Drunk History

Several weeks ago, I promised—or threatened, depending on your point of view—to post an entry entitled “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer (or, How I Survived the Holidays).” I made this promise in part because I’m a fan of George Thorogood, but also because some members of my extended family are somewhat less fond of me than are others, and having at least a small amount of alcohol at hand when visiting those who adore me makes dealing with the passive aggression and simmering hatred of those who don’t just a bit more bearable.

That statement may sound to some like a plea for sympathy—or a cry for help, depending (again) on your point of view. But I assure you: I’m not seeking solace and I don’t have a problem. To be honest, there are just three people on earth who make me so uncomfortable that I need to steel my nerves with drink, and only a couple of others whose company I can’t stand unless I’m practically falling down drunk. The rest of the time, I drink because I want to, of course. Or because of peer pressure. My friends can be quite persuasive, after all. And I have been known to lack a spine now and then.

In case we’re acquainted and you’re wondering if you’re among those who drive me to drink, here’s how to tell: If you’ve ever seen me completely sober and it wasn’t in a school, car, church or synagogue, you’re probably okay. On the other hand, if you’ve ever seen me completely loaded and it WAS in a school, car, church, or synagogue, you may want to work on your attitude or your interpersonal skills. Ditto if you’ve NEVER seen me completely sober—regardless of the location.

Unless we’re both usually drinking, of course. It’s difficult to say what it means—if anything—that we don’t spend a lot of our time together sober. I would hope it’s because we like each other and drinking is part of how we up the blast factor. But even if it’s because you make ME uncomfortable, or because I make YOU uncomfortable, or because we make EACH OTHER uncomfortable, if we’re drinking together, we’re probably having a good time. Or at least a better time than we would otherwise. Either way, it works for us. And as the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Meanwhile, if you don’t CARE if you’re among those who drive me to drink, that’s cool. It’s also bad karma, but that only matters if you don’t have it to spare. Me, I like to bank as much karma as I can and I prefer to use it sparingly. Which is why, when it comes to people who are routinely and unjustifiably rude or unkind to me, I’d rather have a good time despite them than let it bother me. Because the ruder people are and the nicer I can be in return, the more likely I am to become a bestselling author, and the greater their chances of accidently driving into an icy river and dying of hypothermia. Especially when I’ve given them every chance to tell me what I’ve done to annoy or displease them, and tried everything I can to make amends or win their affection, it doesn’t make sense to keep beating my head against the wall or to continue kissing their backsides.


That being said, I confess I didn’t drink as much or as often as I had expected to do this past holiday season. The upside to that is a hard to spot but the downside is that it left me without a post honoring George Thorogood or his cover of the boozy blues number.

I’d like to say that it’s because the people who drive me to drink are gone from my life but that’s not true. (That’ll probably cost me a few karma points, but my account is still comfortably in the black.) Nor is it true that those people have learned to pretend to like me.

No. The truth is I don’t know why I spent so much more time sober this Christmas than I have in years past. The only plausible explanation I’ve come up with relates to a run in I had with a bottle of gin right before Thanksgiving. I won’t bore you with the details (for a change) but I will sum it up like this: it was better going down than it was coming back up. Although that was far from the first time I’ve found myself looking down the barrel of a trashcan, it is the first time in probably ten years that I’ve done so in the absence of food poisoning or the stomach flu.

So I’m probably feeling a little gun shy when it comes to the drink these days. Sort of like the person who is afraid to get behind the wheel of an automobile after a terrifying car accident, I may have become a bit risk-averse.

But I’ve never been one to let fear rule my life, so if that is in fact the problem, you can bet I will strive to overcome it.

After all, to paraphrase Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, well-behaved women seldom make drunk history.

NOTE: The title of this post pays homage to one of my favorite programs, the hilariously educational Drunk History with Derek Waters. Check it out on Comedy Central, and wherever fine videos are sold!



Road Trippin’ 2015: Interior Designs

We set off on our journey through Alaska’s interior on Sunday morning. Armed with a cooler of provisions and a hand-drawn map—courtesy of LaVon—showing all the gas, food, lodging, and natural wonders to be found along the route, we left Anchorage with the goal of arriving alive and well in Fairbanks by supper time. I don’t like to give away an ending, but the fact that you are reading this is a strong indication that we succeeded.

The weather wasn’t great and Denali tends to play coy with tourists even on a sunny day, so we had no expectation of seeing the fickle feature formerly known as Mount McKinley. Nevertheless, we opted to delay the decision as to whether to get up close and personal with the peak until such time as we had to choose between hanging a left toward the national park, or continuing north on Hwy 3.

When that moment arrived and the sight was still not to be seen, we opted to further delay the decision on which direction to go by stopping to use the bathroom and checking out the string of shops lining the road near the intersection. Since this wasn’t our first rodeo, we knew better than to expect a bargain. We just wanted to pass some time, and maybe find something we hadn’t seen before.

Among the coolest things to be found at this particular oasis of overpriced objects was a shop selling hand carved wooden tables, lamps, clocks, and other home furnishings. Although each and every item in the place was absolutely beautiful and unique, we couldn’t picture them fitting in anywhere other than a millionaire’s mansion—which seems appropriate since I doubt anyone but a millionaire could afford them.

Everything else we saw was run-of-the-mill type stuff—hats, tee-shirts, and sweatshirts bearing images of bears, wolves, and moose—all of which would have made great souvenirs had they not also borne labels featuring the phrase “Made in China.” Nothing against China, but if I’m going to bring someone a souvenir from my trip to Alaska, it’s should at least have been MADE in Alaska.

With the sky no clearer and Denali still not showing its face by the time we finished perusing all the impressive and/or imported merchandise, the Jarhead and I got back in the car. The fact that the sky cleared and the entire mountain came into view only AFTER we were too far north to turn back to the park and still make it to Fairbanks by sundown would have been supremely ironic if I hadn’t fully expected that outcome. But as I had predicted that the peak would appear in my rearview mirror not long after I took over driving and the Jarhead had fallen asleep, Murphy got none of the credit. He only scores when things go wrong and I DON’T see it coming!

Even as I refused to give him props for preventing us from seeing Denali, I knew better than to mock Murphy and tempt fate. We were still two tourists in a rental car, after all, and there was a LOT of wilderness in which to get lost, have an accident, or meet up with foul play. Sure, we had three cell phones between us, but signal strength outside of Fairbanks and Anchorage was sketchy at best and mobile data service even more so. This was problematic given that we had planned to use the Internet and GPS apps to navigate and hadn’t bothered to pack a map, so I wasn’t about to complain or say anything else that would render me a target for bad karma.

Instead, I chose to sit back, take in the scenery and psych myself up for what was still to come. Like Fairbanks, and our friends who lived there but with whom we’d lost touch but hoped to bump into by accident. And the Arctic Circle, which we hoped to photograph ourselves standing north of after breakfast in the morning. And North Pole, where evidently you can arrange for the staff at Santa’s Workshop to send letters to children you know containing details about all the mischief they’re getting into and warning them to shape up if they want Santa to come down their chimneys at Christmas.

That last part sounded particularly enticing to the Jarhead who thought it would be fun to mess with his nieces and nephews—until I reminded him that most, if not all, of our siblings are in their forties, and few, if any, of their children are young enough to believe in Santa anymore.

So much for my good karma.

My Resolution Solution

If you’re like me, you don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions. Actually, if you’re really like me, you’ve spent the last several weeks goofing off and now are panicking that it’s been almost a month since your last blog entry and terrified people will forget about you. Consequently, you now find yourself grasping for something to write about and, having taken up the most obvious of the seasonal subjects, now must decide whether to come down as pro or con, and come up with something clever to say to back up your argument.

You can believe me, then, when I say I don’t usually think a lot about New Year’s resolutions. Although many people I know and love make them, until recently, I’ve never made one myself. This is likely because, at about the point when I was old enough to understand the concept of a resolution, I read an article about why it’s bad to make them. In short, the article said resolutions are almost always broken, and that they lead to an intense sense of frustration and failure in those who make them. “Well who needs that?” I remember thinking at the time, and so I never bothered.

Not long after I was married, I read another article that took a softer stance on the issue of resolutions. This writer claimed it was not resolutions themselves but how we phrased them that was destroying the confidence of millions of Americans and lowering our collective self esteem. He or she went on to suggest that, instead of saying “I’m going to stop smoking” or “I’m going to lose forty pounds” we should say “I’m going to smoke less” or “I’m going to trade the chips or fries in my lunch for carrots or salad.” Apparently failing at nonspecific goals makes you feel less frustrated and more successful than failing at the specific ones.

So I’ve never been one to make resolutions, and thus, I’ve never known the shame and humiliation of having failed to achieve them. Still, I doubt I’m any less frustrated or nervous about my weight or my health than anyone I know or am acquainted with. These, I suspect, are fairly universal concerns.

Nevertheless, this year, I broke with tradition and decided to make a few resolutions—the achievement of which I believe will enhance my life and improve my attitude immeasurably. Neither of them requires me to do much until late November or early December, so I won’t feel like a failure until at least Christmas Eve—when it will be time to start thinking about making resolutions again—which means 2014 won’t be ruined before hope for 2015 jumps up and bites me on the ass.

My first resolution for 2014 is to get the Jarhead in the Christmas spirit before December 17th. I chose this one because every year around Thanksgiving—and definitely by Black Friday—I ask the man what, if anything, he thinks the family should do to celebrate the holidays. As we are generally invited to at least two family celebrations and we typically host at least one for our immediate family and one for our friends and neighbors, I like to talk about it early enough for us to send and accept invitations, and plan and purchase the appropriate gifts, foods, and supplies to make the events successful.

Unfortunately, every year, the Jarhead dismisses the idea of celebrating here or elsewhere as too time consuming or too much effort—which I find hilarious since I do all the planning, shopping, and cleaning, and almost all the cooking. As is my nature, I try to view his remarks in the kindest light and tell myself that what he means is that celebrating here or elsewhere puts too much of a strain on my time and energy, rather than on him or the family finances.

In any case, regardless of what he says when the topic is first discussed, things will change on or about the 20th of December when, for whatever reason, the Jarhead suddenly becomes Kris Kringle himself and wants to talk of nothing but Christmas presents, Christmas food, Christmas parties, and Christmas television specials. And so, with just a few days to go before the after-Christmas sales begin, I’m—happily and cheerily, damnit—putting up trees and lights, hanging stockings and ornaments, making puddings, cakes, and cookies, and buying presents, bows, and wrapping paper.

So this year, I’m not going to play along. This year, I RESOLVE to get the Jarhead in the holiday spirit by early December even if I have to do it one kick in the butt at a time. This year, I RESOLVE to make plans myself and just tell him what they are. And I RESOLVE to get out the holiday boxes and put him to work hanging lights, stockings, and ornaments the weekend after Thanksgiving, and to ignore him when he tries getting out of it. And, I RESOLVE, to make the cookies, cakes, and puddings in advance so that I’m not whipping up five kinds of dough and seven other kinds of goodies on Christmas Eve while he sits on his butt watching  “Shrek the Halls.”

And if I fail in these resolutions, I will manage my disappointment and frustration not by pulling out all the stops and putting on awesome holiday celebration at the last minute. Instead, I’ll show him where we keep the tree, ornaments, the stockings, and the baking products, and grab a bottle of wine, run a hot bath, and start celebrating the start of 2015.