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!



Bye Bye Baby

I can hardly stand to admit it, but it’s true: My good friend of nearly ten years is no more. Snuffed out, not in the prime of her life but definitely in the prime of mine. And the day after Christmas, no less.

Taken from me by a total stranger in a beat up Honda Civic, my dear friend with whom I’ve had so many adventures, and with whom I once hoped to have many, many more, is gone forever. I’m going to miss her, my beautiful, sweet, metallic powder blue 2004 Chrysler Pacifica.

How did this happen? I’ve asked myself that question over and over.  Even after asking the police officer who had the misfortune of responding when witnesses called to report an accident in the Walmart parking lot I can’t understand it. My car was empty. It was parked next to a cart corral. How the bloody hell could it have been totaled? By a Honda Civic???

And apparently mine wasn’t the only vehicle damaged. No. After ramming into the front of my car while attempting to park in the diagonal space in front of mine, the driver of the Honda knocked over a trashcan that was standing next to the cart corral, climbed up and over it, and onto my hood. From there she rolled onto the top of the cart corral, shoved it into the side of the mini-van that was parked one space over, then dropped back onto the ground and continued across the lane behind my car before slamming into the back of a brand new SUV on the other side.

Fortunately no one was injured. All three of the vehicles that were hit were empty, and although there were people in the parking lot nearby, they managed to get out of the way before the Honda came sailing across the road in front of them after having been alerted to the danger occurring in their midst by the sound of tires squealing against the pavement as it rammed into and subsequently climbed up onto the Pacifica. It was they who called the police having assumed—like the rest of us—that the driver had been drinking.

It didn’t help that she refused to get out of her car. Even after the cop arrived she would scarcely open her window to answer his questions. It wasn’t until I showed up with my limp and my cane that she leapt from her vehicle spewing apologies, seeking sympathy for her stuck accelerator, and insisting that she was insured.

I don’t know why she was willing to get out of the car when I arrived, or why she was willing to talk to me. Maybe I looked a little less imposing than the police officer or rightfully angry owners of the other two vehicles. Apparently it’s a lot harder to swallow minor damage when you’re facing a major deductible than it is to accept a total loss of your favorite car because they were far more pissed off than I was.

In any event, since the woman didn’t appear drunk or otherwise altered, the cop didn’t perform a field sobriety test. Nor did he ask her to blow into his breathalyzer. In the interest of safety, he did arrange for her car to be towed—as much to keep her from getting behind the wheel again as to have the faulty accelerator examined, I suspect.

Now call me cynical, but I’m not buying the stuck accelerator theory. After all, it doesn’t take a certified mechanic to understand that when an accelerator sticks, it sticks at or around the speed it was set at the time the driver takes his or her foot off of it. It does not—I repeat, does not—press itself to the floor as if trying to escape capture like Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise.

And while I don’t know how fast the Honda was going when the accelerator supposedly stuck and it collided with my Pacifica, it would have to have been travelling well above parking lot speed for it to have inflicted that much damage. Which means she is either lying or mistaken about the accelerator, or lying about how fast she was going when she attempted to enter the parking space in the first place.

So although it means nothing to anyone but me—since I’m covered and she’s at fault either way—I would like to offer an alternative theory of the crime. Rather than trying to brake in the face of a stuck accelerator, I believe that as she coasted into the parking space she mistook the gas pedal for the brake and when the car failed to slow down or stop, she panicked and slammed her foot down on the gas even harder.

It can happen to anyone. It’s even happened *gasp* to me. Back in 2011 when the Pacifica was in the shop for maintenance and I borrowed the Jarhead’s convertible to pick up groceries. One minute I was coasting toward the garage with my foot just over what I thought was the brake, and the next I was lurching toward the door to the house and about to roll down the basement stairs on the other side.

Thank goodness I realized my mistake before I hit the door. Otherwise both the garage and the Sebring would have needed rebuilding instead of just repair and repainting. And thank goodness my husband is a Jarhead and not a hothead. Because that Sebring was his retirement gift to himself, and that day happened to be his birthday.

And so, in a bizarre twist on the whole ‘pay it forward’ concept, I did not scream at this woman in the parking lot. Nor did I treat her with the contempt the other drivers thought she deserved. Instead and in spite of the fact that she had probably dealt my baby a fatal blow, I accepted her apologies and went on about my business.

Still, it shouldn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t even make sense that a dinky little Honda could end the life of an all-wheel drive SUV, but there it is. Because no matter how well you take care of your baby—no matter how much time, energy, and money you put in to keeping her beautiful, happy and healthy—you can’t stop her from depreciating. Nor can you stop the cost of auto repairs from a-ppreciating.

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye.

Rest in Peace, my beautiful, reliable, metallic powder blue Pacifica. You were loyal; you were loved; and you will be missed.

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.