I can sum up my advice for non-drinking over-21ers in Santa Fe in two words: good luck! Short of actively choosing alcoholism, your options are pretty limited—as I recently learned during a multi-night stab at fun with my freakjob brother.
We’ve been standing at the corner of West San Francisco and Sandoval Streets for nearly 25 minutes, and we’re starting to get cranky. To the south is the direction we came from, and short of aging 50 years and discovering that our wallets have the power to sprout cash, Vanessie isn’t an option. Earlier, we laughed at the possibility of not finding something to do, but it is now our reality. We talk for a few minutes and then give up. “It’s our first night,” I say. “No need to rush.”
We’re at Rouge Cat Karaoke with Rob G, and it only took one night of this mission for my bro to look at me with sad eyes and say, “I get that you won’t be drinking, but I’m gonna.” I offer to pay for his drink to soften the blow of my own Coca-Cola order, and though my bro is pleased, the bartendress looks at me like I’m worse than 10 super-holocausts. You’d think bartenders would love a guy who tips on a soda (and won’t get on the freeway heading the wrong direction), but they don’t. And once we see the beautiful hipster chicks with the Jersey Shore reject dudes, we fight back tears, quickly imbibe our bevvies and are gone.
My bro was supposed to be here some time ago, so I’m not surprised when the phone rings. “I’m just having some weird…stuff,” he says. I accept this and crack open the latest Reporter to gauge my night’s options. Four hours later, I wake up in my chair. I’m sitting straight up, and my neck hurts like hell. It takes everything I have to get up and brush my teeth.
We never go to the south side of town, so I figure we can head that way and see what happens. It’s after 6 pm, so we can’t afford a movie, and I’m pretty sure Cheeks will have some kind of two-drink minimum. Plus, Cheeks is gross. My brother explains his idea for a laundromat/venue/arcade, and I almost cry because such a wondrous thing doesn’t exist here. I’m starting to think that not drinking is stupid.
I head to The Underground to check out NYC rock act The Click Clack Boom. Forty-five minutes and something like seven sound checks later, I’m across the street at The Matador watching my buddy Max drink a PBR and make lovey-dovey eyes at his special lady behind the bar. As I complain that shows never start on time, Max looks at me the way you might look at a sick dog and says, “I feel like I should buy you a beer.” I almost let him, but instead, I just finish my Coke, thank the bartendress (love you, Kate Tyler!) and go home. “What the hell am I going to write?” I ask my brother over the phone the next day. “Lie,” he says. “I can’t!” I tell him. “So say exactly what happened and let people figure their own shit out,” he replies. I pause awhile, mull over his statement and then I say, “You might be onto something…”