Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mai Tai's @ The Madison Theater

Something triggered my memory on Friday, making me travel back to those long lost, youthful days of drinking in and around the city of Albany when I was in high school. A friend and I went to lunch on Friday, sipped a nice dry Chardonnay at the bar and then proceeded to the table for a fabulous, gastronomic experience at the lovely West End Cafe. After our healthful lunch, we headed over the a local craft store to search for Christmas decorations and those cute holiday window stickers that adorn most storm doors during this time of the year. Instead, we ended up sniffing candles for a half an hour, trying to find the exact scent that reminded us of childhood Christmas' of yesteryear. I think my friend found a Mai Tai scent that reminded me not of Christmas, but dark, cold Albany winters and how I spent most of them watching two month old flicks at the local movie house a few blocks from my parents house. The Madison Theater was an aging Goliath with threadbare seats that only a teenagers bum could find comfortable. Occasionally, a rusty spring would pop up mid way through the movie, giving you a jolt, forcing out a tiny yelp, muffled by the scratchy sound system and moans of kids having sex in a remote part of the joint. It was cheap and no one bothered you at the Madison. It was a neighborhood hang-out and rest assured, you'd always see someone you knew there.

There was one such occasion when the theater was having some sort of fundraiser for a forgettable Upstate New York charity back in 1983. They were showing REDS with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton with a lovely intermission included. My friends and I thought it would be great to attend, bring dinner in and have dessert at the theater during intermission. We ventured over to Peking, a local yocal Chinese sit-down restaurant owned by a classmates family. Turns out that they also did take-out and didn't proof for liquor...can you see where this is going? We ordered Pepper Steak, Moo Goo Gai Pan and two huge containers of Mai Tai's to go. We smuggled it into the theater easily, but it's hard to hide the stench of freshly cooked Chinese food. People were commenting on all sides of us but no one knew who had the Oriental chow and as we scoffed it down quickly, we openly slurped our Mai Tai's out of plastic food containers all while watching an aging Beatty play an inquisitive writer during the Russian Revolution. By the time intermission came, we were all three sheets to the wind, slurring our words and sloppily ordering fancy cheesecake with small tumblers of champagne. I was 15 years old and living the high life, so I thought. I was ions away from my life at Blessed Sacrament just two years earlier. I had on Levi cords, a lovely Shetland Faire Isle sweater and a turtle neck with little wales on it. I'm sure I had Bass Penny Loafers on with wool socks and my Etienne Aigner box bag jacked high, HIGH on my left shoulder. It was the days of preppy everything and I was a faithful follower of LL Bean, Talbots and Cohoes Mfg. The Preppy Handbook was my life back then and when I couldn't manage it any longer and plaid pants quickly lost fashion value, I traded my loafers in for sleek black scrunchy boots, curled and teased my hair and bought a truck load of Girbaud jeans.

After chowing down even more food and drink, we silently went back to our seats and finished watching this mammoth saga set in 1917 Russia. It was a non-romantic wannabe Dr. Zhivago. I enjoyed it at moments but the movie should have been edited down quite a bit. I own it now in my own movie library simply for nostalgic reasons.

When the movie ended, we still had a good buzz going and decided to sit on the large, concrete turtles in front of the Price Chopper grocery store and smoke Newports. I hated Newports but beggars can't be choosers and it was a short walk back to casa Giminiani and I needed to get my ya ya's out before entering the house. I also needed to de-stink myself of booze and stogies. I was being a bad little girl back then and I enjoyed the deception. I was good for so long that I needed to spread my wings, experiment with lots of poisons and people until it wore out its welcome. I'm not drunk or junkie so I suppose I was able to outgrow my pubescent urges to drink till I puked and smoked till I puked. I'm a doubting Thomas. Until it happens to me, I am a disbeliever. In 1985, I drank 10 gin and tonics at Hurley's on Clinton Avenue and puked all over Tim Sullivan in my 74' Dodge Dart. We broke up soon after.

No comments: