I once met a guy who legally amended his name to Trout Fishing In America. I don’t recall the events that led to his decision to change his title because those explanations are always very long and circuitous and filled with personal revelations that I just can’t focus on when I’m fixated on the to-go bag of food getting cold in my hand. It’s like when people want to elaborate on the significance of their ancient symbol tattoos. It’s not that I don’t find Sanskrit emblems enormously fascinating, particularly when imprinted on the lower back where a future assisted living center nurse can feel inspired every time she wipes a sponge over it, it’s just that I don’t require the justification.
I assume these things were done during a time in your life when you were very drunk.
I don’t mean to be condescending about that. In fact, I sort of admire it. As a person whose head begins to throb after a glass of wine and whose dry heave reflex fires at the mere tingle of beer on the lips, I wish I had the constitution to go tie one on and make some regrettable decisions. I envy all the bad drunken outcomes: piercings, unadvised sexual liaisons, stolen cars, quit jobs, confessed love, lost money, tube tops. Even pregnancy. You can always spot that woman whose kid was probably conceived after too many whiskey sours. When my gaze falls upon that woman, I think, there ain’t no shame in a lot of bubbly and R&B on loop. And that is a lot more romantic than what people think when they view my gaggle of children: She must be Amish and needs helping hands around the farm.
At least drinkers have stories. Even those who die from drinking. Their family members memorialize them through fond tales of the bus they tried to steal from a theme park and the time they fell from the roof pretending to be Santa. I will probably die in a most unmemorable way, like in front of my computer trying to redeem a free shipping code, which absolutely no one will want to talk about. As for the living and breathing drinkers, they may not have a functional cerebrum to recount the stories, but they give the gift of storytelling to friends and bystanders for a lifetime.
If it weren’t for one of my best friends from college, I would never be able to entertain colleagues with the tale of the time he entered a stranger’s home, fell asleep on their couch and woke to the glare of a policeman’s flashlight in his face at which time he refused to vacate the property before finding his shoes. If I’m at a wedding reception and placed at a table filled with strangers, I can always rely on the rousing tale of the time a sorority sister woke up naked on the floor of the Campus Crusade for Christ house. That one has all the gripping elements of a great epic — intrigue, nudity, eternal damnation.
I can’t compete with my own tipsy yarns because they begin with a glass of sparkling wine and conclude with me falling asleep with half-chewed sheet cake in my mouth. Or involve a misguided purchase, like gladiator sandals. Although there was once a very boisterous night at a Mexican restaurant with my husband where I consumed an entire margarita. After we paid the check, I wasn’t ready to go home. I was feeling a little woolly, teetering a little close to the edge. So I suggested … a movie. On a Tuesday. No matinee. Full price.
However, we never made it to the show because I disappeared while Greg was buying the tickets. He found me across the street in a cafe, sitting alone at a table with my own personal s’mores setup. It may have looked like a benign scene, a contemplative girl partaking in a little dessert, but make no mistake, my actions meant that two other people nuts enough to see a movie on a Tuesday night were out of luck because we’d bought those tickets and hadn’t claimed our seats.
You can see how this tale doesn’t exactly elicit a big response at a cocktail party. Before I even get to the part about how incautious I was being with an open flame, the other guests are swallowing their Lunesta and interjecting with statements about how early they have to wake up in the morning. So I do what I always do. I resume my post in the corner, eating garnish and adjusting my Spanx, wondering why everyone at the party seems to think Sue is such a riveting raconteur even though all I’ve ever heard her talk about are actuarial tables. Then I listen more closely and determine that Sue is slurring her way through a story of the time she was detained at a Canadian border crossing, wearing only a bathing suit, after drinking a dozen Molsons with a Saskatchewan hockey team.
On a Tuesday.
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the midcoast, where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog I’m Gonna Kill Him. Follow her misadventures on http://imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.