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-- By Thom in Dallas, TX on Sat, 12 May 2007 at 16:03.
It was that whore Emily that caused it. Drunk. I had never cared for that girl, but in her sheer arrogance; she caused it. It was my first introduction to the ‘Green Fairy‘. You can only dance with her so much; at least I could only stand a few waltzes. I ordered it through a mail order catalog magazine. It was an upscale liqueur shop in Paris, France. I did a little bit of research on it before sending my sixty dollars overseas. They converted the US greenbacks to Francs over there, or that’s what they claimed. It seemed such a chic thing to do; I was a writer after all. All the great ones had used it. I was just finding my place in the pantheon of artists and scribes of yester-year.
I already got drunk on beer or whiskey every night. I needed something else to boost my creativity; to get the proverbial juices flowing. I had smoked hash, it was good. I had heard that absinthe was a similar high. A few hours of reading at the Skillman Public Library, made me think it was harmless. I got one bottle; it would take about three weeks to arrive at my apartment on Lovers Lane. I passed the remaining weeks drinking beer and writing a few short stories. It was a countdown to bliss and destruction. For regular types, absinthe would have the same effect as a strong whiskey or gin; not for me.
I had suffered a stroke at age thirteen. It had changed my brain chemically. I didn’t think like normal people or at least I thought. My persona was different. Very Cosmopolitan. I didn’t get sad when others did. I never laughed at normal humor. I chose those awkward times to let out a burst of laughter that offended others. It worked well with the ladies until about the third date; then the usual no communication or broken date. I was delighted to see my package arrive one October evening. I had spent the previous night drunk on Schlitz down at the Barley House. A drunk was excited to see more booze arrive in the postal box.
Absinthe was different. It had wormwood in it. I guess that is why it was illegal in the US; the FDA had freaked out back at the turn of the century. This was due mostly towards a bad reputation it had gotten thanks to the California wine makers. Absinthe was getting popular; and the grape whores were losing money. They didn’t want competition, so absinthe turned into bottled poison overnight.
I just wanted to try it; at this point in my life I had little to look forward to anymore. I had studied the ritual of drinking it. It was a ceremony that entailed ice water, sugar-cubes, and a silver spoon with slits in it. You placed the sugar-cubes on top of the spoon over a glass, and then you dripped cold ice water on the sugar until it fell through the spoon into the glass. This was the correct method. Amateurs set the sugar a blaze and then dropped the cubes in the glass. Blasphemy. I decided to have the ritual that night after work. I was working another shit job at a bookstore. The fairy couldn’t fly here quickly enough.
I had set all the ritual objects out on my battered coffee table. They would await my arrival about nine that evening. The absinthe was dyed green; it wasn’t really green in its pure form or so I had read. The research was over; I was ready for my first glass. I set the mood, turning on my lava lamp and putting the Doors on the record player. I put a little more than an ounce of absinthe in the wine glass. At least the grape whores had one consolation. I put the sugar cubes on top of the spoon. I slowly dripped ice water on the sugar, watching with glee as the water dripped into the absinthe. Hemingway smiled.
I let my glass sit awhile. This ritual was time consuming, but yet fascinating. I was easily fascinated. The absinthe had turned a milky green color. This was called the louche. I had completed the ritual perfectly. I pulled the glass to my lips and took a nice snort. It was licorice tasting and had a mild herbal flavor. I wasn’t too impressed with the first glass. I completed the ritual again for a second glass. The Doors played ‘The End’; Jim could set a mood.
The second glass was better. I got a warm feeling in my whole body. It was different from a beer buzz or whiskey high. I stared at the television for an extended amount of time. I seemed to see right through it. I realized that I had wasted years of my life staring at an idiot box. I soon felt sleepy. I passed out on the couch and finished the glass. The next day, I felt good. There was no hangover. I really enjoyed my first absinthe experience. I made it a regular routine that whole week. I came home from the bookstore, and drank two glasses before bed.
