I watch this woman sitting at the beach side bar, sipping her yellowy wine. Must be chardonnay because it’s too dark in color to be a Sauv Blanc. Looks buttery, too. The way it slides a tiny bit slower down the sides and back into place when she sets it back down on the counter. A Sauv is crisper, lighter, more refreshing. Perfect for summer. Perfect for now (no, it really isn’t), as I sit on the other side of the gigantic ocean-facing restaurant with my husband who is sipping respectably on his Cape May IPA. I never liked beer. Beer was not my thing. Well, maybe it was back in college when it was really the only alcohol available at parties besides hard liquor mixed with some kind of Hawaiian Punch type deal. Christ, the shit we used to drink was sickening but at least we drank gallons of it.
Wine wasn’t part of my everyday until I became a far more sophisticated female alcoholic than I had previously been. Classier. More grown-up. That’s the bit, you see what I mean. It isn’t just the wine it’s the whole persona of the drinking of the wine and what that instantly makes you. Or should we say, how it makes you appear to the outside world, and since we believe ourselves to be who we make the world believe we are, we are pleased as that trashy college punch with ourselves and the whole fucked up, fun-house mirror of distortions we have managed to fabricate but believe happens naturally just by holding a glass of this shit. It’s impressive in a way. Amusing, even. Our little psycho-delectations.
Watching the waves slam heavy into the shoreline just a few yards away, we point to the seventeen or so surfers who rise and fall and coast along at varying levels of water-slicked prowess. It’s a very rough and strange day. One minute the sun is shining bright and you have to come out of your hoodie because it’s so damn hot, and the next minute the giant dark storm clouds roll in, the wind kicks up in the opposite direction and drops everything twenty degrees. No sooner do you apply your sunscreeen than the cold drizzle pricks against your sunglasses, making you wonder why in the fuck you made the hour drive to begin with.
But multiple outfit changes aside, the ocean is wild, thunderous and beautiful. The smell of salt, sand, and sea is so good for the soul. My soul, our souls. It’s weird how you can be sitting next to other humans and feel a million miles away from them at the same time. I don’t know what is going through the chardonnay lady’s head as she scrolls her phone and adjusts her oversized sun hat. I imagine her blood warming, her mind slowing, and everything around her getting fuzzy. I think about how it’s only 12:30 in the afternoon and when I started drinking that early in the day it was a non-stop frustration for the rest of the day to balance quenching my craving for more and more with wanting to not pass out on the beach and feel hungover by dinner.
My husband, gorgeous sweet man that he is, asks the young bartender if he has any zero proof liquor. The gentleman smirks and stares stupified at both of us. It’s very possible he thinks this question is a joke and a truly hilarious one at that. I know it sounds outrageous and insane. That anyone would actually want a gin martini made with alcohol-free botanicals, juniper, and possibly seaweed extract. I know how pointless that sounds. You don’t drink to get healthier, you nimrod, this guy is probably thinking. What in the actual fuck are you even talking about. Why the fuck are you sitting at my gloriously glossy bar ordering tonic and lime, talking some shit about booze without the booze in it, ordering your pretentious antipasto salad at lunch when it’s only on the dinner menu.
Because I’m sober, asshole. And sometimes I feel like a motherfucking boss about it and other times, in the blink of an eye, I suddenly feel like throwing back every bottle of liquor you have so skillfully displayed in that cleverly stacked pyramid formation without so much as coming up for air to make up for the pathetic one hundred and forty nine days I’ve spent clean. And, just like you, I do not understand what life is supposed to be anymore without my precious drink of choice in my hand. Let alone on the holiday weekend that jump starts everybody’s summer. Let alone how the weather changes from brilliant to menacing every five goddamn minutes.