I’ve been spoiled over the last 10 years: I worked at a company where Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day was a blissful seven-business-day stretch of paid holidays. Every year I left the office on December 23rd—or sooner, depending on where the weekend fell—knowing I wouldn’t be back until January 2nd—at the earliest.
As you might imagine (or might have read, somewhere…), that kind of winter break can give a man ample opportunity to suitably numb himself up. And you would be right. Oh, so right.
I now work for the typically sterile, overly-cautious kind of corporate organization that wants employees to drive through a winter storm to be at work the day after Christmas—just because. Don’t get me wrong; there are, of cour$e, benefit$ to making that kind of tran$ition (especially when you’re not married to a beautiful European duchess—damn you, life goals!). But after 10 years of drinking single malt scotch well past 4 a.m. on Christmas night to wash away any headaches my family had caused in the prior 48 hours, drinking ginger ale and going to bed before midnight is roughly akin to that first Christmas when every gift you unwrapped was some item of clothing.
Long-winded intro short, I didn’t get to drink as much as I wanted to last month. And I have a newfound respect for the words of Joni Mitchell.
But I did drink, of course. I mean, it’s not like my failings as a human being stopped being a topic of family discussion.
Saturday, December 22nd
While I have my atheistic leanings, here’s why there’s a small part of me that believes in not only intelligent design, but intelligent design by a deity who’s a total dick: Esq, soon to move into a big new house, chose this night to be his final “Let’s all black out and fall down” night at the swanky apartment where he’s resided for the past eight years. That Saturday was also the opening night of the NFL’s Week 16, better known as championship week in fantasy football. I had managed to make it into the title game in my most cherished league. My opponent, you ask? Why, Esq, of course. And this meant that I got to hear his shit talk live and in person as Tony Gonzalez scored one solitary point for me, and got the ball rolling towards my second straight year as league runner-up. *sigh*
Fake football aside, the night was a welcomed reward after a long week of work. Chief was in town; and along with Tank, Breitling, Tony, BAL, and “The Greek”, we helped send off Esq’s once bumping bachelor pad in grand fashion. Before we had even finished pregaming, there was gambling, wrestling matches, slices of bread being scattered about the apartment and hallway as people beat each other with loaves, Esq strumming a guitar in a neighbor’s pad, and a warning from the building manager that the police had been called because of the ruckus. We had clearly devolved.
That seemed like as good a time as any to make our way to the bar, so we grabbed roadies and headed out. As we strolled out through the building’s parking lot, a police car rolled in. While the cops went inside to respond to the call, we discreetly dropped our half-full cans of beer into the bushes like eight drunken Keyser Sözes and calmly continued on across the street.
Cabs took us to Barroom, and alcohol took us over the edge. Breitling got a table in VIP, and I played Entourage for the first time in a few years. At some point several of us headed down to the dance floor, where I managed to slip and fall flat on my back while trying to pull off some dance move that I’m 15 years too old to do. I laughed my ass off, grabbed another drink and kept on partying. One of the few joys of being in your 30s: The simple fact that you don’t care anymore.
Sunday, December 23rd
…Well, until it comes time to clean up the messes you’ve made. Pre-treating the stains on my shirt that morning was delightful. And I felt like I’d damaged at least two of the three major ligaments in my left knee. My hangover was of secondary concern.
My friends and their respective hangovers, however, were not on so casual of terms. The doldrums of married life has softened some of them, and as a result their day was especially excruciating. Esq, for one, texted me updates throughout the day.
“Woke up at 1:30. What the hell happened last night?! Too old for this shit!”
“It’s 5 pm and I still feel like hot garbage.”
“8pm, still feeling terrible. How the fuck did we used to do this twice a week EVERY week?!”
By that point I was at Armo’s, putting back drinks with TJ and others. It’s so sad to see people fall off their game.
