Drunk Grandma, Teach Me How to Live


I saw you, somebody’s drunk grandma, stumbling around outside the Brownsburg American Legion.

You were wearing a lei, a sweatshirt with a family of bunnies embroidered on the front and a pair of white slacks. You had your arm around a mustachioed man whose transition sunglasses were going grey in the dusk.

The man clinched a wet cigar in his teeth; behind his back he held a cream pie. As you both posed for a photograph, laughing and swaying, he grabbed the sleeve of your sweatshirt with one hand for leverage and, with the other, smashed the pie into your face. You both collapsed on to the lawn laughing; him red-faced, you cream-faced, a female Michael Myers.

A handful of onlookers cackled from the open doorway at the back entrance of the Legion. A woman in tapered jeans straddled you and took your photograph with a disposable camera. I envied them, your friends and confidantes, the orchestrators of the pie prank. I envied them hard.

I don’t know how to tell you this, enigmatic drunk grandma, but I want to hang out with you.

I want to share a deep hang — a drunken, mad, barfing, living-like-it’s-the-last-night-on-earth hang, a hang that will inevitably end in tears or pie-throwing or a slurred, giggly duet performed in a dank basement somewhere. I’m hesitant to talk about the possibilities of our hang, as thinking about it now might shape the night, inhibit your spontaneity, pre-determine what I want to be a from-the-hip, adlib crash course in life and living. I’m not proposing anything weird or sexual; just two friends talking late into the night about what it takes to keep the lust for life alive.

You see: I’ll be 30 in one week. I have two children, one two-and-a-half, the other, 10 weeks old. I have a career, a mortgage, a yard to mow, a 35-minute commute and a dog that eats all of my Cheezits. At this point, my life can take one of two paths.

Like so many people before me, I could have the fire in my gut extinguished—as my responsibilities mount, as I get fatter, balder, grayer, more stooped, more filled with dad rage, more sure of my asinine opinions. Before I know it, I could be playing Gin Rummy or constructing a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle or considering the opinions of radical religious fundamentalists.

Or I could end up like you, living the life less lived, drinking deeply from the plastic Solo cup of life, burning the candle at both ends, living god damn it.

How do you do it? Do you skin-pop shark piss? Are you on HGH? Cord blood? Key bumps? Green tea? Triathlons? Meditation? Hot yoga? Cookie diet? Were you born with boundless gusto? Were you born with two hearts? Tell me everything you know. Tell me your secrets. Teach me how to live.

If you want to hang out, I’ll be sitting at the bar in the Brownsburg American Legion—my personal crossroads—waiting to make a deal with a pie-faced devil for the secret to eternal youth.

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