How should I tell you about yesterday? What do I leave in? What do I leave out? What do I
lie about change in the narrative? Everything I tell you is true, of course, but it is not always factual. As my conservative buddies obviously believe, fuck facts. . . we have The Truth.
Let's begin with a major confession. That is not a Margarita. It is a faux Margarita. It is NA. I dread telling this as I will surely lose credibility with my drinking friends. I know when they quit, I can't stand them. But I am fat! I'm a roly-poly, and I drink too much to lose weight on a bad knee, unable to run or really to walk enough miles. I quit drinking at the end of August, so I'm over the shudders and the shakes. But I like drinking. It makes the nights tolerable. Not drinking is a bore. I look around and see a literal world. My head is clear, my body awake. To what end? It is really too much to be in the literal world 24/7, I think. As the saying goes, the world is too much with me.
But let's go back a bit. Quite a ways. I've been working diligently on curating old photographs so that I can put together a representative website. To what end? So that I can lie to people I want to photograph and tell them I'm a real photographer. People won't just believe you. They want proof. I don't know why a website would work, but apparently it does. Right before someone beats you up or breaks your camera, you pull out your phone and show them your website, it seems, if you can believe those liars on YouTube. I've begun with the old Polaroid things, and as I work through them, I can't keep my pesky fingers from taking them into editing programs and cleaning them up and tweaking them just a bit, so it is taking a very long time. I'm even working up old images that I've never touched before. God knows when this will be done, but I've been working hours a day and making a folder of images I can choose from.
That is what I was doing yesterday until it got close to time to go to my mother's neighbor's going away party. I quit the computer and went to the gym (as I'm trying to get slim), then showered and got to my mother's house at two. The neighbors were already on the sidewalk heading toward the house a few down from my mother's where the party was to take place. My mother, though, was kerflumpt. Her garage door was "broken." She couldn't get it to go down or up. I looked at the thing, made some mistakes, then realized that the controller wasn't lighting up.
"Hey, ma. . . do you have any batteries?"
And then it worked. My mother thinks I'm a genius, but it was simply another day of being manly for me.
The neighborhood crowded into the party house. It was a fairly large group and not everyone would fit altogether in the dining room where the food lay. I looked around. There were a couple people my age and a granddaughter who could have been in her late forties or early fifties. The rest of the crowd was closer to the age of the woman who was moving. She is 99. Her eyes lit up when she saw me. I am her boy toy. She's a looker at her age, tall and slim and always impeccably dressed. She raised her children in her house, saw them grow and leave her with a husband who passed away some time ago. She has been a figure in the neighborhood for a very long time, and she will be missed.
My mother isn't pleased at all that she will soon be the oldest person in the 'hood.
I spent a couple of hours at the party, then headed out into fresh air. It was late afternoon. I thought to get a green tea at the Cafe Strange.
I don't know if I have mentioned that the cafe is also a bar. They sell good whiskeys at a very good price, too. It never occurs to me as I always get tea, but yesterday, sober-ish, I thought about that. Beer, wine, vodka, rum. . . they have it all. The fellow in front of me ordered a Cuba Libre. It sounded good, but I resisted. Green tea it was. As always, the place was full of miscreants and the dispossessed. It is a classically weird cafe with all the strangeness of the Fun House at the county fair.
Some people come in, get a drink, sit at a table, and shake their heads as they argue through some insolvable internal struggle. There are older people who look like Hashberry rejects, dressed in ratty shirts and baggy pants, sitting with their laptops doing god knows what but with great earnestness. I know a psychologist, a professor who teaches grad courses at the big state university who monitors his online courses there, and another, a Ph.D. in lit, who used to teach there but quit because he couldn't stand giving grades. He was, actually, the first bass player in my old band. He couldn't play for shit, but he brought a following of goofy hipsters and a very pretty girlfriend who stunk to high heaven as they were living in a van and bathing in lakes sometimes. There are college student study groups and gaggles of impossibly thin high school girls who huddle together as they will, looking around and giggling their wonder and derision of some person or thing. They love to crowd into the Photo Booth and get photographs which they spend their time critiquing in high, sweet tones. Young couples come in and order food from the grungy kitchen where fellows who look like Bowery Bums in checkered chef pants prepare sandwiches and salads and nachos and other bacterial concoctions. I watch people eat and wonder. . . but they are tougher than I, I would hope.
And there are the incredibly and strangely beautiful women who work there, a sort of Burning Man family unit, tatted up and pierced and terrifically photogenic.
If I ever get the nerve.
While I was drinking and writing a Cup of Tea vignette, I got a text from my mountain friend who had gone to Burning Man:
"What a ridiculous place out here to have a party. It’s amazing how all the drugs convince everyone how fun it is. The daily AQI equal’s that of Hiroshima after the bomb."
I'm not sure what AQI is, but I imagine he meant IQ. Ha! I guess he was "disappointed." I have not been enticed, as I've previously noted, to go destroy the desert on Native American ground with 100,000 people looking for transcendence through peyote while dressed for Halloween and riding radically "tricked out" bicycles from art installation to temple. This year, environmentalists blocked the road leading to Black Rock in protest of the destruction that takes place. I don't know if people understand that the desert isn't lifeless, but trampling down the microcosm there is not good for the planet, and this year organizers had to admit that they were not reaching their goal of "sustainability," not by a long shot. Despite their best efforts, there are tons of trash left behind that blows into the Indian reservations that surround the festival. "A few bad apples," organizers say, but you know how people are. They are considering a ban on burning The Man as well as the art installations and are taking suggestions on alternatives.
