Putrid Modern Hell #11

by HST UK on June 7, 2011

Nights of Mischief

“I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That’s the one thing I’m indebted to her for.”

– W. C. Fields

Her name begins with ‘A’, so let’s call her ‘Alameda’ after that Elliott Smith song. Alameda is a real firecracker, who’s able to captivate almost as much as she irritates. Her voice is needy, pitched in a permanent whine. Her clinginess is unparalleled; she is like a Virginia creeper, overwhelming you in her evergreen grip. When she’s had a few pints, she’s unbearable, and since she likes to neck beers that also makes her undignified and unladylike.

There’s something about Alameda.

I was in a pub situated by the river with some chums and we were larking about. An old friend had come back to town, and that was reason enough to celebrate. Rounds were brought. A minute didn’t pass before another bottle or glass was thrust into my hand. I stuck to my usual drinking routine, starting off on a few Buds, maybe a couple of Tigers, and then began getting a few shots of whiskey in between, then a few pep me up’s either vodka and red bull or JD and Coke’s to keep me going after midnight.

I teased Alameda for a while; I believe the term for this is ‘negging’. It got her guard down a bit, she bit her lip suggestively, and got a little touchy feely. Things were going alright, we laughed together. Then I needed a piss. I have termed this phenomenon as a case of the ‘pringles’, because once you pop you can’t stop. The booze goes in, and wants to come out soon after. I pissed against the cold steel urinal, carefully avoiding the pool of urine that had flooded the floor of the Gents.

When I got back Alameda was gone. Her empty lipstick stained pint glass stood on the oak table. Where did she go?

A few minutes later and she arrived back arm in arm with Ross, giggling playfully. Goddamn it, I take a leak and five minutes later Alameda is in somebody else’s arms. I watched through jealous eyes as Alameda followed the same routine. She bit her lip, touched his arm, they laughed together and then…. Holy crap! Tongues.

I shook my head and laughed to myself. I remember a few weeks prior, and a similar thing happening at an Irish bar. Alameda ending up with Matt, despite flirting with Jack for most of that night; I remember leaving the bar after last orders and seeing Alameda and Matt fumbling around in a dark alley near where they roll in the barrels.

Women like Alameda are terribly bad for your health.

***

Same pub, a week later and I’m messing about on the jukebox. It’s the best jukebox in the city. You can pick good tunes, but at the same time you have to put up with some diabolical pop. Remember ‘Wherever you will go’ by The Calling? Some clown selected that tune. I launch a few gems of my own Jackson Browne’s ‘Stay’, Elvis Costello’s ‘Oliver’s Army’ and Eric B & Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full’. I have no idea why those artists popped into my head; I was drunk, and picked the songs from my gut.

When you get older you tend not to mind who your drinking buddies are. The guys I drink with are mates but not good mates. I doubt they know what makes me tick. What my hopes and fears are, but they make good conversation. We often talk about football, about music, about film. Eventually these people will move away from weekend drinking, they will get married, start families. Some are already on that path, drifting away from the night life. I’m sure I’ll be one of last ones standing by the bar. Watching the new generation coming in with haircuts I can’t understand, wearing clothing I can’t fathom. The women will get younger and look at you not so much with disdain, but disgust. I’ll end up as Bukowski-lite, or some lovable local eccentric old man that goes around with medals pinned from his chest that he brought from a car boot sale collecting coins in a washed out soup tin.

Sometimes the most poignant moments come outside of the pub, the long slow winding walk to the taxi rank. The kerfuffle in the kebab shop as you struggle to tell a Cypriot man that you don’t want any onions in your burger. Awkward conversations occur with strangers who are waiting for their orders, occasionally you will meet someone and engage in the most natural dialogue you’ve ever spoken, you will listen intently to that someone and the words will flow between you in the most amazing information exchange. It’s likely you will never see this person again. You never discovered their name.

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