By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
But here, since it's the assignment, is what I miss about proper drinking: everything. I miss dancing with rhythm. I miss fighting with strangers. I miss having really good stories to tell the next day. I miss getting involved with inappropriate men—and in fact just this week I decided to give men up, too! Not in favor of women—I've always found lesbianism more interesting in theory than in practice—but in favor of some kind of frigid ice-princess mystique (I'm shooting for, say, three months) wherein I learn to love myself or become one of those fabulously ambitious persons who's too busy for a relationship or somesuch horseshit. I'll probably just end up watching even more TV—or, like with my drinking, not giving up men at all. I've never been much of a one for willpower.
Hey, you know what sounds good right now? An Absolut rocks with a twist: it's the twist that makes it delicious!
But just two.
I've known I was a lush since I was 18 and working at the Santa Barbara Independent; it wasn't hard to get served on State Street, especially since I would call all the bar owners every week for their Calendar listings, and they would invite me down and set the barkeeps to pouring. One night, when I was a dozen kamikazes in, the bar manager at Zelo assigned me my own personal bouncer to watch over me as I lay passed out in the alley, occasionally sitting up to vomit and move back a few feet from what became a 20-foot trail of puke; in case of cops or harassing passersby, I was to be picked up and lugged inside. I always thought that was the sweetest thing!
I liked being the girl who got an automatic shot every time a round was being poured. I liked being a girl who could go from the Four Seasons to the Fling. I liked being the first person to suggest a drink when running into an acquaintance midafternoon, and their initial discomfort and then ready acquiescence at my thrilling idea. I liked my mild hangovers—they seemed to bring a heightened clarity with them and always served as a badge of the good time I'd had the night before. And I liked my self-image: fast-living, hard-drinking and trash-mouthed, but in an interesting, intelligent, bohemian, worldly, very functional and un-Tara Reid kind of way. I found that to be just the height of sophistication.
* * *
Except that I was right at the end of 15 years of "functional," I think, and headed quick for "sloppy." I didn't like getting a ride home from a man I had an intense crush on, making him pull over so I could throw up, and then, when I leaned out the door, cutting a huge, roaring fart aimed right at the driver's seat. (That actually happened a long time ago, but it's the kind of thing that stays with you.) And I didn't like the last two times I got smashed, within a week of each other, crying—sobbing, gulping—in public. Being taped on top of a piano is one thing—one very funny thing, as far as I'm concerned—but weeping soon after is notthat thing. It's a different thing and, I would venture, a less-good one. When my mother intoned thoughtfully, "There will come a day when you'll no longer look cute on a barstool," and when my dad made prissy, bitchy little remarks about my drinking, I was close to the point where I would believe them. But what would I do then?
Pop quiz! Who would you rather hang out with: Someone drinking and jigging and crawling into your lap, or someone attending a scrapbooking party? (Correct answer: duh.) I've been dreaming for a while of the freedom I'll have when my boy graduates from high school in just six years—untethered from our suburbs, I could be all that I could be. I could be a stewardess! I could join the Army! I could move to the ghetto! And drink a lot! But I'm noticing that now, even when my boy's away for the weekends, I pretty much move from computer to television and back again. (This is not helpful for a nightlife columnist.) I haven't the faintest idea what to do with myself that doesn't involve dark men and darker bars.
I think I'm having a midlife crisis, but I don't have a wife I can trade in, I don't need implants (being a Jewess is its own reward), and I actively loathe Corvettes. I'd run for office, but I've got a bit of a past, lovingly recorded for your amusement over the past eight years, and I've called a lot of people twats and Nazis, making friends and influencing people pretty much everywhere I go.
Well, it's nice time now. No more Crazy Rita, but a grave, sober scrapbooker.
I think we'll just have lots of fun!