Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Brains/Grits

Family Reunion Rave Party


Break time for a little while. I'm heading up to northern Wisconsin for several days. My fate there will probably include dysentary, bleeding orifices, delerium, and execution by gunshot to the back of the head. I wish to be cremated. I want banjo music at the funeral and cheap bourbon to be served.

If, by chance, I return, you may hear from me next week.
10:33 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wrist Opening Day

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When I rolled off my mattress into a graveyard of empty beer cans, pop bottles, and two overflowing ashtrays, I realized my life is long overdue for an aggressive regimen of simplification. I need stark purity. I need streamlining. I need masochistic discipline. Time to clean absolutely everything until it shines to blindness.

The symptoms are overwhelming. Every payday eve I rue the frivolous purchase of energy drinks in the morning, the harmful inhalations of thirty cigarettes a day, the frequent ten dollar hot lunches from purveyors of exotic cuisine. Then there's the 100 cheap beers a week, all in the evenings.

That's just the financial aspect. There's my health and happiness to consider, too. Aside from the tobacco, all this sludgy fuckery has made me slow. I've suffered two weeklong illnesses so far this month, and it's only the 23rd. One was fevers and aches, the current one, brochitis. Besides the illnesses, my general state of being leaves a great deal to be desired. I'm so lethargic and morose that I've lost my appetites for friendship, creativity, sex, conversation, and tomorrow. I'm coasting on autopilot. I'm a sad shut-in. I'm fucking appalled with myself.

My recourse: removal. Erase all my habits. Subtract my entire lifestyle.

I'll eat less. I eat all the time when I'm not hungry. Usually, this is just a salve for boredom. Exercise will make a spectacular substitute. The mild beergut will melt off, my muscles will define themselves, and my step will spring once again.

I'll change my diet. Fruits, vegetables, brown bag lunches. I'll get all those wonderful vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and save some cash in the process. No more italian beefs and chesseburgers and hefty plates of Pad Thai and Curry Beef. Pizza can fuck off. Not only will my temple thrive, my step will spring once again.

I'll quit smoking. Last time I did this, I lasted four months. I became a high-strung asshole. My inner tension led me to lash out in all directions, snapping derisive verbal jabs at people I like. I grew holier than thou. Not about smoking, but in other ways. (I will never, ever be able to chide someone for smoking cigarettes.) Playing a song I hated was grounds for me to burn down a friend's entire span of cultural interests in one hateful rant. The slightest criticism of me was grounds for me to shred the merits of that friend's deepest hopes and dreams. I was a nasty fuck. This will probably happen again. But, I figure, it's part of this whole simplification process. This will not help my step spring. Not a bit. I'll be lucky not to kick dogs and chew people's ears off.

Alcohol. If I quit smoking, the booze has to go, too. If you take the shithead I just described above and give him a couple drinks, he becomes five times worse, loses his clothing, and urinates in inappropriate places. See my archives from January to April 2005 for examples. No smokes? No booze. Clean Steve, all the way, and damn the withdrawals.

So what will I do to fill these voids? Easy.

I'll wander around like a crackhead, wondering at the sunrays, gaping at babies in strollers, a simpleton with no brain activity, wandering lost and bereft. I've always liked walking, and there's so many places to stroll. I may get bored from time to time, but it'll be for my own good. This will also separate me from my friends, keeping all my potential victims strangers.

I'll read books at bus stops, in grassy parks, on el station platforms. I'll be a city idiot, purposeless and aimless, a rube among sophisticates. Oh yeah, I'll stumble through libraries, too!

Without all the greasy fast food, poisonous cigarettes, and sloppy libations, basically, all the crappy things I use as substitues for living like a real human being, I'll be some sort of serene Zen fuckface with a santimonious expression but not a word of judgement to offer.

I will be empty, clean, and ready to write my mind anew.

Or, I'll be hopelessly adrift, disconnected from myself, and deeply depressed.

It might be a new leaf for me. More likely, though, upon success, I'll be celebrating Wrist Opening Day.

8:23 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Warpaint And Gratitude

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Here's the third of five columns I wrote a few months ago for the alcoholics' website.

Never once did I consider the notion that my very best friends would do something like this to me. Not even in my ugliest moment of paranoia did I believe they would look at my prone, drunken, snoring body and think to themselves, "I should vandalize him."

