Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teetotal Recall

So, I'm thinking about quitting drinking. Yes, you heard me right - after more than a quarter century of imbibing with reckless abandon, America's favorite lush is considering getting sober.

I had my first drink when I was 11. Of course, it was Manischewitz. I grabbed a discarded bottle from the trash after Rosh Hashana. It tasted like grape juice, except it made me feel better than anything Ocean Spray could ever serve up. I wanted more.

In Junior High, I raided the liquor cabinets of the single mothers of the friends who were dumb enough to let me sleep over. In High School, I convinced the panhandling bums who hung out in front of Circle K to buy me Mad Dog and Mickey's Big Mouth for a slight surcharge. In college, I used the ID of a light-skinned 48 year-old black man to drink more alcohol than every character in Mad Men. Sure, I smoked pot and took pills and did psychedelics, but none of them stuck. It was booze that treated me right. My liquor love affair was cemented.

Until I turned 25, booze and I had a great relationship. We'd spend our days and nights together. We'd enjoy every moment we had, alone and with friends. It was a match made in heaven. In the morning, I never regretted a thing (after a little Gatorade and a few Tylenols). Yeah, there were some hook-ups with unsavory ladies. Yeah, there were the occasional brawls where I was left bloody and broken. Yeah, there were the times I'd pass out and get magic markered by my friends. Still, the hooch and I got along just fine.

After 25 though, things things started to change.

First, I got a DUI. You know the worst thing about a DUI? It's not the fines or the alcohol classes or the community service or the prison time. No, it's the fact that you can't drink and drive. Oh, how I used to love drunk driving. Nothing was better than being ripped, rolling down the highway, and following those squiggly little lines in the middle of the road. Well, that's over and done with. Now, anytime I want to drink and drive, I have to think twice. If I go out, I have to convince someone to drive me or, even worse, I have to find a cab. Not fun.

Next, they made it illegal to smoke in bars. Shit, that's what bars are about - drinking and smoking. They go together like liver cirrhosis and lung cancer. Bars minus smoking equals a horrible time. Plus, without the savory scent of smoke, every bar smells like farts and body odor. Again, not fun.

Then, my body fell apart.

At about 30, my bowels got irritable and my liver got sensitive. It became a chore just to put down a liter of whiskey or two. Acid reflux reared its ugly head with every sip I took. Heartburn became my new chaser. Nausea became my new euphoria. And the hangovers...

They say there's this gene that causes some Jewish people to have worse hangovers than goyim. I thought I didn't have that gene, but I realized I was wrong, very wrong. My hangovers are wicked. Fatigue and migraines and depression and gas and sharting. When I'm hungover, I'm like a mental patient that just ate Mexican food. I'm angry, I'm irrational, and I defecate everywhere. Worse, It takes me days and days to recover from my hangovers. Then, as soon as I'm recovered, I'm back to drinking, which causes my next marathon hangover.

Recently, I created rules to lessen the pain of partaking. I don't drink before sundown and I don't drink on school nights. Sounds smart, huh? Well, following the rules, I get drunker on weekends and I stay out later than ever. No help. Plus, I haven't seen a non-hungover weekend day in years. Is drinking becoming more work than it's worth?

What would life be like as a teetotaler? Well, I assume it would be a lot easier. My mornings would be glorious, birds chirping and sun shining. No more leaning over the toilet for an hour followed by sitting on the toilet for another hour. No more wishing I was dead. No more cravings for KFC and Alka-Seltzer.

I wouldn't have to apologize to anybody for being an asshole. I wouldn't have to resolve ridiculous fights with my wife. I wouldn't have random scrapes or bruises or burns on my body. I'd open my wallet and there'd actually be money in there from the night before. I could give that money to charity, or at least spend it on porn. My mind would be clear. I could read the classics. I could finish my novel. I could learn guitar. I could contribute to society, or at least watch more porn. Man, it sounds great, huh?

Hold on there, bub! There's another side to this story, though.

If I didn't drink, I'd never be drunk. I'd never have that sweet sense of sweetness that only a buzz can provide. I'd never have those warm moments where nothing matters other than peeing and ordering another drink. I'd never have those drawn out conversations that only make sense when you're under the influence (zen and the art of bukakke, Small Wonder vs. Robocop, etc.). I'd never have those uncontrollable urges to act on really ridiculous ideas like vandalizing a cop car or throwing ice at a gang member or joining The National Guard.

I'd have to go to places I hate without alcohol to make them better. I'd have to talk to people I hate without alcohol to make them more bearable. There's nothing worse than drunk people when you're sober, so I'd probably never go out. Then, I'd never have stories of senseless fights or of being overly surly or of sharting. I wouldn't be able to write this blog.

