Free drinks: a blessing and a curse


By Bill Colvard - [email protected]



“Don’t drink all the drinks just because they’re free,” is easy for Greta Gerwig to say. A beautiful young movie star undoubtedly has a tidal wave of free drinks come her way so she can afford to be discerning in her selection.

It’s a lot harder for someone like me to pass up a free drink. Who knows when, or even if, the next one will come along? I was raised to be thrifty, and passing up a free drink is tantamount to wasting money. It’s just as bad as leaving food on your plate when there are starving children in Africa. It is unpatriotic and immoral.

But Gerwig’s advice would have been a handy tidbit of information to have at my fingertips when confronted by my first open bar at a launch party three decades ago. Looking back, at least some of the free drinks should have remained undrunk.

I don’t remember who or what was being launched at that party but I do remember the open bar was sponsored by Absolut vodka and there was a pallet full of cases of Absolut behind the bar that stretched almost to the ceiling. That tower of upper shelf liquor promised an endless supply of drinks that were not only completely free of charge, but of a quality far superior than that to which I was accustomed. That bounty would ultimately prove disastrous to a poor country boy.

Had Ms. Gerwig been born and in Soho that evening to pull me aside and dispense the pearl of wisdom quoted above, I might not have ended the evening puking onto the armrest of a lovely gray suede sofa before being escorted to the door. Escorted, thankfully by my wife and not by security, although I wasn’t so thankful at the time. She was furious, humiliated and not afraid to make her feelings known.

But before the evening had deteriorated to that sorry state, there was much merriment. The party was in a photographer’s loft and had inadequate bathrooms for an event with so many people consuming so much free liquor and the bathroom line was long. Very long. An open bar and inadequate facilities can be a very painful combination.

With a level of ingenuity that only comes from an equal level of impairment, I solved the problem by climbing out onto the fire escape and taking a whiz over the railing, a move that would be considered surprising by anyone aware of my intense fear of heights.

My beloved spouse knew quite well my fear of heights, so she also knew that if I was dancing around on a fire escape, the train of that evening was well on its way to jumping the track. She grabbed me by the waistband of my pants and heaved me back through the window. My drunken self was somewhat indignant at this intrusion into my personal business. She said I was weebling and wobbling out on the fire escape and she feared for my life.

My drunken, fearless-of-heights self felt she had overreacted. At that point in the evening, I was still capable of feeling embarrassment, although that capacity had become rather selective. I was embarrassed at being pulled by my pants off a fire escape but oblivious to the embarrassing fact that I may have just made it rain, in the worst possible way, on the hipsters strolling below.

At this point, I don’t suppose even the wisdom of Greta Gerwig could have prevented the inevitable derailment soon to come.

By the time my darling had convinced me to abandon what remained of the free drinks and successfully steered me out to the street, I had bought two paintings from a formerly starving artist and completely negated the cost-savings of the free drinks. In retrospect, that little bit of patronage of the arts is probably the only thing that prevented a call to the police.

My darling wife then performed the Herculean task of convincing a cab driver to take us to Brooklyn, a task that was never easy in those days and was made much harder by my unfortunate condition. After we were seated in the cab, she informed me that if I started puking again and got us thrown out of the cab in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, she would cut her losses and personally heave me into the East River. That well-deserved death threat is my last memory of a memorable evening.

The next day I woke to not only an epic hangover but the sad news that the cab driver would only allow me in his car if I abandoned my beloved, albeit vomit-soaked, Bavarian military jacket before getting in. I have no recollection of taking it off or dropping it to the cobblestones where it no doubt suffered the further indignity of soaking up urine from my earlier adventure on the fire escape.

So, yes, Greta Gerwig is correct when she says, “Don’t drink all the drinks just because they’re free.”

Listen to her. She gives excellent life advice for the holiday season. Sometimes, those Hollywood types know what they’re talking about.

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By Bill Colvard

[email protected]

Bill Colvard is Lifestyles writer for the Mount Airy News and can be reached at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

Bill Colvard is Lifestyles writer for the Mount Airy News and can be reached at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

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