It was my parent and these little mini bottles. Toys really. The sun was warm and we were in the back yard. My parent believed we needed to know good liqueur from bad and how to order drinks for women. Mad Men had yet to be made for decades but back then the world was still set up like that. Men needed to know how to order a lady a drink, and women needed to know what she was being slipped. I guess it was educational. Not uncommon in the little suburb of motley and sundry plain houses we dwelled within. It was an age before cameras and social media, back when we had private lives and did whatever without fear from the forces of Mother State and Father culture wars.
As kids we made dandelion wine. Some booze was always around us. Just open and unlocked. It was not until I was well to the legal age that I had a full shot at a bar. And while I don’t prefer shots the educational institution I attended for my formative years was a boozy one and the kids I knew while younger had been practicing drinking since middle school and while I could drink any if them but the strongest males under the table, I was not in the least inclined to binge but for special occasions until I heard on some TeeVee program that bingeing is having more than four drinks in a night and I realized while I didn’t feel the impacts and rarely was hung over, I was indeed bingeing from college on. Not that my first real hang over was in Russia after drinking shot for shot with solders… As I remember. Waking up in the Trans Siberian with the wall of my couchette covered in puke – the windows out in the hall — and cleaning this up before my bunk mates before the train woke up and before returning to my soviet style bed on the soviet train rocketing through the screaming wilds of Mother Rus at every kilometer wishing I would die.
Being in education has not helped. It is a boozy profession. All goddamn frustrated wives, creatives, intellectuals and profoundly retarded being tortured by children and administrators and test companies and by an entire phalanx of yelling parents and small government fucktards and liberal weepies and Save The Children types and being paid slightly better than a dishwasher… Enough to make anyone take the bottle or Plath style stick one’s head in an oven of one’s own…
Gotham is a boozy city. No city I have been to outside of Moscow or New Orleans encourages such excess. Meet for a drink is the way Gothamists keep up with friends, meet lovers, do business, play with their descendants and antecedents. However, the city weeds out the functional from the unfunctional drinkers as the bills and the rent is too damn high. Failed drinkers either retreat to second or third cities or go into recovery and move to Woodstock.
There was a time I had been to every bar in the east village cum alphabet city. Then too many opened up for my liver/job to keep up. I retreated to Williamsburg and again the goddamn bars opened up fast and furious and I was in Bushwick before I gave up, tossed in the towel and started searching for that one spot, that one bar I would go to where everybody knew my name and I could at last be a regular… Occasional regular since I had 1-4 jobs. I have not found that bar outside of one in Grand Central Terminal. Yes, in a place of movement and change I return when I can to the only bar where I know the bar tender’s name and he knows mine.
It is a place, strangely enough, frozen in time from those long ago years when my parent taught me what a bar was and wasn’t and how to order a drink or have a drink ordered and how to be the kind of drinker who tossed down a martini and never got a wrinkle in my dress or suit or whatever I was wearing. The wood panels, the nautical theme in a train station. The dead zone for cell phones so there is no contact with today other than the daily oyster specials change with market conditions and when one variety is sold out it’s crossed off the list with a ball point pen.
There is an old adage, Italian perhaps, that you can’t trust a man that doesn’t drink wine. The same is true for that man that tucks in too much, or as they used to say before they medicalized the condition, “didn’t know his limits.” In the competition that is Gotham, that is the moderne condition, bar attending is another point in the Game of Life. To be able to drink just to the hair of excess but always pull back from the gloom, from the darkness, the screaming madness and swooning of the lost. Perhaps that is what college was really there to teach us.
How to pass the bar.
Editor’s Note: In Thirty Rants in Thirty Day (a blog a day) I am writing on an Phone of i and in doing so have learned that Autocorrect is my enema as as the small virtual keypsd.