Category Archives: Drinking

You Know who Doesn’t Get Saluted Enough?

Those who drunkenly stuff sandwich meat in their mouths at 2 in the morning.

Those are some heroes right there.
Braving the harsh glow of the refrigerator, courageously opening the in-the-moment complexly-sealed plastic container, navigating the obtuse geometry of folded meat slices through a drunken mouth – these are the warriors in the shadows.

And by God, I boldly step out of those shadows to join my brothers and sisters in (probably flabby) arms.

Because sometimes sandwiches are just too hard to deal with, an Everest to a body barely capable of a mole hill, and I’ll unashamedly have a deli mustard chaser with my shot of ham-sandwich meat, thank you very much.

 

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Filed under Drinking, Food, Humor

Four Years of the Incredible Shrinking Brain

Have you ever walked into a different room of your home, stopped, and suddenly realized you don’t remember why you walked into that room?  Maybe it’s the kitchen, and you’re standing in front of the open refrigerator, beer and milk and butter staring back, and you think, “What was I just doing?”

What about standing in front of the refrigerator and thinking, “What was I just doing…for four years?”

I’m not in front of a refrigerator, but in a coffeehouse in Austin, TX, and in three days I will turn twenty-nine years old.  I moved to Austin on my twenty-fifth birthday, and looking back, this latter half of twenty has possessed an unimaginable momentum, a speed proportional to gained years, but a mindboggling speed nonetheless.

English poet and essayist Charles Lamb once wrote, “The young man till thirty never feels practically that he is mortal.”

Which is to say:  Yay!  This feeling of immortality has life left in it yet!  368 more days of mindless, unbound, electric youth!  I can swig booze and maraud the midnight streets with immunity, engage in jittery fistfights with the sunrise after an all-night coffee and writing binge, digest entire taco stand inventories with nary a spark of heartburn, and swagger beard-first through Ladytown like I’m the muscled mayor of their every fantasy.

But let’s be honest with ourselves here.  The last four years have been a gradual slipping, an encroaching entropy.  Thirty won’t be a flipped light switch that plunges me into darkness, where I’m alone in a room and staring at projections of arthritis and memory loss on the wall.  It’s more of a dimmer switch, with age-related susceptibilities slowly coming into focus, ears gradually tuning to the frequencies of recommended prostate exams.  (How exactly does one reconcile rectal realities?  Does alliteration distract enough from the probing physician?  Let’s heartily hope so.)

At this point in the blog, those already into their 30s, 40s, and beyond are surely muttering, “Oh, woe is you.  Weep for your dying youth,” and not without a merited sarcasm.  But, allow me my pity party.  I already suffer the pains of my greatest gustatory loves, pizza and coffee.  The heartburn, or possibly serious acid reflux, eats away my insides; flames lacerate their way up into my chest and into the bottom of my throat.  I love pizza and a mean caffeine buzz, and I’d like to imagine myself bravely marching from barista to pie-maker and back again for decades, but that march will likely come with a bandoleer of Rolaids and a Maalox mustache.

Oh, and these coffeehouse girls, obvious undergrads increasingly too young for me.  I overhear them studying biology, words like “eukaryotic” and “mitochondrian” affirmed by their partners as right answers.  They multi-task with a mental bandwidth that’s panoramic and fluid – studying cell structure from a textbook while playing music from their laptops while sending texts while Instagramming their entire coffee table tableaux.

As their biology terms mix with descriptions of boys in their class, I go into a haze of half-listening, and I begin to dwell on biological facts of a more depressing and personal nature:

The brain peaks in size at 25, after which it begins to shrink, lose weight, and fill with fluid. 

The heart continually becomes a less efficient pumping machine.  Joint function steadily declines.  The lungs become less elastic; you can’t fill them as full or empty them as completely of stale air. 

You simply can’t take in as much of the world, and you can’t let go of that you’ve absorbed.   

I may need something stronger than an iced coffee.  Something with whiskey.  Maybe nothing with whiskey, just whiskey.  And yet, even my capacity for drinking seems diminished.  I’m reminded of a recent, embarrassing memory:

The scene opens to tunnel vision, with fuzzy edges around a too-slowly-receding perimeter.   I see pale, fuzzy knees sticking out of shorts, and the depth of field shifts allowing me to see flip-flop covered feet around the same time I feel them splattered in vomit. 

