surefire signs

as i begin to write this, i have to ask myself: why do all my stories involve booze?

which begs the second question: does it really matter?

answer: i think not.

casey and i begin our journey last night at the mercury lounge. The merc, as we call it, is the favorite hangout of the merc players, as we call ourselves. our merry band of actors, directors, writers and nutballs like to lounge around (appropriately enough) and drink ourselves into oblivion. the merc happily obliges us.

settling my tush on their comfy new bar seats, casey orders a drink (whiskey? rum?  i can’t remember. you’ll see later on why not.) and i ask basil, my man behind the bar, to surprise me. i’m in a mood, indefinable as of yet. we chat with vasillis, the owner, during which basil puts down something sort-of salmon-y colored in front of me. i take a sip and immediately, reflexively close one eye. if you’ve been around me often enough while i’ve been imbibing, you’re aware of the three surefire signs that i’m getting schnockered:

1. i can only see when i’ve got one eye closed. i don’t mean i go blind, but with both peepers open, the world looks a bit dali-esque.

 2. my tongue goes numb. sometimes my gums, and a few times my lips. but apparently my tongue has the lowest tolerance.

 3. i start to use big words. not like i don’t already, but i really lay it on. the bigger the better. there’s just something about saying “indubitably” while buzzed. i can’t explain it.

the fact that it has me squinting at one sip tells me one of two things. i’m either going to have a great evening which i’ll remember for the rest of my life, or i’ll have a rip-roaring evening that i’ll not remember at all. i ask basil what’s in the drink. he replies that he can’t remember. he just started pouring things into a glass and didn’t keep track. this is why i love basil. rip-roaring it is.

 this drink is perfect, i think. matches my mood to a t.

i make plans with vasillis to have a party at the merc for my birthday. birthday is on the 28th, party on the 30th. i get quite excited at the prospect, as i’ve always had a good time at the merc… with the exception of several cuban adventures. i see before me many drinks, great music and the company of my closest friends. by the way, you’re all invited.

we are only there long enough for one drink, which is quite a feat, since drinking at the merc is like eating lay’s potato chips… it’s nearly impossible to have just one. but casey and i are on a mission. our directive is to pick up pete when he’s done at work and get him trashed. pete is directing cementville right now, a play about female wrestling. it’s pretty kick-ass. he’s also a travel agent, and has had a grueling day sending people off the far corners of the world. hence, booze.

casey wisely asserts that in order to get pete drunk, we will need to buy our own bottles and keep it a private party. pete can drink. alot. that’s why we get along so well. we stop and pick up some rum, vodka and mixers. i splurge on the good vodka, as i’ve been having the week from hell and needed some “happy time” myself. we pick up pete, and we’re off to headquarters (h.q. for brevity’s sake).

h.q. is the name for pete and morey’s place, as it is almost always open and lends itself quite well to spontaneous mass gatherings. if you are looking for someone, most likely that’s where they’ll be.

we walk in to find jesse there and macy gray on the player. both of these things make me very happy. jesse is also happy by our appearance and our alcohol. we’re just one big goddamn happy crazy family. life is good.

i try, but can’t resist the pull of macy gray. dancing around the living room, i imperiously state that i need a drink. now. casey, my unofficial personal bartender, whips me up a nice vodka cranberry and i keep on keepin’ on. for those of you who have seen me dance, you can recognize three distinct components:

1. lots of arm waving. people have sometimes called it arm “flailing,” but i have my doubts. i don’t seem like the kind of a girl who “flails.”

2. latin inspired footwork. oh yes, i’m a regular female ricky martin. the only problem is, i’m ricky martin in his menudo heyday. cute, but awkward.

3. the occasional stumble. it’s true, i have the worst sense of balance in the known universe. a day isn’t complete if i haven’t fallen down at least once.

so i’m prancing around, swilling vodka, and we decide to play risk. i know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

if there is one game in the world that i love above all others, it is risk. i own the original version, as well as the lord of the rings(lotr) version, which is my favorite. i just love using an army of orcs to storm the ramparts of minas tirith. ah, the blood. the gore. gives me chills in the best possible ways and places.

however, since we’ve played so much on that board, it was beginning to get a little stale. so casey and morey (illustrating the kind of nerd-dom we have all achieved) had drawn several maps of their own, using the lotr territories, but mixing them around, adding sea ports, changing sites of power, etc. a new challenge. there’s nothing that this girl likes more than to solve a puzzle. we set up the game on a new board (i think one of casey’s) and get down to the business of world domination. yar.

for those of you unfamiliar with lotr risk, you can have up to 4 players. 2 armies are good (eagles, rohirim and elves) and 2 are evil (cave trolls, nazgul and orcs). good armies are green and gold and evil armies are black and red. i prefer playing with the evil black ones. it’s so much fun to pillage with them. i call them “the black hand of sauron.”

however, i don’t always get to pick. so several games ago when i had to be the red army (still evil, mind you), i started calling them “the red elbow of saruman.”  appropriate, yes?  anyway, this game i’m the elbow again.

i get lucky. i’ll state that right now. i’m fully aware that due to the random circumstances of cards dealt, rolling first for placing and playing order, i’m in a superior position due solely to chance. having said that, i feel pretty smug at my prowess in taking full advantage of the situation. troop placement and early missions accomplished leave me with the entire northern part of the board. all hail the mighty red elbow. i’m also rolling like a mo-fo. take that, ya thug.

meanwhile, libations are still being consumed at an alarming rate.

my elbow grows all-powerful, and it becomes apparent that it is only a matter of time before the rest of middle earth gets crushed underneath. we decide to call the game in my favor. i rule. (at least i think that’s what happened. if it’s not, and you know better cause you were there and not quite as smashed, have a little pity and allow me my dreams.)

at this point, cementville is over and people begin trickling in. i say a little prayer of thanks for my foresight in getting the good vodka. i’m trashed and enjoying the hell out of myself.

more people stop by. and more. and more. it doesn’t stop until there are about 25 of us milling about in various stages of drunkenness. i sit at the table and have a conversation with doug for a long time. we talk about the task ahead of us in producing a night of blitz and about marketing ideas for our next season. i’m positive that what’s coming out of my mouth is pithy and decisive. in reality, i probably sound like charlie brown’s teacher. wah-wah wah-wah-wah wah. oh yeah, i’m feelin’ every inch of my coolness now. doug nods and replies like he can actually understand me, though, so i must not be too unintelligible. either that, or he was as far gone as i was.

i turn to morey and strike up a conversation. we talk about very important things as well, at least as far as i can tell.

the evening ends as i drive home, probably a little too drunk to drive, but it’s not far and i can do the route blindfolded. i stumble to bed, barely remembering to set my alarm, and dream of things that probably shouldn’t be mentioned in such a public forum as this. waking up, hazy and disheveled, i haphazardly get ready for work. as i walk out the door of my apartment building i pull on my sunglasses and feel pretty pleased with myself, until i realize that i never did figure out what my mood was the night before. getting into my car and lighting up a smoke, i toss the nagging feeling aside and inhale. deeply.

the sun is shining, i think, and look at my red pants, worn in honor of my victory mere hours before. long live the red elbow of saruman.

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