Kage Baker was a naturally abstemious person. She rarely over-indulged, at least in physical pleasures; she had a disciplined and measured approach to most appetites, deliberately setting aside treats to be enjoyed later at a carefully pre-calculated pace.
I’m not sure why, unless it was a way to make goodies last longer. She could (and sometimes did) apply herself happily to excess, when it seemed appropriate. It just didn’t, most of the time. Thus a birthday pound of See’s chocolate would last through the summer, being enjoyed one piece at a time. A longed-for book might be read over two leisurely weeks – I, meanwhile, would have blazed through it in one or two unsleeping nights, greedy as a 4-year old.
Mind you, when Kage did overdo it, she overdid it amazingly. “All things in measure” was one of her mottos, but so was “Anything worth doing, is worth overdoing.”
Her usual alcoholic drink rule, in public, was 2 drinks. However, the size was not a consideration: which occasionally led to, say, the astonishing consumption of two half-yards of ale in the course of a meal. (A half-yard is 18 inches tall. It hold 32 ounces of fluid. Two of them is a half-gallon* …) She had a heroic capacity.
The only times this led to problems was when she got blind-sided by unfamiliar cocktails. The most memorable was two zombies at the old Trader Vic’s in Hollywood. Zombies are lovely amber concoctions of rums and fruit juices, customarily garnished with Carmen Miranda’s hat – perfect for Kage. At Trader Vic’s, they came in giant clam shells. By the time Kage got through 2 of them, various of her senses were switching on and off at random – she could speak, but not hear; walk but not control direction. That sort of thing. The evening culminated in the only sleep-walking episode of her life, which was thwarted by the fact that she forgot about the two downward steps at the front door – a lucky thing, as she’d also forgotten her clothes …
But Kage was always a pleasant and amiable person, relaxed and conversational and a marvelous raconteuse. She told wonderful stories when her inhibitions were gently dissolved, even wilder than usual, and many of the crazier scenes in her stories were initially conceived as she swayed gently under the influence of rum and orchids and fruit onna stick.
The binge scene in Ghiardelli Square, from Graveyard Game, was written from life … you should have been there …
I lack such control as Kage had. I usually simply refrain, content to warm my hands at the gentle flames of memory. Or, as it happens, the roaring out-of-control bonfire of memory. I’m not as good as Kage was, for instance, at stopping at two. I’ll forego sleep to read a new Pratchett or King or Baker all in a night; if I get a birthday box of See’s choccies, it’s gone within the week.
Today, the problem was licorice. It turns out that See’s also makes exemplary black licorise, with real anise oil and not cunning faux decoctions of wintergreen flavouring. It’s soft and fragrent and black as the Earl of Hell’s weskit, and it comes in elegant black and silver striped 12-ounce bags. One of which I have eaten, in its entirety, as I wrote this reflection on excess.
Man, Kage would be laughing at me. Time to go lie down, I think, and sleep off the licorice.
* Thanks to Laura – she pointed out that I had originally calculated 2 half-yards to be a full gallon, which of course, they are not. Thus the correction. I blame the liquorice.