David Kramer, a lasped drinker from the sound of things, writes nostalgicly of what he misses about getting tanked in bars, the practice of "buybacks", bartenders and patrons buying drinks for one another. He recalls it fondly and I read his column, shall we say, with interest. Mostly it reminded me of why I haven't had a drink in over twenty years.The thing I used to miss about drinking more than anything was the nearly erotic flush I felt course through my body after I finished the first drink, usually imbibed in loud, glottal gulps; the stressed nervous system would seem to relax, to let out a sigh and where ever I was seemed the most perfect place in the world. Often enough such occasions took place in alleys or alone in my apartment with all the shades drawn, since I drank for twenty years and the end of my drinking life came a dreary and depressed and repetitive scenario of tanking until I would pass out in my own easy chair, my shower, my kitchen; I couldn't manage my affairs in the taverns where everyone knew my name.
But if I happened to be seated at the end of the bar, near the bartender's well, it was a more perfect union between myself and the cosmos, or at least the contents of whatever ale house I landed in--the people were brilliant, the interiors showed discriminating tastes, anything that was said or done in the space of the twenty minutes to an hour my good mood lasted was nearly always extraordinary and inspired the most sublime ideas on my part. I loved where I was, and so did the other regulars who happened by those particular afternoons, late nights and early mornings when the bars could legally open--when the booze worked for us, we'd share our resources and buy each other drinks in the spirit of mounting an attack on the negative energy that cursed and tainted the world outside the front door. Sooner or later, though, the good mood faded, the good willed shriveled into rapidly encroaching resentments, bitterness nuanced our witticisms, our rapid succession of brilliant ideas soon became slurred, incoherent speech. People just got uglier, and I had no sense of time, to paraphrase Dylan, who nailed the recurring situation.