t was a dark and stormy night…or at least a fit of temporary insanity.  What else could explain the cockamamie commencement of The Hostess ceasing to drink for 40 days?  Well, never mind the nascency of this nonsensical notion,  you just rest assured that this exercise in inanity has an end in sight.  So save the date, and have a drink (or six) for me in the meantime. The calamities of my cold turkey caprice are chronicled for you here. (And please, if too many days go by without a new entry, I beg of you to stage an intervention on my abstention!)

DAY 1: On the evening before the day you plan to quit drinking for 40 days, I sincerely do not recommend that you spend those hours just before midnight taking any other drugs — especially if these drugs are being taken in a less-than-serene setting with someone who has the attention span of a gnat.   You should find a spa with late night hours and go there.  See if there’s one where they let you spend the night.   For goodness’ sake, if nothing else, in the event that you take none the above sagaciousness into consideration, it is truly — if my experience is any indication — of the utmost importance that you wake up after whatever drugged and  (lousy) dj-plagued sleep you do manage to finagle (if you’re lucky)  and have a breakfast plan firmly in place.

If only I had a Fairy Godmother such as myself!  Ah well, I did not.  I had a(nother) ‘Huff off in which to flounce and then I had to arrange for my own breakfast plans — in the J-car in the rain (the arranging, not the actual breakfasting)!!!  Now, I am not blaming my subsequent fall down a dozen stairs  on being so flustered about what transpired (or not) beforehand, but none of anything that had occurred since the sun should have come up (remember, it was raining) kept me from practically plunging to my death, did it?

No, it did not.  And waiting anxiously to see how gruesome the extent of your sub-cutaneous injuries is going to be is no way to start 40 days of not drinking.  The Hostess miraculously managed to make it through the first day of this Folly totally sober, but that doesn’t mean that you will be similarly successful.

DAY 2: If you have not taken my advice and you also awake with bodily damage to inspect, The Hostess strongly urges to resist this impulse.  You run the risk of finding yourself so bruised that you start the day with a rather pathetic crying jag at the sight of yourself.  Yes, ordinarily, you could just pour yourself a large drink, but that would defeat the purpose of this Folly, so that will not be an option.

Fortunately, I was sent into something of a state of shock at the sight of myself looking like a torture victim, so I went about my day.  True, I was a pale shadow of my former self, but if I was going to die from internal bleeding anyway, I wanted to have something to eat.  And since the grocery store by the beach is much smaller and more manageable than the one near the Mystery Mansion, it made sense to drag myself to work for the day.  (In retrospect, I was clearly suffering from a concussion when I came to that conclusion.)

DAY 3: My post-plunge traumatic shock wore off, which would have been a good thing, except I still can’t bear to look at the bruises in the mirror, and now my natural adrenaline has worn off, too, so I am in worse pain than ever.  Oh, and then there were last night’s cold sweats — an extra special treat since I could not toss-&-turn on account of the bruises covering my right side.

As anyone who has experienced them can confirm: the cold sweats suck.  First of all, you are entirely uncomfortable, as you are freezing, sweating, and usually tangled up in sheets that are at least unpleasantly damp with your sweat.  Then there is the pure illogicality of it: you are freezing cold yet you are sweating as if you are sitting in a sauna.  This is probably more annoying than the physical discomfort, because it just makes no sense.  Finally, there is the dilemma that you can not do anything to ameliorate your predicament: if you kick off the bedclothes you will be colder, and if you pull the blankets tighter around yourself you will sweat more.  It’s a no-win situation.  Plus, you will be wide awake when you realize all of the above, and therefore even more miserable.

The cold sweats alone send a lot of people down the hall to pour themselves a glass of their poison.  I don’t blame them.  Some people believe the cold sweats are the toxins in the alcohol leeching out of your body.  I don’t know if this is true, but I don’t think it matters, since they suck no matter what.  The important thing to remember about the cold sweats is that they do not last forever — two, three nights, tops.  I promise.

DAY 4: I was terribly thirsty all day for some reason, which is strange, because it is alcohol that is supposed to be dehydrating, and I’m never this thirsty after a night of drinking.  I have also been very tired, but I am tempted to chalk this up to the internal healing that is still going on amidst my poor crushed tissues and broken blood vessels, rather than the alcohol withdrawal.  After all, I routinely quit drinking for four days every so often, and I am usually annoyingly energetic whenever I do so.  Ah, well … I suppose I still have that bit to which to look forward fondly.  (At least my spirits are remaining high.)

DAY 5: The good news is that I seem to have gotten over the cold sweats in just that one night.  The not-so-good news is that my tongue is a funny color today, and not in an amusing way.  This makes no sense.  Drinking alcohol is supposed to give you all kinds of mouth problems — rotten teeth, gum disease, oral cancers, etc. — but I am not drinking, so my teeth should be whiter than ever, my breath should smell like springtime, and my tongue should not be a funny color!

Is it possible that my body is trying to get me to give it alcohol by doing all the things that it politely refrained from doing when I was drinking most of my meals every day?  I searched the medical literature all afternoon and I could not find any correlation between quitting drinking and tongue problems.  This would be reassuring, except then what in the hell is wrong with my tongue?!?

OK, it is theoretically possible that this is related somehow to the fact that I almost bit one side of my tongue in half when my head smacked into the door at the bottom of the stairs I fell down five days ago.  Also, alcohol-withdrawal-induced hallucinations are supposed to occur between Day 5 and Day 7 of abstinence, so there’s a chance I am imagining that my tongue is a funny color.  Either way, I’m going to go gargle with warm salt water and see if that helps.  Then I think I’ll take an Ativan.

Also today, a very cordial Count sent me this article, which I enjoyed reading.  I did think it was uncanny that he sent it to me, though, because I thought that so far I had only told two people about these 40 Days of Folly, and he was not one of those two.  So, either

  • (A#1) he is prophetically psychic,
  • (B#2) he is trying to tell me something, or
  • (C#3) I told him all about my plan when I was drunk and have completely forgotten the conversation.

I’ll get back to you on which of those is the case…and with good news about my tongue, too, it is to be hoped!

DAY 6: Well, a brilliant scientist took a look at my tongue today and decided the odd hue is nothing more than evidence that it is recovering from the damages it suffered as my head smashed into the door at the bottom of the flight of stairs down which I inauspiciously began this Folly by falling.  Said scientist also noted that my bruises are healing nicely, as well.  I’m not sure if my spate of abstinence has ameliorated my convalescence this week, but I definitely believe the opposite is true.

It turns out that being shaky and achy and stunningly bruised is the perfect distraction from the fact that, night after night, I am completely sober.  By which I mean to say: I have been completely and effortlessly sober.  I even filled up the J-car at the gas station across the street from BevMo this afternoon with nary a pang of yearning.

Normally, after this long without a drink, I am much more cranky and manic (which is not usually the most pleasant combination, for anyone involved).  But I’m strangely serene.  OK, so I did sort of run an old Asian lady off the road this morning and proceed to scream swear words at her so vigorously that I thought I might have a heart attack, but that crazy bitch passed a school bus that had it’s red lights flashing and its stop-sign deployed, so she is lucky all I did was scare her driving-to-endanger ass.

The fact that I haven’t really felt up to much beyond rearranging all my flowers and reading New Yorker magazines must be helping to take the edge off the novelty of being so continuously sober.  While my body has been busy recuperating, it hasn’t had the chance to nag me about when we are having a drink, already.  Maybe falling down those stairs wasn’t the worst way to start this little experiment after all…?

DAY 7: One nice thing about not waking up hung-over on Saturday is that you can get up in time to take a shower, do a load of laundry, go to your favorite restaurant for breakfast, and still arrive on time to your 10:00am nail appointment.  Considering the fact that I am usually just tucking into my first glass of the so-called “hair-of-the-dog” — and crawling back into bed to do so — at 10:00am on more Saturday mornings than not, this was an interesting way for me to start my day.

In fact, it would have transcended “interesting” and approached “nicely novel”, if only I had gotten any appreciable sleep the night before.  But since I seem to have entered into the insomniac phase of this Folly, I started this uniquely productive Saturday morning totally tired with an exhaustion headache that was to persist for most of the day.  The fact that the chicken hash I ordered for breakfast — sans the usual Bloody Mary — was burnt did not help matters.

