For years, my weekends (see: Thursday through Sunday, and sometimes Tuesday) have gone like this: meet the friends, kill the whiskey, hit the bar and/or vomit in a bathroom. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lately, however, I can hear my dusty big-people clothes murmuring in the closet that liver-murder is only good for ambulance rides, and is no way to pick up – let alone retain – a respectable job. So I decided to cut back.
I am not, however, ready to relinquish my downtown nightcrawling.
A recent weekend evening
My friend Chuck and I roll downtown. It is proving difficult to get hyped for a night of hydrated, lucid decision-making, especially since Chuck hasn't taken my sobriety pledge. A few minutes later, we're at a craft beer place, watching the bartender pour Chuck a Gulden Draak 9000 Belgian strong ale. I watch him drink that foamy, delicious bastard. I watch it hard.
We make it to our favorite spot, Independent Bar, and Chuck and I immediately begin frat-lapping around as people drift inside. It's funny: You think you've mastered basic communication concepts like, say, striking up conversation with a stranger, but when you cut yourself off for a night, suddenly the words dry up, too. You realize all that moxie you had before is now where your fear of shame and rejection reside – the same fear and shame those whiskey sours dry-humped out of you before. I still have my Diet Coke, though. I periodically sip from the bushel of tiny plastic things my bartender shoved in there.
The dance floor is filling up. Chuck and I stand at the fringes, people-watching. It becomes apparent there's no uncreepy way to do this, so we plunge into the throng, and a cute blonde fiddling with a disposable camera sees us. Yes, ladyfolk! I think. Here she comes, just stay calm and –
Camera Girl: Echscuse meh, can you guysch take a picture of me n myfrenns?
The two girls hovering behind her are also sloshed, in outer space – I would know, I own a summer home up there. For some reason, I pictured this sort of scenario unfolding differently.
There was a moment, around 12:45 a.m., when someone threw the hidden "Lil' John" lever. The entire club is shitwrecked. Random people keep offering to buy me drinks. They guide me to the bar and ask what I want, all those liquor bottles gleaming splendidly on the shelf. And they hate to take no for an answer. Chuck and I get creative in making excuses for my sobriety.
"I'm training for a marathon."
"I have an interview with Homeland Security tomorrow."
I eventually decide the best deterrent is to simply walk away. I have to evade one persistent gentleman by bolting upstairs to the restroom.
Somehow, I make it through the night without consuming any alcohol. We're about to leave the club, but we can't even make it out the door because suddenly, a completely smashed girl blitzes me from out of the ether. She tackles me into the bar and, before I can grasp exactly what's happened, she begins tickling me. She smooshes her chest into my shoulder, asking "Can you tell if they're real?" And as I lay there, every girl who's ever been catcalled or creeped upon turned to the girl next to her for the most thunderous high five ever.
Touché, Universe. Touché.
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