Small Town News: A Christmas Eve To Remember


I have been feeling a little “down in the dumps” lately. To illustrate that I have not completely lost my sense of humor, to restore your faith in me as a “humor blogger”, and to reward those of you who have stuck with me, I will tell you one of my most favorite “ripped from the headlines” stories. It’s a knee-slapper. I promise. It has gotten me through one or two dark moments.

I do not always read our little local newspaper, but when I do I always go straight for the “police blotter”. Not much happens here in our little piece of the Earth, certainly not much that is worth a headline. I discovered long ago that the most interesting things that do happen here are reported in the “police blotter”.

Sometimes, when I am in desperate need of a hearty laugh — which I have been lately — I think back to a tidbit that was featured in the “police blotter” several years ago. The events transpired on the 24th of December in the year 2011. I remember this because that date represented a milestone for me; I had been alcohol-free for a whole year.

Oddly enough I was not in a celebratory mood that year. I was anxious and feeling more than a little sorry for myself. Yes, I had gotten through the year and my first holiday season without booze. That was a good thing. A very good thing. Still, I worried about whether or not I would, could, or even wanted to get through the rest of my life (or the rest of that day) without it.

While my resolve is still strong and I fret less about relapse, there will always be that little part of me that wonders if someday I will fall off the wagon. And lose everything. It keeps me on my toes, but it is not an altogether comfortable feeling.

I was having a conversation with a friend a few days after Christmas about how I was dealing with life without my security blanket, how uncomfortable I was feeling. I was maybe even having a little pity party for myself.

She responded by telling me that my life could be a whole lot worse, that I could, for example, be in that week’s “police blotter”; that I should count myself lucky, not just for making it through the year without alcohol, but also, and possibly more importantly, for not having been one of the “roast beef people”.

She assumed that I was familiar with the story. She knows that I go straight to the “police blotter” when the paper arrives. I guess I was busy, you know, with my pity party in full swing and all. I hadn’t read it. And, so, she read it to me.

It took her about ten minutes to read me the seven-line piece. She had to keep stopping. To laugh. To catch her breath. To blow her nose. It was, in short, a great story.

I wish I had kept it, but I didn’t. It went something like this, though:

On December 24, 2011 officers responded to a call of a disturbance in the parking lot of The Local Market. Upon arrival, the officers witnessed the female beating the male about the head with a package of roast beef. A strong smell of alcohol was detected on the female assailant. The officers ascertained that the couple was known to each other and had, in fact, arrived in the same vehicle, a late-model BMW. Counsel was given and it was determined that the male, the driver, had not been drinking. The parties were discharged with a warning. The whereabouts of the roast beef in question are unknown.

I loved that she related to me this cautionary tale about the dangers of drinking, when I needed it most. Further, she made mention that she was confident that even had I been drinking, I would never have been caught in the parking lot of The Local Market beating dear, old Fang about the head with a roast beef. Green cabbage, perhaps, but never a roast beef!

I have always wished that I had been there. How often in life does one get to witness a meat fight in the middle of a grocery store parking lot? Alas, I have to satisfy myself with the visual of the scene that plays itself out in my head.

While this story is laugh out loud funny as written, it has always left me with a few lingering questions. Questions that, over the years, I have felt compelled to answer in a speculative and creative fashion. Like the Swiss cheese that often accompanies a fine roast beef product, I think we can agree that the story has more than a few holes.

First of all, I have always wondered what kind of roast beef the guy was being hit upside the head with? Was it a package of cold cuts? Or a whole roast of beef? It is unclear. I think that it makes a difference. Being slapped with a package of sliced roast beef could hardly kill a fly, let alone do any serious damage to a grown man. A slab of beef, on the other hand, could make a dent, not only to his pride, but to his noggin.

My money is on the cold cuts. Why? Because I think, it being Christmas Eve, she sent him in to purchase a roast beef — a whole roast beef — and he came out with deli-sliced roast beef. Also, I have to wonder if the police might not have taken the whole thing a lot more seriously, charged her with assault, even, if her “weapon” had been a five-pound roast of beef.

