It's been more than 150 years since Charles Darwin sailed the globe to study how the world's creatures evolved since crawling out of the primordial soup. Some of his most compelling studies occurred on isolated islands, not unlike the Bass Island chain a hundred miles west of Cleveland. Too bad Darwin never got to Put-in-Bay Village, on South Bass Island, the epicenter of a profound devolution that occurs every nine months. Starting in May and ending in September, thousands of once-rational Clevelanders flood the island and transform themselves into a unique form of fauna known as Put-in-Bay drunks. To the untrained eye, these people appear to be one heaving, indistinguishable mass. But look closer and you'll recognize a number of disturbingly familiar species.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Powertripius Copperosis
NAME: Jim Tucker, a.k.a. "Barney Fife."
OCCUPATION: Security guard or part-time police officer, moonlighting during the summer as a Put-in-Bay cop.
REASON ON THE ISLAND: To protect and serve by arresting everyone in sight.
FAVORITE DRINK: Just water, ma'am.
MUSICAL TASTES: "Dueling Banjos" from Deliverance soundtrack, GarthBrooks.
TELLTALE SIGNS: Notable for their 120-pound builds, pathetic attempts to grow a mustache, and the distinct impression they'd get their ass kicked at any bar on the island if not for their badge and gun.
QUOTABLE: "Shut the fuck up and be happy I don't run you in! Oh, what the hell, I'm runnin' you in!"
CAN BE FOUND AT 3:47 a.m.: Patrolling the island hoping to make more arrests.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Terrifidious Oldmaidious
NAME: Betty Blottovitz
OCCUPATION: Unclear, though she definitely works on Rockside Road.
REASON ON THE ISLAND: Hoping to meet that elusive lawyer. Or doctor. Or firefighter. Or anyone.
FAVORITE DRINK: Strawberry Daiquiri.
MUSICAL TASTES: Shania Twain, Kenny G, Celine Dion--the more Grammy Awards, the better.
TELLTALE SIGNS: Weathered face, bleached-blond hair, and a bikini-top-and-jean-shorts combo that fit a whole lot better when Betty was a senior in high school and forty pounds lighter.
QUOTABLE: "I just can't party like I used to."
CAN BE FOUND AT 3:47 a.m.: Sleeping. She's been passed out since 8 p.m.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Delirious Bachelorettius
NAME: Stephanie Helms
OCCUPATION: Account executive at public-relations firm.
REASON ON THE ISLAND: Bachelorette party.
FAVORITE DRINK: Any frou-frou shot, particularly Sex on the Beach.
MUSICAL TASTES: Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and Totally '80s CD.
TELLTALE SIGNS: The unofficial Put-in-Bay bachelorette uniform--beat-up wedding veil, T-shirt adorned with Lifesavers candy offering strangers "a suck for a buck," and monstrous penis-shaped water-gun, usually filled with vodka and fruit punch.
QUOTABLE: "We were going to live in Lakewood, but my dad said the neighborhood is getting really bad. So we're going to build a house in Bay Village."
CAN BE FOUND AT 3:47 a.m.: Projectile vomiting. Stephanie's married college friends are there to hold back her hair, but her younger sister, the maid of honor, is off having her first one-night stand.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Inebritious Fratboyous
NAME: Matt Ranallo
OCCUPATION: Student at Kent State. On the five-year plan, though will probably take six.
REASON ON THE ISLAND: Chicks and beer, beer and chicks.
FAVORITE DRINK: Jägermeister with a Bud Light chaser.
MUSICAL TASTES: Rage Against the Machine and Korn, though will listen to Pearl Jam when feeling reflective.
TELLTALE SIGNS: Cutoff cargo shorts, no shirt, and one of those Gilligan's Island-style hats, code on the island for "Arrest me."
QUOTABLE: "Did you see the tits on that chick?" (Repeated 82 times on one Saturday afternoon.)
CAN BE FOUND AT 3:47 a.m.: Either in jail or banging Stephanie Helms's kid sister.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Midlifius Crisious
NAME: Rich Szymanski
OCCUPATION: Sells copiers and fax machines, but is just one hot stock tip away from becoming a day trader.
REASON ON THE ISLAND: Celebrating his recent divorce by bringing the boat up from Lorain.
FAVORITE DRINK: Anything that helps kill the taste of his cigar.
MUSICAL TASTES: The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan.
TELLTALE SIGNS: A bathing suit instead of shorts and a baseball cap covering his bald head. His Hawaiian-print shirt
is never buttoned, revealing pecs gone
to breasts and a monstrous gut that suggests every day is Miller Time.
QUOTABLE: "I could have played in the NFL if my high school coach didn't screw me by starting the other guy at right tackle."
CAN BE FOUND AT 3:47 a.m.: Prostrate and alone on his boat, complaining loudly that all women are "bitches.