I was in my friend Darlin's house a few summers ago. Up on the corkboard on the wall, surrounded by other pictures of family, there's this one of this girl who is wearing a purple velvet dress and making kissy face at the camera. "Uh, who's this?", I said.
"Oh, that's my sister," Darlin' said. "She drank so much
that year." Then she shook her head in a way that made her seem like a proud mother.
Oh, and I know what she means. There's just those years where your consumption runs horribly/wonderfully out of control. This last year of emotional convalescence has been that one for me. At the end of last summer, I felt a little better about myself, so I decided to keep on with my behavior patterns as they were. Naturally, this eventually led to me no longer feeling good, but then still continuing with the thing that does not work, since...Well, it worked in the past.
When I'm not feeding my raging addiction to alcohol, tobacco and food, I'm indulging my addiction to recorded music. I went to an estate sale the other day, and picked up a few records: Webb Pierce, Donovan, Henri Rene and Elton John. The Elton Disc has the song "Social Disease" on it, in which he describes his drunk self as a destuctive force of nature.
"And the days get longer and longer
And the nighttime is of little use
For I just get ugly and older..."
It's right up there with David Sedaris's story, 'Barrel Fever'. It's not some tale of someone so completely out of control that they can't make it in this world, but someone who is just smart enough not to make an ass out of themselves in public, and nonetheless is doing themselves in. Hm. What'd he have to say about that again?
"Drunk? I had, you know, some drinks but I wasn't slobbering or anything. I wasn't singing or asking in a weary voice if I will ever find love. I probably couldn't have passed a Breathalyzer test, but what does that matter if you're sitting in your own home?"
And there's the rub. I'm a person who can kill entire evenings sitting here in Bachelor Pad One, reading and listening to music, which sounds pretty healthy, but it should be noted that I'm getting stewed the entire time. It's not a death wish as such, but there's a certain amount of that pseudo-Buddhist obliviation of the ego spun horribly out of control, leading ultimately to the negation of the self.
The other night, the Gringa Alta was over here, and we got all spun up in some linguistic debate that I really don't think should have turned into the full blown argument that it became. As she left, she said, "There's been too many times when I've been sober over here, and you've been wasted, and it's just sad because sometimes you can
I wanted to say, "Well, maybe I can reason circles around you like this because one of me drunk is worth two of you sober." But I didn't, because for starters it's not true, and also because it would only be said for purposes of hurt, not clearing up a damn thing.
I live in a milieu of people who can get drinks with lunch, and the baby step I've been trying to take lately involves not
turning the one or two drinks with lunch into six. This has had mixed results. Whenever The Tulsa Kid and Baby Bulldog and I get together, we sit there and talk about our lives, and it's stuff that we don't share, outside the Table, and is lubricated by his inevitable Spanish coffees, her inevitable glasses of red wine, and my inevitable Maker's rocks. Good things are being done there, so how could anyone question drunkenness on our parts?
Mitigating factors: I am now sharing this space I live in with a kid fresh off the boat from upstate New York who doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs. Nevertheless, he parties harder than any of us. His drug is sex, and I envy him for it. I just told him tonight that, while I enjoy dancing and staying out all night, I didn't feel like going downtown, or like being in a dance club. I know my damn limits. The other mitigating factor is that I'm shovelling my ass back into school in the fall. I've been threatening for years to become a 911 dispatcher, and this year, I'm making good on the threat.
I have a soothing voice, a calming presence, the ability to stay calm in stressful situations, and above all else, the knowledge of when I can help, and when I can't. I won't be able to do this bon vivant thing anymore, at that point. I've always been into consciousness alteration, and always will be. I will do this, but to a much abbreviated degree. Mind you, yoga gets me higher than a motherfucker, too, and maybe that will be my drug.
But you just gotta give it up for how good an evening on the high seas can be. Bobby Massage, the Iranian Goddess and (well, Mike and James: no pseudonyms for them, as yet) I rode out to a cliff in the middle of the Gorge the other night to watch the Perseid meteor showers. It was wonderful in that all we were doing was drinking in the back of a pickup, watching the celestial fireworks and laughing hysterically, but little things like that save lives. I rarely laugh out loud, because most things and most people don't really do it for me, humor wise. I'm also a person who is quick to notice the humorous aspect of any situation, paradoxically. Well, anyway, the Iranian Goddess is the funniest person I know, hands down, and I was keeping up with her pretty well the other night. Someone suggested that we need to start a comedy duo.
Yesss...But it's going to be a heavy metal band, called 'Deathhander'.
Every summer, I make a summer fun mix. Here's the track listing so far:
"Sympathique"-Pink Martini ("I am not proud of this life that wants to kill me...", but in French
"Stars and Sons"-Broken Social Scene
"Clocks"-The Casual Dots
"Love Vigilantes"-New Order
"Forever Now"-The Psychedelic Furs
"Union City Blue"-Blondie
"Combination of the Two"-Big Brother and the Holding Company
"Shake Appeal"-The Stooges
"Wonder Drug"-A.C. Newman
"Get It On"-The Woodentops
"Look What the Wind Blew In"-Thin Lizzy
"Touch and Go"-Magazine
"Funky Dollar Bill"-Funkadelic (from the fantastic album, 'Free Your Mind, and Your Ass will Follow'; a revolutionary document)
"Why Can't You Be Nicer To Me?"-the White Stripes
"Inside Looking Out"-The Animals
"There but for the Grace of God go I"-The Gories
"Celebration Day"-Led Zeppelin
"Angel From the Coast"-Thin Lizzy
"Mood to Burn Bridges"-Neko Case ("So if you have moral advice, suggest you just tuck it all away...")
"Say What You Will"-Fastway
"I Love You, You Dummy"-Magazine (a song dealing with my thoughts about the Gringa, it may be dropped from the list, and replaced with Thin Lizzy's "Honesty Is No Excuse")
"KC Accidental"-Broken Social Scene
"Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day"-Sir Walter Raleigh (a Northwest garage band of the early '60's)
"Never Say Die"-Black Sabbath
and (provisionally), "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" by Traffic, which may or may not stay, since I think it is a very stupid song, but I like the music. Its thesis is basically from the point of view of a hippie who is telling his girlfriend that he feels that she is a slut, is crazy, and basically needs to shut up and take a bonghit. Like I said, I like the music.
And yes, "Social Disease" maybe will get a place on the playlist here. I don't know. I know that there is such thing as jinxing one's-self.
The last song probably needs to be the White Stripes' "Your Southern Can Is Mine":
"Baby don't be bringin' no jive to me, your southern can is mine
(I'm sayin') Your southern can belongs to me"
I can think of a few people that that one applies to. I have a fairly extensive list, in fact, of southerners who'd better watch their ass next time they see me.
Labels: my personals