I can see clearly now…do I like what I see?

20140125-070727.jpgFirst and foremost, let me say, I have not ever been a “drinker”. Oh? I tried. When I say the purpose of my story today is not about alcohol per se you may think, “Really?” My response will be, “Oh no, it reaches far more deeply into the ticking of my inner clock.” And with this I shall begin.

When I was about eleven or twelve I attempted to raid my parent’s liquor cabinet…I had watched my grandmother get schnocked, act very silly and pass out on the sofa after “organizing” the bottles and in my youthful inquisitiveness, wondered what it was all about. I climbed the step stool, being the short young person i was (and still am), opened the doors of said cabinet, selected bottles with the most interesting labels, opened them, had a couple tiny sips of perhaps seven or eight, capped the bottles, replaced them where i thought they had been, closed the cabinet, ran to the guest bathroom, puked the contents of my alcohol laden stomach into the toilet, lay down on the carpet in a drunken moan and didn’t touch the stuff ’til I was about eighteen. At that age, I was in Scotland on a tour of the woolen mills, where I sampled warm beer (blah…yuck) and one hundred year old Scotch (puke…then snore) at the distillery.

In Paris I fared no better. “Imagine all that glorious French wine!” people told me. Since I was to be visiting the couturiers during fashion week (I was on a tour of Europe because I was designing clothes back here in LA) I should be sure to try some fruit of the vine. At our tour sponsored hotel and after a day of lectures and shows, my sister fashionistas and I procured liters of cheap red wine and took them back to our rooms where we promptly commenced to imbibe. I had a glass or two, vomited, then held the heads of my friends as they did the same only for longer since they had consumed far more than I. The balance of my trip was a dry one, at least for me. Of course some of you enologists out there are probably muttering, ” You drank cheap wine, what did you expect?” Of course I drank cheap wine, I was eighteen and knew no better. I still threw up and it left a deep impression on my psyche.

Throughout the years I have dabbled in tasting alcoholic beverages with little fanfare. Frankly the taste has been interesting but I realized early on that my imagination and inhibitions have always been mildly alcoholic in nature, i.e. I have little inhibition and my imagination is so “out there”. So why bother adding something that will upset my stomach and make me fall down and want to go to sleep! Needless to say my bar tab has always been low and I have been known as a cheap date.

I have reserved my few forays into the world of alcohol to Passover where I might have a sip where called for by the Haggadah, New Year’s Eve toasts and special occasions. Alas this is where I shall finally get to the true purpose of writing this here post.

When my sweet Maxie passed away in August of 2012 (shit it’s been almost a year and a half) I became inundated with people offering to help and conversely, but not too surprising, given my career as The Healing Artist, those wanting my help.

Its a big deal to open one’s home to people in need, especially when one is in mourning. The situation elicits all sorts of questions from all sorts of true friends and relatives. Do YOU need all those people in your home? Can you trust him, her, them? Are they paying you rent? How long will they stay? I could go on, but what would be the point? Anything anyone might’ve said during those horrendous months of moaning, crying and wondering what day it was, let alone who was living in my home, didn’t register deep enough in my consciousness to have made a difference. But that is all hindsight. I am now, through seemingly small but quite effective series of jolts, awakened from my grieving slumber.

Jolt #1 – Max’s jeep. I knew I needed to sell it, but it couldn’t bring me the money I required to pay off our bills, so I chose to fix it up enough to sell it and hopefully provide me with some cash to repay debts. In September 2012, Chris, car guy “friend” of Max offered to “fix” the car, but by July 2013 he had fixed the car so much it needed a new engine. He also ate me out of house and home, left the house, yard and garage a greasy mess and me scratching my head wondering what the hell I was thinking…and I should throw the guy out. Fortunately, Dan, actual friend came to the rescue…finally today the jeep is restored and I’m putting it on ebay as we speak. Wish me luck getting it sold…for a profit.

