It is 9 p.m. on New Year's Day. I am lying in bed in the aftermath of an all-night lurch-deathlike and confused-staring at the paneling and wondering what the hell happened last night. How did I get home? Did I really sleep through the entire first day of 2003?
It is horribly unnerving. I haven't blacked out in many, many years. How could I have allowed this to happen? At my age? I thought I was older and wiser than that; thought that I had learned well from the lumps and lesions of my alcoholic youth. Clearly, I was wrong.
So what the hell did happen last night? Who was that silhouetted man walking and talking in my place? Did I make a fool of myself, or-oh my Jesus crap-have I hurt anybody?
Thus begins the horrible piecing-together of my New Year's nightmare.
It all began after my bartending shift on New Year's Eve. We locked up the bar and had a perfectly fine after-hours employee bash that lasted past 5 a.m. After the party ended, I made a spontaneous decision to take it to the next level. “Frig it!” I thought. “Today is the first day of 2003. I have a pocketful of tips, a gullet-full of Red Bull and just happen to know of a wonderful pub in stumble distance from my house.”
When I first stepped into Lucy's Tavern, my hippocampal neurons were still firing quite well, thank you. I remember the fatherly bartender who regarded me with suspicion. I remember the jukebox bleating something by the Stones. I remember the bar crowd being mixed between old-man morning-drinkers and more all-night silhouetters like myself-strung up on Red Bull and unwilling to let go of 2002 without a fight.
Once inside, I began hammer-boozing. I broke every rule in the book of responsible drinking. My stomach was empty and the mission was clear: Fun at all costs.
I started on the vodka Red Bull, moved to Bloody Marys, then red-beer, Long Island (God help me, I think there was even a shot of tequila in there), a few Rumplemintzes for good measure, a Jagermeister, another Jager, Jagerblaster, Jagerblaster rah rah rah-launching an all out assault upon my poor, old medial temporal lobe and bringing on the first signs of my mind's eclipse.
I remember a religious argument and something about my “rotting in hell, asshole.” I remember insulting someone about his juke selections. (“What is this garbage?”) I remember Light Man Bob-the old Bacchanal stage light man-pining over how he once painted his blue and red and green canvases over the likes of Ray Charles, Ronnie Montrose and Leon Russell, and then a Rumple appeared, and Bob was leaning in as I drank it, yapping in my ear while his two-foot, silvery beard rubbed against my cheek, nausea then, and the room began slowly revolving, and the bartender said, “You all right fella?”
I stumble out the door.
The eclipse is in full swing now. I'm hanging on to that last finger of brainlight, which will soon disappear behind the umbra of my drunken moon. I stagger down Voltaire Street toward home. Suddenly, I stop. What's this? The door of The Tilted Stick is open? Well, I can't very well walk by The Stick without saying hello to my old friend, Tree, the bartender. “Don't worry,” I tell myself, “I won't drink any more. I'll just duck in and say, ‘Hello.'”
But Tree is waiting for me, standing under the neons like a snarling bald demon. He pours an unsolicited shot of Rumplemintz and hands it over. But this is no ordinary shot of Rumpy. This thing is three stories high, two blocks wide, with claws that could shred your insides: Tyrannomintz-the Lizard of Death!
I don't remember the bottom of that shot.
I don't remember leaving. I don't remember walking home. I don't remember entering my house. I don't remember anything but waking up a few minutes ago, blind in one eyeball, deaf in the other and clutching the exterior of my medial temporal lobe, which probably now more closely resembles a vat of llama vomit than a human brain.
In retrospect, it was a minor blackout. There were probably only about 10 lost minutes. However, in blackout time, 10 minutes is an eternity. Ten minutes is waaaaay too many minutes to be wandering around with your brainlamp turned off and your dumb-ray turned on. Not if you want to see 2003. Anyway, happy New Year y'all. Drink smarter than me.
Ode to a Blackout So dark, so dark in here I can't see a thing Except those big boobies across the bar Do they belong to anyone? No? Well, then, I shall grab them And I shall grab them again It's a blackout, baby-it isn't my fault.