The tall Russian gentlemen carried on his conversation with a petite grad-school aged gal next to the bar. The bar being a fold out table covered with a blanket covered with every possible version of vodka sold in the Twin Cities... or just the MGM liquor down the block in Roseville. Still standing in St. Paul proper, in Dr. Wylie's basement, awaiting the ball to drop to ring in 2012, another grad-school gal took it upon herself to approach the man-made bar and without hesitation grab one of the variations of vodka and take it to the neck. Where I'm from when we say “take it to the neck” we mean “straight no chaser”, “drank it straight from the bottle”, “took a pull”. Different cities support different jargon, but for my sake you should start getting used to hearing “take it to the neck”.
There was something sexy about it. When a woman with a clear conscience and sober composure takes a straight pull from a bottle of vodka at 10pm on New Year's Eve there's nothing not sexy about it. Although I'm a little shy to admit it, I have an affinity for firestarters and people that don't wait to be told what to do- people that just go. She held the bottle high with one hand around the neck of it. For what seemed like a full minute, while in reality was more likely a few seconds, I swear she looked at me and winked as if to say “Tonight we burn this business to the ground and party like it never mattered anyway”. Whatever “it” was, it would not be acknowledged this evening- be it mortality, feelings, or the entirety of 2011.
Several conversations, one drink, and half-a-dozen songs later I found myself peering over at the bar again. The large Russian gentlemen was not bartending any longer, he'd been replaced by a woman decked out in New Year's Eve attire- attire you'd wrap yourself in to make dress code for an upper-echelon nightclub. The same grad-school gal that took the pull a half hour ago returned to the bar again. Evading conversation with the woman running the bar, she struck again... grabbing another obscure bottle of vodka from the table, tilting her head back and smiling as she put it down. This time she glanced cross the room, held a quick conversation with the woman at the bar and pranced off into the party.
Something glowed about her, something infallible. Putting on these displays of immunity to vodka was perhaps practice for her- practice that if the longest pull of hard liquor can't affect her, then nothing can. No substance, no man, no rules, no law. There lie the attraction, emanating from her tolerance for alcohol I assumed she could tolerate anything. King Kong, the Cloverfield Monster, and Godzilla... as they say “ain't got shit on her”.
Limitations are everywhere, more so in our minds than anywhere else. The power is in walking thru them legitimately. Taking them down in a manner that we can progress past them with a stride that we hope will lead us in the right direction. The flip to this is taking the limitations to heart, simply flashing our fangs at them to strike fear into the exact apparatus that scares the shit out of us. It's tough. I'd always give a Clint Eastwood eye squint at the 10 hurdles ahead of me just before any 110m high hurdle race... in the end it was the conditioning, muscle memory, technique, and absolute disregard for anything else going on at the moment but the race to accomplish my fastest times. The Clint Eastwood eye squint never changed anything, it was the respect for the hurdles that manipulated the race. Respect your boundaries, challenges, hurdles, opponents, etc... and you'll never find it easier to walk through them. In some cases, simply respecting the limits is all it takes to make them vanish.
Again in the treacherous basement of Dr. Wylie; we drink, we dance, we ring in the new year with champagne & dubstep... and again, the grad-school damsel returns to the bar. Her stride, this time, slightly off balance and rhythm. She grabs the tallest bottle, takes it to the neck hard. This time she holds the pull for longer than the last two... combined. Spitting in the face of her tolerance for vodka several times over finally resulted in the vodka spitting back... hot flaming fire. She sets the bottle down, wobbles to a chair in the back of the room, and sits down.
Lost in the fray, I ventured upstairs to sing a few show tunes with Linden at the piano; we rap, we sing, we laugh. Knowing a few covers by simply hearing them on the piano can never be a bad thing. It's been scientifically proven that when people sing together, a chemical in the brain is released that creates a feeling of trust. Bonding with strangers at a new year's party can never be a bad thing, however neither is dancing. To the basement we go...
Turning the corner from the kitchen to the staircase, there she was... grad-school girl. Sitting sideways on the staircase, crying into her hands, a guy knelt next to her struggling to console the intoxication. Her cries got louder as I descended the stairs.
The equation was simple and she lost. A sad sight of basic math with fiery intent and drunkeness. I wonder if at the first pull of the vodka that this was in her plan... nasmudgery of make-up.
Earlier this week, the Vikings turned in one of the worst seasons in franchise history, The Blend played it's final show in Minneapolis before departing for Los Angeles, Alistair Overeem beat Brock Lesnar into retirement, and now grad-school gal's crying in a heap of alcohol fueled frustration. This year will surely be the end of a few things. I hope one of them to be the failure to understand that passing our walls and limitations takes respect. Failure to do so will result in the limitation getting the best of us.