I have to say that in this scenario, the one that I long ago decided made the most sense,  my sympathies lie with her. Who hasn’t sent their husband the store to buy, say, a head of lettuce only to have him return with a head of cabbage. Who hasn’t wanted to beat him over the head with said green cabbage? Who hasn’t been forced, as a result of his inability to discern the difference between lettuce and cabbage, to eat a BCT, rather than the delicious BLT that one’s heart was set on? Who hasn’t been in this or a similar situation.Be honest, now.

Even drunk, I drew the line at battering anyone — with anything. I was never a violent drunk, though. No. I was a happy until I fell down and then couldn’t remember a thing in the morning kind of drunk. I was even, at times, a maudlin drunk; never was I a violent drunk. Still, drunk or sober, we all have our lines in the sand. This woman drew hers over roast beef. I can understand.

I am happy to report that “The Great Green Cabbage Debacle” did not result in Fang and I engaging in fisticuffs. I would hope that some of you might sympathize with me if it had, though.

I have always been intrigued by the part of the narrative where we are given the information that the parties were “known to each other”. Of course they were known to each other. I am willing to bet that they were married to each other — for thirty years!

While I would like to think that a trip to The Local Market taking on an air of danger might be fun, I don’t know that I would want to be mindful of strangers, armed with roast beef (of any variety), lurking in the shadows, poised to pounce upon the next person that they deemed worthy of a good meat-filled bitch slapping. It wouldn’t keep me away, though.

On the contrary, the idea of possibly being in a position to witness (or, better yet, to be the victim) of such a crime might have me camped out there. For eternity.

And what do you make of the “late-model BMW” detail? I have always found its presence intriguing. Was this meant to indicate that money was not an issue? That the argument had  nothing to do with the cost of the roast beef? (Which is high, let me just tell you!) Are we supposed to assume that they were, perhaps, German? If so, is this something that Germans engage in regularly, food fights in parking lots? Is this something the reader is supposed to know?

It is a mystery, the BMW detail. It is, indeed, far more mysterious to me than the fact that the whereabouts of the roast beef, the weapon in question, “remain unknown”. I am assuming, unless the attack shredded the packaging, that they took it  home with them. I would have taken it home with me.

I have always hoped that their relationship survived this incident. If it did, I also hope that he was never sent in to the store for cold cut turkey and came out, instead, with a frozen bird. Being knocked around with a frozen turkey would definitely smart a little.

I owe them, whatever their current relationship status, a debt of gratitude. Their story, which I like to think of as “A Christmas Eve To Remember”, has long been one of those stories that I harken back to when I need a laugh, when one drink seems like a good idea, when I send my husband out for lettuce, and, most importantly, when I need a reminder about how incredibly fortunate I am that my life is peppered with people who not only love me, but always know exactly what story I need to hear at exactly the moment I need to hear it.

Do you live in a small town? Do you have a favorite small town story? If so, I would love to hear it!


















Weirdly Grateful… for blurred vision

NaBloPoMo14DayTwentyNineI am allergic to cats. Naturally, it follows, that I own one. (We’ve had this one, “The Great Fanganini”, for over fifteen years.)

I take precautions. One of them being, I don’t tend to hold him overly much. This policy has served me well. Outside of a few weeks during the year when I am victimized by other allergies, I don’t suffer from cat ownership all that much. My husband does the litterbox; my daughter takes care of other areas of cat hygiene. It works out.

I also suffer from extremely dry eyes. This is an ongoing problem for which I take flaxseed oil. Fish oil would be better, but I’m allergic to shellfish and, as a result, cannot take the fish oil. I use prescription gel drops semi-regularly, as well. As long as I remember to take the flaxseed oil, refill my eye drop prescription, and not to touch the cat too much — cat hair and dander tends to exacerbate, but is not the underlying cause of my dry eye problem — this regimen is effective.

