Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The day the bottle dropped

The day the bottle dropped
Originally uploaded by Elvira Black.
There is a tale they tell in the Bronx barrio my boyfriend BG calls home. In the humid summer evenings, when the wizened old men and young bloods gather on the streets with their folding chairs, seeking respite from the stifling, sweltering confines of their air-conditionless abodes, a story is passed along that is so incredible, so tragic, that it has taken on the awesome status of urban legend. It is a tale of heartbreak, despair, and dashed hopes.

It is the story of the fateful day when Ubba the Gringo dropped the bottle.

BG's brother Ubba (derived from Stubba or Stubbs, due to Ubba's shorter stature amongst his 6 feet and up bros) came up to visit when he could from Louisiana, usually in late October, in time to celebrate BG's Halloween birthday. Liberal consumption of alcoholic substances inevitably ensued. Although I always made a valiant attempt to plan Halloween-related outings, they often backfired due to BG's hangover-ridden state. And so we wound up--day after day, during the time of year when New York City is at its most glorious--escaping the brilliant blue skies, low humidity, and perfect temperatures by hiding out in the small neighborhood Irish bar where the sun never shone. BG's favorite saying was, I believe, attributed to W.C. Fields; to wit: "It's much too nice of a day to spend outdoors."

This particular bar was the last holdout from olden days, when the street was lined with Irish drinking establishments. But times had changed, and unless one wanted to take a 45 minute subway ride into "the city," as we referred to Manhattan, the choices were limited. This particular bar had its pros and cons. The prices were way cheaper than Manhattan--no happy hour, but an everyday low price of $3.50 for a drink or a beer. Although the Irish bartenders were cordial but standoffish, they knew how to pour a man-sized drink, so if you ordered a few scotches on the rocks you were in for a rip roaring, rollicking time. With every three rounds came a buyback, like clockwork--while you were still working on your second, a coaster would be laid down in front of you to let you know the next one was one the house. No umbrella drinks here, my boys--just the old Irish tunes playing on the juke, a small pool table in back, and a bunch of hardened drinkers and sports fans.

So one fine dazzlingly beautiful and crisp fall afternoon, BG, Ubba and I headed over to "Hugh's" for a little hair of the dog. When we'd drunk our fill, we stumbled down the block to the small liquor store run by a Chinese gentleman who was strictly business. No matter how many times BG frequented this establishment, which got a lot of its revenue through selling Lotto tickets as well--Chinese guy was unwaveringly brusque, hardly ever cracking a smile as he wordlessly, solemnly slid the bottles through the opening in the bullet-proof glass and took our cash. Quick, clean, no-nonsense, it was a reassuring and predictable ritual --just like at Hugh's, you knew what you were getting, and that's what you got--no more, no less.

As we half-walked, half-staggered the three blocks back to BG's apartment, I sensed that catastrophe was about to strike, Call it a sixth sense, but my soul was suddenly seized with a felling of inchoate dread.

And then, it happened, so suddenly that it still seems like an awful blur. BG had been carrying the bag with the bottle of vodka for me and him, and the bottle of Bacardi for Ubba. In order to retrieve his keys to open the outer door to get into the building, he tried to hand the black plastic bag over to Ubba to hold. But Ubba, afraid of looking too "ritter" (familyspeak for gay) didn't want to touch BG's fingers as the bag exchanged hands.

Suddenly, and without warning, all hell broke loose. The bag went crashing to the ground, and the bottles came tumbling out of their delecate swaddling, as delicate shards of glass scattered everywhere, blinking and glittering in the blinding autumn sunlight.

There was a moment of awful silence. Time itself seemed to have stopped. A few neighbors, who had the good sense to actually be out enjoying the picture perfect fall day, quickly crossed themselves and thanked all the saints in heaven that such a shameful fate had not befallen them in broad daylight, in full view of the public. Their shocked, teary-eyed faces seemed to say, "There but for the grade of God go I...Si no bueno, mi amigo!"

Then BG, acting quicky and decisively, bent down to examine the extent of the damage. It was bad, all right, but not totally irredeemable. He noted with relief that although Ubba's bottle was indeed shattered, the bottle of vodka was not.

Stubba, totally chagrined and humiliated, sweating profusely, eyes darting furtively back and forth, muttered to BG--no man, just leave the whole thing.

BG replied indignantly--have you lost your mind, man? Wasteful! The vodka is perfectly good!

As he bent to pick up the shards of broken glass from the Bacardi bottle, again Ubba said in low whisper--Nah, nah, come on, just leave it...

As BG straightened up, his sad chore done, we looked around and saw that Ubba had vanished. We walked the few feet into the vestibule of BG's building and saw Ubba huddled and trembling in the corner, pale and shamefaced.

"Come on, Ubba, we're going straight back to the liquor store and get you a new bottle."