The understandably lousy mood in which the aforementioned conditions left me inspired me to begin keeping the following:

List of Things That Are More Fun Whilst Drinking

  1. Lounging in bed
  2. Folding laundry
  3. Washing dishes

To be continued (I’m quite sure of it)…

DAY 8: (As I was saying…)

4.  Rainy days

The bad news is that it is supposed to rain all week long.  The good news is that making out is fun whether one is drinking or not.  Or, perhaps I should qualify that: making out is fun whether one is drinking or not, provided at least one of you is me.  I can’t promise you will have quite as much fun if I am not there.

Thanks to my brilliant idea to take a Unisom on an empty stomach last night, I was well-rested for a few hours of sober social interaction this afternoon.  Mother Nature even held off the rain for the duration, so I skipped over the “bedraggled wet rat” look and proceeded more or less directly to the “teasingly tousled” mien.  There was to be no overpriced hot water at the local snooty tea house, nor any backgammon, and no crossword puzzle either.  There was … candy — and Cartier.  And, unbelievable as it may have seemed a mere eight days ago, the usually ubiquitous alcohol was not even missed.

I headed back to the Mystery Mansion with the following: a smile I didn’t even try to suppress, and the certainty that traversing Market St. is really much simpler when one has not been drinking.

DAY 9: Not to put too fine a point on it, but I must add:

5.  Mondays

to the List;  truly, although you can’t imagine my surprise at making this discovery.  I had come to think that my aversion to Mondays was a direct result of my spending Sundays drinking just enough all day to keep from dwelling on the inevitability of the weekend being over at an egregiously early hour the following morning.  Fairly well-rested, recently kissed, and with bruises fading rapidly into an increasingly imperceptible shade of green, I thought I would be bounding out of bed this morning to carpe diem, and such.

Nothing of the sort occurred.  I really do not understand why I don’t have more of an energetic enthusiasm for, if nothing else, going out and about and finding things to add to my List.  Perhaps I am suffering from a dearth of the electrolytes I usually consume in the form of the Gatorade I typically splash into the Tiffany crystal tumbler full of vodka with which I wander around the ‘Mansion.

With this in mind, I have been drinking fizzy water with the aforementioned Gatorade added today.  It is, of course, not at all the same as drinking a Gatorini.  Truth be told, it isn’t even especially palatable.  Therefore, on the List it goes…

6.  Consuming Gatorade

DAY 10: Whoo-hoo — the crazy energetic phase has finally commenced!  I finally feel like doing something besides curling up on the couch and waiting for the rain to stop.  I was briskly bustling about all day.  I made lists, I laid plans, I ran errands, I cooked dinner — I even accomplished a fair amount of actual work where I work (nice change of pace, that).  It would be so cool if I could continue at this level of functioning!  Alas, as I type this, it occurs to me that I will be getting, at best, a mere three hours of sleep before it is time to drag myself out of bed again, and this bodes ill for tomorrow’s gumption index.

DAY 11: I may have been somewhat premature in heralding the eagerly envisaged “crazy energetic phase”.  It appears that yesterday’s mania was more of a tease than an actual trend.  Coffee kept me going for a few hours.  But coffee is a morning beverage, and by late afternoon today the fact that I really only did get three hours of sleep last night caught up to me.  This is a shame because I really wanted to cross things off the lists I made yesterday.  I intended to move some of my plans into the hatching stage.  I was going to pick up my dry cleaning…

As exhausted as I was, I’m lucky I made it to Peet’s after work, because I drank the last of the Arabian Mocha Java this morning, and the only other coffee at the ‘Manse is decaf.  For the record, The Hostess thinks decaffeinated coffee is as pointless as non-alcoholic beer. Yes, there is some caffeine in decaf — and a modicum of alcohol in what they call “non-alcoholic” beer — but only enough to remind you that you are not fooling yourself.

No, I did not break down and buy a six-pack of O’Douls, or any similar abomination.  Even if I can only rally for 24-hours at a time, I will schedule activities accordingly before I will drink fake beer.  I may be sober, but I still adhere to strict standards in matters of libation.

DAY 12: Today began with a most surreal experience that I hope can be ascribed to being totally sober for a dozen days (because the only other explanation I can think of is cerebral hemorrhaging) … As I was backing out of the garage, the rear bumper of the J-car came into contact with another vehicle that was illegally double-parked across the street.  I’m really not sure how I misjudged the distance between the cars.  I definitely do not understand why the bimbo in the driver’s seat didn’t honk her horn (or move her damn car) while she was watching me back directly into her automobile.  But judging from the horrible hue of her over-processed hair, she is obviously lacking in the most basic forms of common sense.

Anyway, you may have noticed that I did not say that I “hit” her car.  That is because, had I made contact with a person at the same force, that person would not have even fallen over.  I wasn’t even entirely sure the J-car had touched the illegally double-parked one until the bleached blonde bimbo bounded out of it.  Had I not been obviously departing from the place where I live, I would have totally taken off as there was not a scratch, dent, or even so much as a smudge in the dirt on the illegally double-parked car.

So my staying at “the scene” is understandable since I would have had to return eventually and, given my history whenever the police have the faintest possibility of becoming unnecessarily involved, I would have ended up in handcuffs.  But the surreal part began when I didn’t get out of my car and either strangle, or punch in the face, the annoying blonde bitch who was making a fuss about seeing my insurance and license for what was obviously no reason whatsoever.  Her senseless ratcheting up of the incident’s irritational factor certainly caused me to conjecture the chances of some violent variants  entering into the equation, yet I remained oddly calm.

It got weirder:  For one thing, I didn’t call her a cunt, or a “fucking” anything else.  In fact, I didn’t use a single swear word.  I didn’t even raise my voice.  To describe my tranquil response as uncharacteristic for me during such an egregious event is light years beyond an understatement.   Moreover, not only was I outwardly the very model of unflappability, I was actually feeling downright indifferent.  It was eerie.  I had the distinct impression that I was sitting in the back seat, watching myself maintain perfectly unruffled composure.  It was quite a curious circumstance, indeed.

Once what’s-her-name realized she was going to have to get over the fact that the addresses on my license and insurance card are not the same, I offered her the sage advice, in a conversational tone,  that she “might want to rethink that illegal double-parking strategy”.  Then I made sure the J-car’s tires squealed, for effect, as I zoomed off.  The rest of the day I spent wondering if this halcyon haze is more likely to be the result of a bit of brain damage I sustained falling down those stairs 12 days ago, or some strange side-effect of sobriety.

DAY 13: I really had been looking forward all week long to going to the Tonga Room after work today.  On Day 11, exhausted as I was, I posted the following bit of imperiousness:

Of course, The Hostess heard about this waaaay before you did. I just flat out didn’t believe it. Who would build luxury condos now? And why would anyone dismantle a bar that just recently got a $1 million restoration which is barely a year old?

Well, apparently I underestimated the moronity of humanity (yes, again), and it’s all true: the Tonga Room is conspicuously absent from proposed plans for future architectural mischief at The Fairmont. Admittedly this enormity needs to be addressed. The Tonga Room — whatever its tacky flaws — must be defended to the last tiki torch!

Whispers of rumors began circulating through cyberspace about some sort of protest being organized by…well, by the usual suspects who somehow seem to think that showing up somewhere dressed a certain way and doing something mostly pointless is the way to make a point about something. To make matters worse, someone started a Farcebook page about it. So now, instead of a convivial (and dare I say, cerebral?) gathering of the genuinely concerned, this Friday 1700 or so fatuous Farcicles, half-witted Twits, yapping Yelpers — indeed the veritable vanguard of vacuousness — will descend upon the beleaguered Tonga Room in what is sure to be a chaotic, stochastic display of that fallacy currently in vogue known as “the wisdom of crowds”.

Make no mistake, The Hostess wouldn’t miss this for the world! The masses notwithstanding, it will be the perfect opportunity to wear the first sundress of the year. Plus, it is sure to be great fun watching all the different User-Generated-Content cliques attempt to grok each others’ memes. (Digg that, bi-atch.) Last, but not least, however improbably, imbeciles and epicures alike will be in the same place at the same time for the same reason — sharing a purpose greater than common consensus and more singular than superciliousness — to wit: a symbiotic show of support for the archetypical tiki bar that is the Tonga Room.