I remember a party about two years ago. My friend invited thirty people to his house, drank a fifth of vodka and several beers, and by midnight, hobbled off to his room to sleep it off. Most of his guests weren’t even there yet.

I kept an eye on the scene. I made sure nobody kicked over his television, threw his potted plants out the windows, ate his cats, or urinated in his refrigerator. I played the stern yet benevolent host while my buddy farted, wheezed, and snored the night away in bed.

At three in the morning I saw two girls rummaging through the junk drawer. I eyed them suspiciously and approached them with stealth from behind. When they seized the thick black permanent marker, held it aloft, giggled, and then bolted down the hallway, I knew trouble was brewing. I followed them.

I stopped them just in time. If it wasn’t for my diligence, my friend would’ve awoken with dicks drawn on his cheeks, FAGGOT written on his forehead, and mayonnaise all over the crotch of his pants. I prevented a disaster for him, and I almost needed violence to stop those girls. They recruited others, prankster friends with makeup kits and art supplies, and together they tried to storm his room. It ended with this:

"For the last time, NO! I already said no several times. Back the fuck off or I WILL HURT YOU. I will punch a man wearing glasses, and I will punch a girl. If you make me. Don’t make me. Now: OUT! Get the fuck out of this room."

That did it. Little did I know that not only would my protection go unappreciated, but the very friend I saved would one day splash my passed out face with zombie makeup. Yes, he knew I saved him that night. Plenty of folks, including me, told him all about it. That’s why I was so shocked to wake up like this last Sunday morning:

(rubbing my face) "Ohhhh... fuck. I need some water."

(noticing the slippery slickness on my face) "What the…"

(looking at my hands, seeing red, black, and white, comprehension dawning slowly) "Why is this…"

I sat up and looked around. Two of my buddies, including the one I saved, were smiling ear to ear and looking guilty.

I stood up. They backed up. "Who did this? You?"

"Yeah, sorry dude, but it was funny."

He began walking away. I wasn’t letting him off with a weak bullshit apology like that. Oh no. I was furious. No apologies would satisfy me. Real consequences were necessary. I would not tolerate such humiliation. Ever.

I stomped up behind him, grabbed him by the shoulder, spun him around, and planted my fist square on his jaw. He went down. Who else? I looked around. There was the accomplice.

"You too? Did you help?"

"Not really."

"That means a little. You fucking fuck."

I tried to punch him in the face, too, but my aim was a little off. I punched him in the neck. He grabbed a stool and prepared to swing it. I charged.

"Whatcha gonna do with that? Huh? Show me? Come on! Try me. Please, please try me."

He set it down and raised his hands.

"Nothing, man. Maybe I deserved that." His neck was red for hours.

"In my own house. Goddamn you assholes. If this ever happens again, I fucking promise your fingers will be broken. I’ll kick your fucking ribs in until they puncture your vital organs. Do you understand?"

"I’m sorry. Really."

"Me too."

"Fuck both of you. I don’t need your sorries, cause I already took ‘em out of your fucking faces. Do you understand my warning? I will employ brutal violence. Are we clear?"

In silence, they nodded.

12:41 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Tailspin Tiki Tickle

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This is the first of the aforementioned columns.

"I’m turning 21 at midnight! You gotta come drink with me!"

"Sure, absolutely! You’re finally getting your juice card! This is great! Where at?"

"There’s a little tiki bar on River Road. Lots of fruity drinks full of yummy goodness. I’m gonna try to keep my composure and not get too trashed. Plus I’ll have my girlfriends there to protect me from all the sleazy guys trying to take the drunk chick home for a one night stand."

"They can’t protect you from me. I’ll ply you with vodka and rough kisses until you submit."

"You can try!"

"You know that place is practically in my backyard, right? I mean, I can walk out my front door, walk around the side, go up River Road about 100 yards, and I’m at the bamboo door. No driving necessary."

"Really."

"Yep. We won’t have to flee very far. Assuming, that is, that you’re still capable of standing upright."

"That’s a big maybe. I’ve never been much of a drinker."

"Well, don’t worry, I’ll hold your hair away from your face when you’re spraying puke at the hanging sea urchin decorations."

"You’re all class."

"Momma raised me right. I’m a gentleman, the genuine article."

"I hope not."

I arrived just past midnight, decked out in ragged blue jeans, boat slippers, and collared silk. I felt like a bohemian software designer who got lost on the way to a coffee shop. I swaggered in, looking for the girl who looked a tad young to be drinking anywhere but in her parents’ basement, or maybe a forest preserve. There she was, all dolled up, eyes big and bright and a little bit scared. She looked like a rookie.

