Every so often (weekly at the moment), I’ll be writing a commentary about a story from EMPTY ROOMS LONELY COUNTRIES. Actually, in this case, this story does not appear in the book. But hey, it’s FREE! I’ll tackle the stories in the order they appear in the book. Given the nature of this exercise, I cannot guarantee that I won’t spoil specific details from the story. So you may want to return to the commentaries here when you’ve finished reading the book. If I don’t address an aspect of the story you were interested in, by all means leave a question at the end of this post and I’ll do my best to answer it.
This story takes place in March of 2003.
It’s been said that I’m an expert when it comes to alcohol. Unless you’re a bartender, I don’t think it’s a good thing to be an expert in. To be fair, people only say this because they’ve seen me consume large quantities of alcohol and not die.
There are a lot of details in this story worth noting. The reference to my singing “Yesterday” in Oxford happened back in 1997. I vaguely remember that, but hey, that’s what friends are for. The tequila-induced streaking could’ve been a few different instances, so it’s not worth listing the possible years. And yes, that was meant to be a reference to Doctor Who.
Tuesdays at university were always long for me. I was working 40 hours a week at the pharmacy, so it was in my best interest to lump as many classes as I could into as few days as possible. For whatever reason, the University of South Florida’s schedule had a week spot for Tuesdays, so I would start at eight in the morning and finish sometime after nine in the evening. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I could be enjoying the beer offered at the student center between classes, and if I simply put the beer into a Styrofoam cup, I could bring the beer into class with me. I remember a lot of students in one class figuring out what I was doing, and by the end of the semester, half the class was drinking beers with me.
The best class to drink in was the last class of the day, International Cinema, taught by the local film critic Lance Goldenberg. He was as good a teacher as he was a critic, and between the movies he showed us and the selection of beer available at the time, the class was brilliant. Speaking of, I wondered what happened to Goldenberg.
Uncle Google shows me he was laid off from Tampa’s Creative Loafing (he was too good for the paper anyway) and he has written for LA Weekly. I certainly hope things worked out for him.
At this point, Derrek had moved out to live in Brooklyn and I was putting together my plans to move to Poland. Tony – my stunt double – would actually become my new roommate.
The bar we ended up at was Sangria’s Spanish Tapas Bar & Restaurant, which if I’m not mistaken, has moved to another location since then. The bar was within spitting distance of our apartment, and it was fairly common to see the owner. He was always tremendously gracious and friendly, and the whole “parole officer” routine was pretty much a daily occurrence. I used to go there regularly, and it wasn’t unheard of to get a free pitcher of sangria in the late evening. Man, that was good stuff; something I miss here in Poland, especially when the weather is hot like it is these days.
I used to have a copy of the bill. I don’t know what happened to that.
Later this week, you’ll be able to listen to the recording of “$24.99” here.
NEXT WEEK: “Paying the Tab”
#1 “Cowboys and Indians”
#2 “Little Conundrums”
#2.5 “Playing With the Dead”**
#3 “The Illusion of Swing”
#4 “Kicking Love’s Ass”
#5 “On Being Velma-less”
#6 “Muted Porn”
#7 “Defying Gravity”
#8 “The Fifth Ocean”
#9 “One Dead (Potted) Plant”
#10 “Remembering Drajra”
#11 “Pancakes, Wishes and Other Tales”
#13 “Before Waking”
#15 “This is Not for You”
#16 “The Mariachi”