Monday, December 24th
Christmas Eve, as is tradition, saw TJ joining some of my clan for dinner and drinks at my mother’s house. Wine bottles, beer cans, ham, and weapons-grade-passive-aggressive-vitriol found their customary places at the dinner table. TJ gave me a bottle of 12 year old Glenlivet, which I’m confident will get put to good use. Maybe not quite as early as it would have in years past, but…
Tuesday, December 25th
Before the aforementioned ginger ale and self pity, the day resembled just about every other Christmas of the last 10 or so years. Late morning my mother and I had breakfast, and then opened gifts while sipping spiked eggnog. I got a bottle of something nice among my gifts (this year Jameson; there’s a running debate between that bottle and I over whether or not it’s going to live to see St. Patty’s Day). And we had a few drinks during a quiet dinner, while wistfully remembering Christmases past. Later, I briefly considered stopping by Shady Grove on my way home, before remembering…*sigh*
Wednesday, December 26th
Work, snow, and shitty roads. The City of Pittsburgh gives about the same amount of effort to clearing snow from its streets that Rolando McClain gives to self-awareness. (The answer, for those of you playing along at home, is “zero”.)
Thursday, December 27th
Dupa was back in town, and gathered several of us to join him at Fathead’s. [It occurs to me that even the most loyal and regular “On the Rocks” reader might be confused by Dupa being “back in town”, seeing as how I failed to inform you that early in December he moved to Houston, TX. Seems that would be a fairly obvious blog topic, right? One that would have been discussed at some point in the past month? What can I tell you—I suck.] I downed some He'Brew Jewbelation and doubled my body fat percentage with TD, TJ, Mitch Canada, and Dupa. Then I went home and fell into a beer-and-grease-induced coma.
Friday, December 28th
For all of my bitching about not having more days off, when Friday night rolled around I chose to stay at home (I would argue, though, that this had more to do with the exhaustion brought about by working that day; had I been home and rested, things may likely have gone differently). Instead of foraging for boobs and drinks out at the bars, I ordered food and did some home bartending while watching Goldfinger on DVD. Don’t judge me.
Saturday, December 29th
TD has recently moved in with Boy Toy in Mt. Washington, and had told us at Fatheads earlier in the week that she wanted to have some people over for a small party. Nothing too crazy, just some drinks, games, and laughter; a low key night. As I went about my Saturday afternoon, she sent a text at 1:57 p.m: “Come on over whenever!” That was followed just a few seconds later by another text reading, “[Swag] said he has Four Lokos.”
Thankfully, my schedule (and more shitty weather) meant I didn’t get to their place until after 7:30. TD, Boy Toy, Swag, Mitch Canada, Finger Bang, and Boy Toy’s buddy “Friction” were playing Catch Phrase, wherein each round the members of the losing team had to take down Crown Royal Maple minis (there are thousands stored in TD’s place—a perk of her job). “This is healthy,” I thought. I popped open a bottle of Sam Adams Cream Stout, and was one sip in before being admonished by a slurring Bang, all because I wasn’t drinking Four Loko (mind you, the Loko can she was waving around as she talked was bigger than her face). TJ eventually joined us, and I soon had a can of Loko in my own hand. By 9:30 I couldn’t spell blotto—though I’m sure I could’ve written a 30-page blog/thesis about being it.
Canada and Bang found their way to the South Side, while TD and I walked to Redbeard’s. I don’t remember much of our time there (aside from a convo that was more familial than those that I’ve had with my actual family, and TD asking our cute waitress if she could make out with her). We stumbled back to TD’s, and at 2:30 a.m. I snapped out of a mini-blackout to find her facedown on the living room floor. Friction and I, like any good friends would do, snapped pictures of our fallen amiga like paparazzi seeing a Lindsey Lohan/Amanda Bynes head-on collision.
Sunday, December 30th
When I opened my eyes late the next morning, I was the only one in the living room. The scene was no less damning, though. As I jotted on my phone:
TD’s kitchen looks like something out of Mad Max. Half-empty bottles of Ciroc. Fully-empty airplane bottles of Captain Black and Crown Maple. Miller Lite cans. Sam Adams bottles. A frozen pizza box. A jar of pickles. Four Loko cans. Bottles of water—as though there was innocence amongst the carnage.
I gathered up myself and the bottle of Ketel One that TD had given me for Christmas, and shuffled up her snowy street. New Year’s Eve was only two nights away. But before that, unlike in years past, I had to be at work—no carousing the night of the 30th.
My head throbbed anger at itself for thinking too hard. Maybe I could get used to this more restricted way of life after all.