It's Dark at 7 AM
“Did I have a good time last night? Did our guests have a good time last night?”
It used to be kinda fun when I couldn’t remember.
“Boy, the last two hours of last night are a bit of a blur, man. Can you tell me what I said?”
But I have to admit that I can’t have fun with this kind of question anymore. The other night at a dinner party one of the guests was telling me about how he and another friend were drunk and took turns pissing on come cyclists at the skate park one night. Me and the other guy listening to the story laughed and gave each other knowing glances. Because we knew. I’ve never been so reckless when I’ve been drunk that I’ve peed on another human being, but I know the state of mind, and not as a long-forgotten memory either.
Jill noticed that the leaves were turning colour when we were driving along the highway towards the cabin outside of Salmon Arm. “I’m sad the summer is over,” she said.
Every year I’m convinced that the leaves turn colour earlier and earlier in August. But the fact that I notice this every year means that every year I’m surprised at the exact same moment. Memory is not truth. The fact that I don’t remember that the leaves start to go yellow by August 10 is not a fault in wiring but rather an act of will. I’m sure that part of this defiance goes back to my 13 years of public school and the countdown to the first day of school. Yellow leaves means school. Yellow leaves mean sad.
But I do like autumn.
Hell, the only season you’re really allowed to dislike is winter. Popular consensus. If you like winter you’re a freak. Unless you live in Australia land winter is summer. But here in Canada, despite the fact that winter is completely out of our control, and that as kids we LOVED snow and snowstorms and snowball fights and cold cheeks and snow forts, as adults we are encouraged to bitch about it.
Jill was sick as a dog with a hangover the whole drive yesterday. I wasn’t “sick” by definition but I was tired and only two hours out of Calgary I was thinking that I was not going to make the whole 6-8 hour drive to the lake. By the time we make Revelstoke, only 2 hours from the cabin, we decided to eat a greasy dinner and stay in the Frontier Motel.
You don’t just drink for a night, you carry it with you the whole next day. This is especially a problem when you have to go to work.
The plan was that we would “dry out” on the Shuswap. No liquor. If you read this and you think that I’m a retard to even mention this simple prohibition then you’re not a drinker.
And it was looking good. No booze purchased in Salmon Arm. No pangs of regret. We had a load of healthy food from the farmer’s market.
We got to the cabin and discovered an 8-pack of Keith’s in the fridge, and a trickle of rye in the cupboard. We drank the rye first.
We were talking in the car about how school is such a weird experience. Jill was speaking. “I never wanted to be there, but I had too. I had to get up at, I don’t know, like 7:30 every morning and go to school. I rebelled as much as I could by cutting classes and that. We took a bus—a school bus—in the mornings and one day I missed the bus. So I decided to walk to school to ‘find out how long it would take me’ and I missed my first class.”
“You did that on purpose.”
“Yes! I took me 45 minutes.”
The “year” doesn’t start in January it starts in September.
We talked in the car about how school wasn’t just set up to teach us facts and skills, but also—perhaps more so—to condition us to a routine that began in the morning and ended in the evening. To prepare us for a life of work.
“Some people don’t end up with that routine,” Jill said.
“But most do.”
The end of summer is the real time for reflection and the actual moment to pull up your socks. New Year’s Eve in January is just a hella party that comes on the tail of all the Christmas parties that precede it.
I’ve always thought that New Year’s Eve is always so “disappointing” because the night is supposed to the BIGGEST party of the year, with suits and gowns and jewellery and HEAVY DRINKING and HARD DRUGS and you can never, no matter how hard you try, match the New York “When Harry me Sally” party in your mind. We learn that this should be New Year. And so New Year’s Eve is never New Year’s Eve.
This is a moment when Plato is useful.
But don’t get me wrong, the past few New Year’s that I’ve had have been the most fun. And this is because I know that I need to leave the city for New Year’s to be fun. If you’re in the city you’ll always know that there was a bigger party that you didn’t find. In the country, in the woods, you are the party. You are the city. I lost my bathing suit at Halcyon Hot Springs last January and don’t begrudge the fucker who boosted it one bit. I hope it cups his nuts in soft nylon netting like it used to cup mine.
The point is that September is the real moment for recollection, reassessment, and resolution. It’s hardwired into our minds—no matter what our profession or pastime of the moment—that the next step, the new beginning, happens when the leaves turn yellow and the air cools and the kids go back to school. And so fall is sad and a good time to think about drinking.
What’s Your Flavour?
When a person within earshot declines a drink because they “don’t like that,” I’m usually flabbergasted. This makes no sense to me. Liquor is liquor and sure, if I’m at the store I make discerning choices about how I’m going to get drunk that night; but the bottom line is: I won’t refuse a drink. It could be cinnamon flavoured with gold flecks, it could be thick with egg yolk, it could be the cheapest, sweetest malt liquor on the shelf but I’ll drink it. People who refuse alcohol are not drinkers.
I tried to pace myself the other night, when our friends were hosting us, by drinking Keith’s (a whole 8-pack) all night until I had no option but to start mixing myself glasses of rye and Safari (don’t ask) with a splash of soda. Up until then I was fine but now I can’t really remember the last two hours of the night and what I said and whether or not I said anything I’d like to take back.