Coversations with Joey

89. about the holy in the drunk

12 thw queen of small things

„Everything’s better when you’re drunk.“

Joey and me are traipsing dangerously close to the curb when I get a philosophical itch only he can scratch. Figuratively, of course. It’s 2 a.m. in the morning – not late enough to go home for our standards, but still not as early to give up the quest for a new club and settle for buying a beer at the station to drink on a bench somewhere. If this was five years ago, that would’ve been our plan from the start, but nowadays we like to pretend that we’re at least trying to be adults.

„What do you mean, everything?“

„I mean exactly what I said. Everything. All of it. Life as a whole. It’s better when I’m a bit tipsy. Not wasted, not that. Comfortably unselfconscious. That best fits the description of what I mean.“

Joey chuckles.

„Sounds good to me. But why do you need alcohol to be unselfconscious? Can’t you use your psycho-magic to make it a permanent state of mind?“

I look at him with a raised eyebrow. He’s failing to suppress his smirk, quite miserably.

Really? You’re asking me that? Wasn’t it you who said that I was the most stuck-up, spontaneously challenged, serious-to-a-fault, self-conscious, prissy person you’ve ever met?“

He nods with each description and playfully brings a finger to his lips, as if thinking.

„I’m not sure all of those were me, but they do ring true. You have a very nasty trait of having to control absolutely every aspect of your life.  All these things you’ve mentioned stem from that, really.“

„Yeah, they do. That’s why it’s best for me to always be a little drunk. When you take the obsessive need to control out of the equation, I’m kind of perfect!“

As I’m saying this, I try to hop and click my feet together as they do in the old movies. Needless to say, it ends up looking extremely inelegant. I’m not much of an athlete on my best, most sober days.

„A perfect klutz, maybe.“

I stick my tongue out at him, once again proving my unfailing feminine charm and emotional maturity.

„Do you know that Steinbeck quote? He says something like, when you’re drunk and in a ditch somewhere, the stars seem to come down close to you and you remember all these nice things, but you’re content just as you are sitting on the ground and looking at the sky. And you feel like you’re holy, like you’re a part of everything. “

Joey looks at me thoughtfully, then pulls me into a mock embrace. Two drunkards painting spirals on the pavement, insignificant flecks of black on the neon-lit sidewalk in the city. Holy is probably not one of the top-ten words that would be used to describe such a sight. I definitely don’t feel holy, or part of everything. But I feel like a part of us, a pair, and I guess that’s sometimes the best you can hope for.

„Let’s go lie on the grass somewhere and look at the stars, Joey. Let’s see if Steinbeck was right.“

„You do realize we’re still in the city, right? You can count the visible stars on the fingers of one hand.“

„I know. Let’s do it anyway.“

Shrugging his shoulders, Joey lets out an exasperated sigh but says okay. It’s a short walk to the main park from where we are, and we cross the distance in record time for two people whose zigzagging actually doubles the length of the way. We choose a spot near a fountain and settle down in the damp grass.

I realize Joey was right. You can see two stars and three other dots, vaguely sparkling behind a thick layer of industrial smog. It’s not the out-of-body experience Steinbeck described at all. We try to give alcohol some time to work its magic, but it’s pointless. After a long silence, Joey takes my hand and squeezes it.

„I like you when you’re drunk.“

„I know. That’s why our nights always end this way.“

„Yes. But I like you when you’re sober, too. You have a kind of neurotic charm about you.“

I roll my eyes even though I know he can’t see it.

„I’ll say it again – really? Neurotic charm? You make me sound like a female version of Woody Allen.“

He releases my hand and turns on his side, head propped up, pretending to be sizing me up.

„Well, there’s a bit of Woody in there, yes. But there’s also someone else. An odd mix between him and Kirsten Dunst, that’s it!“

I gasp in mock horror and try to slap his arm, but he ducks and evades the attack.

„You’d better hope I don’t remember this comment in the morning, or we’ll never hang out again. Ever.

„Promises, promises.“

Empty, of course.

In the morning, I wake up, stand in front of a mirror and laugh at myself.

„Hello, Kirsten. Hello, Woody,“ I mumble while overdoing a salute.

My dual nature pacified, I go about my day as usual. Make a to-do list to appease my controlling side. Remember what Joey said, and ignore all the points on the list to get outside of my head for a while.

This is going to be one Hell of a drunken sobering experience.

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