Click the image to enlarge.
Click the image to enlarge.
illustration by Mike Maas

Not sure if you’re in a dive bar? Check these “pig points” to find out

So I've been writing this inebriated nonsense for more than a year now. Not a bad showing of "commitment," considering the amount of booze I've thrown down my throat. Then again, being a drunk is all about commitment, discipline, and the ability to see the truth. I look at people every day and wistfully imagine how easy life must be — if one is not hung-over all the time.

I can't believe sober people bitch about problems they have or "not feeling well" or having to wake up early. All I can do is laugh in their washed-clean faces and pressed shirts and fight off the urge to call them pussies and kick them in the balls or ovaries for living their pathetic lives.

On the contrary, I've been doing shit my whole life that most folks with twice the talent have been failing at every day, and I've been doing it with bloody stool and bruised muscles and shattered brain cells. I know how it is to have those last two remaining brainwaves brawling. Wrestling the morning's urges. Mentally holding back physical contractions, wanting to vomit, trying to gather enough attention to even masturbate (yes, there is such a thing as being too hung-over to masturbate). I'm sure I'm not the only one who deals with the common daily worry of getting a DUI the next morning — even after eight hours of sleep/darkness.



I often think about Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, who was stripped of his Olympic gold medal because he tested positive for marijuana. Shit, is this world crazy? The guy should get an extra medal for being able to be the best in the world, all while being stoned as shit. I should get a goddamn medal too, and I can name a dozen other thirsty, impaired souls — Michael Jordans of the bar scene who are doing extraordinary things; these madmen, these drunks that live among us.

Why is it that every other professional athlete on this planet gets to be sponsored if they are among the best at what they do, but not us drinkers? My lawyer buddy (a DUI attorney) often contemplates why he isn't sponsored by a liquor company. Why am I not drinking for free, with complimentary cabs whenever I whistle? Why is there not a shirt on my chest emblazoned with a fucking sponsor like Old Crow, instead of some sporty corporate swoosh? Yes, I'm suggesting drinking is a sport. Hell, a beer pong tournament just came through town the other weekend.

I digress. During my stint as your Booze Pig, I haven't been arrested nor have I puked down the front of my shirt (at least not in the last year). But this column, as my editor can attest, has taken its toll on me mentally. Ask my doc; he'll tell you it's taken its toll on me physically as well. This whole drinking thing is great — if you're 28. But at 38, it's taking a lot more discipline and intestinal fortitude. I might even have to start working out, just for the sake of being in shape to keep drinking. In fact, I can't think of a better reason to hit the gym.

I keep trying to convince myself that I'm this ultra-testosterone-infused über-male, capable of a big-time liquor company sponsorship. I envision myself as an author's protagonist, the likes of Fleming's martini-sipping 007, Cussler's tequila-shooting Dirk Pitt, or a Mark-Leyner-four-fingers-of-Scotch-and-ectoplasm-steroid swiller. Yet, I find myself as a mix of underdog moocher Fletch from McDonald's many novels, or maybe I'm more the contemptuous hypochondriac ideologue of O'Toole's Ignatius Reilly — at least, I feel as though I'm on that road.

Someone at least buy me a hot dog.

I'm waning in enthusiasm and in motivation. I guess they say that when you get super-low, even the bottom looks like up. So I'm not "bowing out" quite yet, even though the thought of my insurance sponsoring a trip to Trembling Hills sounds like heaven. I guess you could say I'm ready to clean bathrooms and eat the peanuts out of shit for a few weeks of sobriety — what would it be like to think straight? To stop sweating? To fit in my clothes again? To maintain any kind of decent relationship, especially with a woman (hey, let a pig have his fantasy); even my dog hates me.

What I'm saying is that I'm not going to write this column forever. Granted, I love getting dark and dirty, and I obviously love reveling in self-deprecation. I just can't keep it up (as it were . . .). I think it's time to stop being a self-absorbed reprobate, spilling my masturbatory thoughts about dive bars and depravity.

Or not. We'll see.

But I don't want to leave you hanging, dear reader, while you still have much to learn. I can't tell you how many times someone has recommended a place that just doesn't cut the mustard, or at least the mayo. So, for your edification, I've outlined 25 Pig Points for a real, honest-to-God dive. Chances are, if you can check off more than half of the Pig Points above, you're in a pretty bad place that could be considered a "dive bar." If you can knock off over 20, then you are definitely in a great dive bar, and there's a good chance you'll get mugged. If you can mark off all 25, well, then you're probably in some fucked-up dream with midgets and duck vaginas and other glorious things.

I suggest you cut it out and take it with you to your local favorite watering hole. Send it to friends from out of town, or use it to clean up vomit.

I leave you with a quote I look at every morning, every time I sit down to pee:

I have been drunk more than once,
And my passion often borders on madness.
And I regret neither; because in my own way,
I've come to understand that all exceptional people
Who achieve something great,
Something that seemed impossible
Have to be described as either drunkards
Or madmen.

— Goethe


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