New York Press' Gut Instinct: Old Lady Syndrome

This is how I want to look when I'm old—and a woman.

"Are you going to behave?” my girlfriend asked, heading out the door. She eyeballed Sammy, our furry-sausage mutt, then me. Neither of us so much as snorted.

“It’s going to be a dude’s week,” i said, batting one of Sammy’s fox-like ears. “Anything can happen when it’s a dude week.”

She sighed that sigh i know so well, then gave us both a peck. At that, she was off to Seattle on family vacation. “Freedom,” I whispered to Sammy, rubbing his stomach. “Sweet, sweet freedom.”

If my life were a brain-dead bro flick, the week would flash past in a series of comic escapades, likely involving midgets, tasers, bodily fluids and kidnapping. you know, the usual. “Everything’s going great, honey!” I’d tell my girlfriend, as I’d hastily rectify my wrongs before she returned.

Life, though, does not imitate crappy art. I had the best intentions to break bad. Heck, I even handpicked my hell-raising henchmen: My pals Ben and Aaron, who were also without their wives. “I feel like I should go to strip clubs and rage all night,” Aaron confided on our first estrogen-free eve. “Me too!” I said, searching my wallet for dollar bills.

“But I’d much rather stay home, watch a movie and drink a beer.”

“That…does sound pretty good,” I said, putting bucks back in my billfold. “What movie?” “The Road,” he said. His wife cares not for super-violent movies, “so I frontloaded my netflix queue so I could watch them now.” “Have you seen 28 Days Later yet?” A couple years back I was in Beijing, the land of delicious dumplings and copyright infringement. Beijing offered a bounty of cheap bootlegged horror films—my celluloid weakness. Give me zombies or give me death! Well, give me zombies and lots of death. And beheadings. And disembowelments, too.

Most nights, while my girlfriend gets weepy-eyed watching The Biggest Loser, I’ll curl up on the couch with Buffalo Trace bourbon on the rocks, a serial killer slashing across my computer screen. La Horde, Battle Royale, Lady Vengeance: I can recite horror flicks like kindergarteners and the alphabet.

Long story short, I bought Aaron the apocalyptic 28 Days. Three years later, “I still haven’t seen it,” he admitted. I sighed. “Forget the movie. Let’s go out for a beer.”

We headed to Bierkraft (191 5th Ave., Brooklyn, 718-230-7600) and shared a growler of Two Brothers’ Bitter End, a mildly floral ale with a name fit for a misanthrope’s funeral. Naturally, our conversations wound to kids, mortgages, careers—words that sobered me up, no matter how much I drank.

The next eve, Ben and I planned to hit a Brooklyn barbecue. Meat! Fire! Alcohol! Then raindrops fell, fat and cool. “Maybe we should stay inside?” I said, staring fearfully at the downpour as if I were the Wicked Witch of the West. “I’m game,” Ben said. So we sat on my couch, eating crunchy Zapp’s chips and sipping Cascade Brewing’s Sour Apricot Ale till Cinderella time, when Ben headed home. I washed my face and slid into slumber, garnering nine hours of beauty rest.

The next morning, my eyes were bright and white. No jackhammer rattled my skull. When did I become a responsible old lady? i thought, making myself a cup of steaming coffee—no hangover-soothing Diet Coke needed. That night, i tried to not act my age at Williamsburg’s The Commodore. The nautical, ’70s-style dive is helmed by Stephen Tanner, a co-founder of the cultish Pies-N-Thighs.

I double-fisted cans of Modelo (2-for-1 till 7!), before tearing into Tanner’s beautifully brittle fish and fiery fowl sandwich. I ate until I was full, then I ate more. Who says I can’t have seconds? Or fourths? I’ll show you—until I nearly puke. I left the bar clutching my stomach, stumbling into a bodega for antacids and seltzer. Sadly, there’s nothing reckless about chomping Tums.

When did I get so old and wussy? Five years ago, my nights spun out of control like a car on an icy road. I loved careening toward that time of night when every bad idea seemed like a good one. Now, I like waking early and clacking out stories, an occupation at odds with a skull-crushing hangover. Sure, Hemingway did it, but his story ended with an unhappy bang.

My girlfriend returned from the West Coast, bearing kisses and gifts of beer. “So did you have fun?” she asked, dropping her bags.

“Well, not the kind of fun I was expecting,” I said.

“It’s called maturity. Face it: you’re too old to stay out all night,” my girlfriend said, “and you’re only getting older.”

Read the original column at New York Press' website.