Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Party Tips for Aging (Dork) Rockers

Last Saturday I attended a band party for the first time in months. You know the kind of party where the chow is ironic instead of edible; bands play in the basement and never ever in the history of parties at the time scheduled even when band members swear that this time, for real this time, they would start at 9:00; and folks stand around in clumps chatting about who is married/pregnant/divorced/in rehab/should be in rehab.

Here are a few tips for those of us who are more Oldy Olderson than fresh faced scenester.


Long past are the days in which my only requirements for a party drink be that it is potable and alcoholic. I’ve sweated—and spent many a day running to the toilet--through too many a Pabst Blue Ribbon hangover to allow such swill to pass my lips. In fact the entire genre of beer no longer works for my delicate system. I’m a vodka and wine kind of girl. Mostly wine since vodka takes me to the point of no return at bullet’s speed.

Until last summer this preference caused me party stress. The bottles of wine I brought to house parties to share were inevitably drunk clean by the time I came back for my first refill. I tried hiding places. I tried just drinking some freaking beer for Christ’s sake (“What are you, a pansy?” I taunted myself.). I grew sullen and distraught at the mention of a party at a new house. “But what will I drink?” I whined.

Then my flash of genius: wine in a water bottle. Brilliant!

Last summer I toted a half bottle of wine in the Nalgene container that—before the discovery of toxic plastic—was my go-to water bottle. I also brought a small plastic cup from our outdoor collection. All night—meaning the 2-3 hours I can tolerate in a party—I poured myself cups from the wine stash nestled in my purse. This idea opened up a whole new world of party going. So when Mr. Crud and I were invited to see a friend’s band play at a nearby house party, I didn’t hesitate.

Lessons learned—For some reason all the plastic bottles I have used to transport my tasty beverages have leaked. This time I wised up and stashed the bottle in a plastic Ziploc bag. Sadly the bag did not protect me from myself. A few seconds after making my grand entrance into the basement-bar-band room, I whipped out my bagged bottle of wine and poured.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Mr. Crud said. “Watch it, Spillio.”

In a matter of seconds I had spilled a good quarter of the bottle all over the floor because of another unforeseen leak.

I caught a few disdainful glances as I re-zipped my bag and jammed it back into my purse. Ever so casually I stepped my foot onto the spreading red puddle. I keep it classy.


There was a time when I would ride my trusty Specialized steed 30 minutes in the rain to get to a cross-town party. No more. My first recommendation is befriending folks who live in your neighborhood. A 20-minute walk clears the head both before the festivities and post. If you do have far-flung amigos, I suggest convincing your partner (or housemate or friend) that cleaning the bathroom weekly for the last 10 years of your cohabitation entitles you to be driven around drunk whenever necessary. When I was in high school I worked this angle without the bathroom duty. Seems I’ve lost a step in my old age.

Some may also recommend moderation and not getting so drunk that you can’t drive. How mature of them.


When you don’t regularly circulate on the party circuit, it can be hard coming up with things to talk about, especially if you are a woman trapped with the social skill set of a 13-year-old tuba player. The answer is cigarettes. A majority of the post-30 set have given up their pack-a-day habit. Good for us. But a majority of that majority still get a hankering for the sweet smoky burn once they get a little liquor humming through their veins. Buy a pack. Light up in a prominent corner of the yard, far enough away so that you don’t invite anti-smoking venom, but in vision of those who are sympathetic to your cause. And watch them flock like moths.

“I quit a few years ago, but…”

“Sorry to bother you, but would you mind…”

“You’ll be happy to know that I will savor this all night…”

Of the 6 people I met at this party, three of them were drawn to my cigarette. I don’t mind giving them out since I sure as hell don’t want to smoke all of them.

Facebook is another ripe topic of conversation. “Yeah, it’s kinda cool but kinda weird” is a safe opinion to get things started. At some point you can make the joke about how fucked up it is that you are talking to each other in person at a party but still talking about the world of virtual networking. You will seem suave and meta.

Bitching about kids today is another handy topic. “Back in my day music came from actual instruments” or “What is up with those pants?” But beware, the 20-somethings with their emo pants may be lurking around every corner. Trying to defend your views to the young ‘uns will have the unfortunate side effect of making you feel like your dad.

