EPISODE 2: Beer Me Stupid
The genesis of what would prove to become the most of Chalice Sinclearly commenced upon its single-spaced itinerary one evening in a hideaway nestled nicely amidst the lush vegetation encroaching upon, but not quite getting at, the backside of a detached garage. You see, it would be in the safety of this hideaway located on a suburban plot where Chalice Sinclearly and I would split a six pack – our first beers. We stole the cans from a neighbor’s garage-kept fridge. We had for our entire lives till then witnessed this thing of intoxication throughout the neighborhood – we were eager to give it a roll ourselves. Besides, there was a party to be attended that night. Chalice and I had a month earlier entered a public high school from our parochial isolation. We would prove smarter than most in our grade, having the previous decade been taught the hard way how to give unto the cloaked a willing ear. Well, maybe “smarter” isn’t the proper word to use here – perhaps I should say that we proved more “deferential” than most of our publicly educated counterparts when it came to being faced with the disciplining that is knowledge. That being said, however, we did bring with us into the public domain our Catholic penchant for detention: we befriended burnouts with great aplomb.
Sure we were eager to give beer a try, but why were we so eager? Was it because we had watched people in the neighborhood or in our own families drink too much and act goofy and we thought it looked like a fun time? Was it because we were told it was cool to do? I imagine some shrink or a discussion over steaming Styrofoam in some church basement would demand of us to call to courage the philosopher residing deeper inside somewhere who could more gravely address the whys and the what-ifs surrounding that night (and of course any of the over 12,000 nights since), and thusly make the move to commit our conviction to the supposed upstanding course of sobriety. … Well, Chalice and I don’t play that. We lean towards the romantic, and with such a leaning we see our decision to drink that long-ago night (and of course any of the over 12,000 nights since) as being the product of a simple reasoning, one that may have something to do with destiny while also having something to do with being finite at the same time.
The point is that we drank that night and we have never once felt sorry for it; even during our thirties when the hangovers were especially relentless in their renderings of guilt, we have never once looked back in anger. You see, Chalice and I made the party, and one seemingly casual moment in that night of our first ever drunk proved to be epic, and tunes Chalice’s vision even to this very day: there in the middle of that party’s backyard milieu I lied flat on my back: isolated, buzzed, staring up to the stars, holding a can of beer on my belly, and with a cigarette extended and lightly swaying to and fro from my underage lips – the loud chatter and music of the party faded to a elegiac white noise as Chalice’s stare zeroed in on me. … That’s the image right there; that’s Chalice’s first-ever poem right there: the first moment in time when he ever really – and I do mean really – ever looked at “it,” whatever that “it” might be.
Chalice went home that freshman-year night, stripped down to his whitey-tighties and sung a Kenny Rogers song with Kenny Rogers over and over until his mother put a merciful end to the redundant buffoonery of “Through the Years,” unplugging his cassette player and turning off the bedroom light, making sure that for the split second before it went black in his room he fully captured the reprimand emanating from her eyes. Chalice did; he was in trouble, and not just for that next day or next week, but for the rest of our life: Chalice rose from the bed and walked from his bedroom nearly a half-hour ago, leaving his wife and dog to their early AM dreams while he headed for this basement desk. And here, now officially 3 hours and some minutes into his 47th year on this planet, he reaches forward into his mind to finally draft his so long ago first-ever poem all over again:
A puff on the smoke turns the air about
a delinquent countenance into the spectral
nest of an out-of-season firefly – right
here – the first moment to have ever poised
itself in memory’s imagination and awakened
the illuminating bounty of sadness; the first
Moment to have ever dared itself to contain
what is fleeting into a sort of permanence,
to reconcile sadness. This first moment in
life wherein life awakens to the splendorous
dread of what it will mean to leave proof
Of transience behind. Yet, it would be many
imaginations beyond that night before I’d
separate from memory to seat my being be-
fore a real live poem, and absorb worth via
an unwitting commencement upon threat,
the invigorator of the toil of seeking sake.
… Chalice should have grown to be a man with an office, not a cubicle – he should have become a man who hands out business cards, who concentrates on things like Business Development, his golf swing … a man who keeps a kept calendar, who collects cuff links not roach clips … a man who talks shop, not shit. But no, he became this: he became this man before you who treats each session with beer not as his last, not as just any another, but as his first, his very first: as if sprung by a petty act of breaking and entering, and shaped in the de-selfed-conscious state of a beer-muscled mind, only to be sacked deep into conscience by a wordless – pure and eloquent – wordless – reprimand. Chalice Sinclearly became this man before you whose ever-slouching shoulders betray the ever-swelling problem child that’s defiantly slung across them.
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