Preamble: if you're underage (or of parenty-age), please note this was written ironically. Moreover, please don't drink too much and/or spend all your time online. Seriously, just don't.
Alright, here's my story. In my province, you can only buy alcohol (beer, wine, spirits) at a designated government liquor store. It's an inconvenient legislative hangover from British Columbia's prohibitive past. By the way, you American alcohol consumers have no idea how easy you have it what with all those grocery stores and gas stations and 7-11s that sell beer! Alas, we BC-ers have to plan for Sundays when the one liquor store in our neighborhood is closed.
So when one needs to regularly purchase and repurchase routine supplies in a local store, the staff at said local store starts to recognize one on sight and pretty damn quick if one is there a lot (okay, never mind the royal-sounding third person singular 'one' here; we all know I mean 'me'), which, sadly, I am. I'm there a lot and I always imagine they judge me every time they ring my case of beer through, like, "Jeez, more? Weren't you just in here a day ago?" At least I live in an area where a lot of people with drinking problems pay with hat-begged change and not a classy debit card like me.
The checkout guys get chatty. I'm usually in and out in five minutes but seeing me in my steel-toed Docs, paint-spattered apron, and bike helmet, they remember me and make conversation. One cashier asked me if I was a set painter, one asked if I was a house painter-by-trade and so on. I'm always hesitant to admit I'm an artist-painter because that buys into the whole alcoholic creative cliché. Sometimes I throw down my business card and scamper out before they ask if all the damn alcohol I buy is why I never paint a straight line.
Two nights ago, I was in the liquor store picking up wine and the one cashier who always chats me up asks what I'm working on tonight. I toss out a couple of print proofs for a show I was applying to (drunks should always crowdsource career decisions, right?) and ask, "Here, whaddya think? Which is best? I can only pick one."
The lineup behind me leans in to look. A clean-cut guy third in line goes, "Oh. My. God. You're Laura Zerebeski!"
Me: "What, you know me?" I suddenly want to hide my box of wine.
Guy: "Totally! And I love your work."
Thank you, Third-in-Line-Guy, and Thank You, St. Martin, patron Saint of Alcoholics, for this momentary beam of benign respect and recognition; you have no idea how much you lightened my shame.
The next time (okay, day: Next day) I stopped in to get beer the same cashier told me, "Hey, that guy said you're quite renowned." His words, and that's a lovely phrase to savour: "quite renowned".
It was a nice moment to go from scruffy alcoholic recognized only by Kingsgate Mall liquor store cashiers to an eccentrically addicted creative spirit known far and wide for not following or walking straight lines.
Hell, in anyone's life, a moment of recognition and anti-shame is a blessing and possibly a little sign from something, somewhere, to not be so hard on yourself.