It's a rainy Sunday afternoon, and I've been legally drunk for the past 66 hours. I'm in my SoHo apartment downing a midday chardonnay. My place is a single man's mess of empty wine, beer and scotch bottles. Scuffed cowboy boots, faded Chuck Taylors, wife-beaters of varying degrees of cleanliness, CDs, DVDs, old newspapers, creased magazines, half-read books, half-filled reporter notebooks, cap-less pens, cigarette lighters, and an ancient Swiss Army pocketknife are strewn about the living room futon, coffee table and hardwood floor. A pair of dirty shot glasses is near the stereo. I can spot a piece of stemware — which, amazingly, looks to be unbroken — under the TV stand. There's a bra in the kitchen garbage bin.
It's been a fun weekend. But now I have to write about it, in a timely fashion, or face the wrath of my whip-cracking editors. In order to bang out this assignment, which is due Monday morning, I have AC/DC's High Voltage blasting at a level that explains why my downstairs neighbor must despise me. Oh, well. I have work to do, on deadline, the kind that requires I play High Voltage balls-rattling LOUD. Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic is on deck. Hard rock. That's what produces copy. And a well-calibrated buzz.
My current booze bender began Friday, backstage at Vinoy Park overlooking the bay during the waning hours of the all-day Warped Tour bash. Alt-popsters Angels and Airwaves were about to perform, but I was spent; I'd been in the sun since noon, interviewing artists, taking pictures and enjoying killer sets by political-punks Against Me!, emo hip-hop outfit Gym Class Heroes and Tampa-raised pop-punks the Dollyrots.
The serious imbibing began when my friend Lily set down the $8 cup of draft beer we were sharing, wrinkled her nose and said, "I feel like a cocktail."
That was at about 6 p.m. Friday.
Lily arrived late and just missed Against Me!, the main band she wanted to catch. She wasn't exactly thrilled about a booze-less backstage area. A shirtless Tom Gabel, lead singer of Against Me!, walked within a foot of her after performing, but it didn't move Lily the way it would, say, the high-schoolers who body-surfed and risked serious groping to spend a few fleeting seconds that close to him.
"Let's go get a bottle of vodka," Lily said.
"That works," I replied.
We hoofed it from Vinoy Park to Detroit Liquors. But the place only had rotgut Popov and ridiculously over-priced $34-a-bottle Stoli. Seven blocks of walking, down the drain. Oh well. A drive to the ABC on Fourth Street resulted in a handle of Smirnoff, a bottle of Yellow Tail chardonnay, a sugarfree Red Bull (large), a 2-Liter of Diet Sprite, a bottle of tonic water and a Boar's Head meat-and-cheese combo.
By the time we returned to Lily's place near downtown St. Pete I was starting to sober up and felt the sleepiness coming on at the untimely hour of 8 p.m. To combat my fatigue, I started throwing back Red Bull-and-vodkas and then vodka-and-tonics and then vodka-and-vodkas. An hour or two passed, and we decided to walk to Mastry's. Lily scored some weed from the hippie couple smoking on the back patio. I took a social puff and was stoned to the bone because my tolerance for pot is that of a newborn.
Around 1 a.m., I passed out on Lily's sofa — "midsentence," she said — and woke around 9:30 in the morning to coffee — with Kahlua. During my drive from the 'Burg to Tampa, I got a call from Buck. We hatched a plan to have lunch at Kojak's, a South Tampa restaurant with average barbecue and great ambience, especially on the deck, not to mention cheap draft beer.
Our lunch turned into an extended drinking session at my place. I was prepared to take a much-needed nap around 4 p.m. Saturday, about an hour after Buck left, but then I received a knock on my door. It was my one-building-over neighbor; we'll call her Natalie. We attended the same North Tampa high school. She was a year younger than me, but we partied with the same rowdy crowd.
"Do you just sit in here and drink?" she asked.
"Yeah," I said, "and write. Want some scotch?"