Friday, February 14, 2014

The Grape and the Grain

There's an old saying amongst drinkers: Never mix the grape and the grain. What this means is that if you are going to drink wine or beer, that's fine; or if you are going to have bourbon or scotch or gin or vodka, that's okay, but that you shouldn't do both, as this would make your hangover worse, should you overindulge.

I dunno how true this is, and I'm not a heavy drinker, at least not these days. As a lad, before I was legally allowed to imbibe alcohol, I used to go out and get plastered with the boys now and again. And I mean seriously three-sheets-to-the-wind, falling-down, room-spinning, toilet-hugging drunk.

I don't recommend this. Bad idea on so many levels.

And yet, I never had a hangover. Until that one time, in the summer of 1964 …

July, I was a working as a lifeguard, sixteen-years-old. Back then, there was a stretch of Hwy. 190, just west of the Mississippi River bridge, that was where Baton Rouge went to do serious bar-hopping. Outside Port Allen's limits, so these were freewheeling places, night clubs. I can't remember all the names, but there was the Club Louisianne, Major's, and Courvilles. This last was the biggest dive. They had live music, a dance floor, cheap drinks, and they didn't check ID's, so of a Friday or Saturday night, it was packed. Local rock bands with the knobs turned up to ten, hundreds of people jammed in, drunk, partying, getting into fights.

You didn't tell your parents, but you told your friends: Where you goin'? Across the river.

Sometime I look back and wonder: How did I ever think that was fun? Because I was young and stupid and drunk? Yep, that would do it.

It was interesting to watch the monkey dances. Two guys would step outside, recite their lists of felony arrests and convictions, and have at it until somebody couldn't keep going. 

Sometimes the deputies would get there before the fight was over, but they'd just watch and wait. Never saw 'em break up a fight.

This particular hot night, I was with my buddies, whose names are changed to protect the guilty: Hatcher, Roy, and Joe D. And Joe D's older brother Sammy was there, but not with us, he had a date.

We arrived, started drinking beer, and as the evening commenced and the place got more packed, ran out of money after a couple hours, so when people were up and dancing, why, we'd just pass by an empty table, pick up whatever they were drinking, and swill it down.

I seem to remember that John Fred and the Playboys were playing, but I could be conflating that with a New Year's Eve gathering. 

By this swiping of drinks, not only were we mixing the grape and the grain, but tasting things we'd never tasted before. Grapefruit juice and sloe gin? Oooh, nasty!  But, what the hell, it was free ...

I recall one event clearly, in which Hatcher, even more stoned than the rest of us, approached Sammy's date. Hatcher stood up as straight as he could and announced, in a loud, slurry voice, what he wanted to do to her, five words, crouched around the anglo-saxon term for sexual intercourse, ending in an exclamation point.

Sammy was in the toilet, else he would have punched Hatcher's lights out. His date, a lovely girl wearing the teased beehive hairdo of the day, smiled and said, "Sorry, no, I'm saving my moss for Sammy."

"Moss," here is a euphemism for, well … you  know what's it's for, if you recall a time when women didn't, um ... mow the lawn.

Somehow we eventually got out of there and home. I don't think I was driving, and I don't think Hatcher was, but I can't really remember that part, so that might have happened. The God who watches out for fools and children really has His work cut out for him watching out for foolish, drunk children …

Next morning, I had to go to work. And I had a hangover. First one, and it was a misery upon my head, to be sure. I sat in the hot sunshine atop the guard's chair, and every so often I would just lean forward and fall headfirst into the pool, in an attempt to make it better. It didn't help. And I got no sympathy from my fellow guards, either. Hangover? Haw, haw!

So, maybe it's not true, the grape and the grain thing, but aside from never stealing drinks again, I don't mix those past maybe a tasting of somebody's fine bourbon or scotch after wine with dinner. Haven't had a hangover since ...


steve-vh said...

I have a similar memory and the results for a friend who mixed to his own regret, sort of a guidepost for later drinking. As it was related to me by the friend who pulled him out of the 2nd row of the outdoor concert we were at (screw him, i paid for my tickets and imbibed carefully, not at all) he somehow managed to very impressively defy gravity when lunch came back. And the cops just watch, impressed as well.

Joe said...

At 16 we knew a bar where the bouncers had the worst vision in the city of Milwaukee. You walked in showing your Driver's Licence from about 6-8 feet away - as long as you looked something like the guy in the picture you got in.

Steve Perry said...

One of the bars we used to hit, can't recall the name, but it had a gold horse on the roof, knew the patrons were, like as not, underage. Now and again, the local police would come round, and forewarned, the bartender and the bouncers would walk over to the tables full of sixteen and seventeen-year-olds and say, "Okay, leave, cops are coming." They knew.

Through an oddity in the local laws, you weren't a minor at seventeen, so you could go into a bar; you just couldn't order alcohol.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of hangovers, all I can add is: never mix a hangover with Norovirus. I may never drink Absolut Peppar ever again.

Kris said...

Heh. I made it until my 30's without a hangover- until that damn Bush v. Gore debate. Was at a watching party where liberals drank when "W" said something dense, and conservatives drank when Gore said something smarmy. I'm liberal. The next three days were the worst of my life, thus far. I have since learned that if, for whatever reason, I find myself drinking more than I should, water is my very best friend.

As for you swiping drinks in a setting like that, well, I'm just glad that alcohol is an antiseptic.