Get Thirsty

Thirst. To an outsider, it’s an odd noun to describe a non-physical condition. In fact, it’s an odd noun period. A word which connotes a specific yearning. Unlike its adjective form which can be quenched in a matter of seconds and in a number of ways, the noun is discriminating and implies only one source of satiation.

To a fellow addict, however, it’s the most appropriate description of the condition.

Like most cravings, the buildup is predictable and the experience is ritualistic. A self-reinforcing cycle which starts with a hangover or, once in a blue moon, a triumphant, if hazy, recollection of a perfect night. But unlike other substances, the supply is seasonal and limited. The cycle takes a calendar year to orbit. And only a lucky few are susceptible to its intoxicating effects.

There are street versions. Posers which satisfy the outsiders who have yet to sample the real product. They can be found in the bars of Manhattan and Boston at the start of the week. To this uninitiated many, these substitutes are as good as it gets. As they say, ignorance is bliss.

There are diluted variations as well. Shades of the real thing that have been cut and laced and inhaled through delusional gasps. Unlike the Bostonians and New Yorkers, these junkies have had a taste of the real thing. Though they would never admit it, they know that they will never be satisfied. They hide themselves in places like California, Texas and Miami, where the warm weather and beautiful women offer plenty of distractions.

After the morning hangover comes the afternoon. A time when a nap is necessary to stave off exhaustion and cleanse the head, stomach and veins. But eventually day fades to evening, and that’s when the urge returns. It’s slow at first, but grows by the minute. The evening is when the whispers begin, which gets the blood pumping. The pre-high of anticipation that rivals the intensity of the drug itself, if only for a moment. The fire is fueled by speculation and reports of the future yield. But the anticipation inevitably devolves into frustration, as mere words can only satisfy the imagination for so long. This addiction runs much deeper.

Finally, this visceral desire and emotional dependence culminates in a palpable environment where addicts come together to feed off of the collective frenzy. Throughout Georgia and Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, its effects are mimicked by lesser drugs like bourbon and cocaine. For the real addicts though, these are just intensifiers.

It can only be found in its pure, unadulterated form in one place on Earth. And, when the time is right, the real addicts wake up with its symptoms coursing through their veins. The method of intoxication is a set of speakers. The point of entry is the ear. The drug is Tiger Rag. And the party is Game Day.

These opinions are not necessarily those of the Proprietors of Shakin' The Southland.

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