For some people, it's not enough to run with scissors or play with fire.
In their "devil-may-care" universe, there's nothing like a good tropical storm to inspire a visit to a waterfront bar.
"Hurricane parties," a staple of southern Florida and Gulf of Mexico communities, are probably as old as the storms themselves. Although Isabel might not be an official hurricane by the time it reaches Maryland, it is not stopping some folks from having a good time.
At the Naughty Gull Pub in Solomons, general manager Stefon White did not plan to cancel his "two for one" dinner special tonight, despite being just 30 feet from the water.
"Every night's a party night here," he said. "We're right beside the Holiday Inn, and those folks are going to have to go somewhere to eat and drink."
And the drink du jour? "The hurricane," he said of the rum-based cocktail. "Is there any other choice?"
While there weren't any hurricane parties planned at Annapolis restaurants, many owners seemed as determined as White to keep the lights on.
"We'll be open as long as we can," said Brice Phillips, whose family owns Phillips, less than 100 yards from the water on Dock Street. Phillips said that several groups had made reservations for large parties today and tomorrow, and "we want to serve them."
"We've got two entrances," he said. "If water comes up to one of them, we'll try and stay open. If it comes to both, we'll close."
Being one of the few places open on a stormy night is a big draw.
Eileen "J.R." Hvizda, bartender at the Happy Harbor Inn for 26 years, won't be on duty tonight, but she will be at the Deale bar.
"[Water has] come as high as the steps but never into the bar," said Hvizda, who remembers Hurricane Hazel in 1954. "We have flashlights. We cook with gas. We'll be good. We always get busy when it starts to blow. We're always packed."
If people in Deale can't get home because of high water, the Elks Lodge down the road will open as an emergency shelter, said Hvizda, a lodge official.
Even the landlocked were planning to party. At the Phoenix Emporium on Main Street in Ellicott City, owner Mark Hemmis used finger paint to write: "Hurricane Party Thursday at 9:00 [p.m.] Welcome Isabel."
Hemmis said he wasn't sure how many people would show up, but "we'll give it a shot."
Quentin Banks, spokesman for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, said people would be wise to stay at home. "It's not a good idea to take this lightly, but I'm not entirely surprised that people aren't," he said.
Banks said that this year - a year after a deadly tornado hit LaPlata - the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the town, and it was ignored by a restaurant owner there who didn't want to disturb his customers.
"When you get a warning like that, you've got 7 or 8 minutes. ... Why do people ignore warnings? Because they don't take things seriously until they're right on top of them, and then it may be too late," said Banks.
The talk of danger seemed out of place yesterday at City Dock in Annapolis as visitors strolled the streets, eating ice cream and snapping pictures.
"What happens will happen," said Bowie resident Rodney Patterson, sipping a Coke on his powerboat, Mother Bernice. I'm going to enjoy my day."
At Red Eye's Dock Bar on Kent Island, manager Mark Billups said he'll keep the indoor bar open unless winds exceed 50 mph and the surge tops 5 feet. "I usually have locals who come out in this stuff," he said.
Not everyone was in a party mood. Down the street from the Naughty Gull, Tiki Bar owner Kathy Taylor said she was taking no chances.
"Open? Absolutely not," said Taylor, whose establishment has seen 24 years of weather. "All the mai tais are going to be secured. We'll be serving them again as soon as the storm's through."
What drives people from the comfort of their homes and into a waterfront bar?
"People are not good at assessing their own risks," said Dr. Rudolf Mortimer, retired professor of Safety and Accident Prevention at the University of Illinois. "They say, `It's not going to happen here, and it's not going to happen to me.'"
There might be other factors at play, said Dr. Alisa Bahl-Long, a professor of psychology at Towson University.
One is a lack of experience with risk factors. People who have experienced gale-force winds and high water tend to avoid those elements.
Another, she said, is what might be called bravado.
"There's something rewarding in the ability to overcome danger or a threat. But that's only worthwhile if you can share the experience or tell a great story," she said. "If you couldn't tell someone about the experience, about riding out a hurricane, you probably won't do it."
But Billups has a simpler explanation: "Alcohol."
Sun staff writer Gus G. Sentementes contributed to this article.