Wednesday, May 22, 2024


In an attempt to make my life (and this blog) more interesting, I went out for a bit yesterday.  I hit a new bar called "Death in the Afternoon," a tribute to Hemingway, in part, as they serve up a version of the absinthe drink he wrote about and enjoyed.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let's go back.  

I've been stressing lately.  Stress is a health hazard and I try not to, but I am a genetic worrier.  I take all things hard and deep.  Sounds sexual, I know, but it is emotional.  It shows on me, too.  It always has.  People can look at me and know something is wrong.  The least little thing, really.  

"Are you O.K.?"

Some would call it "moody," but I internalize things in a big way.  I do try, however unsuccessfully, not to show it.  

But I've had much on my mind lately.  There are medical things.  I had a call from the doctor's office last week asking me to call them on Monday.  What the fuck?!  That's worse than having your boss tell you s/he needs to speak with you on Monday.  The weekend's just fucked.  

I also received a letter telling me my homeowner's insurance had been cancelled.  Trying to insure an old wooden house in a hurricane state is nearly impossible.  I had three weeks to find new insurance.  

There was that along with the fact that I have waited too long to clean and paint the deck and the apartment stairs.  The heat has come.  I'll have another heat stroke.  And there are repairs that need to be made that Tennessee said he could do "in ten minutes" months ago but hasn't, so I need to hire people.  

And there is my mother's health.  

If you are thinking that I am a hysterical little twit, it is OK.  I get it.  But, you know, I've been keeping it all to myself.  I'm only telling you now because for all those things I have taken "hard and deep," there is a "happy ending."  


I could give you a loooong explanation, but I will be mercifully brief.  I had been calling and leaving messages with my insurance agent that were never returned, so yesterday I called the underwriter.  I think that is what they are.  I don't really understand the term.  They told me that the agent had not filled out some forms, but they had just done so and my insurance has been reinstated.  If I hadn't called. . . . I thought I had done something wrong, that I was the fuck up, but indeed, it wasn't me.  It was them.  A week of worry was over.  I'll get nothing for it.  

The doctor's office just wanted to tell me that my insurance recommends a colonoscopy this year.  What?  They couldn't have just left that in a voice message?  

My mother seems to be doing better lately.  We've been checking her blood pressure daily, and it has dropped into the normal zone.  She's been up and around a lot more.  

And I've decided to hire people to do the work I don't want to do.  Fuck it.  I just want it off my mind.  

So, having shed some of my stress, I decided to get out and about a bit.  I wanted to get some good green tea and write for awhile.  I went to the Cafe Strange.  When I walked in, the tall girl of whom I took the photograph that I shared with you some time ago was working.  She is often quite austere if not cold, but when she saw me she smiled and chatted and was awfully friendly.  Huh.  I should ask her if she wants to make more pictures, I thought, but I have recently decided that girls no longer like me and that I shall from now on simply smile and nod and look away.  Which is what I did.  It is a conscious decision which brings me some peace.  There is no fool. . . as they say, and I won't be one.  

The tea was loose leaf jasmine green tea and was delicious, but the air in the cafe was muggy which makes the filthy place--and it IS filthy--even stickier.  And the tall girl with the tats plays terrible music far too loud.  The cafe was empty and dull.  I really go there for the freak show, but there was only an aging dj I know from years ago sitting with his friend and growing very fat.  He had the miserable look of all those who know their time has come and gone, who are relegated to the dusty corners of the life they have created from ego and sloth.  

No, no. . . him, not me.  

I didn't stay long.  I hopped over to the liquor store across the street and got some vodka thinking I might like to make a martini later, not dry, with three big olives.  Ice cold.  Just one.  

My mother was well when I went to see her.  I had bought handrails for her shower that a handyman was going to install.  He had.  I went in to check them.  They were perfect and made my mother very happy.  She drank half a light beer and was in good spirits as we chatted.  

"You know, mom. . . there is a new place I think I'll try today my buddy told me about.  He says it is me.  They open at five.  I think I'll pop in and have a look.  One cocktail before I fix dinner.  Do you want to go?"

It was a rhetorical question, of course.  When I told her a couple days ago I thought I might head south to the ends of the earth before the storms came, I asked her if she wanted to come.  She just shook her head no.

"I'm afraid to travel anymore."  

"Me, too.  But I need to."

The place was hard to find.  I drove past it twice.  There is no sign telling you that it is there.  You just have to know.  It is an absinthe bar, but the leather bound menu of drinks is as thick as a small novel.  One might be tempted to try to drink one's way through it, but it would take a month or more.  The doors had just opened and I was the third to sit at the bar.  The other two were men older than I, I think, though it is difficult to tell.  As I sat down, I heard one tell the other, "I recommend having an acid flashback from time to time."  It was that kind of place.  

I didn't have my glasses, so I was having a difficult time reading the menu.  But I'd read about the place earlier.  

"What can I get you?"

"I'll have the signature cocktail," I said.  Death in the Afternoon, same as the bar. 

Death in the Afternoon: absinthe, lemon, raspberry, sparkling wine. Anise forward, refreshing, bubbly.

It was.  I took the photo, of course, and sent it to several friends.  The McLaren gymroid wrote back right away. 

"Absinthe sold in the US must be thujone-free. In essence, it is missing the ingredient that makes it the 'green fairy.'"

This was on a group text, so I had to straighten out the little prick.  

"Wrong.  The laws changed in 2004.  It contains thujone, but at only 1/3 the amount of absinthe sold in Europe."  

There was more, but I'll spare you.  I was enjoying my $16 cocktail.  And it might only be my imagination, but I swear it hit me differently.  I'll admit. . . I AM the imaginative sort.  

I have a bottle of strong absinthe from the Czech Republic that Q sent me many, many years ago.  I used it as a prop often when I had the studio.  

I have held onto it rather than drink it for nostalgic reasons, but one can buy the strong absinthe from Europe legally and have it shipped, or so it is told (link).  This is the one Q shipped to me.  Twice.  First time he wrapped it poorly and it was either broken in shipping or broken by customs agents.  

I think I'd rather order more than open my legacy bottle.  

When I got home from the bar, I made a Greek salad with garbanzo beans and chicken, opened a beer, and sat before the television.  But it didn't work.  The cable was out.  It was relaxing, however, to eat without it on.  I shouldn't watch television while I eat.  I will stop.  But after dinner, I had no t.v., internet access, nor music.  What was I supposed to do, read?  I read much less than I used to.  I looked at my book shelves.  Holy smokes, I used to read all the time.  I went to the bedroom and chose a book from the side table, got my glasses, and sat down to read.  I was having trouble, though.  Was it the drink?  I felt it was the drink, my imaginative absinthe.  Yes, I felt different.  I liked it, but not for reading.  I moved over to the couch and lay down.  I didn't want to read.  I wanted to think.  I lay in the darkening air without music, without distraction.  Just thinking.  

It was as much fun as I've had in a long time.  

But in a bit, I heard a ping.  It was the computer.  That meant the internet was back on.  The rest of the night would be like any other.  

All my worries are not gone, but. . . whatever.  The couch meditation did me some good.  The days will be hot and sunny.  It is the end of the earth, perhaps, but there is absinthe.  

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