I joined her and her friends, who were all giggling over the menu.

"Happy Birthday, darlin! May I have the honor of being your first?"

"WHAT?"

"I’d like to be the first guy to buy you a drink. Why so shocked and appalled?”

"But you said-"

"I know, I know. I thought you liked innuendo. You’re not so brazen with your girlfriends present. I forgive you, peach. Does a Queen Kalama sound good? Pineapple and rum?"

"Will I get an umbrella with that?"

"You certainly shall. Just look around you. With all these pineapples, palm leaves, shark teeth, seashells, and bamboo, I think it would be criminal neglect by the staff to serve even a single drink without a tiny umbrella. I’ll bet they could get fired for forgetting one."

"Well, good."

"You look jittery. Nervous? I know just the thing to loosen you up. Alcohol. Shitloads of alcohol. So much alcohol that gravity gets drunk, too. Whaddaya say?"

Her two friends shot me looks. One reproachful, indicating she thought I should take a less hearty, less destructive approach. The other friend’s look was encouraging, full of conspiring mischief. Good. She would be my ally. She wanted to help get my young sweetheart rip roaring wasted. Excellent.

"Yes! Hello. I’d like to order one Ku Tiki, a Mai Kai No, a Boomerang, and one of those evil Japanese gin martinis for me. Oh, and a round of shots, too. We’re serious tonight. What’s your pleasure, sweetie?"

"Blackhaus!"

"Schnapps? Really? Well, it’s your birthday. I will warn you, though, schnapps is rocket fuel for your vomit muscle. Fair warning. Okay, enough negative talk. Let’s get our drink on!"

The girl was tougher than she looked. Maybe I wasn’t used to all that fruity sugary shit, being a gin, bourbon, or beer type fellow, but I started to feel queasy after two hours of slugging syrupy booze sludge. I refused to show any signs of weakness, however, and I bravely soldiered on, waving over the waitress for the umpteenth time.

"Yes! Hallo! More umbrella-ey thing-a-ma-bobbers! We be thirsty landlubbers!"

"One more and it’s cutoff, young man. You’re all looking a bit green."

How right she was. Luckily, I held my stomach. My dear birthday girl finally reached her limit halfway through her Dr. Funk Of Tahiti, a disgusting licorice flavored drink.

I never got to hold her hair while she vomited, because there was no warning. No belly clutching, no mad dash to the ladies room, no miserable groaning. Nope, it all happened very suddenly.

From directly across the table, she belched, surprised to be doing so, and then threw up a Caribbean tidal wave, extinguishing the candle, darkening my silk shirt, and speckling the bottom half of my face. The girl really put a lot of distance on it.

"Urk. Ulgh. I’m so sorry. Ohhh…."

"That’s okay. Happy Birthday, sweetie."

11:37 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Teriyaki Pemmican Menopause

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I wrote columns a few months ago for an alcoholics' website. The place died a miserable death, sadly. I hate losing my precious writing, and since my output has dwindled to the occasional fart lately, I'm gonna re-publish all five of those columns here this week to ensure their eternal existence. To start, here's the fourth one.

"Steve, this place sucks. Why are we here?"

"I dunno. It's Tuesday night, who cares where we are?"

"Come on. There's gotta be a place with women under forty somewhere around here."

"That one's not a day over thirty-nine."

"Keep pointing like that and you'll have that old leatherface molesting you in no time. It'd be worth coming here to see you tongue wrestle with that beef jerky. I got a camera phone, you know. I'll put 'em up on the internet. I can see it now: 'Steve's new piece.'"

"Sounds like a delightful web page. You're on. I'm gonna go hit on her."

"Okay, then go."

"Well, not right away. After several shots. Then I'll go."

"Seriously man, this place is dark, smelly, and somebody put Wings on the jukebox. Let's go somewhere else. Anywhere."

"This is the Chili Pub. They didn't bother to think of a name. They had a crappy recipe and a thirst for beer and figured they'd share those with the world. Whoever 'they' are. And so the Chili Pub was born. This is the only place in the county that sells takeout booze past two in the morning. Only by the six pack, but hey. I've always wanted to visit."

"You're fucking weird."

"HEY!"

