Jun 21, 2014

Five Things You Were Born to Do (While Drunk)

Do you know of any stories or novels where the protagonist starts out drunk? And by drunk I mean intoxicated, inebriated, smashed, wasted, shitfaced, falling-down drunk on alcohol. And by alcohol I mean a number of beverages that look and taste different but all lead down the same path when you consume them: Delirious happiness followed by low-quality sleep and a hangover and/or alcoholic coma.

Scanning the Internet for quotes — because I have sold all my books and computers and given the money to the poor, and am writing this blog post on a 22-year-old Smith-Corona hooked up to a stolen TV set — the body of evidence I have sampled shows that alcoholic ecstasy is conspicuously absent from the first lines of well-known books [1]:

On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.
--Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out.
--John Scalzi, The Android’s Dream
Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression.
--Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds

And that’s about as much statistical science you’re going to get out of me.

I don’t think authors have adequately pondered the limitless possibilities of kicking off with a drunk protagonist. Everything they do automatically becomes more challenging and therefore more interesting! Consider now these five examples I have made up for your instruction [2]:

  1. Bunglor the Dragon-Slayer needs a shot of liquid courage to face the crystal dragon terrorizing the village of Tlix. With a belly full of mead and poetry on his lips he departs to face the dragon, having forgotten his sword at the inn. Such is his confidence.
  2. Henrietta Marks, CPA, is under investigation for tax fraud. As a result of showing up drunk for work. The injustice of it! Vodka martinis make all her troubles fade into a mist of whogivesafuck, and thanks to a spilled beverage she meets her future husband, Dick Vogel, an entomologist, freemason and former filmmaker for the BBC. Will they live drunkly ever after? Will Henrietta go to jail? 
  3. Henry Marks (no relation to the lady above), house painter, recently divorced, drinks a few ounces of bourbon before he starts a new job. The alcohol releases Henry’s inner Mondrian — the Victorian house he's painted looks like a geometric zebra with scarlet fever and the owner’s not happy. The owner sues Henry and  the case makes the local paper. Someone posts a photo of the "Mondrian house" to imgur and it goes viral. The story makes national news and the house becomes a tourist attraction.
  4. Shaun de la Torre becomes famous as the world’s first drunk freeclimber. “Always carry a flask of something on you,” he advises. “Gets rid of the vertigo. Plus if you look down after you've had a few swigs, you feel like you’re losing your mind, so you train yourself not to look down pretty fast.”
  5. Lucy Pelletier doesn’t play blackjack until she’s had at least four shots of vodka. This unlocks Pelletier’s wild talent. She doesn’t realize this, but she’s a psychic and if she can look you straight in the eye, she can read your mind. Many a blackjack dealer, male and female, has mistaken this for flirting, which actually helps. 


I realize that alcoholism is A Very Serious Matter and one should not joke about Very Serious Matters. It is unseemly. It is immature. It is, on occasion, hilarious.
Do not drink alcohol for therapeutic ends. The beneficial effects are short-term only. Also, do not take medical advice from me; I am not a doctor, I only play one on Twitter.

[1] Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas doesn’t count because a) Thompson and his lawyer were doing drugs, not just alcohol and b) non-fiction (in the loosest possible sense of the word). Also, “well-known books” means whatever you can find mentioned on Wikiquotes or Goodreads.
[2] These may seem somewhat obvious to you, but, hark to the anecdote about Picasso’s squiggle on the napkin and the fortune he asked for it, claiming it took him two minutes and a lifetime to draw that squiggle. It took me years of practice to come up with these five vignettes.

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