I was over at Herb Parker’s house to watch an NFL game and have some drinks. Right after I arrived Herb emerged from the kitchen and empathically placed a fifth of whiskey on the coffee table. Then he went back to the kitchen to fetch a couple of glasses. We turned the game on and drank. There was no drinking game, none of this take a drink every time someone says such and so. We just poured and drank, poured and drank.
I was 23 and Herb a few years older. We were writers on the staff of an alternative newspaper. He was a highly intelligent man who was widely respected. Herb also had a reputation as a drunk and as someone who smoked weed like it was tobacco. I thought Herb was cool and was flattered that he took a shine to me. His invitation to join him for whiskey and football swelled me with pride. Now we were sitting there as equals swallowing glass after glass of Wild Turkey. We were also alternately chain smoking cigarettes and weed.
There was some attention paid to the game but mostly we talked about writing and women and politics and philosophy. If we’d been sober for all or most of it, it would have been a heady conversation. Herb didn’t bullshit. he had a sense of humor, yes, but there was no silliness, no games, no sarcasm in his talk. Whatever you talked about with Herb was treated seriously, even if you were stewed to the gills. Herb had assumed a quasi mentorship role with me. I was a prolific and popular reporter and he was forever giving me advice, most of it quite good. He also set an example of alcohol intake and drug use that added further fuel to my burning desire to get high.
It was a cold dreary day. Herb lived on a quiet street. There were no external sounds. All one could hear was the television and us talking. There was an eeriness to it. Like we were the only two people for miles and we were discussing the fate of mankind. Herb shared the house with his girlfriend and another chap, both of whom were out of town. I was juggling several women and feeling a commitment to none. I was a bit of a cad. You can scratch the bit of part. In any event I was unfailingly happy.
The game ended with whatever team we were rooting for having lost. It was of no great concern to us. But what was of concern was that the whiskey bottle was empty. We remedied that by drinking the few beers in the fridge. That took no time at all. There was no question but that the drinking had to continue and soon. We were two young men at the top of our game in terms of drinking. We got in Herb’s car. He backed out of the driveway and onto the front lawn. In a second effort my companion over compensated and scraped the fence on the other side of the driveway. The third time was indeed a charm and we got the car out of the driveway though he nicked another car in the process. Herb said nothing about his mishaps and neither did I. It was none of my business. Then he hit a tree and then a lamppost. I felt some mild impatience that the initial stage of our trip was taking so long, but I was not at all concerned about us making our destination, which was, of course, a bar.
The car jerked a few times and stopped and I bounced around a bit but eventually Herb seemed to get the handle of it and the rest of our drive went off without a hitch. We entered a bar and ordered drinks. Our conversation continued although it was significantly more disjointed and incoherent. I finally thought to look around and noted that this was not a college bar but one frequented by town’s people, many of middle age. Herb did not like college bars, he liked bars for serious drinking.
Nonetheless I eventually espied two women who were about our age. They were sitting at a table accompanied only by a couple of beers. Herb reluctantly acquiesced to my suggestion that we pay these young ladies a call. We sat at their table without invitation. Up close I realized they were probably in their mid to late 30s. Like us they’d “had a few” before coming to the bar and were glad for our company. I turned on the charm as best I could given my condition. The women were no great beauties — they were working class girls — but had clean handsome features, ample bosoms and gave off an air of practiced sexuality. These were no coy virgins.
We chatted and laughed for about 15 minutes before coming to the consensus that a good meal was in order and that we should enjoy it together. We discussed local eateries before one of the women, (I’ve never remembered her name) finally offered to cook at her place, which was just around the corner. This had been easy. I liked easy. I liked a challenge. I liked women however they came to me.
The woman’s fridge and cabinets were well stocked with all manner of booze so the drinking continued unabated while dinner was being prepared. Herb had paired off with the cook so he helped her in the kitchen while me and — I want to say Margaret — reclined on the sofa. It was only a matter of minutes before we were passionately necking and my hands had gained full access to the treasures that were beneath her clothing. It was Margaret who suggested that it would be better to make love now rather than to try on a full stomach later. I concurred. We found a spare bedroom, disrobed completely and proceeded to screw. I’d known Margaret for about an hour. There’d been no talk of mutual attraction, no flirting to speak of, no clues or hints or suggestions that we’d wind up kissing, let alone making love. It was all so matter of fact. Not even spontaneous, more like we were fulfilling a prescribed action.
We finished our coupling right about the time Herb bellowed from the kitchen that dinner was ready.
It was a huge meal though I can’t remember what it consisted of. I do recall that it was delicious and the food was copious. Upon its completion we repaired to the living room for after dinner drinks. We’d been enjoying them for about half an hour and I was anxious for another bout with Margaret when the phone rang. The other woman took the call in the kitchen. She emerged after a few minutes and announced that her and Margaret’s husbands were coming home early from their hunting trip and in the interest of our health, Herb and I should scram.
It was only then that I noticed Margaret’s wedding ring and that the decor of the house suggested a man lived there. Indeed the other woman said her son was with hubby and her daughter was over at a friend’s house. I don’t know if Margaret had children or not, I hoped I hadn’t added to her brood.
Stunned but sated Herb and I stumbled out the door and, forgetting where his car was, walked to our respective homes.
The next day I saw Herb at the newspaper office. He admitted to having a bit of hangover. So did I.
“Fun day yesterday, wasn’t it?” I asked.
“I’ve had worse,” he replied laconically.
I went back to my desk feeling like I had life by the balls.