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Archive for the ‘Gorging’ Category

“She’s going to have to leave if she doesn’t calm it down,” said the bartender sternly to Jake.

I’m 26 and engaged, so nights like this shouldn’t still be happening–you know, those liquid dinners accompanied by outpouring of deep secrets and revelations due to an obscene amount of Ketel One martinis and Gimlets. However, it was a couple of days before New Year’s and I was feeling “festive.” I went out to Ditka’s in Chicago on Chestnut Street with my three brothers and one of their girlfriends and Jake. We made our way to the upstairs dining room and were greeted by tables full of bustling people, Sinatra and Elvis tunes in the background. We sat down, excited and breathing in deep the aromas of BBQ sauce and fresh seafood. I felt a bit nauseous–my loss of taste and smell was definitely on the rebound and some days feel like I can smell the slightest tinge of aroma.

I immediately knew what I was going to order–oysters and the baby back ribs. With the ocean no where to be seen, the oysters were just as fresh as they’d be in some harbor-side joint in Boston. The calamari was light and fluffy AND they had a small list on their wine menu specifically for $20 bottles of wine. Happiness.

My brother Johnny was excited I was getting to know his girlfriend, Mae, whom up until that point, I had had little contact. I can be a tad intimidating so I think she was relieved to see that I was ordering some wine off the menu, “Want to split a bottle?” I asked her. She heartily agreed and we all ordered our entrees. The ribs were amazingly tender and the BBQ sauce was just the right amount of sweet with a kick. The other popular item ordered was the Fridge Burger–and it lives up to its name. Packed full of cow and all the fixings, the sauce they ladled over this decadent burger separates it from the norm.

We ate and bellowed with laughter when we all realized that the Sinatra and Elvis tunes we had enjoyed were emanating from one guy with a microphone and a guitar. Simply amazing (we were all wondering why people kept clapping at the end of each song as we thought it was a recording–we simply chalked it up to a bunch of drunken Chicagoans, which wouldn’t be completely hard to believe).

We ended the meal by sharing one ginormous slice of decadent chocolate cake, with all 6 of us digging into it. The boys patted their stomachs and thought we’d all be on our ways home…or so they thought.

“Let’s go to Luxbar or Jilly’s or something!” I shouted as I raced out of the restaurant. Having given away “tastes” of my ribs to my brothers and taking some of it home, I hadn’t really eaten much to supplement the wine. At Jilly’s, Mae and I ordered drinks–myself “upgrading” to a Ketel One dirty martini, “Let’s get this pahty started.” There Mae and I discussed Johnny and herself a bit–I didn’t know much so I was interested to hear more about her family and where she came from. I learned her stiff ass Irish grandmother held a muted disdain for her Italian daugher-in-law–with tensions remaining two decades after the nuptials. “How horrible!” and I continued to sip.

Meanwhile Jake and my three brothers were more than annoyed, having wanting to go home after a satisfying meal.

“Uh, we’re having a conversation here…chillax, it’s a pahty.” I told them.

From there we moved on to Kelly’s in Lincoln Park, where I switched to Gimlets. We continued with the tom foolery, enjoying ourselves and Johnny even starting to down a few. Jake sat next to me, watching me, most likely dreading what awaited him at the end of the night (I’d “pahtied” like this before). He began a steady momentum of drinking himself.

Well…I blacked out after Gimlet number two. I was later told that Mae, also hammered, started feeding me rum and cokes (which I don’t drink but apparently became my new favorite drink at that moment) and we partook in rounds of shots. A friend of Johnny’s was visiting from out of town and apparently told me some sentimental story, himself getting choked up at the fact that I was happily engaged. Touched, I put my arm around him and we continued to chat. I later learned that Jake was ready to kill the dude and my younger brother alerted me to the fact that, “You know that douche is in love with you right?” Smooth.

Channeling my neurotic and loopy aunt Wilma (for some odd reason as I haven’t seen or talked to her in years now), I started to yell, “I am Willmaaaaa!” In a ferocious rage…and it was then that we all headed back to Johnny and Mae’s.

As you can imagine, I did a number to their bathroom. I’m not one to vomit readily so that was an epic moment in itself. Hurling insults at Johnny and Jake, they peeled me off the bathroom floor and brought me home–to my parent’s house.

“Does she do this a lot–if so, I’m going to kick her ass,” mumbled my father as I stumbled into the house, my anger toward the men in my life still vibrant.

“No, this happens like once a year if that,” assured Jake. He paused for a moment, reflecting on the fact that most other guys probably don’t have to deal with this display of debauchery even on an annual basis. He hauled me upstairs and laid me on the bed.

I awoke the next morning, naked, face down, with my contacts still in and full make-up done up.

“Uh oh…”

My sisters, much younger than myself, marched in and reminded me I was taking them out that afternoon.

