Last week the city sent out census confirmation forms on which both my wife and I were listed as "students." This is incorrect. She has an actual job-job with health insurance and an employee cafeteria and unlimited Post-It access and the whole deal. I am less traditionally employed, but even though I conduct rigorous peer-reviewed pot pie studies, I am not affiliated with a formal academic institution.
This weekend my wife and I spent an inordinate amount of time discussing denial. It's a tricky business, because admitting to denial tends to undercut the operation, and what a very important operation it can be. For instance, we live in Boston, where the temperature's been 100 degrees below zero every second for the past two months.
I got a flu shot the other day, even though I am a paragon of health and I have very little contact with the short and sneezy subset of humanity that spreads disease via finger paint snot art and sociopathic disregard for personal space. I got flu-proofed the other day because Bottom Shelf research director Emily told me to, and I do what I'm told when all it requires is a 5-minute pit stop on the way to the ham store.
This weekend Bottom Shelf research director Emily and I are going to Original Portland to drink great beer and pretend not to notice how cold it is, because that's the deal you make with yourself when you go to Maine in January.
Now that the longest week of January is behind us—the annual seven-day period when we try in vain to recover false memories of hobbies that don't involve heavy cream or deficit spending—I finally have the courage to contemplate what is shaping up to be a mostly dry month. I've never spent January on (or even anywhere near) the wagon, but in a concession to the ravages of time and rum, I've decided that this year I need to do some serious physical restoration before the February mayhem rolls around.
A reminder of the worst things I drank for the first and last time over the past 12 months.
New Year's Day is my favorite holiday. I really like New Year's Eve, too, but by the last day of December I'm pretty well burnt out on bourbon and cheese and jeez, listen to me, I guess the will to live too? But you know what I'm saying. December's great but it can grind a body down.
It was a pretty fair year here on the Bottom Shelf. As I looked through the archives, I found far more (relative) hits than misses. This could be because I burned through most of the truly disgusting novelty stuff in 2011, and it could be because my tongue has been slapped so silly by this job that I can no longer tell right from wrong. But let's say it's because cheap liquor quality is trending upward. At any rate, these are some of my fondest memories of another year trolling the depths.
We bottom-shelfers don't choose this path because we lack the means or sophistication to aim higher, but rather because we appreciate the subtle beauty of the more accessible liquors. It's easy to derive pleasure from vintage Champagnes, trophy bourbons, and extra-virgin IPAs. If you want to give your bottom-shelfer a gift he'll enjoy, go right ahead with the magnum of Double Imperial Pappy Van Krug. Everyone with a tongue likes that stuff. But if you want to give a bottom-shelfer something that says you understand and respect his world view, that you realize he has not just a tongue but also a heart and maybe even a soul, you might consider these options.
I could have gotten drunk Sunday night. The party was at the office, which is where I keep my bed, my toothbrush, and my wife, so I didn't have to drive. And once I was done presenting Bottom Shelf research director Emily with her third consecutive Employee of the Year trophy, I had no formal obligations.
Last Friday Bottom Shelf research coordinator Emily and I kicked off the holiday party season with our annual two-person celebration of Larry Bird's birthday. We ate deviled eggs and sausaged chicken and drank all manner of fowl-themed things, including Old Crow, Eagle Rare, and Bluebird Bitter.
I have recently married a good woman, which I may have mentioned in this space once or twice or constantly. I am very glad to be married, because when I was single my life was fine but not fair. Do you know how many times a sexy ballerina-chemist said unto single me, "Damn baby, how do you get your soup so simultaneously silky and chunky? And how do you find time to count out individual grains of cumin, as you surely must to achieve such perfect balance? I am sexily disappointed that you can't give me the recipes on account of each soup is a non-replicable batch of sui generis genius." Zero times. (No one says sui generis in real life, you see.) You know how many times my car was towed in those dark days? Once, possibly twice. Either way, in an infinitely unfavorable ratio to the ballerina-chemist-cumanist interaction.
Despite the gains made by craft beer, American brewing is still overwhelmingly a Big Yellow racket, with Anheuser-Busch controlling just under 50 percent of the domestic beer market; Bud Light is America's favorite beer by a double-wide margin, and regular Bud is in second place. But the biggest boys are well aware that the growth is coming from the top of the quality ladder, which is why A-B has just introduced a new line called Budweiser Project 12, which aims to replicate honest-to-goodness craft-quality beer.
I still don't know why anyone would put mayonnaise on anything that could be better served by mustard or sour cream—which is to say, everything—but I finally realize that I don't have to know why. I just have to keep asking my sandwich handlers to please skip the mayo, with the understanding that they will listen to me maybe a third of the time. And the other two thirds of the time, lunch still gets eaten and the show still marches on.
Last month Bottom Shelf research director Emily and I took our honeymoon to San Juan. It was the best week of my very good life, and I can't wait to go back. Although my next view of Puerto Rico won't have the benefit of newlywed-colored glasses, I'm sure I'll still love it, because I'll still be with my gorgeous wife and without my hideous laptop.
It brings Bottom Shelf research director Emily and me great pleasure to invite you all over for Thanksgiving dinner. The seating plan is still a bit up in the air, as our eating table has only nine square feet and two chairs, but we can repurpose the bedside tables back into bar stools and the bed back into a bar, plus we can take turns sitting, and a few of you will flake anyway; this will work.
I got married for the normal and noble reasons that Bottom Shelf research director Emily is very pretty and has good employer-provided health insurance, plus my luscious head of hair isn't going to last forever so let's not kid ourselves about my options down the road. Proposing to Emily in January was the best decision I ever made, which means quite a little bit coming from the man who invented the Slim Jim-studded hamburger: I know from good decisions.
I work as a weekend door schlub at a bar near a fancy college, which means every year I spend the Saturday before Halloween reminding the world's smartest morons that their masks do not make them invisible so they still need to follow the standard rules regarding where to pee and whom to touch. And yes, cash only, even though you have a furry purple cape (we get a lot of King Fridays).
I hate listening to people complain about how busy they are, so I've come to you not to whine about my increased busyness but merely to acknowledge it. After a decade of barely fettered leisure I've recently found myself with a full day's worth of chores to do every day, even on the days when there is a "Law and Order" marathon or unseasonable warmth and including one ghastly day in September when my ankle hurt and we were out of Advil and cyanide capsules.
I'm writing this as a single man drinking tea on a cold, rainy day in Massachusetts, but by the time you read it I'll be a married man drinking rum on a hot, rainy day in Puerto Rico; such are the wonders of airplanes and calendars.