2776 words (11 minute read)

Old Fashioned

When looking at headstones you can never know if the person you’re standing above was fat. The only clue to the person six feet under is their name. Some names give clues. You don’t find many newly dead people named Ethel or many Christians with the last name Rosenthal. I usually picture clothes set out on top the grass or dirt. Like their body evaporated or something. I imagine most of the outfits have belts. Today I went to two funerals. I went to Jackson Boyle’s and then my uncle Ray’s. I had gotten to the place early, so I joined the nearest huddle and tried to get in the mourning mood. But shit, Jackson’s family went all out for this funeral. I kept thinking about how they had brought in fancy chairs. They had handkerchiefs on top of every seat. Bold choice. I counted seven people who came up to speak about Jackson, I almost felt like going up and joining the parade of crying and praise. Fancy. Only my father spoke at Ray’s service. He started by saying that it’s cruel an older sibling should outlive their younger one. That seems factual. People don’t like to lie at events like this. Exaggerate; yes, but lie; no. I don’t remember what else he said about Uncle Ray. 

After the funeral I went to pickup some books I had on hold. Do I need “A Happy Death?” Probably. Then I needed some coffee. And I need some new shoes these have run their course. 

“It’s four dollars and fifty cents.” I heard the barista say, I think for the second time. 

“Oh um…” I was holding up the line.

“Yeah. Thanks.” I said, smiling only with my teeth as she ran my card. 

Waiting for your coffee order to go down the assembly line of people heating up milk and pumping syrups and wasting their lives is always a strange thing to do alone. Where do you look? Should I intentionally listen to what other people order? Is that rude? They listened to what I ordered. It never seems like enough time to validate calling someone or even re-engaging in a text thread. Then there is the moment of slight acknowledgement when a person who picks up their order before you leaves. I usually give a slight nod if there are people still waiting. Most people give a flat smile.

“How did it go?” Kate shouted before the door had fully opened.

“Well, it went. It was nice.”

“Did you make your speech?” I had showed her a rough draft of a few words I could have said about Ray. I didn’t think it was relevant enough for the occasion. 

“No, my dad did though. It was good.” 

“What are you guys doing?” Kate and Sam were in the kitchen. It smelled like they were making brownies and something else too, probably pasta. 

“We’re making some pasta and a surprise!” The surprise is brownies. 

“You guys didn’t have to do that!” I said, not feeling hungry.

“It’s almost done…” It was clear Kate wanted to say something, but wasn’t. Whenever she does that her eyebrows stay raised, scrunching her forehead skin. She’d most likely bring it up, but it doesn’t matter. I decided to look at one of my favorite phone app’s. It’s a daily inspirational quote. Today’s was, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” - Pope John Paul II. I usually like to think of a way they are wrong, but I’ll let that one slide. Sam likes to hear the good ones, but this one wasn’t worthy of that either. It was too vanilla. 

“But anyway, Kate and I were thinking about going out tonight. But if you don’t want to then we can just stay in and watch something.” Sam said, voicing Kate’s thought and smoothening her forehead wrinkles. 

“Yeah, I was actually thinking about that earlier!” I tried to come close to Sam’s enthusiasm without being overtly sarcastic. It’s a fine line. 

“Also we got you your favorite Tequila!” Kate said, hauling the bottle of liquor above her head. Her arms looked small and silly. 

“Oh, thanks! You guys didn’t have to do that.” And I’m repeating myself. 

“No problem… do you want a drink right now?” 

“Yeah sure. What are you guys drinking?” It’s fair to assume that they are drinking something, it’s almost usually true. 

“Right now we are both having a mimosa, you can have mine and I’ll make a new one.” Sam said,  handing me her drink. 

“Thanks. I’m going to shower and change, but you guys start eating without me. Then I’ll make margaritas! I’ll hurry.” I said, standing up. The margaritas I make taste like the last drink that killed an alcoholic, so they’re not popular. 

Oh my god that’s a pubic hair. No, it’s too short? Holy shit am I sitting directly next to a pubic hair or a really short curly hair? This is why I do not like public bathrooms. I wish I had my contacts in, if I did I could decide if I should have a drunken mental breakdown when I get back to the bar. Just definitely going to wash my hands this time.