Localization is gradually determined:  this planet, this state, this city, this patio, this lawn chair, this hunched over body.

Those puke-covered feet. 

My feet. 

I’m on the rug-covered patio belonging to people I’ve only recently met.  The friend who brought me here is missing.  In fact, I’m alone – the only person filling a chair in a circle of chairs previously populated.  It’s dark except for the light of two mosquito-repelling candles.

I’ve either just woken myself up vomiting, or I woke up just in time to vomit.  I’m not sure which one is more ridiculous, but I am sure contemplating the distinction isn’t going to make this any easier to explain.  So, when I find my friend in the kitchen, I don’t.  I just suggest we bail, and I end up passing out on her living room floor next to her cat. 

I never once, through high school or college, was the person who threw up in a socially unsanctioned location.  “How does someone just puke like that?” I used to indignantly wonder.  I wish I hadn’t found the answer.  Blackout puking is for the young.  I mean, I have dental insurance – I’m too old for this shit.

I need a bagel or a muffin or a –

With age, muscle mass declines, metabolic rate slows, and caloric intake should be subsequently reduced.    

Ugh.  I should probably get out of this coffeehouse and go for a walk.  Do I have the right shoes for it?  I should probably stretch first.  Can I even touch my toes anymore?   It’s dark out; I should wait til daytime.  But it’s so hot all the time.  Maybe go to a gym instead, with air conditioning and treadmills.  They have TVs in there.  I could make a running playlist to encourage me.  Yeah, that sounds good.  I’ll start on my birthday.  Yeah.  Research for a few days, build that high-energy playlist.  Start walking, then jogging.  Maybe even look into yoga classes.

Exercise is known to help brain function.  Perhaps I can hinder or offset the shrinking of my brain.

That way, maybe I’ll have a better answer when I’m 30 and in front of the open refrigerator, staring back at prune juice and almond milk and light margarine, and asking, “What was I just doing…for five years?”

But right now I just remembered I wanted a chocolate chip, banana bread muffin.  And I should probably go ahead and pop an antacid before things get carried away.

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(Van) Damming Up Whiskey River, or, the Truths Revealed by House Party 2: The Pajama Jam

The 290 West exit off of South I-35.

That’s a shot of Jean Claude Van Damme playing yours truly in a biopic about what I’ve been up to lately.  Namely, growing out a greasy mullet and toting handguns while practicing gnarly motorcycle tricks on highway overpasses.  Also, my knees have begun to emit steam.  You know, typical macho bullshit.

Let’s take a look in the ol’ reader mailbag, shall we?

Dear Fat Fingers Justice,

Did you know that if I Google “Sam Elliot Mustache,” the Fat Fingers of Justice is the ninth image result?

Sincerely,

Sam Elliott

P.S. Call my agent asap!  I just finished your script, the Old West period piece, and I’d be honored to play the mysterious, widower sheriff who dispenses folky wisdom and hides a revolver in his mustache.  My current stint as the voice of Smokey Bear is a decent gig, but there’s only so much nuance with which you can deliver “Only you can prevent forest fires.”  And the lack of character depth is very frustrating.  I mean, did his parents die in a fire?  The love of his life?  Does he have survivor’s guilt?  Let’s just say the U.S. Forest Service’s marketing team isn’t the creative epicenter I’d been promised. 

P.P.S.  How is Smoky Bear totally not a gay icon?  I mean, c’mon, look at that fucking bear.  Ah, but I ramble.

YES, I do, legendary actor Sam Elliot.  WordPress is very informative in terms of helping me manage and finely curate my surely-at-any-moment-award-winning content.  ‎”Sam Elliot Mustache” is among the top five search engine terms that lead to my site. The others?  “Bee gees hairy,” “porcelain cats,” “truck nuts,” and last but not the least insulting, “fat man with beard.”

Fuck you, too, Google search matrix.  You could put down the hoagie and run your ass around the block a few times yourself.

But I know it’s just tough love.  You see, as recently as two years ago, friends and foes alike were asking, “Fat Fingers, how do you always seem to be in peak physical condition?  Your mental agility and acuity is rivaled only by your rippling musculature.”

