After a rough night I prefer being jarred into consciousness by my phone’s impersonation of an antique alarm clock—not the beeps of an unread text message. There is purpose, schedule, time and place imbedded into its frantic ringing, rings that oddly sound British.

God save the alarm clock.

Platonic, untimely timed and eschewed by “snooze”, I know few who appreciate the action of their duty, and fewer who can conceive a world bereft of them.

After some of my nights, waking to an alarm clock can be assuring. It means I was responsible enough to set the alarm in the first place. Being roused by a text’s incessant cries for attention is a different case. These awakenings are unknown, unplanned and for a fraught time, detached from an emotional response.

Give me body language, give me the alarm’s ironical inconvenience, give me more than keypad countenances.

What the hell did she mean by “ ; p ” ?

It is after these nights, and during the sequential mornings that seem as hazy as the dust particles swimming in toasty shafts of sunlight leaking through shutters, when the time between accepting the message and reading it can be like Cuban missiles aimed at Miami beach.

Sometimes they can be risible and a quick response is not necessary. Like, “Cameron broke into McD’s, got stuck in playpen, firemen r helping him out now.” Embrace these Little Debbie snacks in brown bags. Savor them for their modicum of worth. Muddy your hands devouring its chocolaty entrails. Someday these anecdotes will be traded on the Dow Jones—when bottled water is free and people pay for music.

Other times they are not so favorable. Sometimes these morning texts are as palatable as the lingering taste in your mouth after getting sick the previous night. Brush your teeth all you want, the sour mash halitosis will sojourn in mind and body like a “Feed The Children” montage.

            “We really need to talk about what you said last night.”

            “Well shit… it was probably the truth.”

No, no, no. You can’t send that. You’re sober now, or more sober may be appropriate. That type of candor doesn’t fly when you’re expected to tightrope the attenuated dental floss of semiotics called “coffee.” You do not reserve the right to speak with a lawyer—this is Guantanamo Café.

            The best trapeze artists drink coffee like Gretzky played hockey.

            For the rest of us, a one-time excuse suffices, at least for now.

“Sorry for partying” is a great spin, but all too often it leads to another spin. This defense mechanism is like flicking a coin again and again to keep it gyring. It’s easy to start but hard to sustain, each sequential flick more likely to reveal the hypnotizing swirl as a plain old profile of a recognizable dead guy.           

“Sorry, it was the booze talking.”

This spin doesn’t “turn a criticism into an asset,” but it does pardon first time abusers from visceral exposure in public. This defense mechanism is particularly interesting in today’s social geography where Twitter and “25 Random Things” hold ascendancy. Telling a complete stranger how you really feel about the Mayan Apocalypse is no longer best left to grimy curbside convos. Digital catharsis ousted Thomas Aquinas. Digg reports few were injured.

And so this defense mechanism works like a get-out-of-jail free card for our generation, understandable to anyone turned libidinal humanist succumbed to tequila or Nietzschean after a few too many “starry night” shots.

To accept is to both acknowledge and disregard the savage within “the noble savage.” And yet, ironically this savage is the most noble as it doesn’t try to be someone else. Piltdown man don’t front; he knows he can’t pull off a smoking jacket.

In any of its manifestations, “it was the booze talking” blames liquor for releasing repressed thoughts and strange idiosyncrasies. The excuse frames truth as accident, stream of consciousness as a Jackson Pollack mess. It’s exiled guilt and in a stretched sense, it is the American apologia.            

Think about it.

On the surface this excuse seems only defensive against the atavistic tendencies of the irresponsible twenty something, but upon closer look, it teems with telling implications.

There is the notion that in escape there is vulnerability. But vulnerable to what? In trying to escape reality we unintentionally display real-time reactions and inhibitions.

This freedom is scary; harmful may be a better word. Just imagine if our benign, drunken rants metastasized across the World Wide Web.

While under the influence, we believe we are literally under another influence. We have lost cognitive sovereignty. We did not really mean what we said because we couldn’t clearly contemplate its weight. I imagine Captain Morgan and his crew pillaging dendrites and vitiating respectable images. The bastard is standing with one foot on my neck, twirling his mustache as I argue why the penny will never go out of mint.
The question is: Can Web 2.0 show our true colors, or just paint-by-number pixels?

Social networking sites display our concept of “the self” to an audience without borders. In the blogosphere we consciously cull, construe, and ‘cast our unique identities in a favorable light. We market to a saleable demographic with thoughtful tweets and posts. Deliberate choices, foreseeable implications.

Every keystroke, a binary extraction.

 And so “sorry, it was the booze talking” is a defense mechanism against an illusory attacker. It is flinching at a 3-D movie. But I’m a hypocrite and I love 3-D movies. The glasses are well worth the extra money.

Read the original "Meditations on the Mundane."









© 2009

Let Me Explain Myself: The Morning After “Sorry for Partying”

Matt Marsaglia