Mojitos & Sushi
I don’t need alcohol, I need alcohol to be around people— I thought this for perhaps the first time while blackout drunk with Ethel, drinking Mojitos and eating sushi, things, to that point, I’d never really experienced so fluidly with a female, but perhaps, I’m thinking now, I actually thought this sentence for the first time this morning, jotted it down while half asleep, and I’m now shamelessly superimposing the thought onto a night where I was allegedly blackout drunk with Ethel, drinking Mojitos and eating sushi.
Alcohol had undoubtedly contributed as much if not more to my deterioration as an artist, to my deterioration as a human being, as any of my friends, as any of my debt.
Abusing alcohol to make myself semi-functional in social settings, in many ways, killed me—it killed the “real” me (which was admittedly a me probably equally steeped in lies and denial) in favor of constructing a “socially palatable” me, or at least it made others seem “socially palatable” to me, even if I was incoherent, or perhaps because I was incoherent.
But, looking back, what choice does a person really have—assuming you always find yourself extremely socially anxious, possibly to a paralyzing degree?
Is being a drunken fool worse than any of the immediate, plausible alternatives?
At the time I didn’t think so—being a drunken fool was perfectly fine.
Ethel didn’t think so either—or at least she didn’t state she thought so explicitly.
Why not be drunken fools, eating sushi and drinking Mojitos?
We were having a great time; the sushi was delicious, definitely overpriced but still delicious, and the fact of the matter was any time we weren’t in the presence of Briana and Mike was refreshing to us, it seemed as though we both agreed that their presence had become increasingly cumbersome—we both agreed that since we were getting along so well, and since Briana and Mike hardly ever got along well (never mind as well as we were getting along), that they may have been a little jealous—that maybe they were trying to “sabotage” our good times.
Who needs them?! we said, sitting at the bar, blackout drunk, eating sushi.
Honestly, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, but Briana is definitely at least a little jealous of you; she’s just, I don’t know, a little sick in the head, I said, sitting at the bar, chewing a piece of sushi.
I totally agree, Ethel said, also chewing a piece of sushi, I mean I’ve been, like, best friends with Briana for years! But we also have periods like this. When I was dating Chad she refused to talk to me, and that was for almost three years.
And Mike? Listen, I like Mike, I said, washing down my sushi with a healthy gulp of Mojito, but me and him? There’s always been a little bit of a tension there, I thought at least. It’s like, I don’t know, I kind of feel like Briana always used to come onto me, and—personally—I felt really uncomfortable about it. But what am I supposed to say?! But, at the same time, I could see where, from his perspective, that could be annoying—and maybe that’s kind of informed that tension?
Oh, totally! Ethel replied, washing down her sushi with a healthy gulp of Mojito, Briana totally wants you! And Mike knows. He’s not stupid. He knows. But it’s not like it’s your fault; it’s his girlfriend. So it’s so unfair of him to take that out on you.
Well, I don’t wanna say he’s necessarily taking it out on—
But you know what I mean!
Oh, absolutely, I said. And I totally agree, by the way … I mean, Briana—to an extent—brings it on herself; I think we have to admit that. But don’t get me wrong, she’s great, totally great, when it comes to hospitality, when it comes to home cleanliness—she’s like the ideal girl when it comes to things like that. But let’s face it: her utter lack of self-esteem ultimately informs the majority of her interpersonal decision making.
I began my attempt to make eye contact with the bartender, hoping to refill my Mojito.
Yes, Ethel said, she’s only fucking these other dudes because she’s insecure about her position with Mike, which—by the way—is partially on Mike, too! How much of a dick can you be to someone? Geez! I mean, going skiing for four days and not even replying to any of her texts—like, what do you expect?!
I began to draw the beginnings of what would later become a more fleshed out correlation between Briana “banging dudes because she’s insecure about her position with Mike” and Ethel’s own “banging” of “dude(s)” (myself, others?) in relation to her position with her boyfriend.