Fuck, just thinking about life without alcohol makes me want to have a drink. Who am I kidding? I can't quit drinking. There's too much to love about it. Sure, it's tough on your body and it makes you act like an idiot and and it's expensive. And sure it hurts the next day and it makes you tired all week and it causes numerous problems with your close relationships. That's not as much of a problem as being a loser who has no fun. Life hands us choices and I choose booze. Long live you, my old friend liquor!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hair of The Mug

It's that time of the year again, the glorious month where I grow my Octobeard.

Usually, when I grow a beard, it's a very organized process. I plan and I trim and I shape. I use Just for Men Beard Formula to get rid of what I call the Miller Half Moon (the gray inverted arch that grows on the bottom of my chin, making me look like Dennis Miller). I brush out the knots and I even out the length. All of this work results in a beautifully designed beard, sort of like James Brolin's.

When I grow an Octobeard, on the other hand, I do nothing. I leave my beard unkempt and wiry and gray. I let it blossom like an unencumbered weed. Eventually, I start looking like Rick Rubin or Zach Galifianakis.

Why, you may ask, do I grow the Octobeard? First, I want Winter to know that I'm not afraid of it -- if the weather gets unseasonably cold, I'll have an extra layer of fur to protect my mug. Second, I have to be prepared in case I decide on a Halloween costume that requires facial hair -- if I want to be Serpico or Mr. Whipple or Captain Lou Albano, I won't have to use that synthetic shit. And third, I grow the Octobeard because I can!

Facial hair is the one thing men have that women don't (other than penises, prostates, testicles, chest hair, and an appreciation for Maxim Magazine). Sure, some women, mostly of Israeli, Italian, or Middle Eastern decent, have facial hair. They are, however, encouraged to get rid of it (by the way, I recommend waxing over bleaching any day - nobody wants to kiss a hairy lip, even if it is blond). And, no woman (except maybe some circus freaks or morbidly obese senior citizens) has facial hair to the extent that men do.

So, we cherish our facial hair. We embrace it. We experiment with it. I've had a mustache, a goatee, a vandyke, a soul patch, and mutton chops, and that was just last month. Facial hair allows us to assert our individuality and it allows us to look ridiculous. Those are two things men love.

To some, having facial hair defines them. What would ZZ Top be without their beards? What would Scott Ian be without his billy goatee? What would John Oates be without his mustache? No hippie worth his weight in weed would be caught without some sort of beard. Suburban dads who worship MMA fighters usually favor the close cut goatee. Mustaches are the staple of cops, cowboys, and queers.

If you're not a cop, a cowboy, or a queer, mustaches are funny (unless it's an ironic mustache which has been played out by hipsters from Williamsburg). Offering mustache rides is ALWAYS funny. Y'know what else is funny - guys that don't have any hair on their head that make up for it on their face. They look like they're upside down. I also enjoy laughing at guys who can't grow facial hair. They ARE less male. They're the same guys that don't have chest hair or an adam's apple. Sad, but also funny!

In addition to being the butt of endless jokes, facial hair can be very useful. It can cover up zits and moles and pock marks. In my humble opinion, Bill Murray should have as much facial hair as he can find. If one had a cleft lip as a child, facial hair can cover that up too, just like Stacy Keach. Strangely though, Joaquin Phoenix has chosen to let his cleft lip exist naked. Not a good move. Facial hair can also eliminate the need for such commonplace nuisances as face washing, nose hair trimming, and tanning.

Good facial hair is hard to come by. I once got into a fight for admiring a dude's facial hair at a bar. He thought I was clowning him. I wasn't. I admire lots of men for their facial hair: Kenny Rogers, Burt Reynolds, George Michael, Abe Lincoln, and even Adolf Hitler. The Hitler mustache is on its way back. Sure it's got some PR problems, but if you call it The Chaplin, you can rock that shit hard!

Good facial hair is also found on the non-famous. This guy is sporting the half beard. Nice! I'd like to popularize cheek polkadots or the underbeard. I'd also like to shave everything off, then grow it all back, dye it orange, and become Alf. Alf knew how to wear his facial hair. Some people don't.

A facial offender is a guy who wears his facial hair in such a wrong way that he should be stripped of the privilege of growing facial hair. Aging hipsters that sport the soul patch are facial offenders. Tools with Backstreet Beards (beards favored by The Backstreet Boys) are facial offenders.

The Amish are facial offenders. They have no style, so don't try to look like them. That means you, James Hettfield! Wearers of the business beard are facial offenders. If it looks good at work, it should be shaved. Anybody with a Todd Palin goatee is a facial offender. Tight goatees are to the nineties what mustaches are to the eighties. They're relics of a bygone era that should not be brought back until they can be ironic.

