I went home and searched the house for NBA's—the clinical term for non-beverage alcohol. I was reading Kitty Dukakis's 1990 memoir, Now You Know. In it, Kitty details all the household products she drank "to induce oblivion": fingernail polish remover, hair spray, after-shave, rubbing alcohol...That was what the papers wrote about: how she'd been hospitalized for drinking rubbing alcohol. They didn't mention anything about the after-shave or hairspray or fingernail polish remover.
I admired Kitty's tenacity, her undying spirit, the endearing yet childish nickname to which she answered as an adult female, rather than to her given name of Katherine. She didn't abandon her idea of oblivion when her family members removed all the bottles of vodka and gin and whiskey from her house; she got creative. I searched my own house but I didn't have any after-shave or nail polish remover or hairspray. I wasn't very into self-grooming. Just all the other self-'s, the damaging ones, the harming kinds.
I found a bottle of hand sanitizer in the guest room. I figured my mother had probably left it after our last heart-to-heart. (It was possible she was tippling NBAs herself.) I had read at some point somewhere online that hand sanitizer, the average 240 ml container, contains an amount of alcohol equal to five shots of liquor. Of course, hand sanitizer, like rubbing alcohol, contains isopropyl alcohol, rather than the normal ethyl kind found in hard liquor and cold medicines and vanilla extract, and isopropyl can fuck up your stomach or intestines or liver pretty quickly, according to the internet. I read about an underage college student who bought a 32 ounce bottle of pure vanilla extract for $50 just to get fucked up. Vanilla extract is about 70 proof, just under vodka and rum. And lemon extract is 170 proof. I guess teenagers don't know that, though, or they'd probably be putting lemon extract in their Starbucks rather than vanilla. I thought about how I'd once made the Muslim neighbors a cake with almond and vanilla extracts instead of Grand Marnier because they won't drink alcohol and how, really, they were ingesting just as much alcohol if not more with the extracts than with the Grand Marnier, that it was more a matter of appearances, rather than of real hard scientific data. But they were fine with it, with the extracts, adding, "We wouldn't eat it if it was made with Grand Marnier."
I opened the hand sanitizer. I made the mistake of smelling it first. I wanted to know what it felt like to be a middle-aged politician's wife: Betty Ford, Kitty Dukakis, Mary Kennedy, et al. Lonely. I knew that's how it felt. I felt lonely, too. Isolated. Alone the greater part of the night and day in an oversized American house. I wished for oblivion, also. I took a casual swig from the plastic bottle, tried to will it down my throat without tasting it like a wad of come. I didn't have a chaser. I ran to the kitchen for water. After that I opened the spice cupboard. I didn't have lemon extract but I still had the almond and vanillas from when I'd made the neighbors the cake. I remembered reading that almond extract is about 90 proof. I took a big swig from the almond bottle and without thinking, a bigger swig from the vanilla. It said on the internet that NBA users were more prone to polydrug 'misuse'—that's how it was worded—and to having antisocial personality disorders. I didn't know how an antisocial personality disorder was defined or if I had one. I just wanted to be alone and then to complain about being alone, or lonely.
I drank all the vanilla and almond extracts, some mouthwash, a little more of the hand sanitizer, puked a bit or a lot (I can't remember) into the sink, and lay down on the kitchen floor the way a teenage boy I had admired had passed out on a kitchen floor in my youth.