The effectiveness of this regimen, though, really does depend on me. This is bad. Because while I can be relied upon to take care of everyone and everything else that goes on here at the hovel, I don’t always take care of myself. I’m sure I’m not the only wife/mother/pet owner who suffers from this same malady. I call it the “Me Fourth Syndrome”.

Usually I take care of Daughter/Husband/Cat/Me. Sometimes that order gets rearranged where the first three are concerned, but I am almost always the one to occupy the fourth position.

Recently, as in Thanksgiving morning, it slapped me in the face. Literally.

I was on the phone with my mother while I was enjoying a cup of coffee and watching “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on television. I made the mistake of sitting in my husband’s chair — a chair that the cat and my husband spend a great deal of time in.

Because I was multi-tasking, I didn’t really notice that the cat was attempting to make like a fox stole and wrap his gigantic body around the back of my neck. But he was. And he did. When I realized that there was what amounted to a giant albatross around my neck, I reached around and relocated The Great Nipperini to lower ground.

Within seconds, he had pounced on my lap and, before I knew it, he had begun to nuzzle my face. Literally. The Great Nipperini does not like to be put off. Not unlike the other creatures that also reside here at the hovel, he, too, is an “in your face” type of creature.

Because cat wrasslin’, phone talking, parade watching, and coffee drinking cannot really be accomplished simultaneously, I hung up the phone. As I went to remove The Great Fanganini from my face so that I could return to parade viewing and self-caffeinating, I realized that something was very wrong. Very, very wrong.

I couldn’t see. My eyes felt like there were little woodworkers in them — woodworkers equipped with teeny, tiny pieces of sandpaper. These woodworkers had gotten mighty busy.

At this point both my husband and my daughter had arisen. The daughter was in the bathroom. I yelled in to her to get me the eye wash. Stat!

She couldn’t find it. Then, I couldn’t find it. I also had no eye drops. Even though we had been at the pharmacy refilling her prescriptions just the day before, I never thought to refill my own. “Me Fourth Sydrome” had bitten me in the ass once again!

I applied a cold compress to my eyes, but it wasn’t working AT ALL. I was in pain. My eyes were watering. And, as an added bonus, I looked like I had recently spent some time — a great deal of time — with Cheech & Chong — or other pot smokers of note. If only!

I put out a general alert to the troops that someone would have to take me to the grocery store — they were the only place that I knew to be open on Thanksgiving morning. I needed to get eye wash and some over-the-counter eye drops to alleviate the symptoms caused by The Great Fanganini, who, while all of my hootin’ and hollerin’ was going on, was just sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor looking up at me, as if to say, “Hey! What’s all the commotion?”

My husband went to put his pants on and grab his keys. Once we got in the car, though, he mentioned that he had to get gas and stop at the mailbox. As we were leaving the house the daughter requested a bagel sandwich — to tide her over until the feast we were no doubt in for later in the day.

Somehow I managed to convince the husband that we could take care of his errands (and hers) AFTER I had treated my eye issue — even though both the gas station and the mailbox were on the way to the grocery store, he agreed. Who says chivalry is dead? (Although I was slightly annoyed that he had taken the time to grab whatever it was that needed mailing while he was changing from pajama pants into jeans.)

Because I could not make clear to my husband, in a way that I felt comfortable that he was actually comprehending, what eye wash was or where it was kept at the supermarket, I had to go into the store myself — looking like a pothead. In fairness, the husband did dig out some eye drops before we left the house, that they were likely from 1979 and they burned like crazy notwithstanding, at least he did make an attempt to help me.

Of course I have to wonder if he shared these drops with me so that he could buy himself some time — time for getting gas and visiting the mailbox. Whatever his reasons, at least he tried. For that, I was grateful.

When I stumbled into the supermarket and found the correct aisle — I did this more from memory than from actual sight — I grabbed the eye wash and, what I thought were some sort of gel drops. They were not. But, I didn’t notice that until AFTER I had shot them into my eyes. They relieved the pain, but they numbed my eyes. They contained, as I later ascertained, some sort of antihistamine.

