Last Saturday, because I knew I was having my oldest pals coming over the following Monday, I went to a big discount liquor and wine store in the Bronx and bought a sizeable bottle of expensive single-malt whiskey.
As a child raised by wolves, I was a voracious drinker starting about age 15. Drinking age in New York in those days was 18, and with my older brother's draft card, and my naturally Promethean size, I could pass for older and buy beer or be served beer with hardly a ripple.
What's more, my old man who was also in advertising, had the Pabst beer account (before drinking Pabst was ironic) and a small well-brand of liquor called Old Mr. Boston. As a consequence, the basement of the tilted little house I grew up in was fairly stuffed to the rafters with all manner of intoxicants.
My parents, who were largely absent, correctly assumed that getting drunk was a part of growing up, and I'd be safer doing it at home than on the road somewhere. So my friends and I would congregate at my parents' house and kill a case or a bottle and be, really, none the worse for wear.
That said, by the time I hit 18 or so, I had gotten getting drunk out of my system. And since I reach my "maturity," I've barely even had a drink.
My feeling about booze is thus: when I'm in a good mood (those rare occasions) I don't need it. And when I'm in a bad mood, it doesn't help.
So, back to the Bronx and the bottle of single-malt. "This," I said to myself while justifying the expenditure at the check-out, "will be the last bottle of single-malt whiskey I ever buy."
It will likely, I thought, last through to my demise. In fact, I pictured my older daughter after my death, seeing the nearly full bottle and saying "I'll take that: it's 40-year-old booze."
It's occurred to me as I am nearing the gravitational pull of my dotage, that I might, outside of food and the occasional seltzer water, never again buy anything for the rest of my days. There is absolutely nothing, besides books and music and videos and fountain pens, nothing I pine for.
When I was a kid in New York, and New York was in its darkest days, I would often on a Sunday look in the real estate section and find an open house on West End Avenue and look at a Classic 6-room apartment that was selling for $189K.
Many of these places hadn't been redecorated since the early 1930s, and had the old-style push-button light switches, cloth-corded phone lines, brown carpet that had fused into the hardwood floors all topped off by the antediluvian aroma of well-seasoned mothballs.
I often look at my apartment, which somewhat sparkles and is clean and relatively well-decorated. Chances are I will do nothing more to it for the rest of my life. And it will look as dated to prospective buyers when my time comes as those old social-security-widow apartments looked to me way back in 1977.
Sans the mothballs.