Everyone who read it told me how amused they were, so apparently my erudite locution is unaffected by the consumption — and lack thereof — of alcohol (who would ever have guessed?).  This was some small comfort to me over the course of the evening as I discerned two more List items:

7.  The Tonga Room
8.  Taking   Vicodin

I was not shocked, shocked that my Tonga Room experience suffered from me drinking a virgin passion fruit daiquiri for the duration.  However, the Vicodin letdown was as disappointing as the last night I had a drink (Saturday, February 21st,  lest there linger any doubt in your mind) turned out to be; which is to say I was sort of bummed out on account of the Vicodin being underwhelming without my usual vodka chaser(s), but when this evoked how disappointing the last night I had a drink wound up, well, an actual drag seemed poised to ensue.

It turns out that shooting pool stone cold sober is still pretty fun, so I managed to beat back my melancholy mood with a stick, literally.  Also, I was invited to a bar I had never been to before, and it just so happened to be a pretty swell spot — replete with cozy couches and a fair amount of Led Zeppelin on the jukebox.  And of course, I was wearing the first sundress of the season, which is always a cheerful occasion, regardless of one’s location with respect to “the wagon.”  Finally, a nice man I didn’t even know helped hail me a cab, thereby demonstrating that chivalry is not, in fact, dead — at least not among men whose names I do not know — so there’s still hope in that department.

DAY 14: The Hostess has not had a drink for a full fortnight, which is basically one whole third of the way through the 40-days I am forswearing all forms of alcohol.   Since I successfully stayed sober through a night on the town from the Tonga Room to the Tenderloin, I guess it’s finally time to issue a public Proclamation pursuant to my latest Prohibitionary proclivity.  So consider it proclaimed.

Pardon the lack of fanfare, but I’ve had two weeks to get used to the idea, and I’ll be the first to admit that not drinking is not that interesting.  It’s oddly anti-climactic, in fact.  In terms of ease, I’m tempted to compare this spate of sobriety to something as simple as falling off a log, except that falling off a log at least has the potential to be invigorating, whereas refraining from drinking has been rather a unanimated undertaking.

And I’m not even bored out of my brain, yet.  This means I have hours of humdrum, days of dull — indeed, weeks of weariness — to go before I finish this Folly.  Nevertheless, I plan to persevere.  You see, a dubious Duke bet me a brand-new laptop of my choice that I’ll succumb to a vodka vacillation during this venture, and being underestimated is a very powerful motivational force for The Hostess.  The extra technological incentive is of no more consequence than a garnish in a drink: nice, but hardly necessary.

Honestly, I am doing this so that I can say I did it.  In that respect, it’s a lot like going to all the Bars in The Book, only definitely not as much fun.  These 40 days will finally settle something, once and for all:  after I have done it, if any person(s) ever (again) look askance at my drinking, I will send them the link to this page as proof that I do not drink because I have to, but because I prefer to.  And then, of course, I’ll drink to that!

DAY 15: I have finally found a redeeming value for that otherwise arbitrary springing forward one hour known as daylight-saving time:  there is one less hour for me to while away in another manner besides drinking today.  Usually, I miss the lost hour as being one less I get to enjoy.  Go figure.

Truth be told, I began the day a bit out of sorts due to my yoga date canceling on me.  It really seemed to be high time to add a fitness facet to my sobriety sojourn.  Although, that idea seemed like a better one when I had some company cajoled…

Before I had the chance to become too vexed about my yoga-free, non-alcoholic, one-hour-less-than-usual day, the doorbell chimed.  It was, much to my surprise, a floral delivery!  There were one dozen, long-stemmed, orange roses and a very enigmatic card.  And just like that, I didn’t mind about missing yoga so much anymore.  Arranging flowers is one of those delightful diversions that is decidedly not on the List.

For those of you too lazy to click on the last link I thoughtfully provided, orange roses  “… can be an expression of fascination, or a gift to say ‘I’m proud of you,'” so they were a fitting gesture either way… no matter which inscrutable individual was kind enough to send them.  After all, The Hostess is nothing if not an equal-opportunity fascinatrix, and if you have read this far, I’m as proud of your fortitude as you should be of mine.

DAY 16: Well, enough people actually know about this by now that rumors might be starting. So, before anyone loses a large wager betting on the impossibility of such an improbable allegation actually being accurate, allow me to assure you that it is true: The Hostess has quit drinking for 40 days.

The earnest epoch henceforth known as Those 40 Days of Folly is, forsooth, well underway. So there is no talking me out of it now. DO NOT PANIC. When all is said and done, there will be a celebration, and that celebration will be worth the wait. Just count the days with me and see how time flies by, even when every hour is just 60 minutes of sobriety.

Don’t worry, you haven’t missed a minute of the frivolity. There’s this whole new page with all the details to date (however much to Miss Anthrope’s chagrin). I meant to tell you sooner, but I got distracted when my Minister of Finance informed me that the current economic blah-blah makes now the opportune time to consider trading in the trusty J-car for a purebred BMW. Test-drives needed to be carried out, posthaste, I’m sure you can understand.

Anyway, now you know what is — or, more precisely, what is not — going on. I’d tell you why, if I was sure myself. There’s still plenty of time for me to figure out the impetus behind this incomprehensible impulse, and I will keep you posted. Oh, and please note the following with respects to posts about the Folly:

You may have noticed that the Comments option has been turned off for this post. This is intentional. While I am pretty sure that most people will not be too terribly intrigued by the day-to-day details of my non-adventures in not drinking, I am completely certain that no one wants to read your thoughts on the subject. If you would like to offer support, congratulations, or prescription pharmaceuticals, feel free to e-mail me directly. I am also looking for a pool-shooting partner, but any and all other forms of distraction proffered will be given due consideration. (This also appears at the bottom of the Folly page, but I can’t count on anyone reading that far before being compelled to chime in about something or another.)

More tomorrow…

DAY 17: I was not in a very good mood today, but this made me smile.

It is undoubtedly a most useful mindset in the event it occurs to one that one knows a preponderance of people who are not very agreeable, most of the time. I mean, it is probably a useful mindset in such a situation. I wouldn’t know…too much about such a status quo. However, I can, um, well, imagine how it might be somewhat, er, shall I say, trying to find oneself — more often than one would wish — at loggerheads with one or more persons whose company would be ever so much more enjoyable minus the perennial disputations. Or so I suppose.

With that, I think I will just go ahead and add

9. PMS

to the List (and hope that is what is going on here).

Oh, and before I forget to mention it: I found out today that I’m going to have the Mansion to myself on that date we are all eagerly anticipating!!! Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Do stay tuned…

DAY 18: PMS or no, restricting my dietary intake to peanut M-&M’s and Diet Cokes ameliorated my mood of yesterday, somewhat. Mind you, it’s nothing one or two well-made espresso chocolate martini’s couldn’t have accomplished — and sooner — but I suppose this finding qualifies as useful information in case you should find yourself without the necessary ingredients to make a proper espresso chocolate martini and, unfortunately for everyone involved, simultaneously in the company of a potentially PMS-stricken person. (I would provide you, hereabouts, with an appropriate link to the recipe for said proper espresso chocolate martini, but there does not appear to be one on the internet at the time of this typing. However, the Espresso Martini at the top of the Bayfront Bistro’s “Dessert Martini Menu” is pretty close. Anyone know where this place is? I’d be willing to try out their version…after April 3rd, of course!) Perhaps the moral of this short story is to keep the ingredients for a proper esspresso chocolate martini on hand at all times, since this is doubtless a far better plan than loitering around vending machines and/or convenience stores.

DAY 19: The Hostess is usually in a much more festive mood before traveling out-of-town. Of course, I am also usually going somewhere more interesting than Los Angeles. Still and all, I put off packing until the morning of my trip…

This is simply unheard of. Packing is one of the few things that is categorically not on the List. Drinking only serves to drag out the process of packing, and the more martinis drunk whilst packing translates directly into the number of superfluous pairs of shoes packed (and no, difficult as it may be to fathom, the “number of superfluous pairs of shoes” taken on a trip is not one of those “imaginary numbers” you read about in introductory algebra textbooks). I ought to have been at least thinking about which cute, low-cut shirts to pack the night before my scheduled departure.