John and I turned to the irate bartender. She looked like a Sunday school teacher. Grey curly hair, bifocals, sweater vest, cloying floral perfume, the whole package. This woman was a card carrying member of the AARP, and she looked pissed.

"Yes?"

"WE DO NOT ALLOW PROFANITY IN HERE. NO MORE WARNINGS. IF I HEAR ANY MORE GUTTER TALK YOU'RE OUT. GOT IT?"

"Yes, I understand. Please stop shouting."

"Fine then. What can I get for you young men this evening?"

"Two Buds and one bowl of chili. Unless. John, you hungry? Want a bowl too?"

"Uh, just the beer, thanks."

Marge or Ethel or Edna or whatever her name was served me a bowl of brown swamp. I expect chili to be reddish brown, but this muck was dark brown. I chalked this up to dim lighting and set to sprinkling cheese atop the steaming bowl.

John lowered his voice. "Steve, you're killing me. A bunch of old bats, no swearing, a jukebox full of honkeytonk garbage and adult easy listening. This is just too much. And why do they have knight's armor standing everywhere?"

"First of all, you don't call it 'knight's armor.' That betrays your ignorance of medieval terminology. The proper designation is 'coat of arms.' Second, I like Jackson Browne. This is a good song. Finally, dusty chicks are easy."

"Oh gross."

"Think about it, man. You could spend tons of money buying slick new clothes and metrosexual facial hair trimming accessories and cologne, then even more money liquoring up some pretty young thing, and you're stretching your brain telling lies to impress her, and you finally get her home and she won't even blow you first. These ladies are desperate, my friend. Their husbands are home watching hockey and spilling spaghetti sauce on their recliners. I swear to God, I could invite any one of these into the bathroom right now and have my way. Even with chili breath, uncombed hair, and mild B.O. To them, I'm golden. I'm under thirty. I could be sporting a third eyeball and missing an ear and they'd still gobble me up like ice cream and soap operas."

"You talk an awful lot, but I ain't buyin' it. You're putting me on. Please, please, let's go somewhere decent."

"Alright, alright! I give. Let me eat this chili first."

I dipped my spoon into the thick, pudding-like meat bucket. The so-called chili showed no sign of beans, onions, or tomatoes. It was just ground beef and thick brown something. I tried to smell it before I tried it, but the floating secondhand Misty and Capri smoke wheezed out by the scattered members of the divorcee club overpowered any enticing food aroma the ugly paste could generate. I shrugged and shoveled.

It was bad. Painfully bad. I spit that runny diarrhea all over the tappers.

"OH JESUS FUCK! THIS IS CHILI?"

"OUT! I WARNED YOU! GET OUT OR I'M CALLING THE COPS, YOU FILTHY MOUTHED LITTLE UPSTART!"

"I'm leaving. But first I gotta ask. HEY LADIES! WHO WANTS TO FUCK? Come on out to the parking lot, there'll be two young studs waiting there to give you what your husbands can't!"

I ran out, giggling. John followed, blushing and angry.

"I'm picking the next bar. You asshole."

9:16 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Friday, August 11, 2006

Scofflaw Skullfuck

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I deserve everything I get.

Midway Airport was flooded, but it was the only place I could go. A year and half ago the City Of Chicago decided to crack down on airport parking lot violations, and both at Midway and O'Hare, bureaucratic minions began greedily humping quotas, writing tickets with glee, hungry to reach violation thresholds. Upon climax, they call out the boot squad, lock the car in place, and crouch at the periphery of the lot.

These pathetic bespectacled emotional vampires wait, fondling themselves, waiting, horny to watch the cursing and despair exhibited by jet setters returning to immobile vehicles. The City, in its divine benevolence, deigned to shoehorn a 24 hour Revenue depot deep within the bowels of the airport, allowing these ordinance abusers to fork over cash for access to their cars without having to wait for the dawn's bitter break.

Searching the City Of Chicago website, the Chicago Police website, and various other satellite sites provides not a hint of the existence of this 24 hour payment location. If you look online, the best you'll find are several locations with bank hours. This provides the populace a small window of time each day to get square with the gov't, the very same hours 99% of them work.

Get it? This process is not meant to be smooth. This is meant to be painful. You didn't pay your parking tickets? Say goodbye to a day's pay, your sanity, and your firstborn. You'll keep your soul if you're lucky, fuckface.

Thanks, Chicago.

