Since I was making a conscious effort
to stop turning water into four ounces of hydration
against a liter of moderately-priced vodka
and the bloody, confusing end of 2007,
I was as sober in New Jersey
as anyone who pretends social drinking
isn’t a huge waste of time
could ever hope to be.
I wasn’t Big in Japan,
but I was Tolerated in Cherry Hill,
which was more than anyone
who struggles with their inside voice deserves.
And no one knew that song anyway,
so I was just some idiot
who couldn’t stop muttering about its stirring comedy,
or singing selected lyrics
when the middle-aged Nazi
in the back of the ambulance
asked me if I had been drinking that day.
The only other thing that really occurred to me
to say was to continue insisting
that they had the wrong person.
Which was true,
and that poor guy definitely died
in a bathtub that wasn’t even his,
but I guess I looked especially tired.
Eyes that closed so hard sometimes,
they would scrape a little against my front teeth.
Which was also basically why I just kept
talking about my moves and cheese
to choirs of Freddy Kruegers
and legions of Trekkers from a remarkable
community theater hell in the cell
that just happened to be occurring that same weekend.
Shortly before an unrelated parade of Sunday evening sports fans
caused the ambulance to rise and then fall
into a water tower of all things,
the driver ran one hand through a lengthy,
with the other hand trying to pull the steering wheel
to get at some of the infected mosquito bites on his circus tent back,
and told me that I might have a drinking problem.
shortly before swimming out
through the back doors.
I was sober enough
to know how to not drown under hilarious circumstances.
And sober enough to know I could absolutely take
at least one more drink,
if things were going to continue
to be more than I could stand.