What to wear! It was so much easier when I was a simple rocker girl with a slutty heart. Something black. Something tight. Finish off with clunky boots and a thrift store fake fur and I was good to go. While I’m not ready to Eileen Fisher out, I feel a bit like I’m trying too hard, like one of those heavily made-up mothers who trails her daughter in The Gap so she can pick out clothes that she will “borrow,” and also sending off the wrong signal (the signal being “I’m naked under all these clothes”) if I go too tight. I find that flattering jeans and some t-shirt variation works well for the laid-back kind of gal. Also if you spill, as I inevitably do, you won’t be messing up your Sunday best. Don’t forget the bright thrifted scarf to show that you are still down with the people.

Midnight? Already?
I’m a sleepy drunk. I pass a certain point and there is no going back to my flushed cheek giggly drunk. I once combated the sleepies with ephedrine, which led to a buzzing good time of a night but also to the most horrific of hangovers. Being a nice married lady, I’m also out of the hook up scene. The possibility of smooches or sex would keep me awake to all hours of the night once upon a time, but lacking this energy, I find myself double handicapped in the staying awake category. Did I mention that my bedtime is 9:00 on most days?

Unless you want to pick up another pain-in-the-ass-to-kick drug habit, you’ll have to go with common sense and the dreaded maturity for this category. Sneak in a glass of water here and there. Maybe some coffee if you’re really feeling exhausted. And perhaps let that joint that’s circling the party pass you by un-smoked. Snacks can also keep you fueled for fun. (Unless those snacks are tiny little crabs covered in sesame seeds, which you should never ever eat because they are disgusting.) In fact the lust for snacks has replaced the lust for illicit hook-ups that once fueled my late night partying.

(Thanks to Rino and Libby for convincing Mr. Crud and me to come out of our domestic cave for some good time partying. Sorry we didn’t bid you a proper farewell, but that’s how we party ninjas do.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blue Boots

I pull up to the yoga studio at--as my friend Laertes so eloquently puts it--the crack of ass. A few stragglers roam the streets of the Pearl district before the clackety clack of Pearl doyenne heels and the swing of briefcases sweeps them out to the parks and soup kitchens. Across the street, a man with ragged, sagging pants clutches a pale blue blanket like OG blanket-lover, Linus. He pauses his stream of babble. I dismount my bike and pull my lock from the back rack. His mumbles restart and grow nearer. I glance in the studio. Empty.

“Blue boots. Those blue boots? I like blue boots,” the man says. He leans against the brick wall of the art gallery next door to the yoga studio. He hisses his “s-es.” Not many teeth left to shape the sound.

“Yes, they are blue boots.” I say, “thank you. I like them too.” I sound too much like a kindergarten teacher. I turn the key in the bike lock and glance over my shoulder, praying my teacher, Jason, is pulling up behind me.

I smile at the man. Hesitant smile. Smile that says, “wow, this was sure fun. Please go away now.”

He wipes at his nose. He stutters, “I h-have a pretty big dick.” He grins a gummy, sheepish grin.

I am stuck between saying, “Good for you!” and wanting to fifty-yard dash it to the diner down the street. Part of me wants to be agreeable. “Yeah, so do I. Imagine that.”

How to be compassionate yet firm. Kind, yet you-get-outta-here-now. When I recount the story to Mr. Crud he suggests that maybe this was the man’s way of expressing “Yes, I have blue boots too. Maybe the meaning got lost in translation.”


I take a deep breath. “Please leave me alone.” I don’t beg or bark. The vibe emanating from the man isn’t scary so much as creepy and confused.

He grows silent. His stare follows me as I walk to the studio. I huddle by the door. I jiggle the handle. Locked. The man shambles down the street, stopping every few steps to look my way. I tie my hair up in a ponytail, careful not to be too shampoo commercial about it lest the man interpret my swinging hair as an invitation.

Jason pedals up the sidewalk and executes a suave moving dismount in front of the door. “Been waiting long?”

The man looks back once more before he turns the corner, his blanket dragging behind him like a tail.