"Nah, nah, I don't need to be drinking anyhow."

I quicly stepped in to the rescue. "Stuff and nonsense, my good man! I will go to the Chinese guy and pick up another bottle of Bacardi for you."

Ubba, in awe and wonder at my generosity and forgiving nature, turned to BG and said, "Does Elvira have a sister I could meet?"

All was well, and the party lasted for many an hour, long into the night. But sometimes, we still think back to that fateful day when in the blink of a jaundiced, bloodshot eye, perfectly good booze went down the drain.


In the meantime, please share your own substance-fueled interludes in which you, too, faced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.


At 7:21 AM, Blogger !ce said...

Interesting story. What ever happened to the brother? Did Elvira have a sister? What happened once everyone was sober?

At 10:07 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


BG's bro Ubba returned to his home in Louisiana (ugh..the heat and humidity there make NYC summers seem like a blizzard) where he works as an animal control officer (arduous, gut-wrenching work).

Elvira has no sisters or brothers--after her, they broke the mold (LOL).

BG in particular suffered one of his many eyeball searing, screeching hangovers. But everyone lived to drink another day.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Henry said...

Didn't anyone tell you to not cry over spilt milk? Well, in this case it would be spilt Bacardi, and that would be a crying shame!


I'm just goofing off before I get down to some paying work for a Dr. that I know. She has contracted for my services, but I don't think she knows exactly what it will cost... LOL.

This whole incident reminds me of a bunch of stories from my own twisted life. However, I won't clog the comments section of your blog, as I did on your The lunatic is in my head post. (I'm sorry this hyperlink does not spawn a new window; Slogwhore won't allow that in the comments) I couldn't really tell if you liked that story or not.

Anyway, as always, a uproariously funny tale of mayhem and generosity. You were so awesome to get Ubba a new bottle of Bacardi (try it with POG, it's yummy!). Please try to get BG to go easy on the booze; I get worried about him.

PS: I will try to comment on your These new army ads are BROILING my BUTT!! post ASAP. I'll squeeze it in between the good Dr.'s project and leaving for my little vacation at home.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Henry said...

Oh yeah, I almost forgot:

That sketch is another masterpiece, BG! You always know how to capture just the right elements from the moment. I really can't figure out why none of the A-holes mentioned in Elvira's "Alternative" Gallery Hell post have not swooped in on your talent yet.

PS: I still got dibs on the David Bowie portrait!

At 1:08 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Clog away, baby, clog away!

I apologize for not commenting on your marvy Lunatic comment. I loved it! I've just been a little remiss on the comments to the comments lately. I am trying to go back slowly but surely and put in my replies. I don't know if anyone will be reading them at this point, but closure is important to me. LOL

You rule, as always! Hope you have a wonderful little respite from the madness. Miss you already, my man.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Henry said...

I miss you too, and it hurts real bad.

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Blackie,

I'm back from the dead-was a little busy with a few things.
I only have one story to give on this one.

Back in the AF, I, along with a few of my comrades, were given
"low-life" duty of parking cars for some of the Colonels and Generals at a party they were having. Of course, as an enlisted guy, I was not allowed inside to witness the wonderful time they were having.

At about 3AM, the party ended, and we got all the cars back to C/G's. The nice thing was some of them tipped very well! The better deal came when we found out they left the "bar open" for one hour for all the drivers (like me) to get very "loaded". How SWEET!

It's the only time I drank so much, and so fast I barely remember leaving the Officers' Club. I woke up about 8 hrs later with my uniform still on, and puke on my boots. I had been drinking Southern Comfort, and still to this day can't stand the smell of it. I never did that again-only beer from then on. (Except for the time we mixed "Jesus Juice" for Halloween). Oh well, another story...


At 4:09 AM, Blogger Claymore said...

He he Hi I was reviewing my poor neglected blog and I found your post. Cigars ok yeah you dont inhale a cigar and yeah it was a more of a cigar binge then I quit. BTW I hate and do not own and iPod. But in all honesty I feel bad for smokers because as I said they are treated like second-class people. You though are an awesome person and now I have another blog to read like I read the paper. :)

Now to comment on your post. Sounds like an intresting time. You made a not so successful trip to the liquor store sound like a fire fight in vietnamn. Which is in itself awesome.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Puke on the shoes is always a nasty mess. Unlike some people whose names I won't mention, you learned your lesson and stayed away from the sauce. For you, it was the end; for others, a good puke session is just the beginning. Funny, isn't it? Southern Comfort--yeah, that's rough. There's not much "comfort" to be had when the hangover comes on from that stuff.

I'm really glad to hear from you again. I read your latest post and that is awesome too. I hope you'll keep all posted on your latest introspective adventures and other developments. Thanks for the comment--that was really nice of you! Hope to hear more from you chez Shithouse.


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