I would be the first to admit that I have a tempestuous relationship with alcohol. Actually that's not true. Carol would beat me to it. Because of the thousands of times I have gone over the deep end over the years, now every time I pour a glass of whiskey, Carol begins to shake and tremble like someone in a trance. She levitates up off the couch in recriminating frenzy, grabs the broom and sweeps that glass right out of my hand. There is a pile of broken glass three feet high directly behind my recliner. Then she beats me over the head with the broom until I fall unconscious, which is her goal because it is really hard to drink when you are out like a light. The top of my head has become flattened down to the point where it is a major asset at The Booze Emporium. When unloading a truck filled with cases of booze, I can carry one in my hands and balance another on my head. Which explains why I am so much faster than the rest of the crew.
Booze is essential to human survival. Go back as far as you want to in the history of the written word and you will find stories of drunken abandon. It so amuses me when do-gooders wring their hands pontificating about the evils of alcohol and drug abuse. Are you serious? The problem is not the booze or drugs, the problem is the way the world is set up. The rich elite want us all anesthetized so we don't rise up and revolt, and for us low wage earners it is a damn good release. Win win.
The hard part is keeping a balance. It's good to drink to excess, to achieve whatever balance you need to survive, but you don't want to get violent or non-functional. But it feels so damn good to escape for a while that you just want more. Aye that's the rub. And that's why the earliest caveman wall scribbles are translated to say "when the hell are they going to invent Advil?"
So you drink to get happy and then you drink beyond happy. Or you are depressed, you drink, your soul is soothed and you drink some more. Then you get depressed that you drank so much. It's very hard to get it right.
But every once in a while you get it exactly right. And those moments are transcendent. Sunday was such a day. Working the bar for the outing at the legion, and because we were volunteering our time, in wonderful legion-logic, we are allowed to drink as we work. So me and my buddy Ed are behind the bar and we are both whiskey fiends. So somewhere around 9:30 a.m. we start doing shots. And we keep doing shots all day long with a few random beers sprinkled in for good measure. It's an annual deal for us, we call it the Ed and Joe show and we do put on a show. Because me and Ed are both extroverts, we like the attention and we love to get crazy, to beat down all inhibition and just let loose.
We were dancing behind the bar, singing, laughing, joking with the barflies and generally having a great time. Shot after shot. I started to worry after a while that it would all hit me at once and I would just fall down, so I started looking for signs that I should slow down. Those signs never came. I drank so much whiskey that it was staggering; any other time I would be on the floor and severely hung over the next day. But the planets were aligned, jesus smiled down on us in protective benevolence and we kept going, rising to a crescendo with the atmosphere and the band (who kicked ass). Me and Ed danced together, alone, we strutted, we sang, we laughed, gyrating, jumping, playing off the barflies and each other and it was one hell of a good time. We don't give a damn about what people think about us and it is truly liberating to just be, to air out your soul in free form insanity.
It was a perfect day and we had a magnificent blast. How do you capture that formula? That's the problem. What was the combination of things that allowed us to drink a river of whiskey and just have fun with no resulting payback, no remorseful suffering? The food, the atmosphere, the music, our mental state? Because I guarantee you if I drank that much whiskey today I would pass out and suffer like a dog when I woke up.
Who knows. It's a mystery. It was a day when alcohol was the perfect fuel for an excellent time, one feeding the other in a cycle of laughter and release. Best not to question it. Even better to forget about trying to duplicate it. That would probably be disastrous. I'll take it for what it was and dig the memory. And yeah, I do remember it.