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The distinguished guest instructor 

Whatever, I don't judge

That will be the absolute last time I drag Grant's drunk ass into a grocery store late at night. It's not like I haven't been traumatized enough by my own childhood, when visits to the grocery store elicited freak factors out of both parents. My father boycotted our neighborhood store because it stopped cashing his checks, so he used to drive us across town to the grocery "thrift" store, where they sold discontinued items, like the genius jars of peanut butter with gobs of grape jelly already in them. And when my mother grocery shopped she inevitably threatened to leave me behind every time – this was probably due to the fact that I desperately wanted her to make good on her threat.

So I already have issues with grocery stores. I did not need to trigger post trauma by sitting by and saying nothing while Grant hoovered two giant margaritas with extra shots of artisan tequila during dinner before the grocery run. We were in Charlotte, having taken my memoir-publishing seminar on the road seeing as how we had such a successful charter year in Atlanta. I'd just had my fifth protégé contact me to say she'd gotten a book deal, which makes me, of course, burst about a billion capillaries as I take all the credit for her success. Grant was with me in Charlotte because he had characteristically horned in from the beginning, this time by insisting he could be a distinguished guest instructor, hence the "Grant Henry 'Fuck Fear' Enlightenment Lecture" portion of the seminar. I agreed to let him do it if for no other reason than it would be fun to see him beaten by a mob with the kindling he uses to make his own artwork, which would be easily accessible since the seminars are normally held in his gallery.

But I let Grant stick around because it turned out his enlightenment lectures were actually, I guess, enlightening after all. Everyone loved him. I'm still at a bit of a loss over that one, as one time his philosophy seemed to boil down to nothing but "tip big and consider suicide!" But whatever, I don't judge.

In Charlotte Grant refused to help me stock up on finger food for my (our!) seminar the next morning until after we'd had dinner at his favorite Mexican restaurant. Grant had been bloviating about that restaurant the entire drive up, and couldn't wait to stumble through its doors like a desert wanderer onto an oasis. It was there that he sucked back the super margaritas and further refused to do anything preparatory for the next day until after he'd hit his other favorite place, Smelly Cat Coffee House, where he planned to bestow the owner with a paint-by-numbers picture of a kitten, which he'd augmented with the words "Jesus Loves a Smelly Pussy" painted across the top. Luckily she was not there to receive it so Grant left it with the cashier, who, like, loved it. Whatever, I don't judge.

Next we had to hit the Rat's Nest so Grant could talk me into buying more vintage dresses that are too small for me, and it was here that we figured out the owner had opened a bar down the road called the Thirsty Beaver. "Bitch, we are not leaving Charlotte until we go to a bar called the Thirsty Beaver!" Grant hollered. "The Thirsty Beaver! The Thirsty Beaver!"

Grant, even though he is an actual bartender, is nonetheless a complete booze-weenie himself, and by this time he'd started entwining himself in everything again, including, but not limited to, the sister of the owner of the Rat's Nest, who had, to her very dubious credit, reopened the store to let our late asses inside. "The Thirsty Beaver!" Grant kept hollering, and I knew it was just a matter of minutes before his lips would start puckering again and I'd have to pop the poor girl off of his suction.

I insisted we get the provisions at the grocery store before going to the bar, but by that time the only store open was some grimy ghetto joint that looked a lot like the grocery thrifts my dad used to take me to. I did one sweep through with a cart before looking back to see that Grant had stuffed an entire aisle of out-dated baked goods into his mouth without so much as, like, paying for it or anything. Luckily all the wrappers were still stuck to him under a crust of honey-bun icing, so I could hand them to the cashier to hopefully pay for what he ate so we wouldn't get our asses thrown in jail, not that it helped at all that Grant kept shouting the name of the bar, which by that time the booze in his brain had morphed into another name entirely.

"Smelly Beaver! Smelly Beaver!" he kept shouting, and with that I ushered Grant, my distinguished guest instructor, out the door so he could vomit in the parking lot.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).

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