fruit and crockery rest on polished sideboards
ONE STEP CLOSER TO MY CRAZY-LADY MERIT BADGE
I am not as much of a drinker as I used to be. Some of you, particularly the ones who like to write and tell me what a bad mother* I am because of my alcohol consumption, are going to have a hard time believing that, given how often I chronicle my sozzled exploits on this here diary. It is true, however, that my intake is less frequent and less copious nowadays, as long as you keep in mind that one woman's “less” is another woman's “pre-rehab-Metallica Party Bus.”
*As in “lousy parent,” not “bad mothafucka,” unfortunately.
I am getting on in years, and I just cannot work all day and then stay awake for a rock show that starts at 11 pm on a Wednesday night. And I certainly can no longer pull an eight-hour shift at Delilah's, because the space between last call and when my lovely daughter wakes up and begins her day-long one-woman show is heartbreakingly small. When we first brought Nora home I was all about throwing the dinner parties, rationalizing that even if bar-hopping had become less feasible there were still plenty of opportunities for superhero drinking in our own house. Hungover parenting still sucks too much to do it on a regular basis, however—you may smell marginally better the morning after a drunk-a-thon in your own house than one spent at a smoggy bar, but beyond that the suffering is the same. Hence the slowdown.
Every now and again, I screw up amazingly. A weekend party, a babysitter for Nora, the Girl I Have Historically Most Liked To Smooch playing hostess and refilling my gigantic wine glass at every opportunity. I have not yet heard any untoward stories from the party itself, but then again I don't remember much. My hangover was fascinating in its specificity, as I had no serious physical symptoms other than the fact that my brain was simply not functioning properly. That whole “toothpaste goes on the brush” thing? It took much longer than it should.
Nora was stellar and self-entertaining for much of that day, and after I put her down for a nap I head out to the Devon/California Osco, otherwise known as the Unhappiest Place On Earth, to get a bottle of wine (ahhhh!) for another, much mellower, get-together later in the afternoon. The store is its usual fucked-up self, full of people trying to write out-of-state checks using notes from their mothers as identification and demanding rainchecks for the sale price of the peppermint enemas that are no longer in stock. The line is very, very long. I am overheated inside my crazy vintage Jackie Kennedy coat with the big fur collar, and I apparently blacked out entirely while blow-drying my hair because it is sticking out in every direction and my brain is not working. At all. I finally get up to the register and the cashier is this creepy, hunched-over, toothpick-thin guy wearing shop glasses who mumbles to himself the whole time, to the point where I cannot tell if the mumbling is directed at me or just some kind of noise he makes. The wine is rung up and my ID checked and my debit card swiped and I use my own pen to sign the slip, which seems to upset him, and I have everything put away and have my hand on the paper-wrapped neck of the wine bottle when he raises the mumble volume a tad and says “Ineedtoseeyourcard.”
“Excuse me?” I said. Snappishly. And hungoverly.
“Yourcreditcard. Ineedtoseeyourcreditcard. Ineedtoseeit.”
“No you don't,” I say, and I start to leave. He then gets louder and dramatically more nasal (but also more intelligible) and says, “I cannot sell you that alcohol unless I see your credit card and see the signature on the back and match it to your ID and I need to see your card.”
By now I am a few steps away and I say, “You already sold me the wine. It is too late. The transaction! Is! Finished!” I am sort of waving the paper bag of wine in the air as I make my pronouncement. I am dressed like an elderly bag lady, I am holding a bottle, and I am making a scene in a neighborhood store! Yes! My life has clearly reached its zenith! On the way out I walk past the manager, standing there like a complete retail tool in his blue button-down shirt, and I hiss, “There is a reason people refer to this Osco as the deepest pit in hell,” and he says, “What?” and I say “YOU HEARD ME.”
When I get home I suddenly decide to make some food to bring to the get-together. Food goes well with wine, right? My standard bring-to-your-house thing is a sort of white bean/sun-dried tomato faker hummus that I invented some years ago, but we don't have any white beans. But we have sour cream, the basis for many a dip! I put it in the food processor, and then stand in front of the cabinets with my mouth hanging open deciding what else to add. How about…a can of artichoke hearts! Some of the aforementioned sun-dried tomatoes! Some random herbs! It still does not taste all that exciting, so maybe…garlic! By this time I am cackling maniacally in the kitchen as I toss items into the Cuisinart's feed tube. If LT hadn't been home to act as a check on my wine-addled impulses, who knows what I would have put in there. Gummi worms! Frozen corn! My own damn arm, who gives a fuck anymore! I swear, that was not a hangover, it was a temporary mental illness. I actually considered doing something radical like taking a break from the grape, but the holidays are coming and there is no way I can face the in-laws and the terror that is green bean casserole without wine. So never mind. I will be back in the saddle in mere days!
FROM THE “WHERE DID YOU LEARN THAT WORD?” FILES
Nora: Let's make a souffle!
Nora: Do you need a bookmark? For your book?
Me: Um, sure. That would be great.
Nora: Okay, hold on, I will fashion one for you.
—mimi smartypants likes fish and grits and all that pimp shit.