Three AM, New Year’s morning, 2014. I can’t sleep, and it isn’t because of the excitement, or because of unruly memories. It’s because of a piece of chocolate cake at 11:30 that was big enough to boost the morning’s and afternoon’s modest doses of caffeine, and shoot me over until dawn. I’m doing the unthinkable – drinking a sort of Manhattan after taking Lorazepam and antihisthamines. It’s a sort of Manhattan because I have no cherry, no bitters, and no ice (it’s winter; who needs more ice?). What I do have is Makers Mark bourbon and Noilly Pratt sweet vermouth. Except for a sip here and there of someone else’s wine, it’s the first drink I’ve had in a couple of years.
In high school, my parents went away for a weekend and my friend Gayle and I made dinner at my house for our boyfriends. (Drinking was involved.) We made spaghetti and salad and bread. The bread was such a rock that I hurt my boyfriend’s foot when I dropped in on the floor, and the spaghetti sauce was as congealed as condensed soup because I kept adding tomato paste because it seemed too thin; my mother just cooked it down for a couple of hours, but I always thought I could think of a better way. That night I made out with Eddie on my parents’ bed and found out that he had something at the front of him that hurt, but I wasn’t sure what it was. The Girl Scouts were going to explain all these things to us, but I’d quit the Girl Scouts in 9th grade.
In college, we snuck into apple orchards after midnight and drank beer. I went into my low blood sugar facsimile of catatonia, and my date went on about how I reminded him of a Bergman film, and I seemed “so deep.” All the time I was thinking, to the extent that I could think, “I’m not saying ONE WORD to this guy. I don’t want to be with him, and talking to him will just encourage him.”
In Philadelphia, my work friends and I threw a birthday party, or maybe it was a wedding shower, in my apartment. Deep into the evening, my boss approached a close friend of mine and said “But how is Diane going to get home?” I’m thinking he was probably pretty drunk, too.
Another time, I used somebody’s fiancée’s legs that were propped up on a coffee table as parallel bars, and did somersaults around them. I had to ask about that later, because I wasn’t sure if it was a memory, or a dream. It happened.
I didn’t throw up from 2nd grade through about the age of 28 – when I tried to go to bed (or nrf, as the keyboard would have it) while drunk, made the mistake of opening my eyes, saw the room spinning around me, and rushed to the toilet bowl to break my 21 year record. A record that has remained unbroken to this day, chemo notwithstanding.
There were times in my 20s when I drank alone late at night, and wrote, and usually ended up calling a paramour who lived 5 states away and accusing him of things. He later never would tell me what I had accused him of, but he held a grudge.
I never had a drinking problem but have always had low blood sugar, so alcohol just sort of dwindled down to nothing in my life, without conscious thought. In my “drinking” days I once got drunk on the foam on top of a margharita. The only time in my adult life that I drank with no ill side-effects was in Amsterdam – I drank plenty of Scotch, probably Chivas, got the nice buzz that everybody who doesn’t have low blood sugar talks about, and no hangover. It must have been something about the water in Amsterdam. (And Leif Beiderman, a Swedish guy who kissed like the grille of a 1957 Cadillac.)
At any rate, alchohol mostly vanished from my life over time. Except for tonight – I’m writing this with a bit of a buzz which will soon turn to its characteristic catatonia – exactly what is needed to oppose a bit too much caffeine. I probably won’t have another drink until 2016.
We’re feeling pretty good right now here in the woods on the first day of 2014. After the first drink, I cut some cheddar cheese (to coat the stomach, you know – better late than blah blah blah), and Sophie has joined me to share the cheese. I may be at this point insentient enough to try going to bed again.
The point of this post is that I might still be a virgin if it had not been for alcohol. Let that be a lesson.
And all you artists, writers, photographers, and general sources of light in the world, gather your forces for 2014 and make it a great one.