“Well maybe now you’ll lay off the sauce,” said the younger 12 year old.

We went ice skating for two and a half hours at Wrigley Field’s ice rink, the bitter cold being the only thing to slap the hangover out of me.

“You realize now why boozing is bad, right? I mean, just take a good look at me and remember this face,” I told them.

“Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!” they shrieked.

Jake smiled and shook his head at me. My family is more in love with him than ever I think hahahaha

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Apart from the usual holiday festivities: the joining of family and friends and the over-indulging in tasty holiday delicacies–drama is usually a part of the overall experience. This Thanksgiving was no different. The underlying tension revolving around the impending nuptials abroad for one brother and his fiancĂ© was for the moment, forgotten and instead, blanketed by the aroma of roasted turkey and simmering side dishes. I came down the stairs and noticed the absence of chatter, realizing that the crew had already begun munching. My man had so thoughtfully served me a plate–I find myself still smiling at these little acts of thoughtfulness, often wondering why they resonate so well with me.

The meal went on and chatter started up again. Creamy cheese-covered broccoli and buttery, silky mashed squash had a new taste this year. I recalled the previous Thanksgiving where the same dishes offered no satisfaction. I had already forgotten, as I stuffed my face, about how just one year earlier I didn’t realize the turkey had finished roasting or that there were pots simmering because I couldn’t smell a thing. The concussion I suffered the July before last Thanksgiving rendered me impaired. Instead of dropping an obscene amount of weight, I simply gorged more (and I’ve read in some places this has to do with the fact that the brain doesn’t compute that you’ve had enough deliciousness for one sitting and therefore are full–because there is nothing delicious about the mechanical action of shoving food in your mouth without the right nerves in your brain working!). Instead of only being able to distinguish sweet from sour, salt and spice, I was able to taste the walnuts in the cranberry sauce and the buttery nuttiness of the mashed root veggies I was enjoying. Just one year earlier, only white wine tasted somewhat palatable, with red wine having the same effect as a cup of coffee or a glass of flat soda–well, with the added value of total inebriation if I drank enough of it and the off-chance that I’d forget my current tasteless plight of an existence (it was a big deal).

The night progressed, ending at a neighborhood dive bar where cans of Pabst were $2 each and the proprietor of the fine establishment donned nothing more than a dingy white undershirt and a penchant for calculating tabs in his head–to the detriment of his intoxicated patrons. After downing one too many, the liquid courage of one sibling announced that no one wanted to go abroad for the nuptials. A bit taken by surprise, the thoughtful husband-to-be and his lethargic lady were more surprised by the choice of venue to make the announcement rather than the actual statement. Words flew, we listened, bantered light-heartedly…and then I left, at first just annoyed, followed by extreme pangs of anger, resulting in a rage-induced, sobbing cell-phone rant to my brother from the top of my lungs as I combed through the jet black roads in this now suddenly hostile Maine backdrop. Such sentiments would have been appreciated 18 months earlier (not that we would have changed any of it).

With encouragement from my brother to “not give them the satisfaction” of knowing how upset I was, I slapped myself a few times, ran in place, thought of the eye of the tiger, and marched over to the backdoor, where I preceded to creep in with the hopes of not running into anyone. Of course fast-forward to sobbing in the mother-in-law’s embrace and then bolting when I realized the crew had returned, having themselves been kicked out of the bar and calls to the police threatened. In mid sentence I darted off yelling that I had to “hide!!” And immersed my face in a sink full of ice cold water. I sauntered over to the stairs, feeling like I’d been beat up and had too much to drink (after only having had half a beer an hour earlier, I was wondering what happened to the rest of it. Was it still on the table at the bar or had it been flung at someone after, of course, being finished off first so as not to waste anything…)

I tried to sneak upstairs but was intercepted mid stair-climb. My man took one look at me and his glazed over expression of defeat transitioned into a moment of epiphany. Realizing I was full of shit and was most certainly bothered by the night’s events (I had previously assured him on the phone that I was fine and just tired), he marched over to the kitchen and bellowed to the family to meet him in the living room. I sat at the top of the stairs cuddled up with the family dog, both of us thankful to have one another to lean on as it was quite drafty up there. This usually respectful guy got his point across, most likely getting the desired effect due to the sheer volume of his voice and use of occasional profanity, and the parental units were more than cool about the situation, taking it upon themselves to speak for the family in that “from today onward, you won’t have any [passive aggressive emails, hints, or complaints] negativity from the family.” The ordeal was rounded off by an awkward but maybe even sincere group hug and we scattered.

It was strange since we went to bed, my man and I, feeling better about everything. We knew it was just a matter of time before things blew up–we just didn’t realize it would blow up that huge. That was probably the first time they seemed like family to me–although I’m sure I could have had that same feeling without the blowout…but maybe not.

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