The second week wasn’t as good. I woke up with a throbbing headache. I took some aspirin, this only made it worse. It was a brain squeeze. I had some sort of allergic reaction to the absinthe. My mind ran the gauntlet of the worst possible scenarios. I was going to die. My head would not start stop throbbing, a train was beating my skull with a sledgehammer. Most normal citizens would stop, I didn’t. I drank two glasses every night; more absinthe would solve the headaches. Such logic had gotten me in trouble in the past. I could drink another shot of whiskey. Sure, I’ll have another glass of rot gut. I can drive perfectly after eight pints. It’s a good sign that I puked. Drunks only hurt themselves, mostly because they hate reality.
I awoke one morning to find my head still hurting and the left side of my face numb. I was having another stroke. I was dying. He was a good man. He lived a good life. He was the best book clerk around. His few friends enjoyed him. I stumbled out of bed, and called my boss. It was four thirty in the morning. I had no concept of time. I wasn’t going to work today. My boss almost sound concerned, even though it was early. I called my brother next.
“Hey brother, I think you better take me to the emergency room.”
“What?” “Are you alright?”
“My face is numb.” “I have a splitting headache.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.”
The clock read four forty three. My brother hauled ass down the toll road. We were at Parkland hospital in no time. I described my symptoms and they took me to a bed. There was a shitty ER doctor working the graveyard shift. They all jacked off when the found out my medical history. They set up all kinds of tests on my brain. I had the works. The MRI, CAT scan, chest X-ray. I was in for a day of fun. My brother sat there patiently waiting while I played the role of lab rat. The doctors had seemed more enthralled with my past medical records.
“Did you have stroke at age 13?”
“What caused it?”
“I don’t know.”
“How old were you again?”
“Wow, I’ve never heard of that before.”
This went on almost every time a new quack came in. The fat Mexican nurse poked an IV in my arm. She stabbed a nerve. They prided themselves on their training of nurses. After all the tests, the doctor cleared me to go home. I still had a headache. My folks called several times and talked to my brother. I loved my family.
I was due to follow up with a brain doctor in a week. I never went. I didn’t pick up the phone. I knew it was them calling. I didn’t drink absinthe again. My headaches went away, and I didn’t have another stroke. I was going to live. It was nothing but straight ways from here on out.
One night after a shit day at the bookstore, I stopped to check the mail. I had a letter from Emily.
‘I hope you stopped drinking.’
There was still some green fairy left in that bottle back in my apartment.
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About the effects of absinthe
When it comes to the effects of drinking absinthe, people's opinions -- and experiences -- vary wildly. Some go as far as to claim the drink is psychoactive, while others say there is no "secondary" (that is, other than alcohol-induced) effect at all.
As early as 1993, Matthew Baggott posted his Absinthe FAQ in the Usenet newsgroup "alt.drugs" (there wasn't much of the web as we know it back then). As you will suspect from the newsgroup's name, the issue of absinthe's "psychoactive qualities" was one of the interests of the document.
Some people take it further still. We definitely do not recommend any experiments with Paxil and absinthe (nor, for that matter, mixing any medicine with alcohol). Anyway, it's quite clear which way the wind blows here, since Jasmine Sailing's bizarre piece more or less concludes absinthe is a narcotic. Is it really? Yup, it does read like the girl was out of her mind when she wrote the page -- and no, we don't think the Fairy was to blame!
A far more sober look at the effects of the Green Fairy can be found in "The Return of the Green Faerie", an article written by Frank Kelly Rich of the Modern Drunkard magazine (no pun intended). Recommended reading.
What is absinthe?
What is the history of absinthe?
What is wormwood?
How about thujone?
What are the effects of absinthe?
How do I drink absinthe?
What is "La Louche" ritual?
What is an absinthe fountain?
The freedom-loving Green Fairy...
Goddess of rebel poets & artists
in France and beyond