This past Sunday afternoon, one of my neighbors joined me for the second half of the Bears-Steelers game (the weather was unstable, so his satellite reception was shot.) I was drinking my third Hard Pomegranate Punch, my hair-of-the-dog favorite; he had polished off a bottle of Canadian Whisky at home, and was now slowly working his way through my liquor cabinet. In a good neighborhood, alcoholic beverages are a community resource, like butter, eggs and garden shears.
"Catch-up" drinking has never been a favored pastime of mine, but I did switch to a Black Russian just to avoid being mocked for nursing a "girl drink." My neighbor agreed with my choice, enough so that he asked me to fix him one as well. Presumably, he wanted to keep his whisky-and-Coke from feeling lonely. Clearly, even had I wanted to catch up, it wasn't happening--I had neither the hours nor the stomach for it.
When the game ended, we sat outside on the front porch, and watched the rain alternate between cats-and-dogs and a steady sprinkle. When I next turned to my neighbor, I noticed a pair of spiders working their way down the wall toward his head. I despise spiders.
"Look out. You're about to have a head full of bugs."
He tilted his head back against the edge of the spider web. It puckered; I squirmed. It took everything in my power not to shriek, "Eew...eew..." and go running into the house.
"They're right above you. Move, or they'll be sitting on your forehead." They were no more than three inches away--and closing.
He looked up at the descending arachnids with great warmth, as though they were his first born, both sons.
"Oh, I love you, spiders!"
Oh brother. If spiders had chins, I'm sure he'd have shucked them.
He then mentioned he'd seen a great many spiders the previous weekend when he, his wife and his sister had gone boating on a local river. I pictured myself in this scene. At the first sign of creepy crawlies, I'd have launched myself overboard and flailed vainly toward shore, looking back only long enough to make sure they weren't dog-paddling behind me.
Hoping to free my mind and our conversation of spiders (the pair here had started to climb back up, much to my relief), I asked if he'd done any fishing. Apparently, he'd brought along his Pocket Fisherman, but nothing was biting. He then adopted a serious, thoughtful look, a homegrown Clint Eastwood casting a line off one of those bridges in Madison County.
"Lakes are for fishing, Brian." He exhaled a stream of smoke, and looked me right in the eye. "Rivers are for knowing."
"Come on, Brian. You know!"
Huh? I know?
"Ha, ha, ha...I'm just kidding."
I still wasn't sure what he was getting at; I may well have been nursing a hangover during Barstool Philosophy 101 in college. Nor did I really understand what my neighbor meant, later on, when he asked me to pause our game of Trivial Pursuit on our PS3. We waited for him to collect his thoughts. He'd found that Clint look again.
"I shot a squirrel from my bedroom window the other day."
"You did? And?"
"Well, that's the thing. You guys play this game on your TV. I shoot squirrels from my upstairs window. It's practically the same thing."
Patty this time: "Huh?"
Of course, I've been altered (a nicer way of saying trashed) before. I'm sure many stories make the rounds of insights I've offered under the influence that seemed brilliant, but only to me.
Just a few weeks ago, I was standing at a urinal at our local watering hole when my cell phone rang. Thinking I was being deliciously funny, I said, "Well, I can't get that. I need both hands down here, if you know what I mean!" The unfortunate fellow to my left looked at me as though I was riddled with oozing sores. He muttered, "Heh...uh...good for you," before quickly zipping up and getting as far from me as possible.
So, as for being a master at alcohol-speak, my friend is not alone. There's me. And there's another friend who, after a night of drinking, fell asleep for an hour. She woke with a start to ask, with some urgency, "Hey, do you have any more of that fishy red gel?" I didn't recall serving any form of gel that evening; if we did, we were fresh out.
Our neighbor left our home a few moments later. I poured myself another Black Russian, hoping that with inebriation would come greater understanding. Before I settled into the rest of my evening, I stepped outside and, without hesitation, soaked both spiders with a half-can of Raid. I waited patiently for them to finish their death throes and fall, and then I stomped on both at once.
Favorite sons or not, I didn't want them crashing my party anymore.