I’m not saying I was sober: you try drinking two shots of JD followed by a bottle of red and then reading the central heating manual in a clear and precise manner: it does not happen. Somewhere through that first bottle of red the vocab starts to leave your brain like rats from a sinking reputation and you are left peering into the eyes of a total stranger and saying “I’ll loke yow somch” which to the sober means “I like you so much.” The translation does not help us because the clear-headed recipient of this news is a teetotaller, amateur astronomer of some note, and a lady of precise routine who dislikes drunken intimacies with total strangers, or intimacies of any kind if you want to know.
So when I lean in towards her and put my hand on her shoulder in the way the wise might do when consoling others for the misery which is the bedrock of any life and say, “Your secret’s safe with me” before dissolving into a fit of giggles, falling onto the floor and incongruously singing a few highlights from the song, “Stand by Me” you can understand that my wish to celebrate the fact we are all brethren linked by a common misfortune otherwise known as awareness might not resonate with my new acquaintance.
There is a sense, I barely understand, that I have drifted someway from the standards of polite behaviour but we are all human aren’t we? We all love each other somehow, faced with life’s eternal complexities or so my alcohol fuelled brain believes. “Do you love me?” I asked a bus stop during a recent late-night conversation and I was offered no reply. Incongruously, I then leaned forward and kissed the uncomprehending cement pillar in a moment of soulful fellowship.
I have never received a reply from that or any other pillar offering more than a note of judgement or disapproval. Never have hands reached out to me and said, “Life is painful but you understand the power of anguish. I recognise your painful awareness” Nowhere have I receive a note from anyone concerning the sadness which drove me to drink. Disapproval is easier to achieve than awareness yet even in my fog-bound state I believe gentleness is the deepest gift a person can bestow on another. The sense that life is unfathomable and challenging and that love is always more nutritious than judgement is seldom understood.
I am last night’s conversation, yesterday’s phrase. I am the career that came to nothing and the lover who never found his soulmate. I am the prisoner of his own fears and the victim of a circumstance few would have chosen as their home. I am a shooting star of no particular note, a fragment of connection ; the unfinished sentence of an ordinary man: I am me.