Part 69: Alcohol

Champagne with bubbles – a rose coloured tipple, tequila sunrise and slippery nipple, larger with curry and whisky and gin, these are a few of my favourite things. Serious – alcohol is definitely my drug of choice. And even though I’m quite proud of my update to those Rogers and Hammerstein lyrics, it looks like God knew what he was doing creating me a couple of generations too late, and a couple of notches too socially insignificant, to influence their wholesome writing. Perhaps there is a Divine Plan.

When invited to any social event or celebratory festivity my anticipatory excitement is alcohol based, one hundred per cent of the time. I can honestly think of nothing more lovely than the alcohol accompaniment to most ‘occasions’. Just picture: sparkling fizz in a tall glass to toast the bride at a wedding; an ice-cold Corona with lime to wash down that first undercooked cheese burger at a barbecue; Budweiser and football on the telly; red wine by the fire after a Sunday roast; sake with sushi. Margaritas and the blue shimmer of a pool in high summer; double gin and tonic with ice and lime, at any time whatsoever; brandy on Christmas eve; sherry on Christmas morning; Sangria with tapas on a sandy Marbella break; Guinness down the pub in late October; Bloody Mary with eggs and bacon for a hangover breakfast (just jokes, I totally cannot stomach food on a hangover); a bottle of Pinot Grigio from the Co-op to slough off the tedium after a day at work. I could go on, but I think you get the alcoholic picture.

I do like a drink. And even though I’m pretty sure drugs are bad and will definitely kill us all in the end, I think nothing of glugging back legal intoxicants and spending the entire next day heaving over any available toilet bowl, replaying jagged and disturbing memories from the night before and forcing my brain to make pictures of kittens in order to stave off thoughts of suicide.

I’d think I had a problem, if all my friends weren’t doing it too.

In the modern world, it’s all about choosing whichever poison will help you get through the day. In hindsight, it might have aided my street cred had I been more rock and roll with my own choice, but hey, I experimented with edgier options in adolescence and what can I say? I am what I am. Weed’s out the window because of the paranoia; acid, MDMA and all the hallucinogens make scary pictures, and I don’t take cocaine because of the potential nasal corrosion – and anyway, who wants a drug that makes them more alert, surely that defeats the object of intoxication entirely?

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, I am from a culture that embraces excessive alcohol consumption above all else. Or perhaps I just move in particularly boozy circles. Whatever, it is my experience that even when friends and family know you have an attachment to alcohol that is beginning to function to the detriment of your career, health and relationships they’ll still be a bit pissed off if you say you want water instead of wine when they invite you out for dinner.

I cannot think of any social interaction whereby it would be acceptable for me to reject the offer of alcohol. Consequently, I spend much of my time languidly regaling hilarious tales of amusing misdemeanors, before that final Sambuca tips me over the edge and I insult a stranger or end up in a fist fight with one of my siblings.

And thus we arrive at alcohol’s big problem. It forces one who is minorly addicted to it to oscillate between fabulous and horrific, depending on the time of day and the quantity of alcohol consumed. This is not a healthy emotional continuum on which to conduct a relationship, as I’ve discovered after many years of high drama.

But what’s a girl to do? There are so many occasions during which alcohol can give you pleasure, and only three I can think of when the same can be said for romantic love (sex, cuddles, someone to take out the bins). I think, on balance, I’d rather an existence of alcohol induced solitude than one of sobriety, lies and stale romantic gestures made public to mask my misery.

I’m not sure it’ll make for a happy life in the long run, but at least I’ll have some outrageous stories for my memoirs. Providing I can remember them.

Pass the gin.

Part 68: Getting Your Shit Together

One of my most favourite maxims, which I’ve been repeating over and over recently, as the nights get progressively colder and my ability to pay the heating bill gets progressively fictional, goes like this: you can tell how little regard God has for money when you consider the kind of people He generally bestows it upon. Still, as Christmas advances and I recall the annual horror of facing a festive dinner sans lover, caught up in the cross fire of familial expectation re: breeding, the thought of enough money in the bank account to take January respite in Barbados dulls my contempt for riches. I shall certainly not be donating my lottery millions to charity, should I decide to play and be fortunate enough to win.

But, I do like to think, even though I don’t totally believe in God (and certainly don’t believe any God who might exist is a He), that you could replace the word ‘money’ with the word ‘love’ in the truism above and make it even more true. In fact, as I consider those friends and family upon whom the universe, in its infinite wisdom, has bestowed love, I start to think that the universe might be insane.

Certainly, many of the most vociferous lovers I know are insane, crashing from one affair to another, cheating, sexing, sneaking, weeping. Idealistic love causes more pain than money or drugs, and yet it is not only legal, but actually sold to us by means of social coercion from birth to the grave via fairy tales, every film ever made – from Fatal Attraction to Bridesmaids – and sentimental Sandals ads. I’d think there was a government conspiracy, if I didn’t know about biology.