Yeah, I said, it’s not totally on her. It’s definitely partially on Mike. Plus, her home life? The inflection of my voice was incredulous as I finally grabbed the attention of the bartender. I said yeah, can I, uh, have a refill of this? Ethel do you want—
No, I’m ok right now, she said, I actually still have a, uh, good amount left. She motioned to the bartender and glanced at her about half-full Mojito. It was considerate of her to wait on ordering another, somewhat pricey, Mojito; why be gluttonous on another person’s tab?
But yeah, I said as the bartender walked away, that probably plays a part in all of this too. Does she even know who her dad is? Environment plays a part in how each of us turn out. I hate to say it, but it’s a fact.
Oh, absolutely! Ethel began, I mean, I feel like you and I—we both come from really strong family backgrounds.
Oh I’m so family oriented! I replied, now more visibly intoxicated than ever, I love my family; we’re really close.
Exactly, Ethel replied, same here. I’m so close with my family, then I said I’m also extremely close with my family.
John Tesh at the Bolivian Restaurant
I was unironically playing the John Tesh NBA on NBC Theme Song on my phone, sitting at a new Bolivian restaurant that was gaining a sterling reputation around Providence when my friend Mo walked in—his Gucci brand wire-rimmed glasses floated above his bushy black beard; he looked miserable and sat down.
The restaurant apparently specialized in breakfast and brunch buffets, so we walked to the buffet area where they had a solid selection of fish, including tilapia, which I thought was an underrated and underrepresented fish, that, at a later date, my uncle would tell me was a “dirty fish”; the implication, of course, being that there were “better” fish to eat, but I still thought tilapia had a unique taste to it.
The Bolivian restaurant cooked everything on the spot; you just threw whatever you wanted into a bowl.
We walked over to the buffet area and Mo sighed ayyyyyyyy longingly as he picked up a pair of tongs and started to fish through a container of capicola; we stood at opposite ends of the omelette section. Mo sighed ayyyyyyyyy longingly as he dropped a modest scoop of the heavily processed meat into his bowl.
Mo began to exhibit physical tics that led me to believe he was about to start discussing his estranged wife then told me he thought he might actually still be in love her—then paused and turned in my direction and asked what I thought, asked what would I do, if I were him?
I dropped three chunks of tilapia into my bowl, didn’t make eye contact, and told him confidently he should probably take some time for himself, to assess how he really feels, knowing for a fact he had no intention of doing that—that the last things in the world Mo would be interested in doing were taking time for himself and assessing how he really feels. I was slightly perturbed but, admittedly, took a perverse pleasure in indulging said types of questions.
Mo was three months younger than I was but was also relatively inexperienced in that he’d been with his wife for nearly ten years, including their time dating. He entered into a life of monogamy with her at a very young age. He had minimal adult dating experience outside of his time with her—I actually had reason to believe his only extramarital sexual experience was a blowjob he received when he was seventeen, so I made salient, rational points that I, personally, wouldn’t have taken into account when it came to my relationships, and Mo agreed with me. He told me my advice was the right advice—that, as hard as it was to hear, that I was absolutely right.
He scrolled through what looked like days of text messages and shouted look-at-this! and pointed at his phone, anxiously rotated it into my periphery and asked me to read a particular exchange; his tone was legal—but also desperate and broken. He read the text bubble aloud before I could fully register the text; he asked me if he should tell his estranged wife he drove by her mom’s house the previous afternoon, and I told him probably not.
He said he was going to—that he wasn’t the type of person to lie about things, although we both knew he was the type of person to lie about things, all sorts of things (as was I), but the state of shock and hurt he was enduring had apparently turned him into a temporary ascetic, which wasn’t uncommon, I thought, having endured similar episodes myself. I was actually feeling a little off myself.
He hand-plucked a piece of capicola and popped it into his mouth; his desperation was gradually lifting my spirits.
He told me if he drove by her mother’s house she deserved to know it, that he wasn’t gonna lie; he was gonna tell her how he felt because that’s who he was, that she needed to know that, and I told him he should tell her how he feels.