jeanine fritz

Remember all those dark novels we read in English Lit? "Lord of the Flies," "As I Lay Dying" and "Farewell to Arms?" (I wonder if my teacher was OK...)

Anyhow, one of those books recently sprung to mind: "The Most Dangerous Game," wherein big game hunter Sanger Rainsford hears a gunshot, drops his pipe in the water, falls into the drink trying to get it, realizes he can't swim back to his boat and then swims to a nearby island -- only to discover the crazy rich dude living there likes to hunt shipwrecked sailors.

Don't worry: Rainsford eludes capture, sneaks back into the house, hides behind a curtain, fights the crazy dude to the death and then passes out in his bed like a total badass.

It's probably the best example I can think of the classic Man vs. Man plot archetype.

The book popped into my head last night because I've recently been involved in my own Man vs. Man challenge.

I meant was I was fighting with myself. I guess that's Man vs. Himself.

(Look, maybe this isn't one of those magical 1:1 writing sessions where shit matches up nicely. I'm on deadline and scribbling this onto the back of a piece of paper with a martini in front of me and that martini isn't gonna drink itself, friends.)

But that brings me to the challenge: I gave up beer for the month of January. Like Rainsford, I'd been startled into a series of events, only instead of a gunshot I just couldn't button my pants.


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I figured less beer drinking would mean more money in my pocket, more room in my short-shorts and less time running around shouting incomprehensible stuff in bars.

For the first time ever in my life, I was dead wrong.

One of the problems was that instead of staying at home, baking and painting and learning Swedish, I kept going out to bars. Because that's where my friends are. But if you've ever tried spending five hours dead sober with a bunch of drunkies (I haven't), you'll know that can be a rough night. So instead I drank other things, things with fabulous names, things such as Holland Razorblades and Corpse Revivers and Extra Dirty Gin Martini Stirred Wet. (I think that's impossible, but the bartenders at Boulder Cafe have kept quiet.)

Fancy drinks get you drunk faster than an I.P.A. and they cost more, making my plan flat-out idiotic.

By mid-month, I was feeling a little proud anyhow, because I hadn't had any beer and had therefore exerted a measure of self-control. As a reward, I had a beer on the 16th. I broke down a few more times throughout the month but by the 31st, I'd only had 4.5 beers in 31 days. Pretty impressive, I know. To celebrate, I had a tall-boy PBR with lime at midnight -- although I'd decided to observe Eastern Standard Time that day.

As I shifted from martinis back to beer, I started thinking about ole' Rainsford. I too had been startled (my pants don't fit!), fallen away from safety (adios, cerveza), and swum to foreign shores (mucho gusto, gin!) only to discover I'd entrenched myself in a far more dangerous game. Unlike Rainsford, now that it's all over, I don't plan to hide behind a curtain, grapple with a stranger and then pass out in his bed, mostly because I won't be drunk enough for that kind of thing now.