I, fortunately, am not a facial offender. Also fortunately, my wife likes me to have stubble at all times. Essentially, I'm always one step away from growing facial hair. How sweet is that? Now, I just have to get creative and one day, I may make it into The Facial Hair Society. Dare to dream!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Clubbed Over The Head

The other night, I was tricked into going to a nightclub. The wife and I were having a quiet dinner when she received a text. Seconds later, she looked up from her little phone and said, "Hey, Sandy's gonna be at 24K. Wanna go say hi?" Whenever we "go say hi", it never turns out good. If we were meant to go to a club, we would have planned on it. We wouldn't have planned on it because I don't go to clubs.

There are so many reasons I don't go to clubs. First, I'm 36. Second, I hate techno, house, drum and bass, and any other music foreigners dance to. Third, I don't dance. Fourth, I don't believe in paying a surcharge to be surrounded by people I don't like. Fifth, and foremost, I'm married and I don't have to subject myself to the aforementioned crap to get laid.

Clubs are the scourge of humanity. They're gathering points for assholes of all kinds. Trendy assholes and musclehead assholes and bridge and tunnel assholes and cokehead assholes and Middle Eastern assholes. Assholes love clubs! They work their shitty jobs all week (usually waiting tables, selling mortgages, or managing rental car counters), then they waste all their money on party drugs, ugly designer clothes, garish jewelery, and malodorous perfumes so they can shine at the club.

There's a hierarchy at nightclubs not based on merit, but based on cheesiness for men and hoochieness for women. If you're a guy and you wear sunglasses at night, you have facial hair shaved into a thin line from ear to chin to ear, and you bob your head at the first sound of an electronic beat, you'll be treated like royalty. If you're a chick and you wear undergarments that are intentionally visible to anyone with eyes, you have abnormally large fake breasts that you're not afraid to expose, and you flirt with cheesy guys at the first sound of an electronic beat, you too will be treated like royalty. I, however, do not get treated like royalty.

I cringe when the drinks are $15 and I take offense when the waitstaff scoffs at me for not getting bottle service. Bottle service is ridiculous with a capital diculous. Shit! You pay $400 for a $30 bottle of alcohol so you can sit down. I realize it makes you look rich, but if you really were rich, you'd spend your money on more practical things, like stocks (just kidding).

Anyway, the wife and I finished dinner and went to the club (yeah, I wear the pants in the family). 24K is supposedly the hippest club in Denver. Isn't that an oxymoron? Nothing in Denver is hip. I love that these days, there are hip venues in shitty places like Des Moines, Dubuque, Butte, Albuquerque, and Denver. Small cow towns should stick to country bars and dive bars. That's what they do best. Regardless, 24K has all the trappings of a hip bar in a real city, including the velvet rope. There, a large bouncer ID'd and questioned me. I guess being old at a club is the equivalent of being a terrorist at the airport.

Because my wife is hot and looks young, she was able to vouch for me. When we got in, Sandy was at a table with a bunch of basketball players. I have no idea why small towns lionize professional athletes. They're freakish and dumb. I'm short and I don't like sports. So, I can't stand professional athletes. The players were obviously happy to have my wife join them at the table and have her sip from their bottle. I, on the other hand, had to go to the bar. Since I didn't want to buy two $15 drinks, I was fine with that.

After about a half hour of waiting for my drink, I returned to the table and saw the wife and her friend having a grand old time. It seems as if Sandy also texted some other thirtysomething women to come "say hi!". To her delight, they all showed up. Thirtysomething women love to dance. I have no idea why, but it's their thing. Within minutes, they were doing what looked like a tribal menstrual ritual. I had a strange feeling I wouldn't be leaving anytime soon.

So, I stood in the corner and sulked. I already had a headache from the thumping bass and I was claustrophobic from being packed in like a sardine. Every once in a while, I would glance over at the wife to see if maybe she was ready to go anytime soon. She wasn't. If I asked her to leave, she would call me lame, boring, and old. Yes, I am all of those things, but I can't be called that by the woman I love.

Next thing you know, a cologne soaked body came flying at me, knocking my $15 drink to the ground. It was an Armani-clad jackass who got a little too into his dancing to see me standing there. He was about 23, right around that age where you think the world owes you something and you haven't yet realized that your life will suck once your parents stop helping you out. I said, "I hope you're gonna get me another one." He said, "Fuck you, old man! I'd kick your ass right here if it wouldn't get me kicked out. That would really suck. This place is awesome!"

He sauntered away and I was ready to explode when all of a sudden something occurred to me. This little fucker had the key to me getting home without looking lame, boring, or old to my wife. I would get kicked out.

I grabbed a couple of drinks from people that weren't looking. I walked right in front of the enormous bouncer and started to dance like I actually liked that bullshit music. My hands were moving and the drinks were splashing. Clubbing fools hate getting splashed on and soon, there was a major commotion. The bouncer grabbed me like a ragdoll and dragged me toward the door.

