stories >> 1997 - 10 - 12
Thursday was the big day. I got in, and there's a huge meeting going on
in my little section of the office. Then, I find out that a massive email
process had broken. Then, I have to call someone about some lousy adverts.
Then, something else crashed and burned. AUGH! By 6:00, I'm hassling my
office mates to go get a drink. I keep telling them, "You know, I hate
my job. I hate the web. I computers. I hate this office. I hate myself.
Hell, I even hate you guys." Jim and Jeff smile and agree it's time for
So off we go to the Boar's Head. On the way over I tell them, "You know, I hate this bar." We decided, foolishly, to sit outside. After a few hours, the waitress sticks her head out and we finally get to order a beer. I'm so tired, and it's so humid, and she wants to know what kind of beer I want, and I just tell her "Make it a cold one, please." I blindly follow Jeff's lead and get a Bass. We watch everyone filtering out of GE, AJ going off to dinner, Johanna out walking her dog, Colin walking by as well all duck behind the rail and try to not be noticed. After two beers Jeff goes home and Jim makes his first call home of the evening.
Some guy has brought his kids with him to the bar. He's out there smogging a big fatty cigar, drinking beers, and his kids are coloring in coloring books. It's ludicrous. I want to go over and smack the guy... bars are bad enough places for adults, let alone your little kids. Egad.
Jim and I are still so stressed by work that it takes us another two rounds to quit talking about some random crappy piece of functionality. I'm watching the sun set through a tear in the clouds, and I'm thinking "Why the heck are we talking about this crap? I hate this crap." We both snap out of it at the same time, laugh at each other, and the waitress asks us if we want another round. She brings the beer and the check at the same time: cut off again. I guess you can bring your kids and blow second hand smoke in their faces at this place, but you can't get stinking drunk. Ah well. By this time we're rolling along pretty good, so we go back inside to call Jamie again. Some guy is doing telephone banking or something on the pay phone and is on it for what seems like hours. Jim starts betting me that I can't kick the lintel above the door. "Ah ha, grasshopper!" I tell him as I start whipping the axe kicks past the door frame. Jim's suitably impressed, but unfortunately this sets a bad precedent for the night. He tries to call Jamie again, she's not there, time to go off and drink some more.
Work our way down to the District. Our man JD is not behind the counter, but the owner (Al Ziz or something) is there playing pool so Jim schmoozes him for a while. I go ask Sally, JD's replacement for the night, for a pair of gin and tonics, and settle down to swill some booze and watch hockey of all things on the TV. Turns out that Sally's a big hockey fan -- I don't know a thing about it. We see some guy garrote another dude with his stick; the assaulted player has blood running down his face, and they both get thrown into the penalty box. Strangely enough, there's this old guy wearing a three piece suit also chilling out in the penalty box. I tell Jim, "You see that guy? He did something so heinous the first year there was an NHL, they put him in the penalty box and it's *STILL* a power play for the other team!" Jim laughs and says "Yeah, they used to have six players on a hockey team." A few more gin and tonics, and Jim wants to call Jamie again and go play pool.
We play a few games on the back table. Jim thoroughly criticizes my pool bridging skills in that endearing way he has ("are your damn fingers broken?"). I'm pretty sure that I don't win a single game. Jim decides it's time to play up front again, so I go off to the bathroom for a quick stop. While in there, I start thinking about my kicking prowess of earlier in the evening, so I decide to take a swing at the wooden divider in the bathroom. To my surprise, it's hinged and swings freely. So I figure, what the heck, hit the wall. Ouch. Hmmm, maybe that wasn't a great idea. So I give it another shot to confirm what a bad idea it was, and decide maybe it's time to play some more pool.
Back up front, and we're playing the owner of the bar and his pool shark sharpster buddy Scott. A few more gin and tonics, and I'm missing lots of easy shots and not really caring. I finally set up for a fairly difficult play, and I hear Jim and 'Ziz behind me dogging me. "No way he'll make this shot. No way." 'Ziz says "I'll bet my Mercedes that he misses it." Oh really? Hehehe. Snick, snack, sunk, the five ball rolls in perfectly. I turn around, smile, and say, "Where are the keys?"
