My mom told me that whiskey makes a man mean. “But you don’t have to worry about a guy who just drinks beer.”
Consuming more than 1.5 beers gives me a stomachache.
I can’t drink vodka any more, since the “incident” last summer. Even the slightest whiff of a friend’s Stoli and Red Bull evokes the insides-turning-outsides sensation of having one’s stomach pumped. And I don’t even want to discuss the endless pitchers of vodka-and-cherry-Kool-Aid I sucked down on my 23rd birthday. The subsequent weepy vomiting episode left an unappealing scarlet stain around the perimeter of my mouth.
And then there are the times I’ve nearly blacked out after mixing Colt 45 and Boone’s super sugar-fest wine. That hasn’t happened since college, I swear.
Some people think that gin makes them sad. I’m not sure about that, but right now, after three stiff gin-and-tonics, I’m feeling a little slurry and mistake-prone.
I am more concerned with another issue: Why do I always turn into a drunken mess when I hang out with my ex-boyfriend Brad?
Yeah, obviously the three cocktails are pushing me ever closer to Drunk Land. But why I am I drinking so much?
It never fails. I always prove to Brad that I am an undredeemable fuck-up. Either I’ve accidentally eaten three times the standard LSD dose the night before (and therefore, saying crazier shit–than usual) or I magically lose my wallet while we’re having dinner. Maybe my neck and arms are covered with incriminating bruises. Or my wrinkly clothes and slightly gamey smell reveal that I never went home the night before.
But more frequently, I just drink too much and start revealing the sorts of things one should never, EVER say to an ex-boyfriend.
“I’m hung up on this guy who will never love me back.”
“I really should stop sleeping around. But it’s an important part of growing up, right?”
“Yeah, I don’t know…one minute I was at Earwax, and the next minute I was on my way to MIchigan with some guy I met five minutes previously.”
I know that he thinks I’m crazy. God knows he wishes I would wake up one day, magically cured of all neuroses and psychoses. I would no longer lose my house keys and spend hours crying next to the dryer.
The thing is…I’m a lot better than I was during our four year relationship. I no longer hurl coffee tables across the living room in a fit of rage. I’m not continuously plotting elaborate suicide attempts.
Yes, a few months ago I did take too many drugs and fall asleep on the El in the wee hours.
And of course, there was that time when I intentionally overdosed because I was convinced that I had to die to free myself of Ryan.
Okay, okay. Yes, I’m still a little crazy. But I swear I’m not some self-destructive, tear-soaked mess.
I’m working it out. Sometimes mistakes breed growth.
I really started this afternoon on the right foot: freshly showered, wallet securely in my possession, and completely sober. I even wore a helmet for the ride over here, foiling his plans to give me a fatherly lecture on the scintillating subject of bike safety.
But here I am, drunk in the late afternoon at a dive bar in Wrigleyville.
Naturally, he’s in yet another happy, well-adjusted relationship. And he’s a scientist. Rational. Calm. A good credit score.
He doesn’t comment when I order a fourth drink.
“So what else is going on? How is life down in the valley of the hipsters?” This is said with the appropriate level of derision, as every Chicago resident is required to act as if Wicker Park is the second circle of Hell.
I squeeze the likely bacteria-ridden lime into my drink. “It’s great. Special Wicker Park scientists are working on elevating pants to a new level of tightness. They are applied with an aerosol can.”
We both smirk.
He’s waiting for me to say something real.
“Well, honestly, things are feeling complicated lately.”
Oh no. I’m crossing the line. We try not to talk about people we are dating. Or more accurately, we never mention his girlfriend Tessa. He just drops a lot of “we.”
On the other hand, Brad loves hearing about my list of hipster conquests. And then he gives them nicknames. Like “Sportmarty.” That guy lived near the Sportmart on Clark. Clever, yes.
He calls Ryan “Faux Steve.” I may have mentioned that he bears a striking resemblance to my long time junior high crush, Steve Wiley. In retrospect, I must have been drunk when I said that, because nothing could be further from the truth.
“So yeah, this whole thing with Ryan is really killing me. I just don’t know what to do. It’s like, want to get away but I can’t get away because I really don’t want to get away?”
Apparently gin just leads to ill-informed statements (and sometimes public vomiting).
He just shakes his head. What can he really say?
“I have to say, for a while there, I thought about sending you an SOS. LIke, climbing on my roof and waving flags in the right code. It’s too bad I didn’t pay attention during that semaphore lesson in Brownies.”
His nodding head implies understanding.
I should stop talking now, but–”Well, I just was getting really wrapped in drugs . Like, real drugs. Not the wacky tobacc-y, you know? And you know, I always wondered how people got involved in this kind of thing. Because everyone knows that certain drugs only lead to addiction, disaster, and death. But then suddenly, there I was, spending my paychecks on tiny plastic bags.”
He is trying to pretend that this idea is not horrifying.
“I am serious about quitting it, but it’s hard because I guess it’s just a big part of my relationship with Ryan.” Oh man, that sounds fucked up.
This is probably the moment where he decides “Amanda is still a disaster.”
But I’m not done incriminating myself.
“So we broke up again And then I went on this binge. But then I promised to stop after that. And I guess we got back together, but I’ve been good about staying out of trouble.”
A huge gulp of gin. “It’s just so hard. Because the person I love most is still into it, I think. I mean, I made him promise not to tell me what he was doing. Still, I can tell.”
I’m not drunk enough to squash a sudden sensation of embarrassment. Time for an abrupt subject change, before I dig a deeper hole. “So how’s your family?”
He laughs. “Well, Sharkie’s still alive.” This is his baby brother’s goldfish.
“Not bad for a prize from the York Fair! “
Now if I can just make it out through the next two hours without tripping, crying or spilling my bag, everything will be just fine.