The wife and her friends saw me being carried out. I screamed, "I'm not lame, boring, or old! I'm just a bad dancer! See you at home, honey!" Ten minutes later, I was back at my house with no techno, no douchebags, a bottle of liquor that didn't cost $400, AND internet porn. Next time, I'll think twice before agreeing to "go say hi" to one of the wife's friends.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Iron Mike's Halloween Costume Ideas

Being in a mixed marriage (she's a Catholic and I'm a Jew, which makes us a Cashew), the wife and I don't really celebrate religious holidays. We do however, celebrate nonsensical holidays based on paganism, commercialism, and alcoholism. That's why we wholeheartedly embrace Halloween.

Each year, we transform The Iron Mike Compound into a bacchanalian den of iniquity, where aging revelers can let loose and pretend that they're still able to imbibe like they once could. There are three requirements for attending our frightful fiesta. You must leave all children at home, you must bring top shelf booze (don't think I won't notice), and you must wear a good costume. We're non-negotiable on that last one.

I stand at the front door with three large Mexicans and evaluate the garb of the arriving guests. If I see anything trite or stupid or lame or boring, I'll direct my Vatos to eject the wearer instantly. It's not that I want to be elitist about who attends my party, it's just that I believe that Halloween has become littered with too many uninspired costumes. I'm over chicks dressed as naughty nurses or naughty schoolgirls or naughty nuns. And I'm over dudes dressed as anything related to Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, or any other member of The Frat Pack (and I don't want to see Apatow Crew outfits either).

My guests have got to get creative with their costumes. I realize that reality television and the internets have fried our brains. Still, you can come up with something that doesn't make it look like you're going to a VFW masquerade ball. I'm a master Halloween outfitter. So, I've decided to help out with Iron Mike's Halloween Costume Ideas:

Right now is a great time to go political. The obvious choices would be our beloved Palins - Sarah (stupid frameless glasses, annoying pageant hair, Dress Barn suit, Midwestern accent (even though she's from Alaska?!?)) and Todd (spotty nineties goatee, T-shirt that says "First Dude", Wal-Mart flannel, blank stare, retarded child).

Of course, there are more creative Palin-related costumes. You could be Bristol before she was pregnant (hoochie outfit, sex toys, spread legs, loose morals, unused condoms). You could also be Levi Johnston, the kid who just wanted to get laid and ended up stuck at the RNC against his will (chewing gum, American flag pin, bewildered gaze). You might also try one of the actors in Nailin' Palin, Hustler's newest porn film.

And how about Hockey Mom or Joe Six Pack? I have no idea who these people are, but I hear an awful lot about them. Growing up in Miami, we didn't have hockey. However, I can assume Hockey Mom is probably one of those frigid, god-fearing bitches who drives a Buick, wears Mom Jeans, and hangs out at Hobby Lobby. I can also assume that I HATE Joe Six Pack. In my mind, he's the asshole who drove a Camaro, listened to Stryper, and urinated on me after kicking my ass. Where do Hockey Mom and Joe Six Pack live? You guessed it - Main Street. Bring these two inanimate characters to life and you will be the life of the party.

There are other political options. Do the Obama Black Face thing. Nothing is funnier than being racist about one of the most important African Americans of our time. You could also mock John McCain's age by sporting dementia, Depends, a walker, and an AARP membership card. That'll show those evil Republicans!

Elsewhere, the financial meltdown can provide some excellent ideas -- Lehman Brothers Employee (disheveled suit, useless resume in hand, noose around the neck) or Homeless Mother (five kids, Carl's Jr. uniform, foreclosure notice on $900,000 house) or Sad Guy on Trading Floor (choose from any of these looks).

Then there's pop culture -- Amy Winehouse at 4:00 AM (rotten teeth, hair lice, emaciated frame, crystal meth), OJ Simpson after a few weeks in jail (prison bitch clothing and makeup, bloody anus), Clay Aiken on the prowl (leather chaps, Astroglide, provocative photo of Doogie Howser), Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson performing 2 Girls 1 Cup.

Some other ideas just defy categorization. Click on the links to find out more -- Mayor Mel Kuhn as Smellishis Poon, The 14 Year-Old Sumo Girl, A Man Who Loves Cats, A Monkey Waiter, The Chef From The Cum Omlette Video, The Japanese Toilet Guy, The Repliee R-1 Robot, The Models From This Shampoo Ad.

You get the picture. It's not that hard to come up with a sweet costume. If you use my suggestions or if you come up with something that rivals them, you'll be granted entrance into the Iron Mike Compound. If not, you can just sit home dressed as Borat or Britney Spears or Austin Powers and watch Two and a Half Men or Samantha Who. It's your choice.