“The most dangerous drink is gin. You have to be really, really careful with that. And you also have to be 45, female and sitting on the stairs. Because gin isn’t really a drink, it’s more a mascara thinner.” —Dylan Moran
Last week I was thrown off the gin train. Perhaps “thrown” isn’t the right verb — more like involuntarily ejected and banned from ever riding again. The train was still moving when I found myself rolling down the hill from the tracks. I still have scrapes and bruises my grandchildren will feel.
Gin is a fairly new concept for me — I only consumed it at the esteemed Back Door, and it was something I ordered when I was bloated from beer’s bubbles and not quite burning for bourbon. I figured it could be a buffer drink — it looked so pristine and crisp when swaying in a glass with tonic and lime. The perfect cocktail to sip on a sunny day and posture like I have good taste. Boy, was I wrong.
“I feel wonderful and sad. It’s the gin.” —Stephen Beresford, “The Last of the Haussmans”
It was my freshman year in college and my first time away from home. I found myself in a dorm with a few girls I went to high school with and the rest complete strangers — one stranger who remains my best friend to this day. I had a roommate who sucked down Diet Cokes like a thirsty Dirt Devil and whose dad wouldn’t allow her to drive on highways by herself. Her name was Marlena, a name I thought only existed in soap operas. She was the first person I ever knew to dip fries in her Frosty — I was equally intrigued and confused as to why I hadn’t thought of the concept earlier in life. But I digress. Marlena’s not the subject of this story.
It is my first residential assistant (RA) Jeri, a big-boned gal who roamed our hallways listening for clinking bottles or impromptu parties to bust. We weren’t 21, so the 6-pack of Zima I was sneaking in was considered contraband. We smuggled in cheap vodka in our backpacks and hid the hooch in our shower towels. “Maintaaaain,” she would bellow as the thunderous stomping of her feet roared toward your door. Her answer for any kind of predicament or catfight was to “maintain.” It’s not bad advice, now that I think about it.
We managed to throw a few great parties behind Jeri’s back and were only busted once because we were blasting Bone Thugs-N-Harmony too loud. We awoke the beast from her slumber. And she poached our beer.
Two months later, Jeri mysteriously disappeared from our dorm — and the entire campus, for that matter. She had a minor lapse in sanity and believed whole-heartedly she was going to spontaneously combust one night in her room. She literally thought she was going to wake up as a pile of ashes. Her parents removed her immediately. But there’s one more thing I forgot to mention about Jeri. Her drink of choice was gin.
“Follow your fate, and be satisfied with it, and be glad not to be a second-hand motor salesman, or a yellow-press journalist, pickled in gin and nicotine, or a cripple — or dead.” —Ian Fleming, “From Russia with Love”
I won’t go into the sordid details of my weekend tiff with gin, a spirit that has been haunting men since the Middle Ages and gets its predominant flavor from juniper berries. It wasn’t pretty, I made a fool of myself and embarrassed the people in my party. It’s a strange feeling to apologize for actions you have no recollection of. And it’s pathetic to have no logical reason why the liquor turned you into a raging Killer Whale trying to attack its trainers at Sea World.
If Jeri did not end up as a pile of ashes, I know exactly what she’d say to me: “A great gin in the hands of a fool is a great misfortune. Maintaaaain.”
Drunk Texts of the Week
• Don’t liquor me up and let me down!
• You have my girlnads in your grip
• Big daddy bean hoarder giving it to the spiller
• Don’t just stand there — my thingie is caught in my zipper