So since starting this blog, it appears I have already fallen into the "I want to write about x,y, and z but I'll do it later/what's on my DVR/I'm too tired to write about anything/it is summertime and people actually want to hang out with me/let's go eat an italian ice" trap that I normally fall into. You know that trap? It is a tale as old as time, really.
So today I'm going to talk about how this weekend may have put me off vodka and dive bars for awhile. For a long while.
This weekend my brother and sister-in-law (well, she will be eventually) had their joint birthday bar party on the lower east side. My brother turned 23 and his gf 24 so although the crowd at their party was varied in age, most of them were youngins...in their 20s. Let me preface this by saying that I spent the better part of my 20s on the lower east side, inside its bars, restaurants, on its sidewalks, romanticizing the heyday of the neighborhood that I *just* missed by being born 5 years too late, etc. But really just inside its bars. I used to go there often and I used to drink there often. So when my brother sent out the invite I was excited. I haven't spent any significant amount of time there since I jumped the ship called NYC four years ago. Whenever I encounter resistance in myself about how NYC has changed for the worse, I really know it is just me regretting ever leaving and being marooned in my nostalgia. Actually, that's not entirely true but I digress.
ANYWAY, my brother chose a pretty divey place, the kind with no sign out front, no natural light possible and really old hand me down taxidermy everywhere. You know the kind. From the outset there were three major signs that since the last time I spent any time in that atmosphere, I had changed:
Sign 1: The music was so loud that the same image of a single, continuous blood drop trickling out of my ear kept replaying in my mind (and the image had those weird horizontal lines that one saw when a VHS tape was worn out, so, you know, strike 2 on that). (The old me would have happily settled in and been prepared for a night of shouting and drinking).
Sign 2: When my mother, also in brief attendance at the party entered and said "I keep picturing a rat running across my feet" I believed and understood her. (The old me would have pish toshed that and laughed at all the old people in the world).
Sign 3: It took a very, very long time for me to decide what to drink. There are so many factors that, after 16 or so years of drinking socially, I have learned need to be considered before ordering a drink at any bar where there is a choice. (The old me would have said "what is the cheapest beer you have?" and called it a night.)
As it happens, even after 16 years of practicing the fine art of knowing my limits and which alcohols to avoid, I had not yet reached a conclusion regarding vodka. Whenever I think of vodka and my experiences with the liquor, it is sweetened with memories of juice or coke....cacola, or just flavorless, scentlessness so it seemed like a good idea...at first. I'm also perpetually in a state of watching my weight and vodka seemed clear enough to be low fat. So I went with a vodka tonic. Which was made by a bartender who didn't know how to make a vodka tonic apparently because it was all vodka. Though, you know now that I'm thinking about it, that used to be a boon for me at those bars. A selling point of going to a bar in that neighborhood was always "oh the mixed drinks are strong." So that's sign 4 then, I guess.
Anyway, I gulped it down, determined to get a better drink the next go around. Through some form of miscommunication I think, I ended up with another vodka tonic. Then another miscommunication got me another vodka tonic. And then the twelfth miscommunication ended up with me and a vodka tonic. The good news was that they started to taste better (there were roughly 100 bartenders there); the bad news is that when I say I drank so many vodka tonics through miscommunication, I am lying through my vodka hole.
It being July during a heat wave, a windowless, airless dive bar is like hanging out inside the mouths of sweaty, tobacco chewing overweight men, and that's experienced through the eyes of a sober person. After many vodka tonics, and over the age of 30, it is Malebolge.
Prudently deciding that the air had become unbreatheable, my sister and I left in a taxi. During the taxi ride a few shameful things happened, namely I passed out only to awaken and nearly vom all over the city. Thankfully my sister was sober and had gum. Vodka makes you think gum will stop you from vomming. In this case, vodka was right. I was able to hold it together and make it into my sister's (unairconditioned) apartment which happened to be housing four other people that night, necessitating that my poor sober sister share her bed with me.
You might think that aforementioned gum was just a blip in the annals of my personal drunken history. And it would've been had it not somehow fallen out of my mouth and ended up in my sister's hair.
So there you have it. The real reason I will stay away from vodka and dive bars is that I am old.*
*The REAL real reason is that my drunken stories have, over the years, become very, very pathetic.
Happy birthday to A and K!