As I UnscrewDear Karen,

As I unscrew the cap to the bottle of Gordon’s gin, the boar’s head on the label looks appalled, its eye a wide dilated circle of disbelief (that yes, I am pouring yet another drink, that no, I am not measuring my pour, that yes, I do think a 1:2 tastes watered down, that yes, I do prefer about a 1:1) and that boar is so appalled that it can barely keep its tongue in its mouth, that tongue that just sort of rests there between the rows of teeth, beneath tusks, and beneath a snout that is decidedly wrinkled in disgust at my behavior or my breath, but does the boar yet know: that soon I will ditch the tonic entirely because I hate the way my tongue tastes the next morning after I’ve had too much (too much quinine), that soon I will be drinking Gordon’s on the rocks, or that soon I will ditch even those ice cubes and just strain the gin straight out of the stainless steel cocktail shaker, the gin swirling and cloudy cold in the glass like St. Mary Lake with her glacial residue; as I unscrew the cap to the bottle of Gordon’s gin, I look to see how many olives (soaking in dry vermouth) are left in the jar, I look to see how many more martinis I can make with what I have here, I look to see if I should make a mental note to buy more supplies at the store (I should) and if I should make a mental note to space out my martinis so they last the duration—a duration unknown—of the night (I shouldn’t, because if worst comes to worst, I do not need olives or wedges of lime, and there is always vodka after all), and I look to see if anyone sees me looking, if anyone sees me spending this much time looking, and I know by the fact that I am looking to see if anyone sees me looking that I am likely drunk—but here’s the thing—I might be drunk but I’m not a drunk, I’m not the guy who people worry about, who people whisper about while he’s in the bathroom, who people speculate about the next day while recapping the night over a telephone conversation or coffee—and because I’m not a drunk, no one at the party worries when I refresh my drink, because after all, it’s called refreshing, because I am not a drunk (there are no drunks here) and none of this is a problem; as I unscrew the cap to the bottle of Gordon’s gin, your face on the label looks so appalled and I wonder: why are you so appalled when everyone else is minding their own business, sipping, laughing, knee slapping, when everyone else is enjoying themselves with pita chips with hummus with slices of cucumber dipped in ranch with radishes (split with a paring knife and soaked in water all day) that resemble little red and white rosebuds, when everyone else is keeping their tongues in their mouths no matter how many drinks they’ve had, when Amy spills a whole glass of red wine on her feet (but on the patio, it’s OK), when Ryan tells Amy how he’s always found her attractive (and puts an arm around her, grazing the side of her breast), when Martha whispers something into my ear that I can’t hear clearly (but her voice sounds sweet, personal), when no one else is appalled but you, when no one else is appalled by the fact that I am standing at the counter unscrewing, when no one else cares how long we, how long I, can keep this up?

See you.

Laurence Ross lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and writes letters/essays to Karen Fish while working on his fiction.

Photo by Pamela Z. Daum