Mixing an ElixIr with med students

"Elixir" is one of my best-loved words, along with "pumpkin," "festoon," and "open-bar" (oh, hyphen-schmyphen). When I fantasize that I am on Inside the Actors Studio, as I am often wont to do, "elixir" is what I tell its dandy of a host is my favorite word. I'm still not sure what I want God to say to me when I arrive in heaven, though. Something along the lines of never having to hear the Steve Miller Band again would suffice.

Depending on the source, the word "elixir" either comes from the Greek "xerion" — a powder for drying wounds — or the Arabic "al-iksir" for a medical cure-all. I'm gonna go with the Arabs, because weren't they always whipping up magical potions that made rugs fly or trapped bellicose genies? All the Greeks did was pour honey on goat cheese and buttfuck each other.

San Francisco's Elixir is on the corner of 16th and Guerrero. It used to be called Jack's Elixir Bar at one point, but that doesn't really roll off the tongue, now does it? It's a pretty basic, honest neighborhood bar with a faint pubbishness to it and lots of polished wood. The owners refer to the interior as a relic of the city's Victorian past. The bar does indeed have a pedigree going back to 1858, and claims to be one of the oldest saloons in the area.

This place has come up with a really cool idea to bring people in on Wednesday nights. It's called Elixir Guest Bartending Night, and it's for charity. Basically there is one Elixir bartender on staff, then, depending on the group raising money, a few other guest bartenders show up and invite all their friends to come drinking. Half of the tips go to a good cause and you basically have a private party, though random members of the public like myself may wander in, so be forewarned. The bar's Web site says it's always looking for guest bartenders, so hop to it.

My friend Michelle and I decided to go because we want to be guest bartenders in the future (yes, teeming masses, you will be invited!) and we wanted to check out the sitch. First we called and asked what the charity was this week. The guy on the other end was amiable enough but had no clue. In fact, it sounded like we were probably the first people to ever ask such a nutty question.

When we got there we asked the door guy what the charity was. He looked like a member of the Bay City Rollers in a Motörhead T-shirt, which I mean entirely as a compliment, but he didn't know the answer either. Undaunted, we secured a table for two next to a window and settled in for some serious fund-raising.

Michelle went up to the bar and I slowly let my eyes adjust to my surroundings. In no time a rather disturbing picture came into focus: college girls with tight jeans and too much makeup, jocks with Abercrombie smiles, and the faint hint of Calvin Klein's Obsession. I had seen this before. I knew this crowd well. This, gentle reader, was a sorority and fraternity mixer. I make no apologies for what I am about to say, however cliched and judgmental it may sound: I hate campus Greeks. All they do is live in their gigantic Tudor dormitories, listen to Dave Matthews, wear stupid sweatpants with their letters across the ass, have roofie-fueled beer busts, pour honey on goat cheese, and buttfuck each other.

Michelle worked her way back to our table. "Oh, man," she said, with an air of oh boy are these people stupid. She had asked one of the girls what the charity was, but the girl wasn't sure. Then Michelle launched into a recap of the exchange. "So I asked them, 'Hey, do you guys know what the charity is?' and one of them answers, 'Um, like ... hahahaha ... God, not really. Um, 'Clinic-a' something ... or like 'something-something barrios' or something.'

"Totally vapid," concluded Michelle, pounding her beer. No one seemed to know who tonight's benefactor was, but it was in the Mission and ended in "barrio." Poor girls, I thought. They've got nothing but their looks to fall back on, and Lord knows those won't be there forever.

Just then another spunky member of the horde approached us, welcomed us, and told us the name of the beneficiary (sorry, but I can't remember — "something-something barrio," I think). She was nice enough, so we pressed her for more information.

"So," I said, "are you guys students?"

"Yeah," she replied. "We're med students at UCSF."

No way!

We were just reeling from this information when an affable middle-aged guy sauntered up and asked if we were part of the group. "Oh, yeah," was our immediate response. Scared of detailed questions, Michelle said that she worked in admin, which left me with the cafeteria duties.

"Wow," said the guy, who said he was a mentor in the program. "So do you ever interface with the med program?"

"Oh, sure," I said. "You know, sometimes they want extra gravy on their Salisbury steak or something." I decided to change the subject. "So what kind of doctor are you?"

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