I found about about the airport location by spending a long time on hold with 311, before finally gaining the opportunity to pester a grumpy state employee, with whom I persistenly redirected our conversation in new directions until the reluctant telephone drone finally imparted an extended set of options to me.

I'd already visited the City websites, and having seen naught of the secret airport location, I decided to run a Google search for the Revenue spot. The only mention was a local news story about the airport lot crackdowns. You stay classy, Chicago.

I got booted on Wednesday. Thursday, they towed my rust bucket to the Stony Island impound lot. Woe. Despair. Bureaucracy.

Upon booting my Intrepid, they gave me one day to come up with the full overdue balance and remit it in person. What a sick joke.

Day 1. "Hey, we locked your car down! Ha ha!"
Day 2. "Hey we towed the fucking thing away today! What a gas!"
Day 3. "We're charging you separate fees for the boot and the tow! Pretty clever, eh? You gotta laugh! C'mon, loosen up, this is great!"

As I mentioned, Midway suffered minor flooding last night, but the water was enough to slow traffic to a turtle's pace, and it took an hour to reach the arrivals terminal. Upon reaching it, I directed my chauffeur, one of my best friends, to skirt the arrival lanes and detour into lanes strictly reserved for taxis, limos, and busses. Despite his hesitation, he followed my navigation, and soon enough we found ourselves in an obscure lot where taxi drivers park for break times, mandatory anti-terrorism trunk searches, and prepaid tax stamps required for all airport fares.

I was made to wait for nearly two hours, supposedly, due to computer malfunctions. I stood there, dumb. A steady stream of liverymen walked up to the revenue department window and bought fare tax stamps. I spoke to many. I met drivers from Zimbabwe, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, and Pakistan, to name a few. All were stressed and hurried, but mostly friendly.

For a while, I waited outside in the lot. I saw intricate rugs on the concrete, laid out in a small space blocked off by conrete barriers. I speculated to my friend that they were drying out after puke had been washed from them. A gentleman of Middle Eastern origin told me "No, not for taxi, I use for pray!" He got down on his knees, faced Mecca, put his head upon the ground, and muttered glory to Allah. I gave him space, privacy, and respect. Nice guy.

At midight, when the clerk told me the computer access would free up, I went back in. I forked over nearly a thousand dollars in borrowed money to the clerks, two women more intent upon telephone gossip than government business. Finally, at 12:15 am, I received my impound release form.

My friend and I went home. Friday morning would bring further trials of my patience, more byzantine bureaucracy, more hardships and fees invisible to me until I arrived in person. Fees sprung like traps, like tiny financial assassinations intended to bankrupt my soul.

I got my car back, eventually.

I deserved everything I got.

8:04 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tincture Quaffer

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Dateline: Monday, July 31st, 2006, 7:13am CDT

Dear Diary,

I woke up this morning feeling terrible. My head is throbbing like a theremin conducted by a spastic. My body is greased from head to toe by nasty buckets of fever sweat. My guts are locked solid, seized by frozen molasses.

What the fuck, Chuck?

I can’t account for this filthy state of sensation. I have not paraded through throngs of diseased people, imbibed any spirits or substances, eaten any food of dubious freshness, or suffered prolonged exposure to extreme outdoor elements. Perplexing.

Have I been injected with experimental serums again? Did those Hungarian freaks come back? Maybe they did. Maybe my memory is affected, too.

Okay, Diary. I’m in the bathroom now. I’ve cranked the shower knob to high scorch. I need to fix myself up. I’m gonna curl myself into fetal position, huddle in the tub, and hopefully this blight will evaporate.

It didn’t work. Goddamnit, Diary. You’re supposed to heal me, absolve me, forgive me, and make me feel like a worthwhile human being. You’re my Jesus substitute, and you’re failing spectacularly. The shower didn’t fucking work.

Okay, soup. Soup always works, right? I’m stocked. I have six flavors of ramen, ten of Campbell’s, and some stranger ones, like oyster chowder and Dominique’s U.S. Senate Bean Soup. I’m a soup freak. I’ve decided, my dear Diary. I’ll go with the Senate beans. If it’s good enough for them… Yeah. If this shit can assuage a Senator's moral corruption, why not my bodily corruption?

You were supposed to knock on my cranium and ask if anybody was home, McFly. Beans on top of a gastrointestinal blockage? Never smart. You should’ve stood up and screamed for thin broth and a sprinkle of parsley. But no, you sat before me, silently mocking, enjoying my accumulating decay. Monday is fucked. Damn you, Diary, damn you. You blew it up. Damn you all to hell.

