May 10, 2010


Everyone has a vice. Those super-juiced workout types who eat grass and tofu and do yoga every day - they have vices too -albeit healthier ones than the rest of us. Some of us adopt less than healthy vices such as smoking, drinking, drugs. Others of us opt for something less obvious, shopping, eating, sex. Then there are those whose vice is the high they get from running, or the feeling they feel after a good long workout. Then there are the deviants... those whose vices include the rush they feel from stealing, from abusing someone, or other such nonsense. Well, it's nonsense to me. To them, they get a high from it.

Recently, I set out on some sort of search for myself. I found myself but then I adopted a less than healthy connection to a vice. You see, this wasn't my vice - this wasn't my addiction. It all started when I got my heart broken last summer. It wasn't a horrible heart break in the slightest. As a matter of fact, I've never been more glad that something happened to me. I was seeing this guy for a while and he broke up with me in a fairly harsh way - in the middle of my day - with no explanation whatsoever. The details are unimportant, it's the broken heart that's the important thing.

I felt nauseous, disgusted, angry, and hurt. I left where I was, in the middle of what I was doing. I was on my way home and I stopped at my local tavern. It was 3 in the afternoon and I walked up to the bar and said, "Some D-Bag broke my heart, make me a drink." Now, I was never the person to drown my problems in ethanol. Drinking was purely recreational fun. If I was out dancing with my friends I'd have some drinks... if I had been invited out by my work pals, I'd have a couple. But I knew that I didn't want to be home alone, so I sat at the bar and had my first ever whiskey sour. (Cue music)

I met a couple of funny guys there that day who said something about drinking like it was a Saturday even though it was a Tuesday. They told me to forget about the idiot who broke my heart - and that not all men were bad. I had 2 drinks and walked home. Then shortly thereafter I hurt my knee pretty badly. I was in a cast and on crutches and couldn't cook for myself or go too far so I decided to go back to the local establishment - they have pretty good food there. For the full 6 weeks I sat there in almost the same bar stool every night which is when I became addicted to what would be my vice for the next 8 months.

You're thinking that this is a story of how I became an alcoholic, don't you? Well, it's not. It's not because I'm not. I was close, but no, that's not this story. This is the story of how I became addicted to the bar. You see, there were a couple of people in particular who I met and connected with spiritually. My friends from the neighborhood all went there with some degree of regularity. The bar was like a petri dish and I thought there was such humor and drama there, that I decided to write a sit-com about it. It was this decision that changed me in some ways that I'm not proud of.

The customers there are some of the best you'll find anywhere. From crazy alcoholics to sexual deviants in bow ties - drug addicts and dealers, to yuppies with their twins in a stroller that equals someone's rent payment. They all converge on this one spot in the universe on an almost daily basis. If you thought of them in terms of elemental gases and energy - they converge and a star appears. These customers, they were what I found transiently amusing, however the true awesome was the staff.

There are so many different personalities at work at this establishment, that it would be difficult to do a psychological profile of the establishment as a whole. One would have to divide and subdivide everything. It made it increasingly amusing and challenging to figure out how all of these different persona could work together under one roof. I was sucked in to this world because it was so familiar to me, the personalities, the problems, the dramas, they could be found anywhere - under any roof where different people converge to do a task. The idea for the Television show is why I kept coming back, taking notes in my phone, researching the microcosm.

Now, the thing about me is this. I can be a chameleon. Not always, sometimes I'm a butterfly, spreading my multi-colored wings and flitting about. Sometimes I'm a dog, loyal to the death. Sometimes I can even be a fox, deceitful and cunning. But the chameleon, she's always with me. I can adapt to fit in to any social situation I encounter. If you see me at the Twisted Spoke, I can sit with bikers and other tattooed "freaks" like myself and do just fine. If you follow me on a Tuesday to the Drum and Monkey, you'll see a completely different set of people - young college kids - that I have no business hanging out with really, but there I'll be having a great time in an environment that most people would tell you I belong no where near. The problem with being a chameleon is a large one. If you choose to immerse yourself in an environment and a culture, you tend to adopt the habits and actions of those within the environment or culture. Hang out in an establishment with abusers of alcohol and you will begin to abuse alcohol.

2 months ago, I finally started synthesizing the notes I'd taken, and got back to the task at hand which was always the script. The thing I'd set out to do, I put on the shelf because of the friendships I'd forged in this environment. I was enjoying the hanging out part and the research part and forgot to do the writing part. When I started writing I'd realized that over the last 6 or 7 months I'd adopted a lot of behavior that I'm really not proud of. I'd started socially drinking at least 4 nights a week, sometimes more. I'd started one thing that I really didn't like about myself or anyone else, judging people. I sat back and realized how often I talk of the people who both work and play there. This establishment, as I sat to write jokes, didn't produce a lot of jokes. I became increasingly more self-aware and came to some realizations I didn't want to come to.

That's when I started doing something different. I started babysitting the first drink. Instead of binge drinking, I was going to slow it all down to the point of normalcy. I stopped doing shots. I started bringing things to do, games, books, even sketch books and pencils. I started trying to spend less and less time there. The drinking problem wasn't a problem, really. Changing the drinking habits was easy, there was a bigger challenge afoot for me - a challenge I still have.

If I'm sitting at home and get even remotely bored, my immediate reaction is to walk over to the bar. My brother and I were raised apart, and I was the only kid with a single mom for years. I'm rarely, if ever, lonely. I can go from extrovert to introvert in 2.5 seconds with no degree of difficulty. I know how to be alone, and am quite good at it actually. It's why I think of my relationship to the establishment as an addiction in and of itself. It's completely unnecessary for me to go there, however I find that if I don't have a task to do at home, if I even think about that place, within 4 minutes my key is in the door and I'm on my way there.

I've stopped drinking, completely. Now, if I could just get passed this other vice.


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