Feet on the Ground, Reaching for the Stars…

January 24, 2009 at 8:13 am (Clairissa, Sweet sticky things)

I’ve been wanting to do bad bad things…

Self-destructive behavior has come knocking again. As I rode the bus home the other night, I drowned out the back-of-the-bus babble with tunes from the MP3 player and wished for a cigarette. If that were the only thing, I wouldn’t be worried. But there were other things; cravings I’m more susceptible to caving in to. I figured I’d better go pro-active. That’s what yesterday was all about.

I’ve come to know the routine. I get moody, like it’s my period. Maybe it is? (Most of the women in my life get theirs within a week of each other. It’s crazy. Am I just running late? Whatever…) I awoke in the mood for mischief. Three days off! I could have drinks today, sober up tomorrow and be fine by Sunday.

I don’t think so. We all know how well that plan works. Next alternative?

Lately I’ve had a source of mischief, but that’s part of the problem. The fun-lovin’ mischief was beginning to bite back, and I had to go preventative. I know enough old people with various afflictions and powerful prescriptions that if I need a few pain pills to ease the aches and pains, all I have to do is ask. At worst I give them a couple bucks and get a small handful of ‘power-Chiclets’. I pop a couple, strap on the headphones and go for long walks. It was great! I get major exercise and nothing hurts.

At least that’s how it was at first.

The floaty, numb, happy-drunk feel I was getting from the opiates has diminished. Worse, the next day I hurt more, and it takes a few days to get back to normal. I’d learned a while ago that for pain management ibuprofen works best. Eating it ahead of activity suppresses inflammation, and I’ve come up with a pain management system that works pretty well. Popping opiates was messing with that, leaving me with a sore, deathlike ache in my knees and back. I’m well aware of how addiction works, and eating a substance to feel ‘normal’ is a red flag. HONK HONK HONK HONK ALERT! Continuing to feed the beast would just earn me another unmanageable habit.

I could always drink. But I have plans this weekend. I could do them drunk, but it would override the inherent fun involved, and getting into that vicious downward spiral was not what I wanted. I wanted release, not entrapment.

What to do? I’d noticed that I tend to do the same things when I drink, so why not do them without drinking? I texted Clairissa, “I need a designated drinker. Interested?”

She replied immediately. “Sorry, I’m slammed all day. Nemo is sleeping in forever. You could come over and chill if you want?”

Just the words I wanted to see. I had a plan!

I took a few minutes to get my head in order, and headed for the bus. I’d take a few minutes downtown to stop at the liquor store, then beeline for Clairissa’s. ‘Making the run’ has always been part of the fun of drinking. I think it dates back to when we were all underage and I was the one with the physical size, confidence and facial hair. Until someone was finally legal, I was in charge of procuring the party favors. Going to the liquor store on Friday? As natural as that first visit to the bathroom; once that’s out of the way, the rest of the day falls into place.

I stopped outside the liquor store, searching old text messages to see the name of the vodka Clairissa and Nemo drank. I remember her calling it cheap. Mamaloosa? (A couple a shotsa makea Mama loosa?) I’d recognize the bottle when I saw it; it looks like clear olive oil. I forged on. I perused the Stoli’s and New Deals, looked down to the Monarchs, HRDs and Popov.

There it was, mid-shelf. Twelve bucks, on sale? Twelve bucks for vodka is only cheap if you’re buying a half-gallon!

I stuffed it into the backpack and made for the bus. I walked past the Nightclub store, past the Gambling Joint. Andre, the bouncer/bartender stood on the sidewalk, smoking with a customer. One of Portland’s smokiest of bars was now in compliance with the new ordinance requiring everyone to go outside. “What are you up to?” he asked.

“Just came from the liquor store. I’m chasing girls, and needed more bait!”

“Carry on!”

“I plan to!”

