It's been a while since I ran into this guy's type. He's a fixture of green rooms and backstages the world over. He's got the best weed, he's got a fifth in his car, he knows where to get the blow and which strippers run hot and cold. And I can't hang.
I'm stuck in the middle of the road when it comes to partying. Compared to the other 39-year-old parents at my kids' schools, the fact that I stay out till last call on a weekday, or drive off to parts unknown on a school night to perform, puts me in some weird, rarefied hessian realm of excess, day drinking and general suspicion. But my occasional drunkenness and weird sleep habits don't even blip the radar of this guy, the one whose car seat pot stink laughs at Febreze, the one with the built-in radar for after hourses. I just can't hang.
No one really expects me to any more, because I'm pushing forty, and that's kind of a sneaky relief. Because I couldn't hang back in the day, either. I tried. I was the last man stumbling at some parties. I pushed up against the limits of my own bush-league substance abuse. But pot never did anything for me, and anything scarier than Jack Daniels freaked me out, so I often stood on the sidelines while the really legendary shit went down. I wasn't disinvited, exactly, but I definitely had lawn seats at best.
My idea of a real cage-rattling bender now is half a dozen beers in some wood-paneled old-man bar, shooting the shit with fellow curmudgeons and making futile and feeble passes at worn-out barmaids. I finally grew into my real tolerance level. And that's fine, because the times I tried to step outside my recreational comfort zone, the results were almost always ruinous, often vomitously so.
Still, it's hard not to feel some little twinge of regret when you run into that guy, the party king, the guy with the hookup. You don't see his child support checks or the months he sleeps on his mom's couch. You gloss over his dirty coat and bad teeth. You just hear the exploits of parties past, and the glimmer of bacchanalia to come, and it's hard not to wanna get on that train, or at least act like you might get invited. But there's dishes to wash and orders to pack at home, and two kids sleeping who need to get to school tomorrow. More germane to the green room at hand, there's also work to do - creative work - jokes to write and punchlines to fix and creative shit to excavate from my brain. And none of those things will happen, could happen, if I could hang. So I can't hang.
I don't begrudge anyone their good time. I wish 'em well and I'll probably feel some stupid irrational jealousy about it, still, when I'm 70 and it would literally kill me. But the party king and I are never gonna be tight. He can't slow the train down and I've got shit to do.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.