What I Miss About Drinking
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!
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