We school 'Ziz and Scott, and the next couple of guys step up. Some other guy named Jim, and eventually Scott works his way back in. I'm totally bored with playing pool. Suddenly, there's a phone call for me behind the bar. It's Jamie, and she's unhappy with the turns of events. Jim hops behind the bar to talk to her too. It all gets smoothed out, Jim and I tussle our way back across the bar to the pool table.
The new Jim starts commenting on some women walking by, so I run out and try to persuade them to come inside the District. I'm trying to talk to them while walking down the street and I walk right into a light pole. Pretty slick. I try to salvage what grace I have, give the lamp a kick, start laughing, and go back inside. I'm laughing about it with Jim and Jim, who's telling me which bartenders are gay and who they're trying to pick up on. We're done, and I give my last drink untouched to our new Jim.
Old Jim and I walk outside, and I just start hollering out the gritos for no good darn reason. There's a bunch of kids in front of us who think it's kind of cool, or at least weird, to see a couple of anglo guys raising such a fit, so they holler back at us over our shoulders. Very sweet. We do this back down the street to GE, go inside to get a drink of water, are surprised to find Patrick awake, and off we go to our various environs.
I wake up the next morning, unsurprisingly, miserable. As I'm sitting in the shower feeling lousy, I start thinking maybe it's not such a great idea to go get drunk so much. Here I am, feeling bad, $60 lighter, my liver that much crispier, my hand is bruising up nicely from all that foolishness last night, and I decide, what the hell, I've gotta give this up. So I decide not to drink until 10/31... which puts a few formidable obstacles in the way, namely a Gourds show and the Halloween party. But I figure that it's easy enough not to drink when there's no incentive... you've got to do something hard to do something worthwhile. I feel better about it now, and it's about time I got to work anyway.
Work is a million times better than the day before. AJ dogs me as she usually does, "How's the head, Big Al?" Pretty bad, thank you very much. I'm going to eat a waffle now. Oh yes, the big development dinner today. I squeeze my way through the day, Jim looks about as bad as I do. I really just want a nap. I'm kind of waiting for 4:30 so we can go on up to the Macaroni Grill and have dinner.
Whew, that was a long day. I drive Jim and Jamie, and I think that maybe MoPac would be a good way to go. Yeah, what a great idea. Jamie decides that it would be fun to play that alphabet game where you look at other people's license plates. We realize pretty quickly that this is a lousy game when you're stuck in traffic and see the same six cars for fifteen minutes at a time. So we start playing "I Spy." Which also turns out pretty lousy, because we all say "I spy something... er, gray." We give up on it when Jamie stumps us all with, "I spy something flying!"
At Macaroni's we have Lisa the waitress-with-a-self-confidence problem. Won't look you in the face, won't tell you the specials, won't speak up, and is obviously bitter about her job. Jamie and I are drawing on the table with the crayons and Lisa manages to dump both our menus right on top of our superb crayon drawings. I lean back and can barely keep my eyes open. I really just want to crawl underneath the table and take a nap. Just like I was waiting for 4:30, now I'm waiting for Andy to show up so that we can eat and get a move on.
Andy does show up with his clan, and the Jeff rolls in with Kim and Nathan, and we all manage to get our orders out to Lisa. When she comes back with the salads, she ends up with one left over. She turns to Jeff and says, "I have an extra one, do you want it?" He tells her, "Actually, it's not extra, I ordered it."
The Martin children are extraordinarily well behaved even if the little one is terrified of me. C'est la vie. Andy spends about 3/4 of the meal standing up and rocking the baby back and forth, until he can't take it and hands her off to Lori. Nathan draws lots of aliens on the table. I'm praying that I'm going to get whatever the heck it was ordered. As I keep nodding off into the cream sauce, I hear the scary opera singer crank up. For those not in the know, Macaroni Grill thinks it's cool to have this freaking soprano wander around and belt out arias during your meal. A lot like those mariachi guys at some Mexican places. The old gal's got some pipes on her, but opera's always given me the creeps, and when I see it live hurtling out of a quivering giant woman, all I want to do is crawl away and hide. Ugh. Luckily, the meal's almost done and we can sneak out before we get any librettos thrown our way.
