If you like this story, please check out my completed book, “Butts in the Seat”; one reviewer said it was “amusing, entertaining, and provides therapeutic value.”
Long Haul is talking to Stan as they watch Jeopardy on a quiet Tuesday night. She’s drinking a Guinness rather than her usual Miller Lite.
“What is the Mesozoic Era,” Stan answers, or actually questions, correctly. He’s nutty but not dumb.
“Wow, how’d you know that?” Long Haul asks. “Is this a re-run?”
“It may be a re-run but I’ve never seen it. I just know stuff, Tina.” Tina is Long Haul’s real name.
“Meant no offense. Why so snappy?” Long Haul asks.
“I think you mean snappish,” Stan says.
“Who are you, Champagne Mike all of a sudden? What the fuck’s wrong with you tonight?”
Stan sighs. “Sorry, problems at work. I was just written up.”
Long Haul has only been out of jail since Sunday, but this is her 4th visit to Stenny’s in the last three days and she has heard about Stan’s latest nuttiness.
“For ripping body parts off cartoon images of people you don’t like?” she asks.
“It’s facial features, not body parts, but yes, basically.”
“Are you surprised? How did you think your boss was going to react?”
“Oh, he didn’t care. Thought it was funny. But one of the project managers, name of Chrissy, came by to talk to me and saw herself with no lower lip and only one eye. She was pissed and told HR.”
“Do you blame her?” Long Haul asks.
“I tried to tell her that her image was far less mangled than others, which spoke to her basic competence, but she wasn’t buying it.”
“Do you blame her?” Long Haul repeats.
Stan ignores the question. “How have you been? How was jail this time?”
“It was great,” Long Haul answers.
“Great? How so?” Stan asks. He also says “Who is George Maharis?” which momentarily confuses Long Haul until she realizes he is responding to the answer He played Buz on the 60s TV show Route 66.
“I met a woman who I think has changed my life.”
“Some sort of counselor?” Stan asks, while thinking She steals and crashes a golf cart and gets free psychiatric services. What a world.
“No, no,” Long Haul says impatiently. “My cell mate.”
“How’d another common criminal change your life?” Stan asks. The dig is intentional. Stan is annoyed that people have linked him to Long Haul’s crime, just because he drove her to the country club from which she stole the golf cart.
“Did you notice that I’m drinking Guinness tonight?”
Stan actually had, and had noticed that she was drinking much more slowly than usual.
“Your cell mate told you to drink Guinness? That’s what’s going to change your life?”
“Not Guinness specifically, any kind of beer that’s higher in alcohol than what I usually drink. Just for a short time, maybe a couple of weeks.”
“I still don’t get it,” Stan says.
“Monique, that’s my cell mate, told me that if I drink stronger beer for a while, I’ll be able to go back to my Miller Lite and drink it like it’s water. She said she read it somewhere.”
“Well, if she read it somewhere,” Stan says, not feeling the need to finish the sentence.
“You don’t sound impressed,” Long Haul says.
“I’m not impressed or not impressed. I just don’t see the point,” Stan says.
“You don’t see the advantage of being able to drink all night without getting drunk?”
“No, isn’t part of the point of drinking getting drunk?”
“Not when you’re in it for the long haul,” Long Haul says. “It’s about the sociability. Being around late enough in the evening so you don’t miss anything interesting. There’s some crazy shit that happens here after 11.”
“I don’t think the craziness of this place is time-specific. Dysfunction Junction,” Stan says.
“Plus Monique told me that once my body gets used to the stronger beer, the weak stuff won’t affect my blood alcohol level as much. Save me from more DUIs.”
Bartender Stephen happens to catch this last statement.
“Tina, that’s not true,” he says. “You may not feel drunk, but you still will be.” Stephen has been serving Guinness to Long Haul for the last few days without knowing the backstory. He is not sure of the veracity of what he is saying, but he doesn’t want to have any culpability in this ridiculousness. He’s planning to go back to school to get his Bachelors of Science in Nursing, and cares about people’s health individually and in the aggregate.
“You’ll still be drunk, and still be doing real damage to your liver,” Stephen continues. “None of us is going to let you drive home, even once you get your license back, and we’re going to have to start charging you for the cabs.”
Long Haul sighs. “Another dream shattered,” she says. “Every time I try improve myself, I’m cut off at the pass.”
“Speaking of that,” Stephen says. “I’m not saying I won’t serve you, but I think you should switch to your usual, OK?”
“Ok,” Long Haul says. “And could you tell the kitchen I want a pizza with bacon, sausage, and green olives? Monique says that’s the perfect combination to absorb alcohol. The olives are very important. There’s a reason they’re served in martinis, you know.”