After a disastrous encounter in my freshman year of University with a bottle of vodka, I wisely decided that hard liquor was not for me. Painfully recovering from that lost weekend, I vowed to only drink beer or wine from that moment on, and things were pretty much sane for quite a few years after that.
When I lived in New York, I started hanging out with a group of people who drank Martinis. And not vodka Martinis mind you, but a real Martini, made with Gin.
Given their potency, relatively low calorie count, and all around cool factor, Martinis quickly became the libation of choice for my girlfriend and I.
For some strange reason though, it was totally lost on me that these drinks were almost pure alcohol. In case you don't already know, the components of a good Martini are:
A Martini should be dry and somewhat stringent when it hits your mouth - that's the purpose of the Gin.
A ratio of three parts Gin to one part Vermouth is generally accepted, although some folks like to push the limit, approaching five or even six parts Gin to one part Vermouth.
If you are drinking your martinis with lemons, make sure that the peel is broken and rubbed against the inside of the glass. With olives it doesn't really matter since they are more decorative; just dump a couple in the drink, knock it back and you're on your way!
Probably the dumbest thing that I ever did while under the influence of alcohol was to break - and I mean totally fuck up - my left arm.
At the time I was living in a classic Lower East Side tenement building. The landlady and I had a very acrimonious relationship, primarily because I was not her kind of tenant.
She liked to rent to recent immigrants, and in spite of being Chinese she simply had this thing for fucking over her own people.
When I first moved in she was fond of renting a single flat - the same size space my cat Sam and I shared - to twenty or so people, charging them outrageous amounts of money and refusing (illegally, I might add) to give them a lease.
She wasn't really interested in maintaining the property - for quite a while we didn't even have a lock on the front door of the building. And frequently she wouldn't pay the electric bill, so there were absolutely no hallway lights.
As you might expect, this led to all sorts of interesting encounters with the more enterprising sorts of low lives residing in Lower Manhattan - prostitutes and drug dealers for example - who were looking for a place to engage in a little victimless crime.
How I came into possession of this flat on Houston Street isn't the subject of this writeup but I can tell you she hated me intensely 'cause I was her worst fucking nightmare: an American guy with a white collar job, who was totally conversant with her obligations as a property owner.
Needless to say, after bouncing in and out of housing court we got the place fixed up pretty good.
But from time to time she'd screw up a little, and most often this involved not cleaning the public areas of the building. It wasn't really her fault; the building's super liked to drink a little too much at times, and occasionally would fail to remove the usual litter and other debris that naturally accumulates around people.
So one evening the babe and I head out for martinis, followed by dinner and even more martinis. She's got to go to work the next day, while I was on holiday, so I headed out to some really funky Lower East Side haunts the girl simply would NOT even think of going to (she's proper that way), and I got really toasted.
About three hours later I'm walking up the steel staircase to my second floor flat when I slip on a magazine (fucking Newsweek sucks!), falling forward and RAMMING my left elbow sharply into the step.
Damn did it hurt! But I picked myself up, went inside, self medicated (I had a beer) then went to sleep.
Next day my arm was all red and swollen, and I couldn't bend it.
I soaked it in hot water, trying to make it move but I still couldn't bend it two days later.
During that time no less than four people saw it, and all proclaimed it broken. I definitely did not want to hear that shit, and I still didn't think it was broken since it just didn't hurt.
Three days later, it was still all red and ugly looking, and I still couldn't move it so I went to the Emergency Room at St. Vincents hospital in Greenwich Village.
They freaked as soon as they saw it, making me sit in a wheelchair and insisting upon giving me painkillers (still didn't hurt though!).
Bad news: I had to have surgery. Major surgery. Reconstructive surgery. The elbow was totally trashed, broken in four different places.
I go to this sports doctor, and he does the joint reconstruction surgery three days later. I try to talk him into replacing my left hand with a shiny metal hook while he's rebuilding the elbow, but he's all business and doesn't get the joke.
He put in two metal plates, nine screws and some wire. I've got a set of X-Rays (destined for my web page soon) and it looks like he grabbed a bunch of stuff from his junk drawer and dumped it all in.
Now the cool part: I've got this fantastic 12" scar on my left arm, starting about three inches above my wrist and extending up to my shoulder. I have a tendency towards keloid scar tissue so its all red looking even now, some three years later.
The doctor was slick enough to work around the tattoos, and it's been compared to a shark bite. I'd love to get my right arm done, just for symmetry.
Great fodder for chat up lines here in London pubs: when asked, I tell the girls about the "British Tornado that went down in Iraq during the Gulf War", mentioning my - by no means minor - role in rescuing the pilot.
So there it is: managing to fall UP a flight of stairs, and trash my arm so bad I needed reconstructive surgery is the dumbest thing I've ever done while under the influence of alcohol. And I haven't touched a Martini since.