In her Times column Susan Cheever claims to have witnessed ten years ago a scene from Days of Wine and Roses in which a woman with misapplied lipstick actually said “Are you shaying I’m drunk?” and her husband fell down. This scared her sober. “I know the savage, destructive power of alcoholism,” she says. “It’s a soul stealer.” Yet she misses the pleasure of “watching others embarrass themselves, mangle their words and do things they will regret in the morning.” (Apparently her old man, “in his sober years,” would cruelly drunken his friends just to watch them stumble down the stairs; maybe the condition is genetic.)
So when Cheever also claims that wild night in 1998 “was the last time I saw anyone visibly drunk at a New York party,” we have to say: well, no wonder. Who could relax around someone like her, knowing she’s waiting to catch them slurring their words? No wonder, either, that at parties “a friend will start to pour me a glass of wine and then apologize profusely” — Cheever might think the hostess is too drunk to remember she doesn’t drink, and write about it in one of her many books about addiction! We who have more charitable friends and colleagues who do not take notes when we vomit into our laptop toast our good fortune, or will just as soon as the sun has passed the yardarm… ok, close enough!