Others would add, not incorrectly, “If polished stones of various shapes and sizes were to achieve consciousness and quickly evolve cooperative abilities, they would hold a brief meeting and unanimously decide to combine to form the perfect rock-hard body – your body.”  (They would also make a truly horrifying and unstoppable rock army that I only hope could be reasoned with.  But none of my appreciators considered that rock army situation, as they were too full of lusty thoughts to think it through.)

Ex-girlfriends would sell semi-nude photos of me to pay off their student loan debts.  Unsurprisingly, the images received nearly universal, vaginal acclaim.

But surprise, surprise – experiment with alcoholism for a few years, come down with a chronic case of taco-itis, and almost literally forget how to exercise, and the results are not good.  Other than a solid beard and decent shoulders, I’m pretty much a “Before” picture waiting for a makeover.  I’m the left side of the screen when visually breaking down pre- and post-ownership of a Bowflex.

The only peak condition I’ve found myself in recently is peak drinking condition.  And maybe peak sandwich hunting condition.  I’m often found valiantly thinning the overpopulated sandwich herds in the deli savanna.

Unfortunately, those shirtless photos have proven to be slightly less lucrative.

So, perhaps it’s time to cut back on drinking and eating with the gusto of the condemned.  It’s time the Fat Fingers took hold of a healthier lifestyle.  I never intended the Fat Fingers to be literal.  Corpulent appendages were not the goal here. (Editor’s Note: “What was?”  Me:  “Shut up, Editor.”)  I fear getting to a point where I find  myself getting winded making a sandwich.  Or breaking a sweat getting dressed, because then you’re clothes are all sweated-up, but you can’t just change shirts, because then that second shirt would be all gross, too.  Man, life is tough on the lazy.

So, enough of the whiskey coke floats and waffle grilled cheese sandwiches.  Enough of the buttered cigars, the chocolate-covered curly fries, and even my favorite cheesy broccoli recipe – 4 parts cheese, no parts broccoli.

However, perhaps worse than the physical toll the booze and poor diet takes, is the mental.  My brain is just a bag of gin-thinned chowder and crushed, mushy saltines.  And my memory, oh lord my memory.

A recent experience solidified this concern.  While perusing Netflix’s suggested films, I discovered that the website’s “Best Guess” for my rating of “House Party 2:  The Pajama Jam” was 3.0 stars.

How could Netflix believe I would like House Party 2 more than I wouldn’t like it?  How had this happened?  Netflix, you’re supposed to know me.  Who am I?  How have my life’s choices and beliefs led me to this misunderstanding?

Even more unsettling than that, however, was discovering that on March 8th I apparently watched 22 minutes of it.  I don’t remember this, and I don’t think it’s a subconscious attempt at saving any brain space for more important things, like famous cat trivia.  It was because one lonely night I’d been drunk enough to think it was a good idea to watch it.  Not coincidentally, that level of drunkenness is also the level at which you kill the brain cells required to remember making such a decision.

I watched part of it today as research for this blog, and in case you didn’t know, House Party 2 isn’t very good.  Should I have watched the original House Party first?  Would that have helped?

Clearly, I need to get my mind right. I need to do some soul – and liver – searching.

Beyond the lapses in memory, I noticed my social skills have suffered.  My brain needs to be exercised in ways other than laps in the liquor pool, because my conversation skills have withered horribly.

It’s never good when all I can think of to say on a date is, “Did you know my roommate’s cat can fart as loud as a person?” and then raise my eyebrows like, “Pretty amazing, huh?”  While that may be true, it’s not a great conversation piece.  (But stay tuned for a 3-part startling expose on feline digestive issues in the coming weeks.  By God, Cat Fancy’s finally going to get that Pulitzer.)

Other times, I may share too much, too soon:

“I combed my beard, and a fly fell out.”

“Ew, gross.”

“Oh, settle down.  It was still alive.”

It’s a shame, really.  Because all that conversational ineptitude comes just after I’d discovered a failsafe way to ask someone out – “Would you like to eat dinner and have drinks and consider engaging in a short to long term power struggle with me?”  Guaranteed to work on that cute cynic you’ve been eyeing!

I decided I better get my shit in gear, better get myself in some better health before my heart or liver or both decide to mutiny and leave in the middle of the night, replacing themselves with papier-mâché replicas.

My goal, perhaps rather ambitious, is not to have a single drink for two weeks, then filter in the weekend-only drinking.  I will also cook more meals at home instead of continuing construction on a delivery tube between my bed and the taco truck behind my house.

