Saturday, August 19, 2006

Operation Drinky Drinky

Tied one on good last night. I just woke up. At the close of business yesterday, I was able to corral a friend from work to assist me in a personal mission that I gave to myself. It had been a lousy week, and I decided I had brain cells I needed to eliminate. So I declared Operation Drinky Drinky - an invasion of local bars for the purpose of instilling emotional numbness. Kind of a poor man's version of Jim Carrey's memory erasing in the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Fortunately, I was saved from another night of merciless solitude by -- let's call him P.F. (not his real initials) to protect the innocent. I'm friendly with P.F. but didn't know him that well before last night. On a whim, I asked him if he had any plans after work. He initially said he had to work late, but after I explained to him the gravity of my current condition, and because he is of the Irish persuasion, it did not take much convincing for him to leave work and join me in Operation Drinky Drinky.

So, around 6 p.m. we began our night's journey at Local Watering Hole, an outside bar located just below our office. It's so close, that on any Thursday or Friday afternoon in the spring or summer, you can hear the siren sound of the happy, drunken rabble beckoning you to leave your office and come out for a drink. "Just one -- c'mon! Life's too short," it seems to say. When you hear the joyful, insistent call of mirthy merrymaking, it makes it quite difficult to continue working.

P.F. and I went downstairs and walked into the bar, which was packed with other proleteriat escapees from office jail. P.F. bought the first round -- two drinks, not one -- so that we wouldn't have to stand in line again. Fabulous idea! Operation Drinky Drinky was off to a promising start.

P.F. is around my age, has two kids, and is in the middle of a nasty divorce, which has been going on for two years. He told me of how he got married in his mid-twenties (I think that's how old he said he was -- I was pretty hammered by the time I followed up on some of these details), things with his wife slowly changed over time to the point where they were not even friends or life partners anymore. They were enemies shooting at each other. The reasons for the deterioration in their relationship, he said, included their different expectations about what they needed from each other, their different values in raising their kids, and the negative way in which they handled disagreements.

Since they married young, they struggled financially and this also contributed greatly to the stress on their marriage. Ironically, when he finally landed a lucrative position at a law firm and was able to pay off both of their student loans and achieve some financial stability for his family, the wheels began to come off. According to him, when he started working longer hours as an attorney, his wife complained that he wasn't home enough and wasn't spending enough time with his kids. As a result, other, more personal issues began to come to a head. Eventually, after several years of marriage and two kids, they decided to divorce, initially at her urging. But now, after two years of acrimony, he is fully on board with the idea.

Of course, once you bring asshole attorneys into a situation like this, it's like gasoline on a fire. Particularly divorce attorneys, most of whom do not make their living by helping you achieve a smooth landing in a divorce. No, no. It's Krav Maga baby! Legal street-fighting, in all it's fucking glory! An eye gouge here, ball kick there, and before you know it, you're living in a cardboard box, trying to pick up the pieces of your life, crying into your Ramen noodles, which you are now eating for dinner every night. "How did this happen? Slurp, slurp." "Why me?"

Oh, and it makes great theater for the kids too. They love it!

Obviously, I only got one side of the story last night, and I know there are two. I also know that there is no perfection in any relationship and everyone has problems. Some people work them out, though, and learn how to to deal with conflict. Others don't. Still, it amazes me when I hear stories about how two people who once loved each other very much can decide to go for the jugular in a divorce, particularly when they have the well-being of two children to consider. This poor bastard didn't have a place to live for 5 months because he wanted to keep his house and retain some semblance of stability for his kids instead of selling the house and downsizing, which he easily could have done. And of course, while all of this was happening, he was getting slammed by people at work, to the point where he thought he was going to be fired for not billing enough hours.

Pretty, yes?

The good news is that P.F. has bounced back and is doing just fine, thank you very much. He is good spirits, and if you talk to him, he sounds like someone who has been through a lot in his life and has learned from it. He's channeling his bad feelings into yoga, the gym, and meditation, and he's out there, back on the horse, trying to meet someone new. Either um... someone temporary, or perhaps someone more permanent. He's an equal opportunity employer at the moment. Says he doesn't think he will marry again, but I don't believe him.