This is how and why I spent my Thanksgiving barely able to focus. I’ve spent other holidays barely able to focus, but those were a result of having had at least a slight buzz on. I don’t miss the buzz anymore, but I hadn’t realized how much I had grown accustomed to being secure in the knowledge that I would be able to remain focused — both visually and mentally — since I gave up drinking.

I found it weird, but not altogether inexplicable, how much my fuzzy eyesight seemed to be affecting my mental acuity. I had never given much thought to this relationship before.

I felt scattered and slightly out of sorts the whole day. I was grateful, though, that I just needed to wait for the eye drops to wear off to feel more myself. And, as an added bonus, no threat of a hangover existed.

I was reminded, once again and in a very strange way, that while I still miss drinking now and again, I have become a person that embraces the mental sharpness that is part and parcel of sobriety. More meaningful, though, is because I hold having my wits about me so dear — and miss it when I can’t — it bolsters my confidence in the fact that I will never take up drinking again.

That lesson, no matter that I have to learn it again and again, is always something to be grateful for.

Day 1,825

nodrinkingI have awakened every single day for the last 1,825 days with the same thought: I can’t drink today. Every. Single. Solitary. Day.

Today, however, in a curious twist of events, I awoke thinking about mopping my kitchen floor, doing a couple of loads of laundry, and, possibly, even giving the bathroom a good once over. I suppose that’s a good thing. It’s a weird thing, though, especially considering that today marks the day that five years ago I had what I like to believe was my last drink.

I have a vague recollection of hearing in some meeting or other about how important the five-year mark is for addicts — some scientific or spiritual mumbo-jumbo about how your brain (and, I suspect, your soul) needs that much time to recover from the damage inflicted upon it. I remember thinking, upon processing this, that it was horseshit.

Imagine then, if you will, my surprise when I awoke this morning thinking about housework rather than my usual alliterative companions — doubt, discomfort, and disease. It was mildly unnerving, but not altogether unpleasant.

Sometimes, as it turns out, it can feel good to be wrong.

I jumped out of bed at the crack of dawn, not because I had an overwhelming desire to get crack-a-lackin’ on the housework, but because I didn’t want to break the spell. I also felt an immediate need to write about it. Truthfully, before this morning, I had made the conscious decision NOT to write anything about hitting the five-year mark.

When I started writing again, I did so to fill my time with something more productive than drinking. Much of that stuff, mostly hand-written, has, hopefully, been turned into something more worthwhile — like an Ikea bookshelf or something equally useful. I came to blogging — virtual paper is much easier and far more environmentally-friendly — a few years into sobriety. I was determined that this would not be a recovery blog. And, if you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have told you that it hasn’t been.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Outside of the fact that I need to make the hovel a bit more presentable, that we are experiencing a clean towel shortage, and that I won’t be drinking anything stronger than a Diet Coke, nothing feels certain today. Maybe that’s the point. Perhaps that’s been the point all along.

I think that the very real possibility exists that this is, indeed, a recovery blog. It just so happens that it’s MY recovery blog. It’s been my way of sorting through the mental detritus so that, in the end, I could wind up here — thinking about cleaning and about writing, instead of about drinking or, more to the point, about not drinking.

Milestones exist in many ways to demonstrate how far we’ve come and how much farther we need to travel in order to reach our destinations. I don’t know how much farther I need to go or whether or not I’ll ever get there. That’s for the universe to decide. I do know how far I’ve come, though.

And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating. Maybe I’ll go nuts, throw caution to the wind, and put a shine on the faucets. They, too, deserve to smile today.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

photo credit: bing

Accepting Forgiveness

notperfectDrinking took me to places that a woman like me — white, middle-class, college-educated — never thought she’d be. Renter’s court. Criminal court. You know, THOSE kinds of places. At the time I thought that the world was against me. And so, to combat the world, I drank more. It’s what alcoholics do.

I almost lost everything. EVERYTHING. I am still, over four years later, putting many of the pieces of my shattered life back together. A few of them I just swept up and tossed in the trash, like the “friends” I used to drink with and the bars I used to frequent. Those pieces, the ones that don’t matter, the ones that never should have mattered, were easily discarded.