“Okay, so this guy just bought us some shots!” Sam said, grabbing my arm as I left the bathroom. 

“Nice, what kind?” I said, yelling to make myself clear over the unrecognizable and common club song bass. 

“I don’t know, but they’re free so…”

“Awesome. I’m down.”

“Hey, I’m Julien,” Said the boy who bought us shots. He had to lean across the small circle my friends and I had made right next to the bar to be heard. He got his face a little too close to mine. He smelled like whiskey and cheap cologne, which I don’t mind. But his beard hair brushed my ear and made me shiver. 

“Hi, I’m Amanda.” I replied. A shot was being shoved in my face. It turned out he bought us tequila. Fantastic. 

“You know, I don’t usually like that color purple, but it looks great on you!” He said, referring to my top. Usually I wear this shirt to bed, so the compliment was most likely not genuine. Also I have heard that pickup line before. Kate and Sam seemed to be leaving me and Julien alone. What is that stupid look on their faces? Wait, I’ve made that face before. It’s the “you’re about to get down with this stranger and as your friend I don’t want to watch” face. Great.

“Thanks, I do too, that’s why I wore it.” 

“Well good choice… Do you want another drink?”

“Yeah, sure.” 

“Alright, what’s your drink of choice?” He said, waving the bartender over.

“Gin and tonic… Thanks.” 

“I’ll have two Whiskey sour’s.” Julien told the bartender, giving me a wink.

When you meet people, you find lots of small things you don’t like about them, but there is a sweet spot during the getting to know you process where you find things that you have in common. After that comes the point where you find things you fundamentally disagree on, then you dislike them again.

“Pick a table, any table.” Julien said, mimicking an announcer and sweeping his arms out.

“The one by the bouncer.” I said, it was the cleanest.

“Oh, you like to know that if I turn out to be a crazy person you’re safe.” He said. 

“I didn’t take my meds today, so it’s for your safety!” I said. He looked slightly taken aback. But pity laughed anyway.

[Insert thirty minutes of small talk. Small yelling, actually, due to the wub wub of the club]

“So your sure your dad is coming next weekend?” He asked, trying to edge me into agreeing to come to a party. 

“Yeah, he got his plane tickets a long time ago.” I took a sip.

“Oh, check this out.” He moved his chair closer to mine and took out a cigarette. Why am I sitting up really straight? Whenever I sit upright for long periods of time my lower back hurts. I’ve thought about getting a boob reduction, but the pro’s of large breasts outweigh the con’s (so far). Sam has always wanted to get breast implants. Once we talked about combining our desires and putting into hers what’s taken out from mine. But we found out (from an incredibly sassy plastic surgeon) that it would not be possible.

“This is such good people-watching. Look at that guy, he’s got a drink in each hand, I wonder how many times he would tell you he’s pledge master of his frat.” He continued, lighting his cigarette. 

“I bet he still has a lettermen jacket from the one year he played football in high school.” I added. 

“And that girl three people to his right…. yeah the one by the bar. If I had to guess I would say she’d only respond to any question you ask with one word. Two words tops!” He was smiling too much that his drink went down the wrong pipe. 

“Maybe. Why don’t you go test that one.” When I said that Julien’s face dropped a little.

“Alright, I’ll report back in a few minutes.” And off he went. 

I didn’t stay on the patio long after I sent Julien on a mission to explore the world’s most boring person. I head to the side of the bar by the girls bathroom. Why don’t bars buy stools with backs? It makes no sense to me. Drunk people are far more likely to fall over. Maybe that’s why, though. The bar doesn’t want their chairs being pulled down with them. Either way, this stool is uncomfortable. The chairs at Uncle Ray’s funeral were better. 

Ray is one of the fattest people. He lost some weight a few years ago, but that was because he lost his left foot. He joked about it, but we all know it was on him. Unless you are born with Diabetes you have to work for it. He definitely worked for it. He has to get a little drunk to fall asleep. Plus he’s particular about his drinks. He always has either old fashioned’s or white russian’s. Once he combined the two in a tall glass and downed it. He didn’t throw up (impressive), but I didn’t see him ever have the two in the same night again. At least not without a few beers in-between. Mostly Modelo. 

