I Drink Alone

Another year goes buy in a blink. I enjoy a huge bowl of egg drop soup—made for four, eaten four times by one. I retire home to my resting place—the recliner. I’m sore—more than before. Baseball and workouts cause a certain kind of soreness—this one is from old age. My arm hurts. My skin sags. My hair is misplaced. Yet, I’m content.

As soon as I get the leg rest out and the TV fired up, my two fuzzy children climb onto my chest, walk circles, and flop. They must sense this special day as I turn 55—8 or so in cat years, which means the two lumps have finally caught up to me. We’re tired.

I thumb the remote, sip tea, and wait for the wave of depression. Alone at 45, 50, and now 55. Some would find that unbearably sad, but I’m not one of the “some.” I’m fine. Perhaps escaping the stress of taking care of more than one human has done me good.

If my friends could see me now (the ones without cats), they’d ride me like a rusty beach cruiser. “Dirty old cat man. You’ll die alone.” Yes, I will. I’ll also die without regrets, obligations, or a penny to my name. I plan on using me up, but I do thank you for doing your part to keep the species alive.

My dearest friends dispense sedation. Last night it was bourbon, rocks with a cherry.

“Why a cherry?” my favorite nurse asks.

“Because I like to crush it into the drink.”

“I can muddle it for you.”

“I prefer to do it myself. It’s symbolic, perhaps.”

“Christ. I’m not touching that.”

“Yeah, best you don’t.”

“So, what are you doing for birthday dinner?”

“Steak—pink and salty.”

“With whom?”

“No one. I can still manage to feed myself.”

“Oh. Well, I hope you have a wonderful birthday.”

“Thank you, my lovely. Cheers. You’ve done your part.”

I pull the stem, crush and tear the cherry, and push the pieces under my Bulleit bourbon and cubes. I sip and sigh. Life is good. Bourbon is good. God, she’s lovely. Tonight she’ll be mine, in mind only. Won’t hurt her a bit. She’ll never know.

Another sip as I scan my fellow patients. Most are paired up. Others are swiping their phones. The TVs show silly boys—modern day gladiators—playing for millions, making misplaced political statements against the machine that bought their Bentleys. Now, that’s sad.

With any luck, 56 will be similar. I expect and can handle more physical aches. Mental anguish is far worse. A candle smokes once again, as I wish for serenity.

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Author of humorous essays about relationships and lifestyles.

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