Chugging ZZZQuil With Map Daddy.

A dedicated film noir fan ought to be more of a drinker, able to take it straight from a pint bottle of rye like any hard-boiled gumshoe, or at least able to keep a grip on a long-stemmed cocktail glass in a smoky nightclub like any self-respecting femme fatale. A writer as well? Hell, there ought to be a fifth of bourbon flanking my manual Royal, no glass required. 

But it’s a Mac, not a typewriter, and only a coffee mug and an ash tray (tsk-tsk!) keep the computer company. And when it comes to alcohol, frankly, I’m a lightweight. 

Still, it might’ve made sense to stake out a bar stool at a local lounge ‘round mid-day Tuesday the 3rd and just stay put for the night, for a week or however long it took. “It” being the election, of course. Michael Koelsch’s cover art for Hard Case Crime’s Cocktail Waitress (above) by James M. Cain looks about right. Though Paul Rader’s art for ‘March Hastings’ (Sally Singer) The Drifter (below) from 1962 was more the feeling.

We all knew it wouldn’t get called Tuesday evening, what with tens of millions of early vote ballots, mail-in ballots, absentee and overseas ballots in a tightening race. Nail-biters like Georgia aside, increased turnout, extra scrutiny and a little thing called the pandemic were bound to drag things out. Oh, I still had to go to the day job on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Fill the tank, grab some groceries and all the other regular life stuff. But it was hard to focus on anything while it felt like the fate of the world hung in the balance…which, of course, it did. Hanging out till the wee hours with the broadcast and cable networks’ Map-Daddies (MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki the best of the bunch, whether you like the channel or not) is not good for the blood pressure, peace of mind or trying to catch some ZZZZ’s. It would’ve been better to hunker down in the writing lair with the TV going and a bottle of something strong at hand, but as noted above: I’m not much of a drinker. No, it was four nights of watching till whenever and then guzzling some ZZZQuil to catch some sleep before the AM alarm went off, and I could go back to pretending that we weren’t teetering between some hoped-for return to normalcy and something infinitely worse than merely four more years of chaos. 

Confession: It wasn’t actually ZZZQuil. Cheapskate that I am, I buy the private label version. 

The chaos isn’t over, not by a long shot, though if you ask me, the shenanigans that will persist for a few more days – or even weeks – are more about using lawsuits (or the threats of suits that never materialize) to raise some much-needed cash to replenish depleted campaign coffers. But as of late Saturday morning, I feel like I can breathe again. I mean, did they actually ring bells in Paris? Probably not, but still. Up till then, it felt silly to be crafting posts about books and movies and artists when so much was at stake, and though a few items were already pre-queued to appear at Tumblr, I just let ‘em go and wasn’t paying much attention. 

So, back to ‘normal’ now. Or, sort of. As if there isn’t a killer plague ravaging the world and the U.S. in particular, and the economy isn’t shot to hell and the rising Covid case counts aren’t threatening another statewide lockdown before Thanksgiving and…well, that’s all another story, I guess. But at least I can motivate myself to crack open a book once more, watch a movie, string a few words together to compose a blog post, and hopefully, lay off the ZZZQuil – branded or generic – so my body can get back to making its own melatonin again.

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