What did he expect? What did Ray expect from his life choices. I think he knew exactly what he was doing. At least I’d like to think so, then it would be a choice not a mistake.

“Hey! Yeah, hey,” I said, ushering the bartender over.

“One sec,” he mouthed, looking at me and holding up his finger. Maybe I should sit up straighter and pull my shirt down a little. 

“What can I get you?” 

“I would like an old fashioned please.” 

“We don’t make those. Do you want something I can make?” Sassy. I bet he’s had a rough night. 

“No, I actually want an old fashioned. It was my uncles favorite dr-”

“Yeah, I can’t make that,” he said.

“What can I get you?” He moved onto the next girl. 

“Yo, my uncle passed away today and an old fashioned is his favorite drink!” I yelled, too loudly. He just stared at me. Why did I say ‘Yo?’ I never say that. 

“Oh my god. Look up how to make it and I’ll do it.” The bartender said, shaking his head in an attempt to clear me from it. I tried hard not to, but I smiled. 

“Thank you,” I said. He dropped the drink in front of me hard enough to spill. Old Fashioned’s aren’t usually served in spastic cups.

“Yeah,” he said, grabbing a bar napkin and putting the receipt on it. The next girl ordered a long island. Not a bad order, but predictable. I bet she’s spent hours on youtube learning how to  contour her face like the Kardashians do, according to the video. She probably has her own channel where she tries to make fun of other nail artists by showing the viewer how easy it is to make the perfect french tip. She cries if her hairdresser can’t immediately fit her in to touch up her roots. Her boyfriend’s nickname is a letter. Like “B” or something. She always enthusiastically agrees with everything you say even if you immediately contradict yourself. She tells everyone her favorite movie is inception, but she doesn’t understand it. And she sees me staring.

Wow, this is not my drink.

Before I left the bar I had a quick look around to see if Kate or Sam were nearby, they weren’t, so I started walking home. It’s only about a five block walk, so I’m not worried about anything but drunk people. Then again, I am one of the drunk people walking late at night. I am kind of drunk. Whenever I’m drunk and walking home alone the building’s become kind of sexual, definitely in a weird way. This small green house on the corner after the bar may be my favorite. It has a porch. Oh damn, look at that swing on that porch. Mmhm the entire house has unnecessary white trim. It’s also one of the few houses on my walk home that is owned by a family instead of many different apartments pretending that they’re all one big house with one big family. No, this green house only has one front door. It doesn’t try to invite you in, though, it’s very clear that it’s not for you. The green paint on the two stairs leading up to the porch isn’t even chipped. It’s for only a few, lucky, people. But then again it’s very near a bar, so that could be a potential setback. 

When I got home Kate and Sam were eating pizza on the floor. 

“Come, have some!” Sarah said, smacking her hand on the empty floor space. 

“Damn, I want to! But I have a class tomorrow!” I said really loud. Tomorrow was Saturday, but I was ninety percent sure neither of them would process that even if they did hear me over their chomping. 

“Oh, okay, but if you want some come and have it, I’ll leave it on the counter or in the fridge but it’ll be here, okay?” Her word’s weren’t even slurring too much. 

“Sounds good.”

“How did the rest of your night go?” Sam chimed in.

“It was alright, that guy, Julien, was nice. But he had to leave for some reason, I don’t know.” I said, slowly walking backwards towards my room. 

“Oh that’s okay, he probably had to go…” I don’t know if Sam said anything else, but I was already in my room. I flopped on my bed and worked my shoes off with my toes. It’s pretty cold… The thermostat is too far away at this point. I’m not going to brush my teeth. But I will tomorrow morning. Probably.  

After taking a Benadryl I went on my phone to be entertained until I fell asleep. I went on the “Quote of the Day,” since it was, in fact, a new day. The days quote was by Lyndon B. Johnson. “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” Too specifically applicable that it made me question it.