I got on the next bus, the one usually taking me to work. The driver scratched his head as I boarded where I usually got off. As we rolled along, my cell phone went off. It was Raven. I answered.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m riding the bus, listening to Marilyn Manson and pondering the state of world affairs. How about you?”

She was waiting to go to work. I told her I was going to visit my barber. “How often do you get your hair cut anyway?” She remembered I’d went there last weekend. (Plus, I’d given her a video in a plastic bag that had once carried the body of a dead frog. It was promptly returned.) Without elaborating about the vodka, I explained that Clairissa would soon be leaving and we were socializing as much as possible. I bemoaned the fact that I’d soon have no one to mow my cranium, which caused a bell to simultaneously go off in our heads. More on that as it develops.

I was met at the door by Daddy the bulldog. Daddy has been in a mood lately, snapping at people and chasing skateboarders. (“Go Daddy, go! Uh… No Daddy no!”) Maybe he smelled my dog, but I got a nuzzle and a smile. I sat on the futon. He jumped up next to me, plopping a slobbery jowl on my thigh. I couldn’t feel more welcome.

Clairissa was finishing up a client as I arrived. “…-been a crazy time. I’m cutting people’s hair for the last time, and they’re freaking out, which makes me freak out. I remember when I left southern Oregon, and left my barber. He’d cut my hair for four years, and I was lost. So was he. As one client tells me, it’s not the haircut, it’s the therapy!”

I read the label of the vodka bottle. Made with real potatoes. Wow. I’d assumed they made the stuff with golden grain. Daddy’s attentions kept me from reading further. I passed the bottle to Clairissa, with instructions to share with Nemo.

Nemo is Clairissa’s partner. They’ve been friends for a few years, and recently connected. I’ve seen Clairissa’s partners come and go, but Nemo is different. She maintains an air of quiet stability, and has a softness about her. It’s obvious she’s crazy about Clairissa, and protective, but I didn’t get the suspicious scowls usually associated with my arrival into the all-girl world. (Out of respect for that, I try to keep the drool off my face when she is around.) I hoped the peace offering of vodka would ease the sting of her not being invited to our Sunday dinner. (I feel bad about that, but Clairissa insists this dinner is all about us, nobody else.) In her polyamorous world, exclusives are always a treat, and I’m happy to accommodate. Next payday? I’ll take them both out for beer and burritos.

I sat with Daddy on the futon, waiting as she finished trimming a male client. I gazed into space, feeling the earlier angst dissipate. After he left, we shared a smoke outside. It was time for me to go. I gave her a big kiss, with plans made for Sunday evening.

After securing my paycheck and depositing it, I walked back toward the bus stop. I’d managed to be a good boy. Didn’t ask anyone for pills, didn’t drink a drop. Even avoided taking a puff of Clairissa’s cigarette, although standing there with her, it seemed so natural to just reach out and take a puff. Stay strong, brother-self.

My bus stop is a couple blocks from Voodoo Donuts, and I had a flash of decadent inspiration: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosted Apple Fritters! I’d buy a couple of them and use food as my payday treat! Another mission! I was off. I saw a bus at a bus stop, and the light was in my favor. I crossed and hopped aboard. One minute and eight blocks later, I was across from Voodoo Donuts.

And there was the bus going home.

Donuts? Home? The Devil on one shoulder licked his lips and offered chocolate milk with the luscious treats. The Angel on the opposite shoulder frowned and waved a glucose meter at me.

Sorry, Devil. I boarded the bus, delaying culinary gratification for another time.

And now, it’s Saturday morning. I spent the evening quietly at home, watching Cecil B. Demented on VHS after discovering the years-old DVD copy was unreadable. I set the tape aside to loan to Raven. I’ve been slowly corrupting her with my sleazy cinematic delights, and this gives me an excuse to hunt her down later today.

After all, it is Saturday night, and I’ve got a lot of pent-up energy. I can have fun without booze, pills or cigarettes. Gots to blow off steam somehow. Oh, what will I do?

I’m sure I’ll think of something…

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