Saturday, January 5, 2008

It is my questionable privilege to have...

...the dubious distinction of sitting the longest in a bar - Carrie Nation's - in a week - longer than any other patron on record, but in those days of fierce, open drinking when you could drink as much as you could pay for or cadge with no due regard to drunk-driving laws or any other laws, well, competition was formidable, but my life was steeped in misery then, self-induced of course but real at the time while these other desperados trying to set a record were lightweights, kids showing off, but I, ah yes...I was sunk in the nether world of despair and felt little need to get a breather of fresh air now and then by taking a hike in the woods, o no, 'O bartender, Mark, s'il vous plait, another libation mayhaps and listen, ah...whisper, whisper...I'm a little light see, do you think you could spot me a pitcher or two, maybe couple shots of bar whiskey, throw in a burger...ah thanks Lad! Good fellow!'

And so it went from Monday at opening bell - 8 ayem til closing at 1 ayem - 17 hours later, and only then did I totter away to the alley I called home and crash on the ripped sheet of wallboard I used for a bed under the porch of the Joy Chow Chinese restaurant with the rest of the stinking vermin.

...and Tuesday at 8 ayem I was back in Nation's again until one ayem, 17 more hours and so it went for the whole week until finally it was over and I had tallied up a grand total of 114 hours at the bar. What a success story, huh? Talk about overtime...and there was no real hangover because there was so little time to sober off.

Ah yes, there's not a lot I don't know about alcohol. You may think you're quoting Hamlet after about half a bottle of Jack but really it's no more than alco-babble. Anyway, some distinction don't you think? Falls a little short of summa cum laude from Brown but it'll have to do.


...when I suddenly took a breath and nothing happened, then another, still nothing, then a horrifying choking spell, each barking gasp unaccompanied by oxygen and I rolled off the bed onto the floor - I CAN'T BREATHE! - blacking out, clawing at the wall for air, and through the dirt on the floor I got a glimpse of darkness, like in a casket in the ground and when I finally caught my breath I breathed uneasily for half an hour, inhale, exhale, laying still unmoving on the cold floor, inhale, exhale, something you always take for granted, and later every fuckin' light in the house is on, I mean that was pitch black, death dark, no air and I was very nervous, figured I was dead.

My lungs didn't work?! Mercy! I'm cuttin' back on my dope...start eatin' the shit, never mind that liver for lungs...until this moment I prided myself in saying death did not frighten me - it doesn't in concept, but when you can't catch your breath, lungs bursting, BRAIN bursting! - I rethought the case. It is not death itself I fear, rather how I get there, and what's next if anything.

Well, ain't dead yet and another day has passed since the incident and my late-night fears are far less gruesome in the light of day, plus the resolve which filled me last night to cut back on my herbal intake wanes and I spin and burn one.

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