Tonight we're introducing a new feature: Drunk Museum Reviews. We love museums. We love drinking. Why not combine the two for the best weekend plans there are? This week: alcohol laws, the American Museum of Natural History, and me drunk-flying a pterosaur to its doom.
I decided to start with a museum that I've been to before and already love: the American Museum of Natural History. Joining me as museum expert and camerawoman was my roommate, who loves that place more than almost anyone. Which was important because I needed her guidance the whole time.
The drinks: Our goal was to beat the weekend crowds, planning to get to the museum shortly after 10 AM. Which necessitated getting drunk at 9 am. That was our first mistake.
Our second mistake was choosing to go on a Sunday, meaning we ran afoul of New York's alcohol laws. No alcohol before noon! I forgot this, because, until very recently, I lived in California, where you can get a good drunk on starting at 6 AM.
So, while I had dreams of inaugurating this adventure with some classy, possibly themed, cocktails, we had to make do with mimosas made with the cheap champagne we had in our fridge. And the only drinking vessel we could find: A mug with an upside-down PNAS cover printed on it.
Well, at least it was somewhat thematic.
Once we killed the champagne, we moved on to drinking rum straight from the bottle. In the future, we're going to go on different days or go later. Because, as I topped up my mug of improvised mimosa for the third time in half an hour at a time of day I haven't seen in months, I really started to question my life choices.
The Museum: We went to the American Museum of Natural History. Specifically, we went to "Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs." It has an interactive component, and that seemed like an excellent way to figure out our exact levels of drunkenness. (Spoiler alert: Very drunk.)
The first thing you discover when drunk at a pterosaur exhibit is just how difficult it is to read the names. Here's a selection of my fuck-ups:
Rhamphorhynchus: Ramfotlinkus. Why did I think there was an 'L' in that? I just thought it would be easier, I think.
Dimorphodon: I got this right, but I guarantee I said it like I was a Power Ranger.
Jeholopterus ningchengensis: The second part went "Ning-cheng-ensis? Ning-chen-gensis? Ning-chen-genesis?"
tapejara: I legitimately just started talking about tapas at this point.
The second thing we did was go to the interactive simulation in the exhibit. At AMNH right now are three Kinect-like apparatuses that allow you to maneuver a flying pterosaur. In one, you glide and dive for for fish. And in another, you try to snatch up bugs.
I could not have done this sober, much less drunk. But being drunk, I think I over-empathized with my virtual pterosaurs. I was somehow under the dual impressions that A) I was the pterosaur and that B) ducking and jumping was a more effective way of flying that just moving my arms slightly.
Let me say that these things are fucking difficult, okay? First of all, it says you have to flap you arms to start, but it started immediately after I stepped in front of it. This is where my over-empathy kicked in because I started yelling "NO!" and trying to get the creature safely to some lunch. Instead, we crashed into the water. And then we'd get airborne again, only for me to hit the surface seconds later. Once, I flew so far out over the sea, the thing just ended. I think my poor pterosaur wandered, without land in sight, unable to even see the splashes that indicated fish.
I did eventually manage to feed myself, but it was clearly an accident. I did not care. I celebrated like I'd won the Super Bowl.
One lesson taught clearly in "Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs" is that if you're going to be a pterosaur, eat fish, not bugs. Catching a bug was im-fucking-possible. I tried for so long, my real life arms got tired. I flew into a tree at one point. I also had an insane habit of flying right at a dragonfly and then, when it was right within grasp, diving into the ground for no reason. I was an awful bug-hunter. Though I maintain it was not my fault: at the end of the video below, I clearly fly right through a bug, but the game didn't register it. Bullshit.
Here's me crashing these things all over the place and jumping like an idiot. The voice is my intrepid roommate, who had done this before and tried, in vain, to talk me through it.
Did you catch the part where I say "I'm just want a bug. I'm hungry!"? My drunk brain had clearly decided that I was one with the pterosaur. Also, I was hungry. Hence the "tapas" disaster earlier.
While I killed a pterosaur, a father pointed me out to his young child and said to watch me. I was, of course, at that point in no shape to be a child's role model. It was 10:15 in the morning, I was already drunk, and my "strategy" was to flap my arms like a hummingbird. Thankfully, my roommate stepped in. I thought it was funny at the time, but watching the video I realized she was more patronizing to me than any of the parents there were to their kids:
We exited through the gift shop, where we came face to face with this horror:
What. The. Fuck. That isn't a real creature. That's a Reaper from Doctor Who. And it wasn't even the scariest one of these so-called "kites." (The picture of the other one came out really blurry - sorry about that.) That was it for my drunken brain. I'd looked at some beautiful fossils, killed some virtual pterosaurs through incompetence, and had the crap scared out of me by a kite. It was time to leave.
Conclusion: Beyond recommending the exhibit generally, which I do, this was a blast the whole way through. I even think that all that flapping and jumping helped burn through the alcohol. I'm also quickly coming to the conclusion that anything children love is perfect for drunks.
Fuck that kite, though.
In summary, two pterosaur wings up: