This past weekend was one of my favorite yearly rituals: Falling back. As much as it means I’ve only just begun to hear how much my wife hates the temperature—and thus, life—I actually really enjoy wintertime. The cold air, seeing your breath, huddling for warmth when the oil runs out, and so on. Jackets, hats, gloves, cold cars in the morning. It’s not pleasant, but I’ll take it over that drowning feeling I keep getting while doing something so ridiculous as breathing the humid air of a Jersey summer.

Yes, I know winter doesn’t begin until the solstice, and that’s wonderful, but it was dark early today, so give me a break on the technicalities. In the past, I’ve stayed up to watch the hour change (or at least to be awake to change the clocks as it happens). It’s a silly thing, but they’ve made holidays about much worse. I’ve always enjoyed it.

Saturday night found me in Connecticut and drunk as a skunk. I didn’t make it to 3 a.m., I didn’t make it to 2 a.m. I’m pretty sure I was out by midnight. Family occasions. What the hell is a boy to do?

It was a combined birthday party for my wife’s grandmother and our little niece, who turned three. I don’t do well with that kind of stuff anyway—people, in rooms, talking; yuck—but when in the midst of happy-fun-time roughhousing with the little one, we knocked a water glass off the table and broke it on the floor, all bets were off. I hadn’t planned on a beer marathon, but I guess one planned on me.

I should explain: My wife’s grandmother, who hosted the party in her home, is oldschool Connecticut. White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. For example, at one point as the child was squealing in delight, as children occasionally do, she shushed her. She’s a nice lady and she’s been very good to me over the years, but she likes her tea at tea time and she’s not shy in conveying disapproval.

The broken glass I thought would be a heart attack, and had she been born with laser eyes, indeed I would’ve been chopped in half à la some alternate reality beardo Darth Maul. Luckily for me, that’s not how it played out, but I knew immediately I’d hear about that broken glass—in casual, tossed off mentions as though it wasn’t something that ever came to mind but oh here it is all of a sudden—for probably the next five years minimum.

So the obvious choice, then, was beer.

There’s a foolish nihilism that creeps its way into situations like this, and coupled with the general social discomfort I’m feeling anyway and my own inability to, I don’t know, actually be a human being, well, off I go. And off I went. I didn’t embarrass myself (further), tried my best not to be unpleasant, but I got loaded and as a result, missed the extra hour that on so many other years I’ve enjoyed being awake for. This is the part where I usually quote Orange Goblin, so I will here too: “Some you win, some you lose.”

And you know, you can say it’s just a broken glass, but that’s the kind of shit that haunts you in a familial situation. And you can say it’s just one night, and that I’ll catch the falling back next year, but how the hell do I know that? I spend so many days each week feeling like I don’t ever have enough time, and that’s how I waste the hours I’m given. I think I might be getting too old for this shit, and as far as clues go, the devastating hangover I woke up with Sunday morning was a pretty big, pretty loud one. Pounding, in fact.

Sitting out the next few rounds,

JJ Koczan

jj@theaquarian.com

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