I have one.
I laughed at the text as I looked around the cafe. Who the fuck was I kidding.
The time for my usual cocktail on the deck was coming up, and I was already sick of drinking tea and water and kombucha, and I knew that I would be sorely tempted to drop the whole "dry September" bullshit knowing that it was futile, that it would be just like my dry January when I lost a couple pounds but put on more in February. However, I had an idea. Q had sent me an ad for some botanical whiskey substitute a while back. Perhaps I would try that. I drove across the street to the liquor store to see if by chance they sold such a thing.
When I walked in, a woman who works there greeted me.
"Listen. . . do you have any of those mocktail things." Then because I was embarrassed, I added, "I have a woman coming over who doesn't drink, so. . . ."
Yea, yea, yea.
She took me back to a shelf full of the botanical alcohol free liquors. Whoa! They were just as expensive as the booze. Oh, well. I grabbed a faux tequila and a faux whiskey and some Margarita and Old Fashioned mixers and took them to the counter.
"We'll see if she likes these," I said, eyes darting around the room.
When I got home, I made the Margarita you see at the top. I expected it to be terrible, but indeed. . . it wasn't. It was actually pretty tasty. I lit a cheroot and sat on the deck as usual. I was happy. It is a ritual. If this hadn't worked, I am sure I would have made the real thing.
The phone rang. It was Tennessee. He had tales to tell.
"What are you doing?"
I told him about Dry September.
"Oh bullshit. . . no. . . my birthday is this month. There is no way you aren't going to celebrate this with me."
O.K. Damp September, maybe.
"What are you going to do tonight?"
Did you know that they sell psilocybin chocolate bars legally in the Nation's Capitol? It is true. Legally. That is the nation we live in. There are reports that Senators and Congressmen are constantly nibbling at them, and that on weekends they do The Hero's Dose. There are stories of Mitch McConnell running naked through the hallways of the Four Seasons laughing and waving his hands like a medieval reveler. They say that is what is happening now when he just goes blank for minutes at a time. All reports on his health are fine, they say, but when those fucking 'shrooms kick in, he just goes down some rabbit hole in his brain.
"Well. . . I'm going to eat some of the psilocybin chocolate you gave me,"I told him.
"Oh, shit. . . you're going to open up another portal!"
I had relayed to him my last experience. I was bored. I'd spent the afternoon with the geriatrics and then sat at the cafe with freaks. I didn't want to spend another evening staring at the t.v. in a terrible sobriety. I needed something.
It was 5:13 when I ate the chocolate. I thought it better to do it early and not have it kick in once I went to bed.
Then I ate dinner, a tuna bowl from Fresh Market.
It was a pleasant late afternoon, a slight breeze, temps in the low 80s. I sat and waited for the buzz to kick in.
After dinner, I went inside and made a faux Old Fashioned. It wasn't nearly as good as the Margarita had been. The "whiskey" is too sweet. I think, however, if mixed with just the right amount of apple cider vinegar, it would be better. I will experiment with that tonight.
When the 'shrooms began to work, it was strange. I just got a terrible fatigue. I sat on the couch an closed my eyes. I felt like I should go to bed. But I was jittery. I remembered a fellow telling me that he always takes a Xanax when he does mushrooms. That, I thought, might be a good idea. I was cold. I got up to turn the a.c. up, and went to the bathroom to look and see.
I wanted more than Xanax to be sure. I opened an old matchbox.
But I wasn't, it seemed, and the box was empty. Of course.
I had some others, though, from an impossible love, the only kind available to me now, nice little orange pills. I swallowed one and went back to the couch.
A text. It was the girl who won't ask me out. She wanted to know if there was a reason I was doing a Dry September. I'm sure she was asking if I was o.k.
"I'm a roly-poly," I wrote.
"You're silly," she responded.
The chill was leaving me and I was starting to get over the fatigue. I don't think I have a good reaction to mushrooms. I have a minority reaction to many drugs. Opioids, barbiturates, and even Advil PM do exactly what they are supposed to do. They drop me into deep velvet. But Valium and certain muscle relaxers jack me up. Cocaine has no effect on me at all unless it is cut with baby laxative. I don't know how pot makes other people feel. Many people smoke or vape it day and night, but I don't really like it. It makes me feel really stupid. And I don't know how anybody tolerates speed. I can feel that shit killing me from the inside out. Nope. I'm not much of a drug boy. I have a very limited scope.
I won't be looking for any more mushrooms. I don't get zippy. I don't have fun. And they definitely don't give me any gob smack insight or bring me out of my depression. I'm adventurous and not afraid of these things, but I'm a simple romantic. A beautiful room, an exotic locale, some lovely tapas, a glass of wine or a cocktail, the promise of tomorrow, and my own true love. That's all I want.
I'm beginning to give up, though. I need someone to hold me. Maybe I'll adopt a war orphan.
The night has left me tired. I am going back to bed. First I'll need to write my mother and tell her if I am making dinner or not. Probably not. There is a lot to do. . . and I don't think I'm the man for it.
I'm just going to put this on and take a long chill. I am hideous.