The problem with love, of course, is not really love itself. The problem with love, like the problem with money, is the people who snatch at it with grabby hands, caring not for the many heavenly pleasures it might offer, only for having more and more of it, which might, eventually, fill up the empty parts of them so that they are whole. Hoarding secret stashes of it away in hotel rooms, second homes and lock-ups off the M5, they rarely step back to examine the cavernous voids growing cancerous spaces in their souls.

It would be far better for the world if the rich people and the careless lovers spent less time hoarding and more time doing the only thing that might really fill up their emptiness: getting their shit together. Taking a good long look inside one’s selfish heart, spending a good few tears on crying it out and good few precious food dollars on therapy is a wiser way to fritter one’s youth than lurching from romance to romance, like a ship in a violent storm; dating in desperation, sloping home the next day with borrowed bus fare and hair that smells of cigarattes and unwashed regret, and failing to reply to follow up text messages. I don’t mean to sound like your Nan here, but it is worth remembering that getting your shit together before embarking on a love affair will ensure solid foundations are laid from which to build a future life; whether that life is spent alone or with a partner or with that loyal Dalmatian you always dreamed of owning is dependent on what you find your shit consists of.

I’ve found that mine is fairly full of empty margarita glasses, neglected puppies and spiky, hand hewn weaponry. No wonder my romantic life’s been floundering these past few years; who knew I needed a veterinary mixologist with pacifist tendencies? Do you think there’re many of those online? I could do with a comrade; just to shield me from the Christmas dinner crossfire. A girl can’t cope with everything all on her own.

But don’t tell anyone I said that.

Part 67: Getting Fat

All my life I’ve been what you might call enviably proportioned: ickle slim wrists, voluptuous boobies, pert muscular buttocks and a waspish waist. I’ve been the kind of girl who can gurgle lard, sat motionless in bed watching back to back episodes of The Comeback for days on end, and still rock up to a party looking like I spend my leisure time training for competitive sports.

I’m not being boastful, it’s a fact – and, if it makes you feel better, it’s not like I haven’t had other problems to contend with: acne, an ice queen mother, straggling mousy hair that only looks fabulous cropped, covered in peroxide and styled with cheap chemicals that are bound to cause my early death, spending habits that will very likely lead to financial ruin, a psychotic ex lover, alcoholism, a kitten allergy, hay fever.

One can’t have everything.

Still, I know what the ladies are like (I am one) and if despite my myriad misfortune you’re still well jel – fear not! All that body beautiful looks like it might be a thing of the past. Whether it’s my age or my recent discovery of the steak’s prowess as foodstuff the reult is the same – my waist is definitely looking more womanly than waspish.

My thighs, which were once held taughtly apart, now flop against each other with a soft thwack as though filled with glutinous custard. Swiss rolls of tummy flab impersonate a waterfall over the waistband of my Levi’s. My back, once graced by jutting vertebrae, now wobbles (my back! I didn’t even know you could get fat there) as I step from the shower and boogie to So Solid Crew tunes in the mirror. Granted, my wrists are still sparrow like – but that doesn’t look so hot now that my upper arms resemble just-fluffed pillows.

The evidence would suggest that I’m succumbing to fat.

Who ate all the pies?

I did. And they tasted fucking good.

Fat: an inevitable but unfortunate milestone in the trot through life, signifying the End of Youth. For most vain women, this would no doubt cause panic.

Not for me though.

I’m well not bothered.

For the stylish, flab is easy to cover with loose fitting outerwear and flesh control panties. Plus, I’ve still got killer fingernails, scarlet lipstick and a wit that delights my mates and leaves my enemies curdled.

And if that doesn’t convince you, I’ll tell you this: it turns out the podge is a lot more enjoyable than it looks.

There are loads of Good Things about a bit of extra weight. My skin seems better than when I was slender for a start. And I’m actually warmer than I was last winter. Even though its -9 outside the layers of self love I’ve accrued, in the days since food replaced sex in my life, act as a lover shielding me from the warmth.

Also, there’s no chance that fat will leave me and emigrate to China to teach rich children with some daft bimbo it met at work.

So it’s already one up to fat on the fat vs lover scorecard.

Fat wins a second point as I realise it will only embrace me more tightly if I decide to lounge nude on the settee shoveling a lukewarm Burger King Chicken Tender Crisp inside my gob.

Fat won’t even mind when I shift my bum bum so as to salvage the last chip, which I appear to have sat on, and pop it in my mouth to join the masticated chicken burger.

What’s to dislike?

