When we moved to New York we moved quickly, one after another, in what felt like years apart but was really week to week, our arrivals stacked together like holes in a belt. I don’t know where we came from. We were temp-to-perm assistants. We were broke. We were free — subsisting off of open bars and leftover lunches, crashing on one another’s couches, sleeping on mattresses hoisted above suitcases stuffed with clothes. We didn’t know much, but we knew our next apartment wouldn’t have mice. And we knew how to go and go and go, working and drinking and sleeping around through hangovers, through head colds, through deaths in the family, through all the strangers underground. We spent the beginnings of our paychecks on vodka and the last of it on a therapist, who gathered that we drank more than we would ever say, because she knew how to read our early on-set wrinkles and our breath, and she knew that everything we said was either too true or not really true at all.
We didn’t care about the Super Bowl—we cared about the open bar. The pent house hosted a New Orleans jazz band, myriad tv screens, passed appetizers and a bar overflowing with free vodka cocktails. We downed a few and settled on a couch, focusing more of our attention on each other than the game. We schmoozed. We exchanged knowing smiles. When I returned from the bathroom, he had gathered a small plate of sliders. “They’re all yours,” he said. The vegetarian smiled as I hungrily took the plate from him. His eyes were glassy and his grin was dopey. “I’m a good provider.”
When you’re already drunk on martinis you think, what’s one more, right? They’re so clear and small you think another won’t hurt. And the nice thing about them, or vodka in general, is it doesn’t stain. That’s what he told me the first time we went out when I spilled the whiskey on my shirt. He had dipped his folded napkin in the water glass and handed it over to me to blot the stain. “That’s why I always order vodka,” he said, smiling. I thought he was joking. I always think he’s joking. After two years, I still forget: he never jokes.
“Yes, one more with a twist,” I tell the bartender. I haven’t spilled yet but I’m nearly there. By midnight I’ll be covered in vodka and no one will know until they get close and smell me. He will have hold me up like a doll. He’ll hate that I get so drunk but he won’t say anything. He’ll just bring me water and get real quiet.
I sip this one using the little red stirrer, chin in my hands. The bartender looks away.
It’s crowded and I’m drunk in high heels. It’s a terrible combination. I can barely walk and the drink is sloshing over the glass and dribbling down my hand and spilling down the front of my dress. I’m wedged in between people and damp sequins are beginning to flake off my dress like fish scales.
I turn around to head back to the bar for one more martini. This one is a goner. And what’s one more, right?
I know I’m fucked up when I’m quiet. And everyone else knows it, which compounds the problem. My I’ve had too much. Maybe, I think, my heart is beating too fast, so I take in slow sighs. My silence feels heavy in my living room, surrounded by 6 or 12 or however many friends, clouds, rows, cigarettes, plastic cups full of vodka and ice. The music is too loud. The magic tricks don’t work. The sweet candle smoke is rotting in the air. I sink into the white couch and half-smile. My brain has gone quiet too, and for once I feel calm, calm, calm…
This is the worst headache I’ve had in years. I took three aspirin. I drank a glass of water. I had sex. I downed three shots of vodka, followed by a handful of olives. I ate fried chicken. I had champagne, red wine, and single malt scotch. Nothing is working.
I hit my head Thursday night. I wasn’t drunk. I just got to the bar, put my bag down, and bashed my head on a sharp, dark corner. Then I drank for about seven hours. I was late to work, had some coffee, and went back out drinking. I danced and lost four games of beer pong and pased out at eleven.
I woke up still hurting. My head feels like it’s in a vice. I can barely breathe, I can barely make eye contact without grimacing.
I probably have a concussion. Nothing is working. Suggestions welcome.
There was too much vodka all at once, appearing magically in the hands of faux rappers, bananas, numerous takes on the sinking economy, smurfs, hipsters, ninjas, the cast of “Married… With Children”, and plenty others. Corkscrews and beer cans, cocaine behind closed doors, marijuana behind open ones. Patrick, not technically in costum, quite literally rolled in having swallowed an MDMA tablet and shaved most of his fro into a puffy mohawk. Frida Kahlo flirted with the hot sauce while Carmen Sandiego tounged Ron Burgandy. Matt Drudge looked away. Someone dropped a white russian on the floor. Even best friends pointed to my teased hair and I shreiked, “it’s not a wig!” again and again. The Empire State Building glowed orange in my window through the haze of the smoke and music. The police came and confessed they, too, used to be young, and smiled as I promised to lower the music and dance with less enthusiasm. Mia Wallace cut up lines on a magazine, but by then it was neary three. One by one they left, tripping through popcorn crumbs and cigarette ash. I let the deviled egg kiss me, because I love deviled eggs, and I thought I deserved it.
Posted in City, Hedonism, Unhealthy, Vignette
Tagged bananas, beer can, carmen sandiego, cigarette ash, cocaine, deviled eggs, empire state building, frida kahlo, Halloween party, marijuana, married with children, matt drudge, mia wallace, ninjas, police, smurfs, vodka, wig