I’ll let you know how that works out, considering this bottle of whiskey throwing itself at me.

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A Consideration of the Mustache, Long Overdue

Austin businesses must begin catering to the mustache community by supporting a prominent cause:  helping to reduce the scourge of wet whiskers.

Why, in a city so enamored with facial hair and never-ending, cyclical consumption of coffee and booze, do we still suffer the absence of mustache cups?  As far as I know, not a single cafe, restaurant or bar is helping to keep area mustaches dry.

Austin, where are you on this?  It’s embarrassing.

If you’re unfamiliar, this is a mustache cup, or rather, an array of mustache cups.

Mustache cups are amazing

Is this for lady mustaches?

It’s simple, yet brilliant.  As you can see, within the circumference of the cup is a ledge, or mustache guard, that keeps the drinker’s mustache clean and dry.  Invented in the mid-1800s, when the popularity of nose beards and regular beards mirrored America’s spirited frontier expansion in some sort of Manifest Destiny of hair, these must have been far more prevalent.  There were simply more mustaches.  And furthermore, more of those mustaches were waxed.  Imbibing hot tea or coffee would undoubtedly melt that wax, having it leak into the cup, resulting in a horrible coffee/mustache wax combination.

Today, while fewer mustachinistas wax the ol’ nose neighbor, the fact remains that nobody wants a leaky mustache.

If I’m reading in the BookPeople cafe, I don’t want to worry about coffee dripping on to the book I’m reading but too broke to buy.  That would guilt me in to buying it, and my mustache is supposed to make me money, not cost me money.  (See:  side employment as mustache ride owner/operator)

If I’m drinking coffee at work, I can’t have it dripping onto important documents.  I just can’t.

And, as I believe it a courtesy to the ladies to help avoid kissing some ol’ whiskey whiskers, mustache cups sure would be mighty welcome at the bar.

Although, perhaps not all mustache residue is repellent – I’ve heard a lot of women say it’s pretty sexy to have sugar sprinkles as a kind of mustache frosting.  Just eat some sugar cookies and let the cookie duster work it’s magic.  In no time at all, pretty ladies will be dying to chew on your saccharine-sweet philtrum drape.  (That sounds a lot grosser than I wanted it to.)

That’s a philtrum.  In some cultures, folklore holds that it’s formed when an angel touches the baby in the womb, and whispers, “That’s where mustaches go.”

On a side note, I bet Sam Elliott has an awesome mustache cup collection.  I wonder if that’s what people always buy him for Christmas, and he’s growing tired of the same gift every year.

An angry Sam Elliott defends his right to a drippy mustache. If he wants to string cheerios from the damn thing, by God we ought to let him.

And on another note, I got beef with cupcakes.  The ratio of cupcakeries to Austin citizens is approaching critical mass.  And sure, they’re delicious.  They’re cake.  In a cup.  I understand this.  But empathize with the mustachioed for a moment.  Cupcakes are a cake medium unfriendly to mustaches.  Messy icing madness is only amplified with the nose beard  clinging to icing like…well, like icing to a nose beard.  And, while I offer no suggestion to this problem, I assure you I’m hard at work continuing to complain about it while still eating cupcakes. (That just gave me an idea to open my own cupcake dealership, and I’ll call it The Cupcake Curmudgeon)

A lovely left-handed mustache cup

Now, while I lament the absence of mustache cup accessibility, I would be remiss not to mention one local establishment’s consideration of mustache rights.  Hot dog utopia, coffee heaven and all around impressive bar, Frank, offers the ‘Stache Dog,” a hot dog (non-menu special request, I believe) with all the fixin’s beneath the dog, so as to minimize a post-meal mustache medley.   That’s a bold, innovative start to ending mustache neglect and championing its dignity; but we need more.

In fact, I think the Frank logo would look real handsome on a mustache cup.

The coffee at Frank needs no boosting, as their barristas participate in national competitions, but still – slap that on the side of a mustache mug, and it’s a winner. (Photo by Matt Egan)

I hope to pitch this concept to the management of various establishments asap, for the struggle against sloppy ‘staches has endured too long.  Too long!  Austin needs to revitalize the mustache cup industry and promote mustache hygiene in a creative way.  We have the technology.  We have the vision.  We have the mustaches.  We will no longer stand (or sit, probably sit) idly by while mustaches exude shame, drip by drip.  Nay, we will demand drinking cups with protective ledges.  Demand mustache cups!  Demand mustache respect!

