Begin in March, before the snowpack has fully melted, with the hard stuff. Always remember: “Hard before beer, hibernate without fear.” When first emergent from your winter den, you can’t do better than a warming shot of rum, or perhaps tequila, though you are then well advised to move on as soon as possible to mixed drinks, which will ease you gently back into the game. Choose highballs in early spring with a large quantity of sugary mixer; you need as much energy as you can get as you begin to forage. Once your hands grow steady and your sense of humor sharp, begin to drink in earnest. This process of adaptation should take about a week, during which time you should locate steady sources for your liquor of choice and stake out a territory. Be discerning; you will spend the rest of the drinking season here.

So what is your pleasure? Whiskey? Gin? Whatever it is, waste no time. The buds on the trees have begun to open and you know the season won’t last. So drink! Raise a glass, leap into the stream, take in as much as you can. Remember that at this time you are depleted on a microscopic level; the spongy alcoholic cells in your hands, feet, arms, legs, torso and head have shrunk over the long winter, withered into dry husks crying out in thirst. It is your job now to fill them. Do not be surprised if your capacity for drink seems diminished; your receptacles are smaller now than when you last imbibed. You are literally parched. So saturate! This is now your only task, and these, as they say, are the good times.

Isn’t the sun lovely? Look how it shines on the sizzling meadow! Look how the hares cavort! Just a few drinks in, and you now remember the purpose of life, which is to enjoy it. The birds know, the bees know: spring is here to be enjoyed. A little wine couldn’t hurt. Now don’t you feel better? If on the edge of your territory you spy someone who looks good to you, go ahead and introduce yourself. The season is short.

When the leaves turn brittle in the beating sun, and the insects come out abundant, and you begin to think almost subconsciously of patios, move on to beer. It is summer; time to quench that thirst. Play some tunes, lie in the grass, crack a cold one. Who could even contemplate doing anything else on a day like this? Ah, beer. Oh, beer. Treat yourself to a craft selection, or, if you find that pretentious, stick to your old faithful. No one’s judging. We’re all just here to have a good time. Have you ever tried to hula hoop? It’s harder than it looks. A little scientific note: beer stretches your drinking cells. That’s right—just when you thought you couldn’t possibly down another, you find that your capacity has expanded. So fill up. Don’t forget that you’re drinking for your future self too; all winter long, as you sleep it off in your den, your body will depend upon whatever reserves you can now pack away, drawing them slowly down. You must not deprive your future self, who, in its frozen brainless torpor, will have neither the luxury nor the motor skills to reach for a bottle. Drink!

At long last, the drinking season winds down. The geese fly by in honking V’s. The leaves turn papery and drop. Maybe you’d like some coffee. What do you take in your coffee? Baileys? Amaretto? Jäger? By now if you are standing you have done it wrong. If you have done it right, you are ready to crawl to your den. Remember to pee before you go in. You won’t pee again all winter. Find your hole in the ground. You can’t find your hole in the ground? Keep looking, it’s around here somewhere. Maybe over by that tree? That’s a familiar tree. Oh, yes, we know, you love this tree. Yes, go ahead and tell the tree you love it. And look! It’s your hole. Can you make it in? Do you need some help? No? You got this? Okay. Just fall in. You’re almost there. It’s easy. It’s as easy as falling into a hole. Don’t cry—you’re almost there! Just a little push . . . there.

Don’t worry about taking your shoes off. Just snuggle into your pile of coats, close your eyes, and let the spinning world spin you off to sleep. We’ll see you sober in the spring.


Trevor Shikaze

Trevor Shikaze's fiction has appeared in Cheap Pop, Maudlin House, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and elsewhere.

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