The relationships that do matter, that should have mattered more, those fractures are not so easily fixed. Cobbling them back together may take a lifetime. Regaining the trust that the people closest to me lost while I was lost in whatever bottle I could get my hands on, that’s the trickier part of recovery.

I had no idea that the actual act of giving up alcohol would be the easier part of the healing process. That the hard part would be the aftermath is not something they focus on in rehab. In rehab they tell you to put yourself first. I found this advice to be counterproductive. Because, really, that’s what addicts do, have always done — put themselves first. In order to get healthy, I needed to start putting other people first.

I needed, first and foremost, to stop feeling resentful. Instead, I needed to be grateful — to actually FEEL grateful. Grateful to the people who stood by me. Grateful for having done no irreparable physical harm to anyone other than myself. Grateful for being given the second chance that many addicts never are. Grateful just to be.

There is still not a day that goes by that I am not smacked in the face with the realization that I can NEVER have another drink. Not one single day. I don’t know if this ever ends. I don’t know that it should. I know that I must acknowledge this feeling and then I must move on from it before it incapacitates me. It’s really all I can do. There’s no magic to it. It’s just what my life is.

That’s the bad. Forgiveness is the good. Whether through words or deeds, I have managed to receive forgiveness from the people who my drinking affected most adversely. My husband. My child. They are truly special people.

And friends. The good ones. The kind ones. The generous ones. The funny ones. They persevered. They saw me through. They, too, have forgiven me.

My life is far better and infinitely richer because I am able, every day, to accept their gifts of forgiveness. And, because they have, every last one of them, given this gift so freely, I do my part by making every attempt to be a humble and grateful recipient.

photo credits:
Not perfect…

Is this how Bernie Madoff started out?


People are a little worked up about lying these days. Perhaps you’ve read about Lance Armstrong’s admission that he (gasp!) used steroids. Now there’s the Notre Dame player that has been caught out lying about a sick girlfriend (sorry, don’t know the details— don’t care). I find it all so ridiculous. Who cares?

Everybody lies. Some lies are more heinous and have greater consequences than others, sure, but much like burns have degrees, so do lies. We tell little lies all the time (probably every day) to others (and I daresay to ourselves) for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we do so in order to spare people’s feelings. A friend’s new scarf makes her look like she works in a brothel or, on the other end of the spectrum, Caroline Ingalls, but she likes it. So you tell her it’s great, it brings out her eyes, it covers her wattle, whatever. You hate the scarf (frankly you hate her taste in just about everything— what is with that shade of yellow in her kitchen?), but you love her. So, you lie. We all do it. I probably don’t get through the day without at least one little lie.

I practically lie for a living. Every day someone asks me a question and I feel forced to lie, rather than answer their question honestly. Why? Because it’s easier and far less time-consuming. I often get questions like: “How’s the pinot grigio?” My response? “Light and crisp!” I don’t drink. I’ve never had the pinot grigio. I don’t actually care what it tastes like. I just want the customer to order a beverage before the date changes. So, yes, I’m lying when I encourage her to order the stupid wine. (“It’s great. You’ll love it!”) Sure, I’m lying, but so what? This type of lie has no dire consequences. If the woman doesn’t like the pinot grigio that I lied about, she’ll just return it for something else. No big whoop. Also, I lie to protect myself from intrusive questioning. Once in a while a customer will really press me about an alcoholic beverage. When I tell them I don’t drink, they, inevitably, ask me why. When I respond with “Do you have a couple of hours and a therapist’s license?” they usually let it go, but sometimes they’re just nosy Nellies and they continue with their line of questioning or they make a wisecrack (“What? One too many and ten not enough?”) designed to, I guess, get me to open up to them. Yeah, right. Like I’m going to have some deep dark conversation with a complete stranger about why I don’t drink. I think not. So, I lie about how wonderful the $6 glass of wine is. Easier. Expedient. Whatever.

