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Column: Bottle Service

16 March 2017

Column: Bottle Service

Six Breakups & Six Drinks, as told by Bill DiDonna

Alice – The only Puerto Rican girl in my lily-white small town. In an almost imperceptibly quiet voice I asked her what she was doing this weekend. “Are you asking me out?” she demanded loudly enough to stop everybody in the hall. I nodded ready to hide in my locker for the rest of the semester. “Six o’clock in front of the Lucky 13.” She said. We walked through the cemetery then over to the Drive In where we turned up all the speakers in the back couple of rows, returning after dark to sit up on the hill and watch 1000 Convicts and a Woman (1971). Young and foolish, as opposed to the older more foolish version now on display, I took our love for granted and ended up by the train tracks with my friends shooting Narragansett tall boys and SoCo. Threw up but did not cry.

Jane – Still in my teens I left the States to outrage the UK with my lack of musical talent. If you have ever heard the adage that you are ten times better looking onstage with a guitar around your neck than in the pit singing along, it is true. Jane was some sort of conceptual artist from Switzerland. She was a beautiful wisp and our love was pure and strong. I went to play a few shows on the continent and came back to find her shacked up with the chainsaw player from Einstürzende Neubauten. Picked a bottle of Unicum in Budapest which left me facedown on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton. There is a Hungarian toast that translates “May we zoom into unconsciousness.” Yes.

Susan – I was working as a fisherman on Martha’s Vineyard when cabin fever gripped me and I took the ferry and hitched up to Boston. I headed to The Rat, duffel bag in tow, and met Susan, whose blonde beauty was only outstripped by her awe-inspiring intellect. A planned weekend at her apartment turned into a month and only a quick trip back to the island to gather the rest of my stuff and attempt to collect my last paycheck (denied) kept us apart for the rest of the winter. I went back to school, she got accepted to Penn law and left for Philadelphia. We were still going to be together though no matter the distance. Six weeks later I got the phone call, maybe this long distance thing wasn’t going to work out after all. She was “sort of seeing” her judicial law graduate assistant and I was temporarily out of the picture. Temporary turned permanent when I hitched to Philly and she answered her door wearing nothing but his dress shirt and he was taking a nap in her bed. Susan’s father had given her a bottle of Chateau Beychevelle ’73 to drink on a special occasion. I found it in the closet as I was systematically ripping up everything that belonged to her. In truth I can’t remember if it was that great, but it was better than the gallon jug of Cribrari Smooth Burgundy that followed it. Face plant, luckily not still holding the scissors.

Jane No. 2 – Another artist. She had dated my drummer so I knew her standards were not high (sorry drummers) and I was in a particularly low place. Crazy blue hair, which was much more uncommon in those days than now, and an absolutely fearless approach to life. Also, Jane 2 was a drinker: morning drinking, day drinking, late-night drinking, all the drinking. On Sundays the liquor stores in Massachusetts were closed so I would find myself sitting in the Impala sipping on whatever was left from last night tossed into a coffee, in the parking lot of the New Hampshire State Bottle store with the rest of the derelicts waiting for them to open. Too much fun was not a thing I understood until I met Jane 2. I was in grad school for architecture and holding down a part-timer in a local firm copying blueprints and massaging egos. After the third time I called in sick in a month the HR man laid down the law; Tuesday night loft parties or the job. After begging off one too many events Jane showed me the proverbial door. Life was too short for her to go through it with me sober. After casually mentioning the breakup to one of my co-workers I was taken to the bar at the Hasty Pudding Club for commiserative cocktails. Sipping a martini I couldn’t afford considering my pauper-level wages, surrounded by a group of young men in jackets and ties for whom the harsh realities of life after the freedom of grad school were rapidly sinking in, I ached to have chosen the loft party. Went to the Silhouette after that, tie and all and ordered a Bombay martini up. The bartender laughed in my face and gave me a draft and a shot of Jameson. Called in sick the next day.

Phoebe – She was going out with my next door neighbor Horst and I thought I was making a play for her little sister Piper. We lived down by the wharf in these dilapidated warehouse buildings. The snow would come through the skylights in winter, but it was massive space and dirt cheap. My band played at our monthly rent party and I was feeling pretty good. We had a good crowd and actually didn’t suck too badly. Piper was in my room and things were gong well when Phoebe burst in saying she needed to talk to her sister. Piper promised she’d be right back, but after an hour I chalked it up as a lost opportunity and concentrated on getting the last out of the keg of Rolling Rock. After we shooed out the stragglers I crawled into bed and found it occupied. When I pulled down the covers I found Phoebe instead of Piper. Hmm. The next morning was awkward, but nothing compared to when I got back from work. I didn’t see Horst when I walked into the kitchen and he cold-cocked me with everything he had, breaking my nose and reducing me to a bloodied cornered animal. I picked up the first thing I saw and let fly. It was the tea kettle, it was full and it was hot. I broke his molar, burned his face and poured hot water down his pants. There we were, two rail-thin sniveling punk rockers nursing our wounds on opposite sides of the room when Phoebe walked in. She surveyed the situation, smirking, I am still convinced, at what she had wrought. We were declared ‘animals’ as she grabbed her coat and stated her intentions of never speaking to either of us again. Horst went to grab some ice from the freezer and pulled out a bottle of vodka. “Can I drink this?” “Its Greg’s. He said he would kill anybody that touched it.” Horst rubbed the freezing bottle on his face, took a long pull and handed it to me. I gingerly placed it on my nose, bleeding all over the bottle and then took an even longer pull. “I’d like to see him try.” The bottle got finished, Horst passed out at the kitchen table and when Greg got home he reset my nose, but made it hurt a lot.

Summer (not her real name) – A model/actress, I’m sure you’ve seen her work, she was almost a regular on Pretty Little Liars. We met cute in a ladies room stall at a magazine release party at a hotel in Beverly Hills. Everything was going perfectly until she got this amazing Instagram and had to go and show it to her best friend Paisley. It was short and it was sweet. The party was sponsored by a vodka and a tequila, but I think I’m going to see if my editor will buy me a glass of Champagne. God knows I’ve earned it.

Written by Bill DiDonna