Saturday, August 21, 2010


And then, about two years ago on my birthday I nonchalantly entered a bar with a friend.  The feature of the bar that was most appealing was that they would provide 10 shots for 10 dollars.  You may even know the bar I'm referring to.  I'd only been in there once before, and it was as advertised.  I'm no expert on measurement, but the ten shots looked skimpy that last time, when some crazy movie in the back blared at me in silence and my fellow compatriots stared off toward the front of the cavernous bar, insouciant as they could possibly be for that moment in time.  And it was filled with college-type folks, just trying to get their groove on.  No matter, for the cost of less than two beers, I'd have some hard liquor.  So when I went in on my birthday, it was maker's mark, their top 10 for 10 whiskey, that I desired.

As a side note, I really enjoy whiskey.  Not something that I used to partake in with any real comprehension.  When I catch myself staring into the boutique liquor store next to my office at the small batch bottles, their soft golden glow coming back to bathe my face, it is hard to fathom not drinking them again.  I have to remind myself at those points that the dream is far more pleasurable than the act.  For, at a not so distant time, I did purchase some excellent whiskey only to be slightly disappointed--there's a lot of context that goes into drinking for someone to enjoy the drink thoroughly and as close to the Platonic ideal as possible.  Timing,status of relationship to other people, level of accomplishment generally, etc.  Drinking does not escape the balancing of moral good in one's mental calculus--namely, that, if I just achieved something deemed objectively worthy, I deserve a drink, or some celebration (same formula for something objectively difficult, etc).  If I just walked out of oral exams to receive some graduate level degree, there would be very little obstacles in the way of drinking until I was bleary eyed--it would even be expected of me.  But perhaps the whiskey in the window was uniquely delicious because I couldn't ever actually partake in it's consumption while at work.  More specifically: the impossibility of drinking that whiskey, from that store, was not about drinking that whiskey at all, but not surprisingly, about blowing off my responsibilities, and the need to plan or control my future.  We all have the opportunity to think about our future/s from a short term to long term perspective, that's true.  But there's nothing like blowing off immediate level reality for a good whiskey binge.

Then again, there's nothing like the romanticized idyllic memory of doing something so stupid, either.

And so it was my birthday, not last year, but the year before.  When they brought us our 10 shots (the person I was drinking with was much smaller and  much less of an experienced imbiber, but expressed a sardonic urge to waste herself on whiskey.  Excuse me, did you just say you'll give me ten thousand dollars?  Let's go.

When the drinks came on a large tray, we started moving them to the table, but when about half remained, I hit the damn thing with my elbow and the drinks all spilled over on the tray.  What was left to do but turn the tray on it's side and guzzle it on down directly, to much laughter from surrounding tables?

We found ourselves a few hours later for a slice of pizza next to a small park.  The park itself isn't anything special, but it did have seats, and so I hopped the miniature fence and placed myself down on the bench.  The inane nature of Park and Recreation officers is almost ineffable, but they did choose that moment to come around the corner on a little scooter type vehicle.  I saw them and thought nothing of it, until they pulled up next to us and stopped.  I still thought that I could convince them that we so obviously placid and stoned on booze and pizza that our benign presence would surely expel any snivelly civil service abusing homeless folks who might come around, that, in fact, we provided a supplementary benefit to the city in this regard, but I was wrong.  So then, I told them it was my birthday. And, then, when they asked for our ids, I asked for their badge numbers and wrote them down in a muttering hand of pure indignation. I still have the oh-so-sorry looking page from that night.  In the end, I wasn't able to prove anything, and we both got tickets, and both decided retrospectively that we should have run for the subway at first sight of the glorified janitorial staff that zoomed around the west village on late summer nights.

The point isn't that you can slurp five shots at a time and get away with it.  The point isn't even that we had a good time.  The point may be closer to the fact that I had passed another good birthday in denial and slobber, blots of whiskey stain on my shirt to prove it.

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