Tuesday night. Time for another bright idea. This one always works, Diary, even if you disapprove. For some reason I always save it, reserve it as a final drastic remedy. Good old fashioned Kentucky Bourbon. Amber fire, the scourge of mysterious viral infections everywhere. Bottle procured, commence.

First shot. Swish like mouthwash. Mouth numb.

Second shot. Tickles throat, warms belly.

Third shot. Tummy gurgles. Head widens.

Fourth shot. Feeling wobbly, sweating profusely. Internal warfare commenced.

Fifth shot. Pant, mumble, a bloom of happiness creeping up, smothering the headache. Oh yes.

Sixth shot. Equilibrium damage, playful gravity, thick tongue.

Seventh shot. Help. Mommy. So dizzy.

Eight shot. I think it is working. I am feeling very little. This is an improvement.

Ninth shot. Medicine of the Old West. Yes. I am in the Old West! Hosannah! Chaps, spurs, carriages, whores, laudanum. I like it here. Hooves splash in mud. Wearing a cravat. More whiskey.

Tenth shot. I am lost. Those are stairs. Up the stairs, hands and knees. Note to self (not to you, you worthless fucking Diary) Must spread medicine over a larger span of time. Ten shots in twenty minutes is bad. Bad.

Bed. Snore. Fart bean steam. Scratch crotch. Scratch face. Scratch neck. Tug ears. Utter gutterally. Talk to silence. Remember diary. Cackle at diary.

It worked. I was nothing but dehydrated come Wednesday afternoon. Healed by the barrel.

2:24 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Outcast Inebriate

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I've been sick. Ugly sick, nasty fevers, hallucinations. I'm coherent again, mostly. So, a post!

“There’s a party downstairs. Come check it out.”

“Here? In our building?”

“Yeah, Hard to believe, eh? We’re not the resident troublemakers. For once.”

It was Saturday night and I’d already consumed far beyond my fair share of Pabst and Crown Royal. Back and forth I drank, as one with no familiarity with the rules of alcohol and brain damage. How does that go? Liquor before beer, never fear… or was it… I can’t remember. Alcohol and caution do not mix anyhow.

I had already shed my shoes, socks, and pants by this point. I was stumbling around in my boxers and a t-shirt, belching, peeing every five minutes. (Yes, in the toilet.) When the invitation filtered upstairs, I decided I would brave the spiral staircase to the ground floor dungeon apartments to see what all the hullabaloo concerned.

A quiet European chap encumbered with the unfortunate name of Flavio was hosting a party that felt like a miniature version of my roommate’s. He had turntables and DJs, but the music area was just a corner blocked off by folding tables. His speakers were modest, and conversations could be heard over the gentle volume.

I strode into the center of the room, blinking, wide-eyed, shocked to be invited into the apartment of a building mate. I was convinced they hated us obnoxious loft-dwellers.

All around me people talked and laughed. I pivoted, eyeing one cluster of revelers after another, trying to imagine a smooth word or two to shoehorn myself into social engagement. Usually, when buzzed, I am quite gregarious. Not then. I just felt tired and lost. I sighed, peered into my nearly empty beer, and finished it. It was at this moment I saw a chubby girl looking at me with disgust and puzzlement. Not looking at me, but rather, towards my groin. I followed her gaze.

Oh. Right. No pants. I left, added pants, and returned again, satisfied to be once again among the clothed and civilized. I talked to a few people, but nothing spoken keyed any particular spark of interest, and soon I found myself wallflowering again.

I considered returning to the sanctity of home, where my playlist reigns supreme, where clothing is optional. When I saw another girl eyeing me with suspicion, again south of the beltline, I began to wonder just what in the hell was going on. Is this a fashion party? Is denim verboten?

Oh. Right. No socks or shoes. My ped nerves awoke. I could feel dirt accumulating with every step. My feet landed in tiny puddles of beer spittle, thousands of tracked-in flecks of mud, and the smear of both combined. All of this grime was adhering to my heels, and I was the only attending guest lacking footwear.

This proved to be the camel’s back broken for me. I could not hang.

I slunk back up the spiral staircase. I poured another shot of Crown, chugged a beer, sat on the kitchen counter, dipped my feet in the sink, and ran water over them until pink and white returned. One more shot, one more beer, and I fell asleep under an open window, with all my clothes on.

4:14 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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