So, what could the matter be? I’ve known about this trip for months, so it’s not like there was any last-minute, unpleasant rushing around involved. I checked the weather, and balmy temperatures bode well for my spending some quality time in a poolside cabana. Hell, I even took a day off work just for the occasion, and that alone should have automatically qualified the trip as better than the alternative.

Yet I was by and large blasé at best vis-a-vis the southern sojourn. Not even the probable prospect of, at the very least, adding to the List perked me up. I wonder if I’m entering that era of ennui that inevitably escorts the proverbial wagon down the trail of teetotalism. Ah well, if that is the case, at least my pedantic perspicaciousness is prevailing…

DAY 20: As expected, the List grew longer as I ventured farther from the places I have grown accustomed to not drinking. Behold:

10. Airports

This broad category encompasses everything about airports, from maneuvering carry-ons on and off escalators (profoundly more perilous in high-heels than you might imagine) to the indecencies inflicted upon the innocent by the tyrannical TSA trolls (my apologies to actual trolls) thugs. Then there is all that time to wait for the plane, even if it isn’t delayed (which it most likely will be, and of course was in my case this morning). Ordinarily, this waste of however many (many, many) minutes could be converted into a couple of cocktails, albeit probably watered down — and definitely over-priced — cocktails, but still. Even the less egregious environs of an Admiral’s Club lounge failed to mitigate the fact that I was experiencing an airport without the becalming buffer of the usual beverage(s).

11. Flying

No, I was not surprised to find that being crammed into an airplane with a bunch of people who, for the most part, seem to believe that their obnoxious voices are supposed to be audible over the roar of the engines was any less agonizing in the absence of alcohol. I didn’t ever seriously suppose that my in-flight imbibing was clouding my judgment about how annoyance is amplified by altitude. However, it can now be stated, for the record, that mixing one’s own contraband cocktails at a mile or so high does take the edge off being in such close proximity to so many people who seem to have no concept of how to behave in public (if , when on an airplane, you take your shoes off, intend to fly with a baby on your lap, and/or speak loudly enough to someone else so that I can hear you, then yes, I mean you).

12. Staying in an awesome hotel room

The upgrade to a corner suite with two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows was a nice surprise, but what is the point of such a posh pad if rock-star-style excessive drinking is not part of the plan?

13. Going to a concert

Full disclosure: this List item might be more properly qualified as “going to see someone else’s favorite band in concert”. While I’m pretty sure seeing Amy Winehouse sober (the concert-goer being the sober one in that situation, obviously) would be basically ridiculous, I could probably enjoy a Little Feat show without drinking (in the right venue, that is). Also, seeing almost any concert with TallDark&Handsome is a guaranteed good time irrespective of intoxicants because he loves music so much, his joy is completely contagious, and — no matter how crowded the floor is — he always makes sure a girl has plenty of room to dance.

DAY 21: Here’s two more far-flung findings for the List:

14. Poolside cabanas

To be sure, it is a fortuitous circumstance when leisure time, a clement climate, and the presence of a pool coïncide. So a poolside cabana is admittedly akin to frosting on top of the icing that is already on top of a pretty copacetic cupcake. But when there are waiters bearing trays of drinks between a bar and the cabanas, the thrill is tempered when you demurely order only a Diet Coke that you could have just as easily acquired from the vending machine next to the elevator and brought along yourself with your sunscreen and reading material. Besides, charging a Diet Coke to your room is simply ridiculous and takes all the fun out of racking up “incidentals”.

15. Los Angeles

Not to put to fine a point on it, but: ugh. The traffic, the smog (“inversion layer” my ass!), the same old shopping and dining chains as anywhere else…if there is anything appreciably amusing that can be done in L.A. that can’t be accomplished — amidst far more charming environs — in San Francisco, The Hostess would love to know what it is.

Granted, there are a number of bars in the City of Angels, probably some of which are worth checking out. There’s even one called the Library Bar that looks like the kind of place The Hostess would bravely risk having to put up with these pretentious poseurs: “Across the room, hipsters lounge on luxurious leather sofas by the fireplace, sipping Belgian Tripels while perusing the library bookshelves for newfound knowledge” (actually from their web site, like these louche louts are some sort of lagniappe). If the lounging, perusing “hipsters” got to be too much, a mini-celebrity-death-site bar crawl could commence at the Bar at the Chateau Marmont and wind up at The Viper Room where they even have shot glasses for sale.

Damn! I almost feel like going back down there and giving their nightlife a fair shot. But, since Los Angeles is nothing more than a smoggier city with worse traffic (although more plentiful parking) and different places to drink than San Francisco, it stays on the List. Although anyone who is going down there — after I finish my wacky wagon wanderings — and desires a discriminating drinking companion should let me know.

DAY 22: I got back late from L.A. due to the fog — which I you will notice that I do not refer to euphemistically as a “marine layer” — in San Francisco. Call me atmospheric (I’ve been called worse) — the drizzly conditions were conducive to some introspection…

As it happens, I passed the halfway point of this Folly two days hence, without so much as a half-hearted “hip-hip-hooray”. Twenty-two days ago, I bravely embarked on what I believed would be an exceptional endeavour. Back then, I thought the entire enterprise would be much more…epic. I envisioned being tested by trials of my patience the likes of which Penelope endured and tribulations such as those surely suffered by Noah’s wife. I assumed I’d have an adventure of self-discovery that would re-affirm my fondness for the familiar à la the gingham-bedecked Dorothy Gale — hell, I even allowed myself to imagine I’d meet a man with perceptible brain function (you can see how delusionally high my hopes were) once I tenaciously trumped the travails of temperance.

Alas, it’s 528 hours later and I have had no epiphany on which to elaborate; glimpsed not so much as a shadow of insight; nor have I been struck by any way whatsoever in which my life is improved by limiting my liquor intake to zero. I don’t have any more energy, I haven’t lost any weight, and I haven’t met any new boys (neurologically-challenged, or otherwise). I’m not at all more hilarious, cynically wry, or smokin’-hot-fine than when I was getting my Preferred Daily Allowance of alcoholic elixirs (though you may understandably ask: how could I be?).

It’s been 22 whole days and I haven’t even experienced a decent dramatic dénoument. I’m detachedly dispassionate about resuming my drinking habit. Exhibit A: there’s been a half-glass of vodka in my medicine cabinet this whole time (leftover from when I was getting ready for my birthday brunch) and I have not been tempted to touch it — not once, not twice, not ever. As if that weren’t nonplussing enough, I haven’t even been noticeably more exasperated by other people in aggregate. Exhibit B: I went so far as to attend a small dinner party hosted by a couple of complete boors for some of the most uninteresting people imaginable (excluding The Hostess, of course, but I was only there in the “and guest” capacity) . I drank nothing but fizzy water from appetizers to dessert and I found the evening to be no more monotonous than it would have been had I been partaking of the wine being served.

I’m not even especially bored by the proceedings. My daily sober life is striking only in its similarity to the diversions of my drinking days: I eat the same food, and go to the same places, and see the same people, and do the same things. Besides the fact that I’ve been going through all these motions without a drink in my hand, I’d be hard-pressed to describe anything at all that is different. Let’s see…oh, here’s something: my olfactory sense seems to have sharpened. I could smell the wine opening up in the glasses at that dull dinner party, and I’ve been noticing, for the first time, how the scent of fabric softener lingers on the linens at the Mansion. Wow. Not exactly life-changing, is it? Yet except for some changes in my “sleep architecture” (more on that later), there’s nothing unique about my days other than the absolute absence of alcohol.

So, halfway through this increasingly unsensational experiment, I’m starting to wonder what the big deal was supposed to be. Why, for example, did certain people suggest that I sober up? Was it strictly out of a hepatic concern? I mean, no offense, but if that’s the case, that’s some pretty fucking misplaced solicitude. The Hostess does have some actual sources of discomfiture, dismay, and disquietude about which the allegedly anxious are more than welcome to offer advice.

