Following on from the booze references in the previous post, I was reminded of something very much alcohol-related from a few years ago.
One of the bands I used to play in never got beyond the rehearsal stage. This was never a problem for us, I always looked forward to the rehearsals: it was me and a couple of friends and a few gadgets, and one or two nights a week we would improvise music in the comfort of the house of one such friend. The stuff we used to churn out was epic, mesmeric psychedelic stuff which ebbed and flowed: sometimes very structured, other times completely eschewing any kind of order in favour of a formless wash of sound. Hark at me with my grandiose descriptions.
One significant feature of the rehearsals, and which surely both helped and hindered our musical noodlings in roughly equal measure, was the bottle of spirits which we would usually get from the rather quaint off license a few minutes down the road. Usually this was vodka, though from time to time we would sample other interesting concoctions on the recommendation of the owner. A number of times we would go for the imported Polish vodka, I remember not the name, but it was the ridiculously strong stuff (hence the title of the post) which to the uninitiated wouldn't smell or taste much different to some form of industrial furniture polish. Which probably counted us as being among the ranks of the uninitiated.
Still we would drink it anyway, a couple of capfuls each when each piece of music we were playing wound down to a natural halt (or if one of us needed the toilet). Despite the occasional grimace as this heady stuff hit the back of the throat, it gave a pleasant warming sensation, and served to increase our ability to shut out practically everything else apart from the music.
One of the residents of the house was a marvellous, genial and very knowledgeable chap called...well, let's call him Dave. He too was known for liking, and being able to hold, his drink. Occasionally during our rehearsals he would pop his head round the door to have a listen, perhaps share a capful or two of whatever our chosen poison was that week, and then leave us to carry on.
One evening we were taking a break as he looked in, and we invited him to share some of the strong Polish vodka with us. To our faint surprise he turned it down. Later on when we had finished for the night, we were sat talking with him and during the conversation I asked him if he didn't like the vodka. He then launched into an incredibly authoritative, technical and scientific-sounding description of the chemical makeup of this type of vodka - I still remember him talking about polymers and other such things in great detail, and was astounded by the eloquence of his explanation - and how it wasn't just stronger by volume, but potentially so much more volatile in its effects on the body. "Bad Shit" was how he summed it up at the end of this lengthy but fascinating discourse.
So we heeded his grave advice and decided to leave it alone, and at our next rehearsal a couple of nights later we reverted back to standard strength vodka. Later on when once again we were in conversation with Dave, we offered him a glass, pointing out that we had followed his advice from the other night.
"What advice?" he asked, looking slightly puzzled. I recounted to him as best I could the explanation he'd given, making sure I put the word polymers in there at some point, and how he'd basically shocked us into leaving the stuff well alone. By the time I'd finished he was in fits of laughter, making me wonder aloud whether I should be embarrassed about the inadequacy of my explanation.
"No, it's not that," he said, "it's just that I realise this must have been Tuesday night you're talking about. I can't remember saying any of it: I was, completely and utterly, pissed out of my face!"