We all lie for different reasons and under different circumstance. If you’re anything like me, though, and I bet you are, I guarantee you that you lie every day. Lying about the wine or the shrimp stuffing (“to die for” — truthfully, it might kill me) is small potatoes. There are no real consequences to these lies.

The stakes are pretty low when we engage in a little fib (a word practically invented to indicate a very minor and socially acceptable lie). The stakes are higher for guys like Lance Armstrong. Stripped of his titles! Or Roger Clemens. Probably no National Baseball Hall of Fame for him! Whatever. I don’t care. It’s hard to get worked up about millionaires who engaged in wrongdoing and are now paying the price.

Still, sometimes lying is essential. Fang gets a little crazy if the cat gets into our bedroom. If my husband had any idea how many lazy afternoons the idiot cat has passed underneath our bed he would have a heart attack. So, I don’t tell him. If he finds cat hairs in the bedroom and point blank asks me if the cat was in the room my policy is to outright lie about it. I don’t need to be lectured about the proper way to open the bedroom door to avoid the possibility of a sneak attack by one very savvy cat. Because that’s what Fanganini does. He lays in wait. My husband has a method for slipping out of the bedroom without drawing the attention of the cat. Seriously. It’s a whole procedure. A procedure which has been extensively and thoroughly demonstrated to me as if, can you imagine?, I care. Just in case you care, let me give you a shorthand version of the procedure. Through a very small opening in the door, Fang scans the hallway for any sign of Fanganini. If he determines the coast is clear, he opens the door just wide enough to accommodate his girth (ampler in his advancing years) and scoots out of the bedroom. He does this in a very stealthy, spy-like way. Mission accomplished! Every foray into the hallway takes on the feel of a reconnaissance mission. He has a similar procedure for getting into the bedroom. Fanganini, God bless his little feline heart, is pretty sneaky and, given his age and his prodigious size, can still make a pretty impressive run for the open door. Fang’s methodology and the seriousness with which he takes it is, as you can imagine, all too much for me. I refuse to scoot or to take part in what feels like a clandestine military operation simply to make my way to the kitchen. As a result, the cat often gets one over on yours truly. I’m not sure what the allure of the underside of our bed is, but it seems pretty important to Fanganini. He’s thirteen years old and is unable to have sex. He’s got to have some kind of fun. So, sometimes I have to applaud his perseverance (or his stupidity). I mean, come on people, he plays this game every day. He can’t lose every day. Live and let live, I say. Oh, and lie about it. Definitely lie about it.

I guess one could say that I subscribe to the theory of “what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him”. It applies to the cat getting into the bedroom just as much as it applies to the small slush fund (very small!) that I have and that Fang knows nothing about. It’s just a little bank account that I throw whatever money I have left at the end of the week (or if I work an extra shift) into. It never amounts to much, mainly because Fangette knows about it. And she’s always hitting me up to dip into it. And I do. Because that’s really what it’s for. My husband still thinks that I can outfit her at Target for $150 a season. If only.

I used to keep my slush fund in an old purse in my closet, but he discovered it. Fang tends to be a bit of a snooper. He could have a hooker stashed away in the closet and I would never know. Me? I can’t even sneak a Snickers late at night because he will find the wrapper crammed into my nightstand. Whatever. He can’t help himself, it’s just how he is. Naturally curious, I guess. To his credit, he would always inform me that he had hit my “stash” so that he could pay for take-out (or whatever) for himself and Fangette. So, that was nice. I guess. But that’s not what the slush fund was for. So, I had to move it to a more secure facility. I still leave a $20 or two in the old bag, but the lion’s share now goes into my little bank account. I’ve never lied about having a bank account of my own, I’ve just never offered up the information. I suppose if he asked me, if he found me out, I would come clean about it. I wouldn’t outright lie about it because that would feel wrong. I would feel guilty. I have no guilt about lying to him about the cat or lying to my customers about menu items, but lying about money (even in an account that’s never had a balance over $200) just seems wrong, somehow. But if he never asks, I’ll never tell. Because what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

I don’t think that these little lies will in any way act like a gateway drug and lead me to bigger, more elaborate ruses. You don’t think this is how Bernie Madoff started out, do you?

photo credit: pinocchio

The Pub Crawl at the Mall

drinkingshoppingThere was a time when malls were for shopping. These days they are veritable entertainment complexes. Drinking establishments are around every corner. The mall is a great place to be an alcoholic. Those of you with a drinking problem can take full advantage of this by participating in a little activity I used to engage in, back in my drinking days— “The Pub Crawl at the Mall!”