We say goodbye to Jeff, and the three of us go catch a showing of "LA Confidential." Great, great movie. But the three of us do wonder about some of the random candies that they have out front: Sour Straws, and "Air Heads", some sort of fruity airy thing. Yiugh.
I take Jim and Jamie home and wonder if this is what sober people do all the time.
Saturday, Cantone calls and I tell him about this non drinking plan. He tells me, "Shoot, my man, there goes my weekend plans." Ha ha. We hang up, and I start thinking about this Halloween party that I'm not going to drink at. I start to get interested in making a cool invitation, and then I think, "Heck, why not do it on the web?" So I surf around to find some cool pictures, and try my hand at photoshop to make the star background. I never realized how hard it was to put five dots on to a black background and not have it look like... er... five dots on a black background. I make the cool web invite, call up the McDonalds' and get their approbation, and mail it out.
So, I'm moping around, thinking "Gosh, what am I going to do with my free non drinking time?" It's raining outside, so I think "Shoot, I can't go for a run..." but then I start reconsidering. I'm thinking, "You know, I'm always soaked after a run anyway, so why not? It'll be like Rocky!" Now I'm excited. I get the brightest shirt I can find (that red tie dye), put on a pair of shades to keep the rain off, and start humming "Eye of the Tiger." I look in the mirror and give myself a couple of shadow boxes, think I look pretty tough, and I bound out the door.
Ha ha, I am Rain Running Man! I see someone who's umbrella is blowing inside out. I run up beside them and smile, water dripping from head, and think, "Ah ha, Rain Running Man has no such problems! Poor citizen, with your umbrella!" I bound across the road and am feeling like I could whip twenty marines. I splash through the puddles. I soak in the rain. I run into a low hanging tree branch, and now I'm really soaked. The water's running down me like I was in a shower. But Rain Running Man does not stop, oh no! On I go.
I see one or two other jokers out running the rain. We all carefully avoid looking at each other, I suppose because any sign of comradery might make us less tough. They're as soaked as I am... and running more quickly, I'm annoyed to see. I run a little farther than the usual route, and on the way back I stop to pick a big branch up out of the street. "See how Rain Running Man is civic minded!" I cruise by a few other guys, who are still running faster than me, so I decide to pick up the pace. I huff my way back to the apartments, soaked to the core, but pretty happy and immeasurably self satisfied. I take another shower, get warm and dry, and think that this sobriety thing might not be so bad.
Anyway, Jamie calls up and wants to go to MacFrugals. I find out later that MacFrugals is one of those depressing stores where everything is supposed to be marked way way down, but it's really just a bunch of kind of junky stuff that's thrown all over the aisles. The people who run it don't care to keep it cleaned up, and the people who shop there don't care about wrecking the place, and almost all of the stuff is so mind numbingly lousy that I almost start crying when we eventually walk into the store. I can't describe how much these places effect me... but we do end up there eventually, and look at all of the cardboard coffins and monster hands and shaking ghosts, and buy some Halloween stuff, and look at the grubby kids playing on the display that has the sign "Do Not Play on Display" hung from it, and look at each other, and decided we can't handle this anymore. Off for another movie.
The dollar theater is showing only two good movies, both of which are sold out, so we stand under the awning and try to decided what we want to do instead. I'm watching this black Eclipse: when it pulled up, the two teen age thugs next to us bounded down to it. Apparently it's full of teen age girls. These guys are as happy as can be to have the girls talking to them. They jabber about where to meet, and then another group of male thugs wander up. Apparently, the girls in the car are willing to tolerate these guys, and start talking to them instead, so our first group of thugs are standing there glumly. I'm engrossed by all this, for some reason. I'm vaguely telling Jamie about my plans for the coming week, and she's telling me that we're going to Blockbuster to rent some movies. Good enough, into the car, and off we go. Those five guys are still hanging around the girls' car. I laugh in spite of myself.