It is seeming more likely as more days go by and everything is more or less the same that those certain persons who pointed to my drinking as the source of my disconcertment were mistaken, erroneous, and otherwise wrong. Either that, or perhaps something more duplicitous was behind that chorus of “your problem is…” and “if you would just stop…” and (my favorite, the one everybody thought I was too wasted to hear) “she’d be alright if only…” that certain persons were singing. Maybe certain persons have been using my drinking so much as an excuse to treat me a little less well than they should?

(Hmmm. Do you suppose this could be one of those “moments of clarity”?)

DAY 23: The dreams have begun…

“They” never tell you (by which I mean me, or anyone else dueling the demons dredged up by a dearth of dissoluteness) about this part. You hear all about night after night of those clammy cold-sweats. Scenarios involving uncontrollable shaking — delirium tremens, the DT’s — convulsions, and hallucinations are described in ominous detail. Desperate cravings and skin-crawling sensations are forecast.

I have found this to be largely a bunch of crap. A large bunch of crap, if you will. Two, three nights tops of the cold-sweats (and only one for me this time — yay!). Maybe a shaky spell the first day, but nothing that vitamin B washed down with some Nyquil can’t stave off (unless benzodiazepines are an option, but use these as sparingly as possible, and only for the first day or two, for reasons elaborated upon below*). Then, when none of the other crap happens, off you go, thinking you are going to be just fine and dandy and see, it isn’t so hard to quit drinking, is it?

No, it’s not not that hard to quit drinking. As I have definitively demonstrated over the last 23 days, it is not at all difficult to decide one day to stop drinking for any reason, or none. It takes no superhuman will, or saintly moral character, or preternatural powers to hoist yourself up onto that wagon. If the trail gets bumpy, all you have to do is hold on, and since there’s plenty of baggage to cling to, you’ll be fine.

That is, you’ll be fine if your “sleep architecture” hasn’t had its foundations cracked from the sub-standard slumber you were getting all that time you were going to bed with a cocktail on your nightstand. If this is your circumstance, well, you are screwed.

I could bore you with the science, but I’ve studied the matter and so I already know what is happening and why. The short version: when you are sleeping under the influence, you are getting crappy sleep. It’s like the superficial banter you have with someone you don’t really want to be talking to at a party while you are looking around for someone more intriguing to go chat up. If and/or when you finally start sleeping without alcohol depressing your central nervous system, your brain tries to collect on all deep, REM-phase sleep you owe it. Metaphorically speaking, your brain suddenly has the time and inclination for an impassioned soliloquy on existentialism and you, my friend, are the sole audience member.

First there’s the insomnia. You can’t sleep because your brain is not used to being so unfettered by inebriation and so your thoughts run rampant around your mind and keep you up until at least the wee hours of the morning. Yes, you will be exhausted every minute of the next day, but at least you will be able to sleep that night. This is the re-structuring stage. I think it is designed to lull you into a false sense of complacency.

Once your brain figures out that you are no longer drinking it into oblivion, it will come after you with a vengeance. Every dream you didn’t have when you were out cold will be collected, with interest. What this means is that after you make it past the insomnia and are sleeping fairly regularly on a nightly basis, you will start having the most vivid, intense, and relentless dreams you have ever had in your life.

“They” don’t tell you about the dreams, but I don’t know why not. This is a most cruel and unusual omission. The dreams are surely the reason most people throw themselves under the wagon wheels. Those poor, uninformed and unprepared folks must think they are losing their minds. When you wake up after hours of slumber even more tired than when you went to bed because of the exhausting visions you have been having all night, well, it pretty much renders moot however many days you have managed to quit drinking. Really, you just want the dreams to stop.

What sucks even more than the crazy, technicolor movies playing without intermissions behind your eyelids all night long is that none of the fancy pharmaceuticals you may have at your disposal are going to be of any use.

See: “While only a few pharmacological and nonpharmacological strategies to improve or normalise disturbed sleep in individuals who have recovered from alcoholism have been studied, the use of benzodiazepines, other hypnosedatives or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors is not recommended” if you doubt my sincerity on this matter (* elaboration to which I alluded earlier).

You owe your brain a certain amount of REM sleep, and it will get it, sooner if you tough it out, and later if you try and escape Morpheus’ clutches with modern medicine. Whether your befuddled brain is too crucial to your mental economy to fail or not, there’s no magic bail-out for this deficit.

The bad news is that “sleep changes…may last 3 – 12 months or more.” The moderately reassuring news is that all my research indicates that you are not actually losing your mind. The good news is that you have permission to kick “their” ass(es) if you ever hear this hayride advertised without any warnings about these dreams.

(After 24 years, I finally know what Ann & Nancy were singing about. Not exactly the illuminating discovery I’ve been soberly seeking, but I’m so frickin’ tired, any revelation will suffice. Check out that last link above and give the song a listen — you know you want to — and tell me how right I am about it…I could use an affirmation right about now.)

DAY 24: The dreams continue. I dream of the past. If you are reading this, I am not dreaming about you — I am dreaming about ancient history. I dream of people I knew and places I lived long before I met you. I dream of waves I waded in before I ever saw the Pacific Ocean. I dream of hands held and bridges burned way back when I naïevely believed that misogynistic pyromaniacs were the exception, rather than the rule. I dream of serendipitous snowdrifts, sand dollars, and sunsets uncynically savored so long ago and far away — before being unceremoniously usurped by motorcycles, shot glasses, and skepticism. I dream of faces whose every nuance I know but whose names I can no longer recall. I dream I am dreaming dreams I used to dream…

In the dreams I dream I can run and wear flat shoes (and my hair is parted on the other side). There is so much to witness with closed eyes, to whisper without words, to remember just vaguely enough to wonder at the extent of what has been forgotten. Agonizingly and inevitably the alarm chases away the perception of memories that melt like ice cubes reluctantly added to a glass of insufficiently-chilled vodka. Then I am awake, and no matter how long I have been dreaming, I am entirely exhausted from the effort of struggling to stay asleep so as to be able to keep dreaming those dreams just a little while longer.

DAY 25: As I mentioned yesterday, if you are reading this, I am not dreaming about you. At the rate I’m dreaming little dreams of me, the 15 days I’m going to stay sober won’t be long enough for me to catch up, in my dreams, to when I met you, auspicious — or otherwise — as that meeting may have been.

This is all well and good, not to mention quite possibly the best argument for resuming my reprobate rollick as scheduled

You see, if I must dream every night, I prefer dreaming about ghosts and shadows. Disenchantment is, after all, a drink best served shaken with ice and in strained into a chilled glass. Melancholy is also much more palatable after it has had a chance to ferment and mellow, much as wine will improve over a spell in a fine French Oak barrel.

Indeed, the preponderance of modern times may yet mature into something worth reflecting upon, once it has acquired the patina of the bygone and that sheen of wistfulness which only time can confer. Therefore, I might as well go back — in the duly appointed 15 days — to drinking my dreams away before I dream my way up to the present. No sense at all in dreaming about current affairs. It’s depressing enough to be embroiled in them while awake.

DAY 26: R.I.P. Natasha Richardson. Her untimely demise reminded me about the hazards of head injuries. I probably should have gone to the hospital 26 days ago when I fell down those stairs and concussed my own cranium.  If nothing else, I could have tried trading an expensive CAT scan for procuring a provocative prescription — the transaction tidily totted up to my insurance.

As long as we’re on the subject of British actors, I might as well take the opportunity to confess that I am now officially infatuated with Hugh Laurie. You may be excused for wondering why. Well, it’s not because he’s British — I didn’t even know this until I was already smitten — or even because on TV he plays a Vicodin-popping doctor who really doesn’t like people (i.e. my doppleganger, except for the doctor part, but I do spend an inordinate amount of time in a hospital).  It’s certainly not on account of the conventional good looks he is conspicuously lacking — but since when has the fact that a guy is not particularly handsome ever stopped me? (Not in this town, that’s for sure.)

Except for the fact that he has three children (yuck), he’s perfect for me: he’s tall, he rides a motorcycle in real life (not just on TV), and he said this:

<<When asked if living in America would make him any less pessimistic or miserable: “Oh, I hope nothing would ever do that. I won’t let go of my roots.”>>

So, as you can see: we are soul mates. Where do I sign up to be his mistress? (Hey, if I can get past the fact that he’s a Gemini, why should I care if he’s married?)

