I was out on my back porch, enjoying a cigarette with my morning whiskey, when I heard the phone ring. The caller was a dear friend of mine, a guy I’ve known since 1969, who I’ll call “Bruce Diksas” to spare him any undue embarrassment.
“Hey, man, what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” I said, “just hanging around.”
“You want to get together for a drink later on?”
“Excellent idea. Come over to my place. I’ve got a few bottles of wine lying around.”
“Okay, I’ll bring a couple of bottles, too.”
The lovely Mrs. Milo went to see a movie with a girlfriend and my daughter was out on the town, so Bruce and I were alone in the house, sitting at the kitchen table, drinking and talking. We had just gotten into the second bottle of wine when Bruce reached into his pocket and pulled out a joint.
“Well, well,” I said, happily. “What have we got here?”
“This, my friend, is some of Nickel Bag Bernie’s top-of-the-line shit,” Bruce explained, as he lit the joint. “Bernie personally assured me that this is some of the finest reefer he’s had since he got that load of chemically-tainted weed that was growing by the steel mills in Gary, Indiana, back in ’78.”
It was, indeed, fine weed. I knew it was good because within minutes of smoking the joint, my IQ dropped by 60 points. Another sign of its potency was that my mind immediately turned to thoughts of fried chicken, oysters on the half shell, baby back ribs slathered in BBQ sauce, bloody t-bones, onion rings and Kit Kat bars.
So, there we were, a couple of old farts getting fucked up. No excuses, no apologies, no reason or meaning to it. We were getting drunk and stoned just because we could, strictly for the joy and pleasure of it.
I suppose it’s a generational thing. A lot of people who came of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s drifted into adulthood on a cloud of marijuana smoke. In certain circles weed was everywhere. The party didn’t get started until someone started passing a joint. The party wasn’t a success until everyone was grinning, giggling and laughing hysterically at things that weren’t at all funny.
Fortunately, for most people the high life was just a phase, something to experience and then move on. There were jobs to do, families to raise and 401Ks to build. Moderation replaced excess. The occasional joint and five o’clock cocktail are as wild as most people get these days.
Moderation, however, is not a word I’m familiar with. I’m sure Bruce has trouble spelling it, too. Dumbasses like us, and a lot of our dearest friends, still enjoy the old Rip ‘n Roar. Why have one drink when you can have five? Why settle for a mild buzz when you can court oblivion? Why go halfway when the finish line is just a little further down the road?
As we opened the third bottle of red wine, I said to Bruce, “I think I’m developing a drinking problem.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Well, that’s what my wife told me. She says I drink too much.”
“When did she say that?”
“Yesterday. We had an argument about it.”
“Who won the argument?”
“I can’t remember. I was drunk.”
Lighting up the roach, Bruce said, “Sometimes women are more trouble than they’re worth. Speaking strictly in terms of companionship, you’d be better off with a dog. I never had an argument with a dog.”
At some point in the evening, the lovely Mrs. Milo came home from her evening at the movies. She walked into the kitchen, heard Hendrix blaring from the speakers, smelled the marijuana smoke lingering in the air, saw all of the empty wine bottles, and shook her head in amusement.
“Are you bad boys ever going to grow up?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “Your guess is as good as mine. Personally, I doubt it.”
Bruce answered by saying, “If I was a betting man, which I am, I’d take the over rather than the under on that particular proposition.”
Intellectually, I understand that smoking, drinking, eating too much red meat, or excessive behavior of any kind is unhealthy. Those types of habits will kill you, sooner than later. Still, I enjoy the high life too much to think about giving it up. The old Rip ‘n Roar is a comfort to me.
That said, I understand that the days of red wine and reefer can’t last forever. Eventually, what little good sense I have left will prevail. One of these days I’m going to have to give up my low-life pleasures.
But not just yet.
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