Off to Blockbuster, and Jamie wants to see "The Last of the Dogmen." I keep trying to find the most offensive movie boxes, like "Gator Bait", but you can't get a rise out of Jamie that way. So we get the dogboy flick. They've got one of those gumball machines that has the spiral gumball track in it, so I bum a quarter off of Jim to get one. About six kids are engrossed by the gumball, so Jim gives them all quarters so that they can get gumballs too. I think, "prety cool," until I put the gumball in my mouth and almost gag on how sweet it is. The woman behind the counter laughs when I tell her, "Yeesh, my jaw just about froze shut this thing is so sweet." My eyes are tearing. Wow. This is what kids eat?
Unbelievable. It's raining real hard now, and on the way home we pick up someone who's car has stalled. We give her a ride home, then back to the McD homestead. We make some popcorn, Jamie calls Priscilla to invite her up, and we start putting up some cool Halloween decorations. The orange lights are cool, the purple lights are pretty cool, and the fake pumpkins are everywhere. Jim half heartedly starts trying to goad me into having a drink, but he gives up pretty quick, and we settle in to watch the dog movie... which also turns out pretty good, if you ever get the chance to see it. Pretty predictable, but Tom Berenger looks so cool riding his horse around that it's forgivable.
Priscilla shows up, we watch another movie, and then we start watching some damn TV show about poltergeists or something. Rain Running Man is now Trying To Movie Watch But Snoozing Man, so Priscilla agrees to give me a ride home and we head back to town. Priscilla gives me the low down on how she hired some snake in the grass apartment guy to find her a new place and he keeps showing her all these crappy places that she wouldn't keep her dog in. She's a little bummed out by it, but she's still got some hope of finding a new place. She drops me off, and I wander up and go to sleep.
So I wake up today and I think about that scene from that Jane's Addiction movie, "The Gift", when Perry Farrell comes into the rehab and tells everyone, "You have now been drug free for one day." I'm kind of looking around at all of the wine bottles (something like 38 right now) and thinking, what if I quit drinking, what am I going to do with all this stuff? Hmm. I think about it a little more, but then Jamie calls and I remember that I promised her and Jim that we'd work out today. Cool enough, I get dressed and head to the gym.
I stop by the cinnamon roll place next door to get a cup of coffee. I had scraped out $1.22 from the change drawer, and I'm a little nervous when I see that it's $1.11 for a cup of coffee. Inflation, I'll tell ya. I get the coffee, dump this artificial creamer thing into it, and suck on it until it's cool enough to drink. I'm sitting outside the cinnamon roll place and trying to eavesdrop on the two guys talking on the curb. All I can hear is the one who keep emphatically saying things like, "If you take a'hunnert people... and multiply that by ten times... the total power is increased..." I'm thinking that 1,000 people isn't really that much, and maybe this guy's got his numbers screwed around. I'm thinking how ironic it is that we're exposed to statistics like this everyday, and how we still don't understand them but we can at least talk like them.
Anyway, into the gym. Jim's riding the exercise bike, with a big smile on his face. "This is great, man! I didn't realize you could watch football and exercise at the same time!" I laugh, and I settle in for 24 minutes of watching the Dolphins and the Jets. Jim tells me that he's coming back every weekend to watch NFL and ride the bike. I tell him we can pack my gym back full of beers and ice, and it'll be a regular tv party. If anyone asks, we'll tell them we're drinking our "high carbo sports beverage."
So Jim proves my point about working out with other guys: 1) we always try to outdo each other, and 2) we reinforce each other's laziness. At each exercise, we try to be the second one doing the set. Jim does six reps, so I do seven. I do twenty crunches on the machine, so Jim does 23. But after about five exercises, we're both sitting on the ab machines looking at each other out of the corner of our eyes. "Uhm, are you tired." "No way, man." "Uhm, will you be tired after one more set." "Hmmm, I think I might be real tired... after another set." So we do our last sets, get Jamie, and go over to Serranos to blow it all on queso and enchiladas. I love working out!
So now I've got 19 days of sobriety ahead of me. I wonder what's going to happen. I'm afraid that the weekend updates might suffer. I'll just have to make stuff up, I guess. And there's always Halloween to look forward to :)