Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Project Charlie: The Legacy

See, some of you are laughing and smiling knowingly and others of you not so much. Project Charlie was the "kids should not do drugs" class we all took in school. Spearheaded by Katie, my best friend's mom (a best friend who isn't bestest enough to read this daily - I hate you Ed, see you at dinner tonight), Project Charlie attempted to convince us that drugs are bad mmmkay. I don't know how successful that part of the class was, but the part I'm pretty sure hit it out of the park was Project Charlie on drunk driving.

Yeah, we were a bunch of city kids for whom the idea of getting behind the wheel of an actual automobile was likely only if our dads lost sight of reality long enough to let us take their 911s out for a spin in East Hampton. It wasn't like any of us had access to a car that in a few short years we would need to drive regularly, but the lesson was imparted nonetheless. Don't Drive Drunk. Ever.

Driving drunk, in my memory, was akin to clubbing seals. It was something good people never ever did, but something we would encounter time and again. When senior year rolled around, the only reason I signed up for driver's ed was that I knew I'd be going off to college where everyone else was going to be driving drunk so I figured I should know how to drive myself home if I was the only sober person in a sea of drunks.

So I had a license long before I had a car, or even access to a car. Coincidentally, the weekend after my 21st birthday when a rental company would deign to rent me one of their fleet, I took the opportunity to drive to best friend Ed's house in Massachusetts for the weekend. I can't be positive, but it might be truth that until we moved to Greenwich, I had never had so much as a single drink in my system prior to getting behind the wheel.

Of course, this is, apparently, an untenable position to hold while living extra-urbanly. My mother-in-law and I once got into a multi-hour fight about our competing positions (I'm right by the way, just because calling a cab if you want to down two bottles of wine with dinner is inconvenient, it's still the right thing to do). So it was with trepidation, dear Jeff, that I asked you last night if you wanted another round. You had debonairly offered to pick up the first round and I didn't want you to think I was the kind of girl who tapes up your mild groin injury in 1994 and then expects free drinks for life, it was that we had enjoyed a beer with dinner, and I was certainly enjoying the bourbon I had just finished and... well, and in less than 90 minutes, I was going to be at the parking lot in Port Chester getting my car.

I don't know what it feels like to drive while mildly intoxicated. Based on what I had drank and how long it would be before I needed to drive I was fairly certain I would be on the right side of the law, but is DUI something I want to play the de jure de facto game with? I fervently believe in zero tolerance for DUI, and by zero tolerance I mean like zero for reals for serious. My intransigence probably contributes to mother-in-law fights as well as devoted partner fights, but considering that DUI kills completely innocent people, I don't mind being Giuliani-esque on the enforcement end of things. So this is an issue where I don't want to slide by on a technicality.

Whilst in the burbs, it's easier: 1 drink. 1 drink because when the drink is finished, I have to get in my car and drive home. I guess if I wanted to be a pill about it, I could make sure that I had 1 drink per hour and left more than an hour after the last drink, etc. etc., but we're getting back to letter and spirit of the law with that nonsense. 1 drink is easier. But if I'm having dinner or drinks in Manhattan, it becomes a little different. The hour on the end is built in - it's the time it takes for me to get home. I allowed myself a second drink based on that. And, truth be told, I felt 100% normal when I got into my car with or without the knowledge that home was fewer than 2 miles away.

But it made me consider, with anger in my heart, the following: upon entering the track at Grand Central I saw the beverage cart: the cart that sells beer to commuters for their train ride. WHY IS THIS NOT ILLEGAL? You are selling beer to people to drink while they wait to drive from the station to their homes. But Yelena, you say, drinking and driving is against the law, why would it be permissible to sell these drivers booze? I cannot answer that question, dear friends, because frankly I feel like the only passenger on the Logic Boat here. Putting aside my utter and complete disdain for the jackholes who can't wait until they get home to have a frosty Bud Light (someone help me out here - is it "cool" to drink while Metro Northing? do these guys, and they're always guys, have serious drinking problems? what on earth is the deal with needing, or frankly wanting, a watered down beer while you shuffle homewards?), don't these beer stands downplay the severity of drinking while under the influence? I mean, hey, if you're going to sell me a beer before I get in my car, that's tacit approval right there. I know some of you are more inured to this than I, but last night, as I wrestled with the issue of how much is too much, seeing people buy beer to keep them company during their harrowing 45 minute train ride, chafed me real good. Thank god one of them wasn't sitting next to me or the train ride might well have turned harrowing.

Nonpropos: I'm about to channel my father when I say I can't believe I paid $70 for a pair of jeans. I realize that every woman reading this now thinks I'm insane because the jeans they buy all cost at least double that, but I find jeans, like t-shirts, to be a utilitarian item of clothing and not a fashion statement; ergo, $8 t-shirts and jeans from The Gap. But it seems that jeans from The Gap are now $70. In point of fact I'm not complaining because I'm so flipping happy The Gap has decided to stock jeans again - it's been about 18 months of jeans that are only available in size Ethiopia and size Jerry Springer guest. I was so excited, the thought never crossed my mind to wait for them to go on sale. The jeans I currently wear have gotten so bad that devoted partner, a man who has commented negatively on my clothing maybe three times in twelve years, came out and told me my jeans were unflattering over the weekend - something I couldn't even begin to get bent out of shape about because he is absolutely right. I am wearing stretched out jeans a size too big ultimately becoming the poster girl for saggy baggy elephant ass; but as I mentioned, The Gap has not been selling jeans recently. So thank you, The Gap, I may have felt like an idiot buying something called Curvy Low Rise Boot Cut Stretch jeans while being simultaneously flabbergasted by your new sizes where you list a waist measurement (note to The Gap: your jeans come nowhere near my natural waist - the area they do fall near has not been 31 inches since elementary school so this number is, essentially meaningless; nowhere on these pants is there a diameter of 31 inches), but at least I am now wearing jeans that fit, that do not have holes in the buttocks, and that are destined to ruin an entire load of laundry when I forget to wash them separately.


  1. I think Ed's mom starting the Just Say No program is funny. Somehow, I started college with the same feeling about drunk driving you described, but within a few years I was definitely one of those people roaming around campus on Sunday mornings looking for my car. Terrifying! I've been back on the straight and narrow since graduating--it's really easy to be self-righteous about drunk driving when you live in a place with public transportation.

  2. We all thought that was funny - really funny. We brought it up a lot in high school. And you hit the nail on the head: I've always been self-righteous about it because I haven't had to deal with it; now I'm going to have to try to live up to my own upturned nose-ness or wallow in my hypocrisy. Mmmmm...hypocrisy wallowing.