DAY 27: Ah, the first day of Spring. If only the Winter of my wagon-weary discontent could be made glorious by a Gatorini…

Actually, my sense of humor is just as good as any “son of York”, seeing as how I am just giddy over typing that last sentence. Thank goodness my mirthful merits have not been maimed by the slings and arrows of martini-free misfortune.

Am I this witty when I’m wasted — that is the question.

</quitting while ahead, but still chuckling nobly>

DAY 28: Since yesterday was the beginning of a whole new season, it seems fitting to add another item to the List today. The Hostess would not want anyone to get the mistaken impression that there are certain pastimes that are more pleasant when partaken whilst drinking only during the Winter months. So when, in the Spring…fancy lightly turns to thoughts of

16. Brunch

on the List this repast goes. If the usual breakfast drink suspects aren’t to be spiked with something stronger than chai, brunch is really not worth the bother.

While it truly pains me to discover this about my favorite meal of the week, I cannot deny the overwhelming evidence accumulated during my extensive field testing. Since I had to do something with all the money that has been piling up in my bank account in the absence of my regular tithing at BevMo, I thought I might as well stimulate the brunch economy.

So, indulge in dome fine daytime dining, I did. I went to brunch at a place I had been before. The meal was fine, but something was missing. I went to brunch at a place I hadn’t been to yet. Whatever was missing, it wasn’t novelty…

Thinking maybe it was the companionship aspect; I went to brunch with a girl. The missing element remained elusive, so I reasoned that it might be the flirtatious factor. Ergo, this very morning, I went to brunch with a boy and batted my eyelashes, and laughed attentively at all his repartee. Hell, he even paid (a truly noteworthy event among the generally deadbeat male company I inexplicably settle for keeping) but brunch still lacked its usual luster.

Leaving no variable unaccounted for, I even went so far, literally, as to have brunch in Los Angeles a week ago. So I can unequivocally assure you that no matter where you go for brunch, or with whom you go to brunch, or who pays for brunch, if all you drink is juice and coffee, it’s just a fancified breakfast that you are eating later than usual in the day. Without the enlivening effects of a grown-up beverage — or a pitcher thereof, for sharing — the decadence of dragging an A.M. activity into the P.M. hours and the lavishness of the extra expense are exposed as the faintly fatuous conflation of meals that brunch essentially is.

Irksome though it may be, it is incontrovertible that without some champagne, or inter alia a Bloody Mary to critique, brunch sort of seems like a meal you could have saved at least a lot of time (and someone’s money) by having earlier in the morning. But please don’t despair. I certainly haven’t. In fact, while today’s brunch among the boats bobbing jauntily in the Schoonmaker Point Marina was the final nail in that meal’s coffin, List-wise, it just so happens that in the process, I found out for sure that there is something else that is just as much fun without a spike in one’s blood alcohol content.

Admitedly, it was not altogether astonishing that I had the same awesome time riding on a motorcycle as I always do. I mean, I have actually ridden on motorcycles sober before. But it was sure a lot of fun confirming what an absolute blast it is on a leisurely drive through the Marin Headlands before brunch.

I was a little more apprehensive about my plans for later in the evening. In my trepidatious estimation, the ballet could have gone either way without cocktails at least before (during and after not necessarily being ruled out, under normal circumstances). Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that — if the ballet is any indication — the fine arts can be appreciated just as completely from the wagon. Actually, the view from the buckboard this evening was quite a bit finer than the last time I feasted my eyes on the salacious spectacle of such fine male specimens in tights.

And for the record: the $6.99 éclair at Max’s with an ice cold glass of milk is every bit as satisfying as any post-curtain night cap. Though this may seem like an implausible and inconceivable statement, it is actually true. Yes, it is an outrageous amount of money for an éclair, but this éclair has both vanilla and chocolate cream filling and it is so big you can bring half of it home to have for breakfast the next day…so screw brunch.

Today was a good day. Even if the List turned out not to be just some Seasonal Affective Disorder that can be blamed on Old Man Winter, and the joviality of brunch itself was definitively demonstrated to be compromised by libation deprivation, my sallies showed that the spiritless life need not be an entirely dispirited one. I encountered not just one, but two experiences that are just as exciting and engaging when alcohol is not in the equation. Now, the ballet season may be on the short side, and motorcycle rides may not be reliably routine (yet!), but there’s almost always a pool table available somewhere (see DAY 13), and these diversions only have to last me another dozen days, don’t they?

DAY 29: I’m just as happy to stay off the subject of the melodramatic dreams I’m still having as you are for me to refrain thusly, but this one merits mention. As I was dozing in the parlor this afternoon, I had a dream about drinking. Specifically, I had a dream about drinking that was so realistic, I woke up worried I had actually somnambulistically consumed a cocktail.

Every detail was exceedingly and eerily explicit. In the dream, I mixed the drink, garnished it, and savored it. I heard the ice clink in the glass. I felt the lime between my fingers as I squeezed it. I could smell the vodka as I raised the glass to my lips…

I woke up right before I tasted it. And for a few seconds, I really thought I had quaffed that concoction. The dream was so life-like, I actually felt guilty! Fortunately, my powers of total dream recall that have been the bane of my waking hours in recent days permitted me to examine the dream in sufficient detail to determine that the drink was just a figment of perfervid phantasmagoria.

Three anomalies assured me that the cocktail in question was a chimera. To begin with, the drink was mixed in glassware in from the Manse’s collection that I have never used (besides, though stem-less, they are actually wine glasses, and The Hostess would no sooner multi-task with fine crystal than wear white shoes before Memorial Day). Also, the ingredients in the drink were highly suspect: neither club soda nor limes were presently in the real-life larder (nor do these superfluities regularly figure into drinks I fix for myself). Finally, there were the improbable and therefore irrefutably illusory ice cubes. You see, there has been a bottle of vodka languishing utterly undisturbed in the freezer for weeks, so it is nothing if not perfectly chilled.

While flabbergasting at first, the investigation ended up being exquisitely “elementary” (even without Watson, mine, dear, or otherwise commonly supposed). Given the evidence outlined above, it can be deductively declaimed that the drink was nothing but a hallucination occasioned by a pronounced paucity of heretofore habitual hydration. It is fortuitous indeed that I “have the advantage of knowing [my] habits” or I may very well have confessed to an imagined transgression of the terms of this Folly and cost myself a new laptop computer in the process of disappointing so many of my well-wishers.

DAY 30: I don’t know if that dream I had yesterday about drinking scared me straight or what, but somehow I summoned the stamina to make it to work — on a Monday, of all days! — this morning. In that intrepid “when in Rome…” spirit, I decided to do some research into the medical literature on a certain topic I took note of on Day 22. As I was lamenting my over-examined yet underwhelming liquor-less life — “I’d be hard pressed to describe anything at all that is different,” — I did allow that “my olfactory sense seems to have sharpened.” When I mentioned this to Chica Cherry over the weekend, she wondered if there was any scientific reason for this, and so I had something interesting with which to appear legitimately occupied at work today.

As it turns out, “[o]lfactory dysfunciton is common in nonamnesic and nondemented patients with alcohol dependence. Results suggest a detrimental effect of alcohol on central olfactory processing.” (2003)

Indeed, numerous “[p]rior studies indicate that alcohol-dependent patients have impaired olfactory sensitivity, odor quality discrimination and identification ability.” (2004)

But really, who cares if “research indicates that chronic alcoholism is accompanied by olfactory deficits”? (2006) In far more interesting news, today marks the day the countdown begins: T-10 — have you saved the date?

DAY 31: I must confess to having reconnoitered Geneva Pub, which I shall be Officially Visiting at the end of this Folly, in T-9 and counting. It was back when we were having that ridiculous rainy spell in February and I was trying to figure out a way to work an actual Bar or two into Bars By The Book’s 2nd Anniversary celebration. Alas, Geneva Pub wasn’t going to work, for geographical reasons if nothing else. I mean, could this place be any farther afield?

