It’s all I can think about, well not all I can think about but I do think about it off and on. I imagine it and wonder why it’s been so long since I last had it. I ask myself what freezes me in my boots and stops me from making life like I want it. It’s never as hard as we think it is after all and we are always much closer to our dreams than we are willing to admit but a lot of things stop us. Society, lack of independence, worry at giving in to impulses. Things are only defined as temptations if we are sure they are bad for us. Who ever speaks of being tempted to exercise or study after all?
I see and imagine off and on this tall bottle of vodka. A 1 litre type of bottle. Clear glass, clear liquid and cold, oh so cold. It’s been kept in the freezer for a while and it burns your fingers. You see alcohol turns solid at a much lower temperature than water so there’s no worries about it turning to ice and breaking or being like a frozen beer. Those are hilarious you crack them open and all of a sudden something shoots out and the way it looks, like it just wants a swallow. Ice roll after ice roll push to the surface of those things and the unfortunate is left sucking them off, filling his mouth with draught after draught, choking, spitting, some swallow it all. But the swallowers in anything are always special.
Not with vodka though. It won’t turn to ice, it will just turn cold. Clear bottle, clear liquid and cold. The mist settles around it. You can see air condensing, you can see the cold water that somehow materialises licking at the bottle at least I can. I can see the search for glasses and no worry about ice cubes that do nothing but water down your drink. I remember President Bartlet in the West Wing talking about how James Bond orders his vodka martinis shaken not stirred because he wants the ice to chip faster and water down his drink; he’s being cool by being a pussy.(Bond turned 50 a day after the posting of this, it's weird when such things happen coincidently)
The vodka bottle is opened. Glasses are put forward. This is not a lone fantasy, it never is. The people joining me are nothing more than hands, I have no idea whose. I can see hands and glasses. Not these tiny water glasses we use all the time but something with a big base, something that can be swirled appreciatively. No white neon lights reflect off that glass. This needs the harsh yellows we grew up with. That light peers down and its reflection shines in the clear, cold glass of the bottle, playing and swaying in the liquid inside.
A shot is poured off and everyone takes it in their hands. There doesn’t have to be a special reason for this, drinking needs no valentines. All we need is the togetherness. Cheers to whatever. Even if it’s KPLC for keeping the power on that allowed the Freon to travel around and around the fridge. The first true cold blooded creature by the way, kept alive by something so cold it's very name sounds like freezing. The cheers is a veneer. It’s peeled back, we stand on ceremony and we drink on ceremony. We all pop back that first shot. Tolstoy once wrote something along the lines of the first one sticks in the gizzard, the second goes down like a buzzard, by the third they are all swallows.
The one that sticks in the gizzard that burns. It takes it time down. It makes you close your eyes. There’s fire everywhere no matter how cold the drink was. It sings its song of ice and fire down your throat. You close your eyes and grit your teeth and a warmth fills you up.
Warmth so much associated with happiness. With hugs and blankets and rub downs with a towel after a cold bath. With fires and rooms and the memories of shivers quietly fading. With kisses and touches and that all enveloping path to ecstasy.
That’s how the first gulp feels. Warm.
Then there’s more. There’s a whole bottle awaiting you. And like a sunrise or the first page of a book the first bottle of alcohol holds so much promise. It is one of those times in life when your path is unpredictable. So much of what we do is preordained. But alcohol holds the lure of promise. The truth that there can be so much to be found there. Truth, friendship, arguments, companionship and most of all yourself.
It breaks almost all of these promises depending on the night but the first sip holds it all. It’s an almost unbearable hope. A light that you switch on by unscrewing the cap and spread by sharing out the contents. It’s not at the bottom of the bottle that the beauty of alcohol lies but at its top.