• Barbarella
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Strength of mind rests in sobriety; for this keeps your reason unclouded by passion.

-- Pythagoras

I melted into David's side and craned my neck to see his face. "Kiss me," I prodded. It sounded more like, keesah meee , each syllable drawn out to maximize my sudden delight in over-enunciation. David obeyed. "Again," I said, this time in the petulant-meets-playful manner of a three-year-old. David indulged me with a second peck to the lips that, by joining my hands at the back of his head and applying pressure, I upgraded to a full-blown kiss. I couldn't remember the last time I'd felt so carefree, so relaxed, so unburdened . Our friends at the dinner table were temporarily forgotten, as was any sense I had of propriety. The following morning, I opened my eyes to see David, already awake and smiling at me. "Look over there," he said. I followed the line of his finger to the window, a white rectangular blur. "It's snowing," David said softly. He handed me my glasses, and the fluffy white flakes came into focus.

I took a moment to marvel at the sight that, as a citizen of San Diego, I rarely get to appreciate. I made happy noises as I stretched my limbs. Sitting up, I noticed articles of clothing strewn in a random trail from the bedroom door to my side of the bed. A deluge of compunction washed over me, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I had a vague recollection of laughing unnaturally loud for a freakishly long time during the ride back to Ellen and Kirby's place. I stared at my clothing as if my intense glare could somehow inspire it to speak, and then a clear thought popped into my head, a mental telegram to me from my bra: Oh, my God, I was schnockered last night .

I fired questions at David in machine-gun staccato. "Did I do anything embarrassing? Did I say anything stupid? Did I offend anyone? How did I act?"

"You were...amorous," he answered calmly.

"Amorous? Was I stupid?"

"No, no, not 'stupid,' just...amorous. And, um, aggressive, but not a mean aggressive, just insistent. Really, really insistent."

"Great. Just great," I moaned. "I made a complete ass out of myself."

I remained humiliated for days, even though our friends insisted I didn't do anything "terribly off-putting." It's not that I thought they were lying to be polite. It was that, for at least an hour, my superego had left its post at the helm of my brain.

Like biting my toenails with the confidence that no one is looking, behaving unchecked was gratifying on many levels. Still, I had relinquished my cloak of control, the ultimate sin of one who prides herself on the careful consideration she takes before deciding to share an off-color joke or, say, throw herself at her man in a crowded Boston restaurant.

Alcohol is the arch nemesis of reason, and reason is the boss of all of those little decisions I make that involve what I "feel" like doing versus what I have been taught is "okay" to do. Spend three minutes on any street corner downtown on a Saturday night and you'll see what I mean. I've always preferred drugs to drinking for this very reason. Most drugs (at least the ones I used to play with) heightened, rather than dulled, my senses. Despite the chemical fun I used to have, I abandoned my more nefarious party practices when I met David, who, outside of his decadent tastes in art, food, wine, and fine leather, had no vices to speak of.

Unlike some people who manage to retain enough consciousness during a technical blackout to do inordinately stupid things, my body has built-in, fail-safe mechanisms that prevent me from doing anything I deem reprehensible on any level of my psyche. In the past, when enjoying a libation or two without the stimulating effects of uppers, the greatest degree of inebriation I experienced was "tipsy." Beyond that, I would either get sick or fall asleep. Which is why that night at the restaurant a month ago was such an anomaly. Apparently, I'd had just the right formula: food, multiplied by wine, divided by time. And though it was liberating to be free of my shoulder angel's vice-like grip for an evening, I didn't want to try and replicate the sensation and risk getting sick or, even worse, doing something I might regret.

David believes that people are most themselves when inebriated; that their true qualities, adorable or abhorrent, rise to the surface like dolphins in the ocean or shit in the john. Luckily for me, David is a dolphin. When sober, he is reserved and controlled, but once a little liquor has loosened him up, he becomes endearingly enthusiastic about everything -- marveling at the magnificence of a crescent moon or smiling giddily for no reason at all. After two glasses of wine, my friend Rosa, always proper and taciturn, lets her emotions gush like irrigation water released into a dusty field. Her husband, Josue, reported to me that while dining at Parallel 33 recently, Rosa had burst into tears when the server asked how everything was. Finally answering the perplexed waitress, Rosa choked through sobs, "Everything is... beautiful ."

In light of my behavior in Boston, it appears as though I am, when all pretense is cast aside, a pushy and horny person. All the more reason to keep a sober eye on myself. This is easy to do when I insist on driving, as I always do, and as I did this past Saturday night. The evening's itinerary included a birthday party for my friend Robert's wife. Earlier, I'd asked Robert not to tell me the "start" time of the affair, but rather the "cool" time for me to arrive. I was right to trust him -- after hitting up an art opening at my friend Ronaldo's salon/gallery, I entered the lively gathering with my posse promptly at 8, which, by the relaxed, lubed-by-libation look of things, was around three to four hours after people had started getting their drink on.

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