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Filed under Austin, Beards, Drinking

From the tangled spaghetti noodles of thought, I extract a most meaningful meatball…

…only to drop it on the floor.

Or,

My refrigerator, like my heart, opened to reveal the paltry contents therein

I made spaghetti, and it needs cheese. At 27, employed, college-educated, of able body and sound (albeit, potentially out of tune) mind, I have no excuses for the following, somehow heartbreaking fact: I have no cheese.

Sure, there are explanations as to how I reached this dire circumstance, but they do not excuse this failure to possess an essential food staple. I mean, my god, I love cheese. Cheese loves me. There’s been a long, storied romance betwixt this blogging man and old, coagulated milk fat. I believe Nicholas Sparks is attempting to tackle our undying love in one of his Shakespearean, “dramatic epic love stories,” which will inevitably be adapted into a film. Ryan Gosling will play the mozzarella. Rosario Dawson is said to be considering the role of pepper jack cheese.

And yet, today’s chapter would take a tragic turn, as I dwell morosely on the faults of my character fating my cheeseless-ness. Primarily, I loathe going to the grocery store. (Is that a character fault?) The zombie mindlessness of the cart-pushing patrons, the fluorescent lighting, the overwhelming abundance of options leading to scrutiny wasted on the subtle and ultimately meaningless differences between one green bottle of shampoo and one blue bottle of shampoo. And the music? An absolute horror to anyone paying attention, which, admittedly, is not really the intention of the playlist.

How, in nothing but a world already destined to complete failure, can Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” be followed by the Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket?” Lest you think it some sort of consolation to hear that while looking for pulp-free orange juice amidst all levels of pulp inclusion or exclusion, I attest – it is not. It’s a painful irony all the more painful for its accidental nature. The grocery store music is not being DJ’ed by a clever hipster. It is commercial audio content to soundtrack consumerism in action. All music is reduced to hummable pap, and any subversive element to Strummer and Jones’ lyrics is lost on the free-sample grabbing audience.

I rant, and yet, it brings me no cheese. Yes, I hate the grocery store, mostly because of the people. But there are times when it is not so busy, like now. It’s midnight, and HEB is open. I could satisfy my cheese needs now. But let’s not kid ourselves. I’m not leaving this laptop, this bottle of tequila, this squeaky yet comfortable chair.

I am content to settle for cheese-less spaghetti, as long as I am able to pontificate and be grumpy about it. This makes me a curmudgeon, on top of being unorganized, unprepared, and let’s cut the crap – lazy. Lazy laced with impulse control disorder. I’ve been told this personality-cocktail makes for an incredibly attractive potential mate.

In an attempt to provide a visual break from all the words, I did a google image search of curmudgeon. The results included:

Statler and Waldorf, the ornery old Muppet characters

The late, great comic book writer and music critic, Harvey Pekar. His quote, "Life is a war of attrition," is not currently scheduled to caption any motivational posters.

Andy Fucking Rooney

Personal hero and still undisputed World Heavyweight Grumpy Ol' Bastard Champion, Andy Rooney.

So, I have no cheese.  And while I’ve accepted that for this particular helping of spaghetti, I can’t help but wonder if the cheese is more than cheese.  You know?  Like, is it a metaphor?  Is cheese a rewarding career?  Am I content to put that off until later, later than what?  To procrastinate?  To be happy with the bill-paying but bland sauce?  Or, is cheese a woman?  A relationship in which my fear of intimacy completely evaporates.  (Lady readers, you’re more than welcome to approach me with the line, “I’d love to be your cheese,” and we will laugh and hug and kiss like nobody’s business)

No, it’s probably just cheese.  In fact, even the title of this blog post – particularly the part about extracting a meaningful meatball – is bullshit.  It’s vegetarian spaghetti, with mushrooms and zucchini.  I just liked the alliteration.  I can’t even cook a meaningful metaphor.  (Boom!  still got in that alliteration)  What figurative value could zucchini possibly play?

(I am more than content if the only memorable, de-contextualized quote from this post is, “Is cheese a woman?”)

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