gas prices coincided with our fascination with this great city service, we had to try it out immediately.

The MAX (Metro Area Express), which made its debut in July, is an ideal enabler for such drinking endeavors. It travels between Waldo and the City Market and hits the cool neighborhoods in between (see www.kcata.org for the route). Some pub crawl-relevant facts: On weekend nights, the buses run about every half-hour, and the service ends around 12:30 a.m. Day passes are available for $3 and can be purchased as you board the bus (exact fare required).

After checking out the route, we were excited to discover that there are about 25 bars along the way that are easily accessible from the stops. Our initial plan was to start in Waldo and drink at nearly every stop until we reached the City Market. (We were quasi-inspired by the John Cheever short story, The Swimmer, in which the protagonist makes his way home by swimming across the county through his neighbors' pools -- but, uh, substitute a bus for a pool.) However, our pal Soren, who had organized a pub crawl last November using the city buses (which also inspired the Drinktacular), warned us about the difficulties of herding drunk people around. So we narrowed down the bar list to six bars, sent out a mass e-mail to our Research Assistants, and, on Saturday, August 20, embarked on our little adventure.

4:38 p.m.: We boarded the bus at the stop by Night Ranger Headquarters downtown and were instantly enamored with it. The bus was clean and fast (except for the couple of blocks when we were stuck behind one of those damn horse carriages by the Plaza Library -- stoopid, traffic-blocking surreys); we barreled down Main and Brookside Boulevard, and made it to Lew's Grill and Bar at 75th Street and Wornall Road for our appointed meeting time of 5ish.

Even though the bar was dead at that time, we still thought it was a good place to start the crawl. As we filled up on the oh-so-important, alcohol-absorbing bar fare, we passed out "Hello, my name is ... " name tags to the Drinktacular participants. Our Research Assistants dutifully put their fake names down; our party included a Ron Mexico (Michael Vick's faux name to the woman he be-herped); Steve Holt (from Arrested Development) and Wang. The Night Ranger's alias? Why, Max Power, of course (a Homer Simpson alias, in case you forgot). The NR subsequently felt gratified when, walking through the bar to the restroom, she passed a guy who read her name tag and immediately burst into the Mr. Plow song.

6:30ish: We were already off the Drinktacular schedule, so we headed to the next stop: Fred P. Ott's on the Plaza. While we were waiting for the bus to leave, we noticed that a fellow passenger's sweatpants were sagging dangerously low, exposing quite a bit of butt. Our new name for the MAX: ass transit.

We commandeered a section of the great patio at Ott's (we had about 16 people in our group) and enjoyed our $2.75 glasses of Boulevard Wheat. The scene there was mellow; also sharing the patio was a bachelorette party and a group of guys from the tennis courts across the street, digging into a post-game dinner. We were dying to ask the tennis guys if they'd ever used this line before: "If you can't beat me on the court, care to beat me off?" But, alas, we refrained, since their kids were present.

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