After a long drive, I finally arrived at one pretty damn nondescript street corner in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. On the plus side, there was a break in the rain and a parking space right next to the Bar. I hopped out of the J-car to peek inside the windows (the Bar wasn’t open yet, as I had been told it wouldn’t be by a snooty bartender named Sally I’ll tell you about some other time). I also tried to find some redeeming quality in the vicinity to merit cajoling people to make the trek out to the neighborhood…

It was a process. I walked at least a block in every direction. There’s a liquor store across the street and if you feel like doing laundry, there are plenty of laundromats from which to choose. I was just about to get back in the car and try to find my way back to a recognizable part of town when a bus lumbered around the corner and stopped right in front of me. And, what do you know, it was a # 43 – Masonic MUNI.

Now, the # 43 – Masonic happens to go right through Ambiguous Heights where the Mystery Mansion is more or less located. The Hostess takes the # 43 now and then, and just often enough to think the following two words when confronted by the unmistakable sight of a # 43 way out yonder in front of The Next Bar: BUS PARTY.

That’s right, you heard it here first. After work on Friday, April 3rd — and after 40 days of not drinking — I’m catching a # 43 and riding it all the way to 1196 Geneva Avenue, and I’m not waiting ’til I get there to start drinking, folks! I’m aiming for the 6:21 at Presidio @ California, so consult # 43 Outbound Weekdays schedule to see when you can board the bus and join the party!

I had some grand plans for the Bus Party, but the extravagant after-party has required all my attention, so the Bus Bash is BYOB. I’m sure anyone reading this ridiculous blog can handle this. But in order to avoid taxing you any further, if you e-mail me your phone number with the subject line “Bus Party”, I’ll text you when I get on the bus, so you can check NextBus to see which bus to catch at whatever stop near you. Or, if you are lucky enough to have my phone number, text me between now and then and I’ll notify you, too. (Any anyone who so much as mentions twitter to me gets kicked off the bus, so consider your comments carefully.) Just be sure to bring exact change, something to whet your whistle, and the intention to party, because it’s going to be a long night!

DAY 32: In just over a week — T-8 and counting! — I’ll finally be off this wagon. At the outset, it seemed like these 40 days would last forever, and now the days are zipping by so quickly, I don’t know how I’ll have time to get everything ready for the Marvelous Mystery Mansion Post Geneva Pub Party/Beyond Broken Record Bash & Password-Protected Subsequent Soiree I’m having to celebrate the occasion. Since I’m sure you’re excited too, here’s another abstinence anecdote to help you pass the time:

I was at the Post Office this afternoon to pick up a package for one of the erstwhile denizens of the Manse’ who still has mail delivered there. This package required said denizen’s signature on one of those little 3 x 5-inch forms the mail carriers leave. I had the form, with the signature. No problem.

I waited in the line that took much longer than it should have and listened to people jabber way too loudly on their cell phones. Still no problem. I listened to the postal employee — whose first and second languages were definitely not English — tell me the denizen’s signature was on the wrong side of the 3 x 5-inch piece of paper I had brought with me as evidence of my good intention to spare someone else what was becoming a hassle. And then…

Did I slam my fist on the counter and threaten to injure the postal employee? Did I start yelling very unlady-like epithets at her? Did these things even cross my serene mind?

Well, ok, they probably did; somewhere sub-cortexically. But the thing is, I remained calm. It was just as weird as DAY 12 when I had that surreal encounter with the bimbo in the illegally double-parked car. I just reached into my purse for my cell phone, and told the postal employee that she was going to have to call the denizen and explain the unnecessarily arcane rules and regulations regarding proper signature placement for package retrieval. Was the postal flunky either so impressed with my diffident demeanor and/or so confused by all the multi-syllabic words I spoke that she fetched me the package?

No. She got me an alleged supervisor (which I took to mean someone who had a more passable command of the English language). I didn’t take any of his officious crap either, but nor did I fly into a rage and threaten to have him deported. I simply made it clear — in a tranquil tone — that I had wasted enough of my time in that particular post office on this lovely afternoon and did not intend to leave without the package whose addressee’s signature I did, in fact, have, no matter which side of the 3 x 5-inch form it was on.

I am almost certain that if this scene had unfolded between myself and an expected martini, things would have gone horribly awry. As it was, I got the package without having to waste any wrath or wreak any havoc. The Hostess could grow accustomed to breezing so blithely through inescapable interactions with the masses.

DAY 33: Well, with T-7 to go in this Folly, I have evidence of another misperception about what now seems to be the myth that “alcohol is bad for blood pressure.” This, as so much of what is commonly bandied about by puritans and other dullards, is just more crap that there is no reason to believe. Oh, sure, the medical literature is replete with studies that purport to confirm the causal relationship between alcohol consumption and hypertension. But just how, then, is one to explain the following…

I had every reason to believe that my blood pressure would be at least near the current in vogue ideal of 120 / 80. In plenty of prior and less lengthy abstentions, I’ve gotten damn near close to that. Then there is all the brave, wise serenity I’ve been conspicuously demonstrating these past 33 days — I’m cooler than a frickin’ cucumber lately. I’m like a cucumber popsicle. Also, I’ve switched from NPR to KDFC so all that gloom and doom pretentious talk about the global economic blah-blah has been replaced by the soothing sounds of classical music for most of my workday. There is no reason whatsoever I should not be the poster-child for peaceful equilibrium in the systolic/diastolic department.

So I had one one of my esteemed colleagues take my blood pressure this afternoon (which is not as odd as it would be if I didn’t work in a hospital). The result? A high, by any standard, 133 / 98! Same exact reading in both arms, no less.

While The Hostess does not mind disabusing the unsuspecting public about the fallacies behind modern medical theories, I was sort of chagrined by the lack of any lowering in my blood pressure after all this time off the sauce, so to speak. But that’s no reason to let my case study go to waste. If you ever get diagnosed with high blood pressure and your doctor says, vis-à-vis your alcohol intake, that “a causal association is the most likely explanation,” feel free to tell that quack that G.Y. Lip, D.G. Beevers, and The Hostess say that’s crap.

DAY 34: Less than a week to go — T-6. The closer I get to drinking again, the harder it is to believe I’ve gone without if for so long and so facilely. It’s a good thing I have the after-party to look forward to, or I might be overwhelmed by the dearth of momentousness marking the impending cessation of my sobriety.

Speaking of that after-party…I am so excited to make these cupcakes! I came across the recipe today and they will be just the thing to round out the refreshments for the Marvelous Mystery Mansion Post Geneva Pub Party/Beyond Broken Record Bash & Password-Protected Subsequent Soirée I am having on April 3. I can hardly wait for the guests to taste them. (Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll be sure to make extra frosting…)

DAY 35: T-5 and the madcap merriment isn’t over yet. You’ll never guess who I heard from today…

No, really. You definitely will never guess. You probably have already completely forgotten about DAY 18 when I thoughtfully provided you with a link to the most passable espresso chocolate martini recipe available in cyberspace. Well, someone noticed my efforts and his name is Brian.

He works for the marketing firm behind the Bayfront Bistro which is — as he was kind enough to inform me — “located on the beautiful back bay of Fort Myers Beach, Florida.” Bayfront Bistro is — of course and regardless of your recollection — the restaurant whose mouth-watering dessert menu begins with “Dessert Martinis” (as more dessert menus should, frankly) to which I directed you 17 days ago.

At least Brian is paying attention here (even if I’m pretty sure web analytics are involved). And he took the time to politely to thank me for mentioning his client, which was sweet of him. Also, now I know where I can get an espresso martini that is likely to be delicious…if I am ever in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

DAY 36: This morning — T-4! — I decided I had to something besides obsess about whether or not the cute, low-cut purple shirt I bought in L.A. is going to clash with the orange sandals I want to wear on Friday. Having the List stalled at the random number of 16 things had been niggling me for a while, so I set out to see how many activities I could add to it on this, the last temperate Sunday I’m likely to have in a while.

Golden Gate Fields seemed like the perfect place to head in order to have appreciably less fun in a sober state than whilst drinking. I went there eons ago with Nora Charles and we drank away even more dollars than we lost betting on the races. How could horse racing possibly be that much fun without all that alcohol? I was sure the racetrack would wind up on the List

But it didn’t. Yes, you could have knocked me over with a feather, but I actually had a right jolly time watching two of my favorite Barflies drink as many dollar beers as they could before last call (which comes early at the races, so plan accordingly if you are going to be drinking). I lost almost $40 on those ponies, and I still had fun. There were children scurrying around everywhere, the hoi polloi was out in full force, and people were smoking absolutely all over the place, yet it was just as enjoyable a way to spend a Sunday afternoon as The Hostess could ever conceive of imagining.

