The grey sky is confused with even darker clouds. Autumn Equinox started nearly two months ago, but today was the first time that it actually felt it. Something is brewing, but it doesn’t exactly feel like a storm. The world is seemingly falling apart around us and my Christian upbringing painted my imagination towards the hues of something out of Revelations, but I left religion a long time ago. God went silent on me and instead, I began praying to Dionysus on nights like this, until I’m crouched over the porcelain stool, cursing his free will.
I remember a few years ago, nearing the conclusion of a souring, sour-mashed conversation I was having with another patron at a bar in North Hollywood, he dismissively said, “I’m guessing you’re one of those pessimistic, glass half-empty types,” and without thinking, I responded, “No, I’m one of those glass not-enough-whiskey-in-this-motherfucker types.” I don’t know why that stuck with me or how I even remember saying it, seeing how I can’t recall anything else that happened that night. Or during that time frame in general. But here I am, sitting at another bar on the other side of the country, during another communion, still bitching about my life without making any real changes to it.
The drink has changed though, and I’m ordering screwdriver after screwdriver like Ordell Robbie taught me to. This isn’t exactly a place where everybody knows your name (most of the patrons didn’t even speak English), but I’m more than fine with that. I’m sure the bartenders even introduced himself to me more than once, but I still slap the bar, yell out “Yo, Szyslak!”, hold up an index finger and make a circular motion around the empty glass.
I was supposed to quit drinking at the top of the week for the umpteenth time, but these things never work out as expected. The plan was to enjoy my last bottle over the weekend and start fresh on Monday, but I passed out too early Sunday night and when my alarm began to portend the workweek, I yawned myself up with the dehydrated stench in my mouth and spotted the bottle of Tito’s with a few shots left inside. Those few gulps led to me needing a refresher during my lunch break which provoked me to buy another bottle after work. Next thing you know, it’s the uneventful Thursday between “hump day” and “TGIF” and I need something to get me over the finish line. I can always try for sobriety next week.
I’ve had Hell In A Cell bouts with moderation that haven’t panned out. It never really had a chance. I was waking up in somebody else’s reality. Circumstances had thrown constraints on my life and I felt like I didn’t have control over any of it. The fear of everything and nothing at all became a Siamese to me. I’ve become ashamed of my indolence. Habits I used to have have become burdens. My distractions aren’t distracting enough. I was dealing with mental issues that I had an Alzheimer’s grasp on and no amount of ephemera could take my mind off of the embarrassment of being alive. Sobriety just added horsepower to my already overthinking Virgo. My life had hardly become worth the dead skin and dandruff that flaked off. It’s tough finding something that makes you feel better. A lot easier to find something that makes you forget you feel bad.
These salty tears could rim margaritas.
Szyslak tops me off and I begin to sip as if time was no object. It feels incredulous to me that in an universe where everything that can possibly happen is all happening at once, I’m stuck here tattooed to this barstool, my trademarked bad luck as a companion, quietly commiserating with every other patron in this bar who are drinking like they’re sponsored. Life doesn’t owe you a smile, but nobody deserves to go through it without a little warmth, and I needed it. Even if it was just a fleeting facade, I needed it. In the exact same way that people need God to help them feel hopeful about beginning a new day. The love is exactly the same. The only thing that changes is perspective.
When I snap back to reality, the cool water in the toilet bowl is splashing in my face as the swirling vomit gulps down the hole. I hear footsteps behind me just as the toilet is coughing up residual orange and red flakes from my cleanse and I try to concentrate on them slow my mind down. The tan lime scale and brown water stains made for a beautiful picture.
Szyslak fishes me out of the toilet and pulls me up on my feet. He states very obviously that I’m not in the position to drive myself home and offers to order me an Uber since he has a few free credits. He tells me to splash some water on my face while he rings up my tab, and I obey since he’s the adult in this situation. When I lift my dripping face out of the sink, I take a glance into the mirror, much like the other mirrors I’ve been avoiding for some time now. My features have been replaced by a permanent bloat. I stare at my visage, berating myself. Memories of the younger, more svelte version of me chastising my position in life, ashamed of how far I’ve fallen off.
Then I make my way back towards the bar for a nightcap, stumbling forward, while taking the proverbial two steps backwards