Happy beer-fueled holidays
The quest to discover something horrible, finding it in the mirror and deciding to break said mirror.by Dave McAwesome
I am curled around the bowl in my bathroom, shaking and cold. I don't know the precise time except that it is not yet light out. The early hours of the day after Christmas are a time one imagines he must be the only one awake. Kids are satiated by their new toys. Parents are stuffed with holiday turkey and desserts. Couples are nuzzled together after meeting the other's psychotic relatives. I am curled around the bowl in my bathroom, shaking and cold.
On Christmas Eve, I thought of a good article idea: barhop as many drinking establishments in Manhattan on Christmas night and chronicle the human wreckage within. Yes, a fine thing to write about. It was too last-minute to pitch it to a magazine. I would have to write it first, then pitch the completed article (it ain't how it's usually done). I decided to do it anyway. It seemed an interesting thing to write about, paid or not. I'd hang out in some bars, talk to a bunch of people, drink beer and write it up. Not a bad night.
The streets of Manhattan were empty. I zig zagged across intersections. Only an occasional cab passed me, hungry for customers. I settled in at my first bar. I am a semi-regular there. I like the atmosphere and music. As long as one drinks bottled beer there instead of chancing the filthy taps or unwashed liquor glasses, odds of survival are good.
The long, massive mirror behind the bar is covered with stickers from bands and decorated with backstage passes. If you hunch low enough, you might see your reflection, blurred by the fuzzy coat of dust dressing the top-shelf liquor. This is not a top-shelf liquor kinda place.
I was the only one in the bar, but it was early yet and the bartender was cute. We talked about all sorts of nonsense while I threw back beers. The heat wasn't working and the cold December air chewed at my ears and fingertips. Another beer. I shrank in my jacket to keep warm. Another beer. The barstool dug its hooks in me. Another beer. I would not be leaving to visit the string of bars I'd planned. I would not be interviewing anybody. I would not be investigating the nature of people who had no where to go on Christmas. I would only catch a glimpse of myself in the smudgy, stickered mirror.
I wrote the following many beers and several shots into the evening. I notice that after a significant intake of alcohol, my writing style changes from 'witty' to 'raving.' Enjoy:
"Can't even concentrate on the paper. Unable to move, unable to think, unable to write. The painful veil of illusion. A shot is placed in front of me by the bartender. It is an ugly scene. Angry thoughts and unpleasant memories. How is one to cope? I am scribbling sentences without realizing the import of anything. What am I to do? The room is dizzy. I am dizzy. I can hardly get my bearings."
Apparently, my conversation with the bartender touched on the Iron Chef, a brilliant tongue-in-cheek cooking show from Japan uproariously dubbed into English. An American version of the show would follow. I am not a fan of the clone. Neither, according to my notes, was she. I do not recall a single word of our conversation.
"That fact that I can relate to her on any level is a frightening prospect. And yet here she is, rejecting any but the Japanese version of Iron Chef. To not get her number is a failure of terrible proportions."
Yes, ahem. Bad things were afoot. My ravings disintegrated into a hideous, indecipherable scrawl. (I was never able to decode evidence of a phone number, hers or otherwise.) Somehow I stumbled out of the bar to the subway home.
Tequila can be a dangerous liquor to some constitutions. Mixed as a margarita, it is light and fun. As a shot, it is a slick, oily drink. Chased with beer, it is a dark, corruptive force. Repeatedly chased with beer in an unsanitary glass at a grimy bar by a bartender with the sniffles, tequila is liquid death.
Here's a quick list of better ideas than drinking liquor in a dirty glass from a cesspool of a bar.
- Walk through animal pens at slaughterhouse. Lick shoe.
- Collect all the drippings at the bottom of your trash bag for a month. Dump in tub. Bathe.
- Root for the New York Jets.
I'm twice damned since I've been a Jets fan forever and a day.
A few minutes after collapsing on my cold, unmade bed, I lurched awake. During the next eight hours, I would not leave the bathroom for more than five minutes at a time. The brief forays into the kitchen to fetch tea, water, crackers and bread were rewarded by immediate deposits into the bowl. The crackers were still dry, the water still cold.
Then it snowed. Due to the severe dehydration and dizziness (and disproportionate amount of time alternatively spent wrapped around the toilet and lying prone on the cold bathroom floor), my memory is far too soupy to remember which day it snowed. Was it the day after Christmas? Or the day after that? Either way, I was in sorry shape. That I trudged out into the slushy mess and shovel it aside stands as my sole accomplishment that week. I am not proud.
One friend to whom I related this story asked, "Do we need to have an intervention?" And take away the one thing that dulls the pain? No, no. Certainly not. Now, if you have any further questions, I'll be at the bar.