Tag Archives: Drinking

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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Filed under Drinking, Health, Humor

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

Okay, 2011, What’s the Catch?

It’s morning, New Year’s Day at the Fat Fingers of Justice residence…

My lack of a furious hangover pounding on the door to my central nervous system this morning makes no medical sense.  Science, even common sense, dictates that I should be begging for undeserved mercy, thinking that even the refrigerator light is scraping-the-backs-of-my-eyeballs too-bright.

And yet…nothing.  I feel like a mountain of money, with nekkid ladies rolling around in it.  It seemed certain the voluminous gin, whiskey, and mysterious and tongue-twistingly disgusting grape-flavored shots would lead to a wailing and gnashing of teeth to start the new year.

It feels so right to be wrong.

So the question is, 2011, what’s your game?  What kind of trick is this?

What do you want from me?

You’ve got my attention – now what?  You want money?  Here – here’s seven, eight bucks.   It’s all I’ve got.  Oh, and a Schlotzsky’s coupon.  Take that, too.  Just, don’t look at me like you weren’t ready for this.  Besides, it’s just your first day.  Settle down, let’s think about things, make lists, set goals.

You know, I didn’t even see you show up.  I lost track of time, or really, was never tracking it to begin with, and all of a sudden, 5, 4, 3 – here you come, sauntering on in.  At the exact moment (assuming drunken revelers at a bar are in sync with the atomic clock) you arrived, I was ascending stairs.  I’m going to take that as a metaphor, as an awesome omen.

Or it could just mean I’m going to be climbing a lot of stairs this year.

Either way, I’m moving up!

So 2011, on with the resolutions:

Get my shit together.

Drink less.

Spend money I save on not drinking to buy new clothes, especially to replace the t-shirts that I’ve had since my freshman year in college that my beer/taco gut is ever-more courageously attempting to burst through.

Eat less like an American.

Draw more.

Walk more.  More specifically, walk to the liquor store.  If I absolutely must go, it’s only a few blocks, and I can rationalize that I’m somewhat offsetting the vice of drinking by walking.

Stop making resolutions that already endanger other resolutions.

Stop getting older, but avoid the only alternative.

Less facebook, more book.

More beard.

Pick up self by own bootstraps, and don’t get sidetracked by over-thinking the impossible physics of such a thing.

It’s now one week later at the Fat Fingers of Justice residence…

So far, the above fortune is accurate.

But let’s check on those resolutions, shall we?

Drinking less?  If you happened to see me at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon Tuesday night, I think you know how that one is going. That amazing honky-tonk bar, with music by the Bret Graham Band (perhaps the greatest drinking band I’ve ever seen in my life, as their set list is like the dream country and western jukebox), had me drinking so much my brain cells were starting to pool their resources and consider a retreat out my ear to find a safehouse.

Eat less like an American?  Pizza and tacos are too good.  Scratch that one off the list.  What was I thinking?

Walk more?  I made about 10 trips to the bar at Ginny’s.  All on foot!  Add to that the 3 or  4 trips to the as-you-can-imagine unimaginable bathroom, and I’m practically wearing holes into the soles of my shoes.

Less facebook more book?  Thus far, my only success, although it’s due to a technicality.  My computer has a virus and my Internet time is limited to however long my computer decides not to unexpectedly and without warning shut itself down.  As for the book part, I’m mostly reviewing books I read last year.  Which leads me to…

All right, now I have to finish up my obligatory year-end list of greatest whatnots and thing-a-ma jigs, sexiest literary juggernauts and dopest arthouse porn flicks.  Or something.  If I don’t do one, I’m pretty sure my blogging license is revoked.

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Filed under Austin, Drinking, Humor, Music, Personal