A raw preview of what's to come for the Indulgence Essay Contest, by Nick Papa.
Charlie was a grey-haired, big-nosed, cantankerous old fuck from Melbourne. According to no particular lore than his own, he spent a quarter century rusticated deep within the bowels of The Great White Dongbei erecting industrial grain silos somewhere along the outer rim of Harbin. A child of China past, Charlie smoked fast, drank hard, died young and was reincarnated as a Beijing bar owner in 2010.
We’d go to Charlie’s every now and then to have a beer and watch football. He always had the Premiership live on the weekends, and his pizza was the tits. Then came the dusty, carcinogenic Spring of 2012. Under the duress of a virulent strain of heartbreak and acute soulless boredom more indigenous in Beijing than a pack of Caiba’s, I transitioned into a Charlie’s regular.
We didn’t go drinking at Charlie’s. We went to drink liquor at Charlie’s. There’s a difference. Sipping beers, wine, cocktails, and all those in-betweeny fluffy cups of shit served up by the horde of preened and gelled ologists in vests and bowties the dickheads at Flamme enable…that’s drinking. Zizzed neon giraffes in six-inch heels and three inch skirts stumbling around the empty recesses of 3.3 at 2 a.m. whooping in autotune Mandarin of their Tuesday night exploits…those fools, they go drinking.
Drinking liquor is less than a hard science yet more than a simple practice. It is a highly concentrated nightly effort involving large payloads of ice and contaminant. Some say the orbit of hardcore drinking revolves tightly around the burning sun of alcoholism and the cool moon of ambition. Between lies the poison, and to truly drink liquor one’s poison must be strong.
Mine was a double-double shot of Jameson with soda in a Duvel glass. Four shots of heady Protestant whiskey, a half can of cutter, over ice in a tulip glass to really kickstart the contamination process. I called them Lao Yangzi, the same-old same-old. I’d order them by name every night, and drink them through straws at a rate of about two per hour. That meant that if the spigot began pumping at 6pm I’d have a bit north of 20 shots of liquor in circulation by 9pm.
It also meant that Charlie was able to pay his rent on my tab alone. With food calculated in, consuming Lao Yangzis was running me the upwards of about 9,000 kuai a month. One particularly devoted November I managed to surpass 13,000. I had Charlie on a monthly pay schedule; the bills were about two feet long and read Jameson Jameson Jameson Jameson Soda Chicken Roll Jameson Jameson Jameson Jameson Soda.
After six Lao Yangzis I’d either retire upstairs to my apartment cradling a newborn four liter jug of nongfu, or go mess with my unfailing little bastard feral of a rental cat called Katzenhammer. He lived outside and probably still does to this day. There wasn’t much else to do; a feeling which brings in to focus the origin of my indulgence. Pure boredom, and medicating whatever way felt best.
Unlike Beijing’s neon giraffe, fu er dai, nouveau riche, old money, or typified foreigner populace, my indulgence wasn’t born from the excitement of breaking in Beijing’s stacks of fancy sounding restaurants, be-dickfaced cocktail lounges, happy ending dispensaries, clubs, and whatever lies between…(not much). Rather it was how I dealt with being wholly exhausted with the Beijing status quo. It wasn’t my response to something. It was my sheer exasperation with nothing.
Nick studied in Nanjing, messed around in Shanghai, and eventually took up the mantle of Regional Sales Director for Duvel-Moortgat in Beijing. After several exciting (and often times very uncivilized) years in the industry, Nick retired to Israel as a marketing director for a friend's company.
You've recently left China. Three words to capture that feeling?
Best decision ever.
Most memorable moment from my first year in China? December 2006, playing this game we invented at CET language campus called Digital Vats of Urine. We'd scatter our friend Alex's belongings around the dorm and throw darts at them.
Moment I realized China was an important part of my life: When I got a job with a future in Shanghai in 2010.
My writing history: Sometimes I do it when there's a reason, but it's been a while
Favorite word to use in writing: Fuck or fucking
One word to describe the process of writing: Annoyance