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Raising the bar

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  • Raising the bar

    Raising the Bar
    A week of the drink

    BY RANDALL ROBERTS
    [email protected]

    When we're parched, we drink. When we're quenched, we drink. When we feel ruined, we drink. When we ace the LSAT, we make a beeline for Remy's. When we want a hook-up, we put on our lipstick and our tightest T-shirt and head to T.G.I. Friday's for a bloody mary. When we ditch the dude, we do it over a daiquiri. We drink joyously, and recklessly.

    After a long day, we meet at O'Connell's, where we hoist our mugs, crash them against one another and roar with glee. When we want to catch up with our best friends, we meet at the VFW. We drink to remember. We drink to forget. When we couldn't eat another bite, still we have a glass of port. On one knee, our heart ablaze, we propose and touch our tongues to tingly prosecco. When our brain is mush, our heart lost, and we're horny on a Sunday afternoon, we hit Roxy's and watch naked ladies shove their honey pots into faces of desperate men, buried in longing -- and drink.

    We mix to survive the earthquake of dread that threatens day and night to collapse onto our homes. We mix so that we may float headfirst through the pleasure clouds. We concoct cocktails. Oh, the world is an amazing place, and the proof, if you pay attention and your heart is wide open, is in our recipes, our blueprints. It's in what the drunken southern writer William Faulkner called our "puny, inexhaustible voice," one that manifests itself as the signature drink, or recommended wine, or drink of the week.

    But some of us are runaway trains barreling down mountain tracks; we won't stop until we crash and burn. The stories abound of ruined men and women who cannot come to terms with their intake. Then again, who can blame them? Is there any better solace -- at least for a sinner -- than a neighborhood bar? When you're sick of reading, sick of pacing, sick of the sound of your own internal nagging, you can find comfort. Here, kindred strangers and a clean, well-lighted place; elsewhere, chatter.

    If nothing else, retreating to a bar is itself an affirmation: Yes, I am alone, but not really. I am alone with others who, too, are alone. We can suffer this burden together. And when the burden lifts (usually between midnight and two) we will rejoice, together. And we rejoice, as well, when we are ordered to embark on a seven-day journey into the bliss-abyss we've dubbed Week of the Drink, a week in which we will drink and drink and drink (and get paid for it!).

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