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Davis, California

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Column: Writer in the Liquor Store

This past Saturday night – like every other Saturday night – I was in the library going over some of my favorite early medieval texts.

Shit, sorry. That wasn’t me. That was someone else, because I was at Aggie Liquor.

Two friends and I were having the age-old debate on which kind of 30-rack we should buy: Keystone or Natty. A couple next to us was in a similar predicament, so we formed a brain trust, if you will. Essentially, the argument was Keystone for a better taste or Natty for a great taste and not supporting an evil brewery.

As my crew and I got in line, the couple ended up right behind us. We got to talking and the guy asked me something:

Guy: “Do I know you? You look familiar.”

Me: “I don’t know. Maybe.”

My friend: “You must recognize him as Aggie columnist Will Long!”

Guy: “Whoa, no fucking way! I’m the American Flag Pants guy!”

Now, let me refresh your memory if you haven’t been following me from the beginning.

A while back I had the idea of using my column to offer advice in abnormal and hilarious situations. One day a guy asked how he could get his pants back after they were stolen in Chico on Halloween night. I told him to stage an American-flag-pants-only party and nab the culprit when he showed up. I never heard how that plan worked out, but I assume the pants remain at large.

Regardless, the experience of being known for my column was pretty weird – and pretty awesome. Granted, the guy had played a part in my writings a few months ago, but I had never met him, never really talked to him except through these sheets of paper. It was the first time a stranger had recognized my name from a newspaper.

My first thought, of course, was that crowds were amassing to laud me with praise and throw lavish parties in my honor like the ones in the Bacardi commercials. Soon I would bathe in crisp $100 bills.

Then I remembered the hole in my right shoe, my wet sock and that I was in Aggie Liquor buying 30 really cheap beers and an even cheaper bottle of whiskey. My great American novel is still light years away from anything, but at least Hemingway wouldn’t disapprove of my habits. Actually, he’d probably tell me to stop being such a pussy and really hit the bottle. So would Poe, Joyce and the rest of the long list of famous artistic, alcoholic geniuses.

A lot of history points out some connection between drinking problems and good art (and insanity). This isn’t to say that one depends on the other, but they’re not mutually exclusive.

Speaking of that, I just finished a book written by a woman of Hemingway’s caliber, at least in terms of intoxication. It was Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, a woman you’ll probably recognize as Princess Leia.

To quote a friend, she’s gnarly. Over her years, she dropped acid all the time, drank often, was particularly addicted to pain killers and word on the set of Star Wars was Harrison Ford had the dankest weed around.

Well, I don’t plan on ever checking into rehab, and I don’t expect to ever be called a literary genius, but you never know. Maybe I’ll just end up in rehab after a series of mediocre children’s books. I could write about a raccoon who sails around on a ship made of…cheese? Trash cans? Bones? Kids are into weird shit.

Whatever the outcome, it was wild to meet a stranger who knew me through my work in The Aggie. It wasn’t really surprising, however, that it happened during the purchase of booze. A final note to anyone who feels like tracking me down to check it off their bucket list: I won’t be in the library, and now I might be in disguise.

WILL LONG would like to thank American Flag Pants guy. He wonders how the Mad Dog 20/20 and Bud-Clamato combo worked out for him. If you ever want abnormal and hilarious advice, Will can be found at wclong@ucdavis.edu.

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