There are thousands of stories like this in the Big City. This is only one of them.

So, as the beers were kicking in at Local Watering Hole, we left the bar because P.F. was getting a little peckish. He was in the mood for sushi, so we stopped at a Japanese restaurant also conveniently located near our office. Since I was having a liquid dinner last night, I wasn't too hungry, and only had two pieces of tuna, yellow tail, and crab stick sushi, along with some miso soup, which I love. P.F. ate like a horse and downed some sushi and two dragon rolls, which were enormous.

Afterwards, we decided to go watch the rest of the Red Sox-Yankee game, and we ventured towards Second Avenue to find a bar suitable for that purpose. For the uninitiated, Second Avenue in midtown is frat bar hell. There are like 20 Irish pub/B&T/college bars located up and down the street, packed with college kids. We went into three of them last night, and the clientele was always the same. For the guys, it was young, fit, crewcut (what is it with this trend - you're going to be bald soon enough guys - enjoy the hair while you've got it), Cro-Magnon types with blue or white striped shirts, untucked, designer jeans, yellow, rubber, Lance Armstrong bracelets (or a colorful variation), and a trendy necklace, perhaps made out of leather with a shark's tooth, stone, or crystal pendant, because they're really mysterious, and ladies, they want you to know it. Put that together with a New Yawk accent (dees, dem, and dose) and there you go.

Today, all men under 24 apparently work out like crazy -- almost every guy in the bars we went to last night was built like a brick shithouse. I don't remember this being the case when I was that age. Shit, in high school, I remember eating these little chocolate donuts for breakfast and not thinking twice about it. Fortunately, I ran track and burned it off, but working out then was never like it is today. The only guys who worked out in the gym were the football players, and they didn't even like it that much. Things were much different in MY day. (Where is my cane?)

I guess the culture has changed now so that young men are as body conscious as women, and they work out like lunatics just to keep themselves at par in the mating game. Thank goodness I grandfathered in on that deal! Women now want to be sleeping with Men's Health cover models and men want porn stars. We're on the Highway to Hell alright.

Anyway, for the ladies last evening, we had slightly more variety, but not much. Since they were all under 24 years old, most of them were in decent shape - life's slowing metabolism had yet to kick in for them. There were a lot of bottle blondes with bright white teeth and fake tans (not that there's anything wrong with that), wearing some kind of ass-tight designer jean with a trendy pocket symbol, a white, aqua blue, or beige top that exposed virtually their entire back, tied behind their neck, and then draping down to just barely cover their boobs in front. Others wore cotton colored tops with short shorts or jean miniskirts that ran up so high that I thought their butts were going to fall out. They didn't leave much to the imagination. And to complete the ensemble, on their feets, they wore strappy little shoes with heels to show off their recently painted toenails, which were always colored some shade of pink.

I, of course, noticed none of this, since I was too busy watching the Red Sox-Yankee game. (I'm going to ignore for now the fact that the Yankee$ absolutely pummeled the Red Sox yesterday, sweeping a double-header. I've got enough to deal with right now than to focus on the misery of the Red Sox missing the playoffs.)

It had been awhile since I had ventured into a frat bar, so I was a little frightened and confused by all the noise, music, and shiny lights. Maybe I was too drunk, too old, or just plain too salty, but while the ladies I saw were physically attractive, they all seemed to give off an air of insecurity to me. They seemed to be trying too hard. Maybe it was the Stella coloring things, but I don't think so. I guess I'm used to being around better.

Thankfully, I'm here to report that Operation Drinky Drinky was a great success, and I have the hangover to prove it. Kudos to P.F. for dusting me off and getting me out. While I used to think that frat bars were only suitable for casual gawking and for the behavioral study of the younger generation, I learned last night that if you're a littler older and down in the dumps about your Love on the Rocks (no big surprise), the frat bar experience can really help you by reminding you that you have grown and matured over time and changed for the better. That when life decides to fuck with you, you shouldn't lose sight of who you are as a person and what you've accomplished.

Now I need to get over this hangover and get my ass to the gym. Pronto.

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