Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Colt 45 Chronicle #93

The end is in sight. I have scanned and counted the last installments of this project, which end with #98. Below is the last letter that has a seasonal date scrawled at the top in pencil; the remainder, numbers 94 through 98, are miscellany, undated and unsent, though one, the next installment, #94, is a birthday note to my buddy Mark that I do believe was delivered.

The letter below is a another fine example of the steep price of the high life, the trapdoor of Romanticism. Young people like a good party. Much of their lives are spent in pursuit of the bacchanal. But often the bacchanal goes awry, as I describe below.

The epistle concludes with a description of spousal abuse, a verbal lashing I gave my wife for a lapse in her memory -- probably from too much alcohol, pot brownies and too many medical-school textbooks -- that led to the aborted bacchanal. No wonder the marriage would disintegrate in a little more than half a year. Also, the final paragraph provides a convenient transition to the forthcoming miscellany. I explain to my friend Mark my inability to write unless I am drunk; subsequently, as I explain, there is much that has gone unsaid and unmailed.  
Autumn 1989
Well, Mark, it's Saturday night here and around 52 degrees. This morning the temperature was in the mid-80s. Around 12 o'clock PM the thermostat started to drop. Two hours later it was 58 degrees. That's almost 30 degrees in 120 minutes. I think the television  was saying that it was record of some sort for the month of September. But anyway, 52 degrees feels pretty damn cold.
Shit, I'm sorry I missed you on Thursday. Ashley and I had gone out to grab a bite to eat, and when we got back Colin told us that you had called from JFK. I feel shitty about not getting in touch with you before you left. I think you called twice from California: once when I had puked and passed out after a couple quarts of Colt 45 and half a fifth of Jim Beam charcoal-filtered -- or some such filtered -- bourbon whiskey; and the other time I was out post-work $3-a-bottle beering with the boys.
As to the first call you made, get this -- Ashley never even told me that you had called; rather, I should say, that she did tell me, but not until I had got a bunch of people and quart bottles together for your eagerly anticipated Monday-night arrival. Gary and Eleni were over; Antony was going to make his way up on the 1 train as soon as I gave the signal; Ashley, yes, that's right, all-forgetting Ashley, was busy preparing pot chocolate chip cookies (she had chopped down one of her plants that night, one of the males that was about to go to seed); the stereo was chirping loud and happy; and we were all in that great good stride of a real goddamn shindig.
But the clock ticked right on up to 11 and you were nowhere to be seen or heard. The cookies had long ago been made. Antony had called and cancelled because of the late hour. Eleni was beginning to whine about work in the morning. Gary was looking star-dusty after gnawing through a few of the freshly-baked treats; and I was getting real sore, busting into new quarts and cursing the day that you had been born because -- goddamnitall! -- you hadn't phoned to inform us about what was what. I was totally amazed at your disregard, especially since you had made a point of having me write down your September 11 flight information.
During this whole drama you mus'n't forget little rosebud and petunia Peterson. The whole time that we're expecting you to come striding in the door, she's just as giddy and enthusiastic as the rest of us; but as soon as the festivities began to sour, she was the first to pile on and start complaining about what a inconsiderate dick-sucker you were.
By 11:45 PM the lights were out and Gary and Eleni were gone. Ashley and I were in bed. The beer massaged me and I was rapidly scooting off to dreamland when all of a sudden Ashley blurted out into the dark bedroom, "Oh Mike! I forgot to tell you! Mark called Friday. It was that night; you got really drunk. And . . . well, um . . . oh . . . I had been drinking too, and, oh . . . I'm sorry, but he called that night to tell you that he wouldn't be coming to New York, something about not being to get a flight, or something."
I couldn't believe my ears. There was no way she could be saying this; it was far too cruel to be dismissed as inconsequential, a benign loss of memory. So I let out a good roar and started tearing right in: I called her disgusting and selfish; I told her that she was dripping with the shit from her own bloated ass; I told her that she was vain and disrespectful, that she was a worthless ninny with an acute case Alzheimer's disease at the ripe old age of 24. I concluded the oration with a flourish: an elaborate, breathtaking construction of an onto-psychological schema which put forth in no uncertain terms that little petunia Peterson was deeply and mortally flawed. There was absolutely no hope for her; and that as soon as she woke up in the morning she should get right on the phone and make all the necessary arrangements to have herself institutionalized.
Ah, yes, with that said, I turned my face to the wall and nestled my head into a fluffy pillow. A smile creased my cheeks. I was soothed in the knowledge that Ashley was feeling bad, and that I, subsequently, was feeling better.
Man, you know what? I've written a lot of stuff to you that I've never sent. It's usually written when sober, tossed down on subways, on palms and napkins. But I can't double-write; I can't copy down from notes, whether crude or immaculate. I can't copy them down and put them into a letter. I am suffering from the myth of self-presence (as Derrida would say). Sure, sometimes I cheat. But when I cheat it's usually just a humble and malnourished subway idea, never whole stories, never whole lines. 
Fuck sobriety. It has to be done from the gut, or the heart, or the beer-buzzing brain, but never ever otherwise. It has to be done all at once, in a streak, like Roger Craig hurtling and cleating for pay dirt over a team full of linebackers; like Mendoza slapping high fives with Asian drunks in Irish bars after the 49ers trounced the Chicago Bears in 1987. I was there to see the majesty of Mendoza, and I'll always been there, a gape-eye appreciator. Hopefully we'll make it to heaven together.

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