So I didn’t get to add horse racing to the List. But now I do get to look forward to going back to Golden Gate Fields with the same two Barflies and seeing if I have as much fun with them there when I’m not the designated driver. I’m betting I will. Not only is spending a day outside in the sunshine trying to beat the odds good, old-fashioned, whimsical amusement, but Dollar Day (every Sunday!) is a killer deal, and it would take a lot more than teetotalism to fail to have fun with the compadres who kept me such excellent company today.

DAY 37: T-3 being the last Monday of this Folly, I decided to make it one of the rare Mondays I actually go to work. I even baked some apricot-banana bread and brought it in for my co-workers to enjoy. They did a good job trying to hide their general amazement at the unusual combination of my not only being there on a Monday, but bearing freshly-baked goods to boot. Heh.

I got the invitations to the Marvelous Mystery Mansion Post Geneva Pub Party/Beyond Broken Record Bash & Password-Protected Subsequent Soirée in the mail this morning, so if you are reading this, keep an eye out for yours. You’ll notice that I went ahead and splurged on stationery befitting the occasion. What the hell — how many times am I going to quit drinking for 40 days?

If you don’t receive an invitation in the mail, don’t panic. This is probably just a reflection of the fact that The Hostess does not have your mailing address. Chalk this up as one more sad casualty of the civilized life in these cyber-times.

Hmmm. It occurs to me that you might not have the address of the Mystery Mansion, either. After all, not that many people do (wouldn’t be very mysterious otherwise, would it?). Not to worry. Just join the Bus Party, meet me at Geneva Pub, or show up at Broken Record and whisper the password in my ear…

DAY 38:   T-2 and April Fool’s Day. I was going to post a tragic account of throwing myself off the wagon in a moment of weakness, and maybe harken back to how that fall I took down the stairs 38 days ago was a portent of failure and doom for my journey from the very beginning. Then I would reveal the ruse tomorrow, after everyone tried to console me (ideally with Xanax). But I decided that would be juvenile. It may be called “Those 40 Days of Folly” and, to be sure, it has been an absurd exercise in no small amount of inane lunacy all along, but the undertaking still deserves to be taken somewhat seriously. And besides, The Hostess is just not that into April Fool’s Day.

I am into hot tubs, though. Or, I should say, I was in a hot tub earlier this evening. One of the Court Jesters — who has a hot tub — thought I could use a relaxing soak before the end of the Folly, and was he ever correct! But guess what?

17. Hot tubs

…have been added to the List.

I know! I was actually shocked, shocked. Especially since I took a bubble bath a couple of weeks ago that was not any less fun at all than ususal without the drink(s) I typically sip while soaking in the suds.

I can’t imagine what the difference could be between taking a bubble bath and relaxing in a hot tub. There are the bubbles, of course, but could a little soap really be such deciding factor? Alas, there is no way for me to test this variable, because I flatly refuse to do something so pointless as take a bath without bubbles, and I don’t think one is supposed to add bubbles to hot tubs…although this is pretty perplexing, really, because the bathtub has the same jets as a hot tub, doesn’t it?

Maybe it’s not the bubbles. Maybe it’s the social element. I don’t recall ever hanging out in a hot tub by myself. But most of my bubble baths as an adult have been solitary soaks, given the puny dimensions of a most bathtubs. Hmmm. Is it possible that sitting in a tub full of gurgling hot water is satisfactory when sober if solitary, but is considerably ameliorated with company when coupled with cocktails?

Hmmm, indeed. There’s only one way to know for sure: I have to take a bubble bath with someone. We’ll need to start out sober and see how it goes. Technically, I suppose I could sit in a hot tub alone and check the same correlation coefficient, but I don’t have unfettered access to a hot tub and the bathtub in the Mystery Mansion is big enough to serve as the setting for this experiment. Now all I need is someone to volunteer to join me on this noble quest in the name of scientific discovery…

DAY 39:   T-1 — is it time for the drum roll?

I went to BevMo today. Just as I had feared, business has not been as brisk without my biweekly pilgrimages to bolster their bottom line. However, the decline in their sales figures prompted them to extend their March 5-cent Wine Sale into April, so I made out like the proverbial bandit.

As I type this, there is plenty of celebratory champagne chilling in the ‘fridge, and spare value-sized vodka in the freezer. There’s also a profuse plethora of wines waiting to be drunk. I think the corkscrew — which had been showing its age before the Folly — will give out before the vino does. Fortunately, there’s a backup in the glove compartment of the J-car…

The camera battery is charged and ready to take the next Official Photo. I had my nails done and painted to match the cute, low-cut purple shirt I’m planning to wear on Friday. And on this penultimate night of my sober shenanigans, I am nonplussed only at how pensive I am particularly and pointedly not feeling.

I do feel, however, like I have earned the right to cast a certain amount of scorn and derision on the weaklings who let their own willpower wither away in 12-step programs. Please! It’s a one-step process: quit drinking.

There are lots of other things way harder than not drinking. Passing college elementary algebra, for example, is much more challenging. Finding a man who is not some disappointing combination of brainless, heartless and/or cowardly: now that’s a trying task. Hell, attempting to post to a ridiculous blog on a daily basis 40 times requires more herculean effort than staying sober does.

Lest I be cast as an unsympathetic termagant, I have this to say to anyone who stumbles upon this senseless screed while doddering through the doldrums of alcohol detoxification (hey, I said it wasn’t difficult — I didn’t say it was delightful): if a pleasure-seeking, gratification-driven, liquor-lusting person like The Hostess can trade in a first-class ticket on the Tippling Train for a seat in coach on the Unwonted Wagon, then so can you.

DAY 40:   T is for Through, as in: I am Through with this Folly at midnight tonight!

Wouldn’t it be wild if I wake up on the morning of April 3rd at a farm in Kansas and everything is in black-&-white? Well, it would be something, at least. If anything, it’s been the wagon ride down the sober brick road that’s been muted and monochromatic; managing somehow to fall short of even so mundane an adjective as “maudlin”.

Mickey Mantle is afraid I am going to start drinking at midnight and get so wasted that I miss work Friday. He is a dear to concern himself, but he needn’t worry. If the these 40 Days of Folly have been mostly “full of sound and fury; signifying nothing”, they have at least demonstrated that if I say I am going to do something, I’m good for it. I said I was going to wait until the Bus Party to start drinking, and I meant it. It’s been 40 days, what’s another 18-and-a-half hours?

Is that enough time for a post-script “illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure“? Don’t hold your breath. All I’m hoping for is that I have a good hair day, the gale force winds whirling outside as I type this die down, and that my orange sandals don’t clash too terribly with the cute, low-cut purple shirt I’ll be wearing.

This would be a likely place for a succinct summation of the sagacity acquired during my 40-day sojourn and/or perhaps some reflection on lessons I’ve learned living la vida vodka-less, except I’ve explicated pretty much everything over the duration of this experiment and none if it seems engrossing enough to bear repeating. The account above is a chronicle of a curiosity, at best.

Rather than dwell on the uneventful nature of my journey through the Uninspiring Land of Unintoxication, I am going to adopt an attitude of insouciance going forward. Wagons don’t have rear-view mirrors, and there’s probably a reason for that.

Feel like there needs to be a moral to this page of the story? OK. I suppose if you’ve read this far, you deserve a conventional conclusion. Here’s one: if The Hostess can manage to quit drinking for 40 whole days and nights, then getting on with getting to all 130 128 Bars By The Book is going to be a breeze.

(You may have noticed that the Comments option has been turned off for this page.  This is intentional.  While I am pretty sure that most people will not be too terribly intrigued by the day-to-day details of my non-adventures in not drinking, I am completely certain that no one wants to read your thoughts on the subject.  If you would like to offer support, congratulations, or prescription pharmaceuticals, feel free to e-mail me directly. I am also looking for a pool-shooting partner, but any and all other forms of distraction proffered will be given due consideration.)