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Lemon Hartbroken

January 2, 2010

I would have posted a post yesterday were it not for the totally unearned hangover. May I lament for a moment? There was a time, men of Athens, when I could drink so prodigiously that Dionysus himself often descended from the heavens in a Prince-like androgynous costume to set a laurel crown atop my disheveled chestnut locks. “You win,” he would murmur, kissing me tenderly on the forehead, “you always do.” “Fuckin’ right,” I would respond as I squirmed from his embrace and helped myself to yet another refreshing libation. Friends and lovers, I ask you, at the CAC Annual Meeting of 2004, was I not nursing (cf. early Latin snutrix) my seventh drink at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg with two delightful lushes of my acquaintance when a crowd of current and former professors returned from the dinner party I had eschewed in favour of nursing seven drinks at the Fort Garry Hotel and chose to hang out with us and discuss scholarly matters? Had my companions not partaken of dozens of double rye and Cokes between them, and did the bartender not choose to bring our 24″ long bill just as a certain MC MC was giving me one of his characteristic backhanded compliments (“I enjoyed your talk, but what did it have to do with the theme of the conference?”)? And did I not unfurl the bill with solemn grandiosity as though I were Odysseus unfurling the sail of my ship? Was not the aforementioned MC not dumbstruck with wonder? And was I not operating at about a 75% level of wellness at 7:00 the very next morning?

Countrymen, I can assure you that throughout my entire graduate school experience, not a week passed that did not behold, at least twice, the magnificent sight of Count Drinkula growing loquacious from the juices of the Lemon Hart tree and, twelve hours thence, teaching a tutorial. I saw the world through the warm caramel haze of a bottle of rum. It was truly the golden age.

And now? I have pontificated at Ciceronian length on the topic of human physiology and everything it’s fucking up. Another item to add to that list: aging. Although still technically in my twenties, I am increasingly intolerant to liquor. QED: on New Year’s Eve I invited a handful of friends, not literally a handful of friends, because that would mean the people were all about two inches tall, but a figurative handful in the sense of “a small quantity,” “several,” or the like, over to a house whose owners are out of town, for a celebration of the much-anticipated arrival of Y2K. Over the course of five hours, we engaged in pleasant conversation regarding diverse topics while enjoying a selection of snacks in addition to what was, by any standards, a modest and respectable quantity of adult beverages. It was a low-key evening of discussion and social drinking. Across North America, any number of 65-year-olds were doing the same kind of thing. QED again: early in the evening a friend used the phrase “fossil rock,” and without even thinking I naturally assumed he was referring to the Creedence I had chosen, but then it turned out he was commenting on a fossil rock that the homeowner had brought back from Cave Day.

I ask you, therefore, brethren and sistren, why, in the name of Dionysus, who once loved me and honoured me as a kinsmanwomanperson, was I so godawfully hung over yesterday? And why did I still have the same fucking headache when I woke up this morning? I had four drinks on the eve of the new year. Four! For Christ’s sake, a ten-year-old could handle four drinks and spring out of bed the next morning none the worse for wear. Why, on the first day of 2010, unarguably and obviously in every way the Year of the Strayer, was I too nauseated and pain-beplagued to consume liquids or leave the couch for any reason other than to cry in the shower about how my head hurt really bad and I had to leave Calgary in less than a week, let alone work on 2012’s groundbreaking tale of two doomed lovers who are both profoundly symbolic and vividly realistic: seamlessly blending ancient mythology with modern ethical questions, Kate’s original and incomparable voice leaps off the page with gleeful audacity and kicks CanLit in the ball sack?

Sigh.

I guess I must be feeling slightly better today, if I’m up and dressed and contemplating a meal and writing satirical jacket copy. Takes a flogging and keeps on blogging.

But what about the future, though? Am I going to have to start cutting myself off at three? Because that would be the lamest lame that ever lamed. How will I make friends and influence people in Vancouver if I can’t get my crunk on? What will get me through the first few tense and unfamiliar days of dominatricing? I don’t know anyone in The Big V (everyone in Vancouver calls it that, especially me) and my first impression skills are never going to be first-impressive. Everybody knows I’m useless in person when I’m sober. Useless! Why do you think I spend all my time drinking and writing? Gnothi seauton, that’s why. I drink to race, but I ski to win. It’s the same with what I write.

What am I going to do now? Cocaine? Oxycontin? More years of therapy? My dear good friends, that’s an ascending tricolon of No thank you.

About nine years ago I went to Mediterranean field school, and in response to my dramatic oration of the content of one of the 900 waiver forms we had to sign (it was presented as a virtual certainty that every person in the group would be robbed, beaten, lost, sexually assaulted, and/or murdered along the way), a friend who’d been taking Italian helpfully taught me the following so that I could communicate my imminevitable distress to the Carabinieri: Porca miseria! I bastardi mi hanno stuprata ancora! (Damn it! The bastards have raped me again!) I’m not positive I spelled that right, but it pretty much summarizes my attitude this morning.

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