Jolt#2 – The juicer. I bought a super duper juicer right before Max got diagnosed with cancer. Funny how I had the impulse to purchase the item not knowing we would use it as much as we did. Anyway, that’s irrelevant now, an entirely different subject and I have put the machine to use with some regularity since his demise. I HAD great plans to put it to heavy use upon my return from Austin, after my gluttony there. I arrived home late Saturday evening, threw my clothes in the wash, grabbed a glass of water and toddled off to bed, though not before I caught a foul smell emanating from somewhere in the kitchen. I mused, “probably the compost” and went to bed without looking for the cause of the odor.

In the morning, I returned to the kitchen, on my way out to walk my four love-hounds. It was there my senses were abruptly awakened to a rotten stench. I headed out the door, dogs in tow with the thought, ” I’ll deal with whatever it is when I get back.” My dogs wouldn’t have allowed further sleuthing at that point; I knew it would’ve been pointless to have tried arguing with them.

An hour later, with tired dogs, I returned. I checked the compost bucket. No real stink, but I emptied and scrubbed it anyway. The smell persisted. I checked the fridge, the trash, the oven, the toaster oven, the washing machine, under and in the cabinets….and finally the juicer. When I flipped open the lid I gagged. Not a gentle gag, but one big giant gag like I imagine a bulimic might make when all fingers are coaxing up the last remnants of a binge, or when I drank all that cheap French wine. Yech!

I discovered the person who had left the rotting juicer was none other than Carlos, the brother of my housemate, who I had allowed to stay in one of my rooms while he “got on his feet”. My big mistake. The scoundrel is an alcoholic in the wasteland of denial. No, i am not exaggerating. I pondered whether I should name him here, but decided that if he chanced to read this during a sober moment perhaps shame might be indeed a good thing for him, because you see the juicer was not his only transgression against me and my home, and if he is not sober and reading this he will be too messed up to care. The rule in my home, as he had been reminded countless times…no drinking…not my booze, not his, not anyone’s.

Jolt#3 – The Magnum. My dearly departed to the Great Beyond, Max, had bought a magnum of Pierre Jouett champagne in 1983. It sat in his refrigerator for decades, the reason for which …he was keeping it for a very special occasion – landing a lead in a feature film, selling a screenplay or hitting age 64. When we met in 2004 and he moved in subsequently thereafter, the magnum moved with him, and I shared his vision to celebrate with that humongous beautiful bottle. And throughout our wonderful years together, then Max’s bout with cancer and even up until New Year’s Eve December 31, 2013, the bottle remained in the refrigerator, untouched, waiting.

Max didn’t land a lead in a film, nor sell his screenplay and he didn’t live long enough to see his 64th birthday, but my intention to celebrate him this coming March will be without that very special bottle he had coveted for so many years. No, Carlos and his alcoholic brother Johnny, made sure of that. They buzzed through the coveted $500 magnum, several very expensive bottles of sake, tequila, scotch and god knows what else in the course of New Years celebrations, then replaced the bottles, carefully back from where they had stolen them. As if I might never notice. But I did.

It was a week after I returned when I ventured out to the garage where I keep a second refrigerator with the booze and the dog food. Yes, I know, that’s an interesting combination. Anyway. That’s when I noticed the uncorked magnum and the empties of sake sitting there next to the bag of carrots and sweet potatoes on the shelf, chilling. Too bad, I had already thrown Carlos out of the house because of the juicer. He packed up his stuff like the rat he is and hightailed it over to an elderly relative who will clearly enable him until hopefully she has the sense to call the cops and have his ass dragged into rehab or jail wherever the gods of karma deem right.
Had I known about the theft and the myriad of glassware that had been broken during Carlos and Johnny’s drunken celebration before I had thrown him out, heaven knows what I might’ve done, besides hunt for shotgun shells or ring his neck with my bare hands. (Wow, really?…maybe…no, but it sounds good in my sober but creative imagination).

Thankfully I am now fully awake and quite sober about having thankless houseguests. Its also a week since my discovery of the assault on my home. I have made peace with myself about celebrating my 64th in March. I can see clearly and now that I am free of freeloaders and liars and I like what I see.

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