Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Long View: Being, in no particular order, 25 things I've bumped into along the way and have not forgotten. Yet.

15. Alcohol
The more you drink, the funnier it gets: I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy. Funny, huh? The first job of a crazy person, a crazy person once told me, is to make you crazy too, bring you into their world. Alkies are the same way. "Have another," they'll say, "I'll buy." And before you know it, you're buying. For those of us with anxiety carved deep into our lobes, alcohol is the great soothing agent, the great release. Most of us no longer get drunk, I'm sad to report. Once you've been going at it hot and heavy for several decades it becomes a part of your personal ecology. If you're lucky you get lightly buzzed while those all about you are going to pieces. You don't spill things or vomit on yourself or get hostile or start touching inappropriately. You stay you, but a significantly less anxious version. It can be glorious. Once you turn pro, you start by late morning and keep going through the day or as long as your finances hold out. You become seductive and manipulative and a brilliant conversationalist -- all qualities that encourage others to buy drinks for you, more fuel to keep the entertainment coming. The great alkies -- think Wilde, Whistler, Bacon, Mailer, Vidal (it's an endless list) -- were cut from the same cloth: Brilliant, or at least very smart, charming, funny, wordy, wicked, sexy (though not that into actual sex), and with the stamina of cape buffalo. You could call them deplorable, sad, shipwrecks. On the other hand, they were given a life to spend, they spent it lavishly. As Charlie Parker put it when considering his naked form in the mirror shortly before he died: "I done wore this thing out." He was 35, the coroner guessed 70. I got another one for you: Two lobotomists walk into a bar...Cheers.

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