The only thing worse than late night tv is late-late night tv. When the half-assed news reports and corny sitcom reruns give way to hour-long advertisements for this week's hottest new gadget! only three easy payments of 29.99! call now with your credit card! and "religious" programs with pacing televangelists who call out to viewers for salvation and donations while throwing out verses from gilded Bibles they haven't actually read in ten or twenty years.
All in all, it's mind numbing, and after a while, I realize two things with a slight sense of horror - one, that I've begun to drool, and two, that my beer has gotten warm. Closing my mouth with a firm meeting of teeth and tongue, I wince, then lift my arm to wipe the spittle away with my sleeve. That task completed, I sit a moment longer, pondering the movements required to get from the couch to the fridge, and back again.
I'm not really a slug, mind you – it's just that the floor is cold, and my slippers are nowhere in sight. Probably in the bathroom, along with my cigarettes and matches. Oh, but now that I'm conscious again, I realize just how much I've had to drink in the last twelve hours, and suddenly the bathroom really seems like the place to be.
Pushing myself out of the cushions which have slowly sucked me in, I stop first in the kitchen to deposit my warm – and probably stale – beer in the sink and get a fresh one from the dwindling supply on the top shelf of the ancient Kenmore. Then I make my way to the bathroom, guided by the light of the tv and years of practice.
Sure enough, there it all is – slippers, smokes, matches, even an unopened candy bar I'd picked up on my way home from work and had since forgotten about. Obviously.
Relieve bladder – check. Wash hands for thirty seconds – check (twenty three, but who's counting?). Wiggle feet into slippers, light cigarette, crack beer, collect candy, stretch. Check checkity check.
The bubbler is off in the fish tank again. Must be a short in the wire. Set everything but the lit cigarette on the coffee table and lift the lid. As long as the lid is off, they'll survive overnight without it – first stop tomorrow morning will be the pet store to get a new one.
I start to sit back down, but think better of it. Standing feels good right now, and I really should sleep in bed tonight, rather than on the couch. I've been feeling twinges in my lower back lately from some displaced springs.
Stretch again, then take another sip of beer. It's cold at least, but now I don't really want it anymore. What a waste.
I wonder, briefly, if fish like beer, and my hand hovers over the tank for a long moment. The fish, silly creatures that they are, begin to gather, looking for food.
"…and THAT is the GOD'S honest TRUTH!"
The shout from the televangelist snaps me back to reality, and I lower my arm quickly. Feeling guilty, I drop a few fish flakes in the tank by way of apology, and the can joins the other in the sink.
The purple-robed choir begins to sing an upbeat hymn-y type of song as I grab my cigarettes and candy bar. Making a face, I punch the mute button on the remote, then drop it on the couch.
Plodding up the steps, one final thought crosses my otherwise-unburdened brain: if fish were alcoholics, what would they prefer? Beer or wine?
The televangelist answers me in my head: probably wine.