Here’s how to play:

Reward yourself with a drink, or several, following a successful purchase. Start small. Buy a box of cards that you have every intention of sending out (but that you never will). Earn a glass of buttery Chardonnay. Chilled.

Knocked the Christmas pajamas off the list? Time for a martini! If you’re feeling particularly festive, opt for the green apple martini. Request a cherry garnish. Red and green! Fa! La! La! La! La! La! La! La! La!

Two gifts and two drinks down— and it’s not even noon! Plenty of time to do more damage to the pocketbook and the liver!

Now that you have a slight buzz on, hit one of the finer department stores. Surely someone on your list (or everyone) can use some nice earmuffs. Buy a half-a-dozen. Throw in a couple of scarves for the ladies and several body wash sets for the guys. You’re on a roll now! Get yourself some lunch. A few chicken wings and a couple of beers should do the trick. Find the place with the Christmas Ale on tap.

Woozy, yet fortified, make your way to the big electronics store. It’s only a little walk through the parking lot. And it’s right next to the place that offers $1 margaritas and free chips and salsa after 3:00. Timing is everything! Kill some time browsing and asking questions of the staff about things you have no intention of buying. Take a crack at making the right decision regarding DVDs. (Remember, last year you bought two copies of “A Christmas Story”— don’t make that mistake again!) Listen intently as the clerk describes the slight, but critical differences, in the latest entries to the “point and shoot” digital camera marketplace. Let him sell you the most expensive one, because it’s 3:05 and, let’s face it, there are a few margaritas calling your name. Never mind that your husband has no interest in photography.

There’s nothing quite like the late afternoon tequila high. It is, however, short-lived. And the only way to recover is a nap. From experience I will caution you about having a brief lie-down near the fountain. There is a very real possibility that you will be pelted with coins and/or picked up for public drunkenness. To avoid the potential for embarrassment (not to mention the attendant legal fees), for the love of God, spend the $12 on a movie ticket and sleep in the darkened theater. Choose wisely, though, don’t go for the blockbuster or the cartoon, select the boring indie title (if there’s a foreign film playing— even better). There’s a good chance you’ll be the only one in that theater, making the cocktail-induced snoring and drooling a non-issue. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, you will need the $15 jumbo bucket of popcorn to soak up the $5 worth of crappy tequila. Don’t cheap out.

This combination of carbs and rest should give you a second wind. Don’t waste it on more shopping. Unless, of course, it’s a brief foray to one of the kiosks where “As Seen on TV” products or calendars are sold. That’s fine. Take ten minutes to grab a pasta pot that’s also a strainer (!) or “The Audobon Official Bird Watcher’s Calendar”. You’ll undoubtedly be able to unload these items on some unsuspecting loved one.

You could rest on your laurels and go home now, but if you want to finish the game (and what self-respecting alcoholic wouldn’t want to do that?), you must cap off your adventure with at least one coffee drink. For added points, ease into this portion of the evening. Nothing says the holidays like a smooth, smoky 12-year-old Scotch! Bartenders just love customers who order $30 drinks! (Remember to tip accordingly!)

Don’t worry about the killer hangover that will be incurred by your fun-filled day of drinking. Starting your day as you finished your night is always an option. Throw a little Bailey’s in your morning coffee. It’s a real eye-opener. Enjoy this tried and true hangover cure while you guiltily fish through your, mostly useless and ridiculous, drunk purchases. Oh, and have a second shot ready for when you tally up the receipts. You’ll really need the “hair of the dog” then. Because “The Pub Crawl at the Mall!”? It never comes cheap.

photocredit: drinking and shopping