In this city where we are visiting, in this city where we used to live, we had dinner last night with a long-time drinking friend. The guy (and his wife) drink a lot. A shit lot. Even when we were drinking too, we never drank as much as these two. The four of us would hang out, yes, but i’d always watch the guy and marvel/feel sick at the quantities he’d put away. The ordering ‘another round’ even after we’d already said we were done. The telling me he loved me at a particularly sloppy party. The disclosing of sexual details during a meal.
Last night, they had beer before the meal, a bottle of wine during, and opened a second bottle after. [This is exactly what we would have done, too.]
Mr. Belle was a bit nervous to arrive there with 3 cans of tonic water. The couple joked with us, saying that by the end of the night they would have ‘pushed us off the wagon’. But really, once they got drinking, they weren’t the least bit interested in what we were doing, whether we were drinking or not.
By 10:30 pm I was tired of them and ready to go home, tapped Mr. B’s foot under the table. The guy looks to his wife and says (re the second bottle of wine) – have some more, it’s open.
I looked at their glasses of wine. I looked at their stained teeth. I looked at them talking loudly over each other, each vying for our attention, “let me tell the story, no let me. Did you see the tv episode where …”
In the car on the way home, i told Mr. B that i was sorry that they talked ‘at’ him, instead of ‘to’ him. They didn’t ask questions about his work or his life in Europe or about how things are going for us. Instead it seemed like they struggled and competed to tell him about every single thing that had happened to them since we saw them last, including punchlines to badly remember jokes, did you see that thing on YouTube.
Honestly, the evening was like a comedy show except it wasn’t funny. Yeah, it was like the worst kind of stand-up comedy. People trying to make a connection, and failing gigantically, because they are behind a ‘glass wall of alcohol’ – they kept talking even if Mr. B needed clarification. They ignored Mr. B when he spoke, and literally jostled each other if one tried to interrupt the other. And on. And on.
Nothing of any real substance or connection or interest was shared. No real questions were asked or answered. No one felt touched, or brought together, or connected.
Looking into that glass wall of alcohol, i saw a mirror. And it was grim.
Did it make me want to drink?
We used to be that couple, too. That used to be us.