Part 66: All the Ladies, Independent

Those few of you reading these words who hail from a similar culture and time period (western, Y2K onwards) as me will, I’m sure, recognise the musical work I allude to in the title of this week’s post. A few of you, although I would imagine fewer than the few encompassed in the first sentence, might also recognise the line below – which I read today in Simone De Beauvior’s novel She Came to Stay. The line features in the opening chapter as our heroine, Françoise, takes a breather from playwriting in order to sit in a theatre and allow her imagination to transform the empty space. It goes like this:

At this moment, she did not in the least regret that Pierre was not beside her: there were some joys she could not know when he was with her; all the joys of solitude.

Now, I don’t know Pierre all that well yet – I’m only on page 17 – but still, I’m with Simone at this point, and with Destiny’s Child as well, in terms of the independent woman sentiment. To be honest, they’re sort of saying the same thing aren’t they? They just express that thing differently due to the conventions of the particular forms they work with. Poptastic R&B requires the crude articulation of a desire for material things that just isn’t necessary in existential literature. One form is not, because of that, inherently superior – as some snobbish cultural commentators might have you believe. I know this, even though on Sundays I like to read literary tomes and think of myself as an intellectual. The important thing both works tell us is that solitude is beautiful and joyous and that romantic love especially is wont to fuck it right up by interrupting one’s me-time and creating the expectation of certain objects and behaviours which society dictates people in relationships should gift eachother and adhere to. These include, but are not limited to: sexual attention, houses with a mortgage, sympathy, babies, diamond rings, fidelity, and, in worst-case scenarios (I’ve been there babes), diary access so that one’s lover can always be sure of one’s whereabouts.

Of all these expectations, the one that has really got on my tits this week is the diamond ring. Babies and sex are fine by me single ladies. I can forgive you for wanting those things, if you do, because you, like me, are a human with certain biological desires that no amount of French feminist fiction will eradicate. But wanting a diamond ring – wanting a marriage in fact – is slightly less fine as far as I’m concerned. And I don’t even think my disdain is to do with jealousy (although I’m willing to concede it might be).

To want marriage above all else you could possibly have in this life very possibly marks you out as totally pathetic (or at least as totally submitting to oppression). Particularly if once you achieve the betrothal that will eventually lead to that marriage the first or second thing you do is take a picture of your diamond ring with a mobile phone camera, upload the picture to an online social network – frequented by old school chums, distant relatives and minor celebrities you once met in GAY, when you were fun – and caption it ‘fairy tale’.

Just FYI: fairy tales were written in olden times. When ‘doctors’ used to relieve headaches by literally drilling into the patient’s skull to release pressure, or demons (I can’t remember which – the details of my year 9 history syllabus are somewhat hazy now – but I do know this: they didn’t know about paracetamol then, apparently). We’ve moved on, people. We no longer need a chivalrous cad to climb up our hair and visit us in a tower. We can chop off our own hair, escape from the tower (even though we’re bit scared of heights) and then rock a bleach blonde pixie crop and pout into the mirror wondering whether we are too old for pink hair (is one ever too old for pink hair? Seriously, I need to know), or whether an outrageous dye job might ruin our serious academic career aspirations.

Freedom is Very Important. Which is why I capitalised the last two words of the previous sentence. If you’re fortunate enough live in a country and a family that offers you choices, to be reading these words on a computer
or smartphone or tablet, to be feeling sorry for yourself because you are sans lover, then rejoice! For you are free. Your freedom is to be celebrated with independence – despite what the rest of the big bad world suggests, you owe it to all those who are not free to milk your own freedom for all that it holds. So fuck the rest of the world – especially the coupled ones who use their social networking profiles to PR their lives. These are not happy people. These are not soldiers who have tasted freedom. These are people who are in metaphorical chains (and sometimes real ones, in sadomasochistic fantasies).

Being free means being the mistress of your own fortune. Spending an unexpected £300 windfall on books to educate your mind (fuck the credit card bill – this is war), wearing lipstick to bed just because you feel like it, choosing to have sex or not to have sex depending on the proximity of available and attractive lovers, riding into combat on the back of a horse, wearing only nipple tassels and a chastity belt. It means indulging in love or indulging in anarchy or indulging in violence at whim, and accepting the consequences. Most importantly, freedom means that the responsibility for having a totally fucking fantastic, fulfilling time lies on your shoulders alone. Throw your hands up at me!

N.B. The only time it is wise to reconsider one’s independence is if the world unexpectedly produces a comrade you can stand shoulder to shoulder with. Like a brother, or a sister, except one you can legally have sex with. This is harder than it looks and will never result in you describing any aspect of your life as ‘fairy tale’.

And if you do find a comrade, my advice: request Sundays off.

Occasional solitude does not get old.