“Cry Help, Fool!” The Rehab Revue

I awoke in an unfamiliar room. This was hardly new. There were three other dudes still sleeping in the beds around me.  It was a moldy group, clearly losers I had been partying with, but couldn’t remember.  Then it hit me.  This hotel room didn’t have a bathroom.  This wasn’t a hotel room at all.  This was rehab.  A detox unit.  If there was a party, it’s over now.

There’s an elevator-landing-in-your-gut feeling when that realization crawls into your consciousness.  Major dragage.  Besides all the physical discomfort, there’s the open sewage pouring into your soul.  Ok, this might not even be happening.  You’ve seen a lot of things that weren’t really there, old boy.  This is probably just a bad dream brought on by alcohol poisoning.  You’re probably just dying.  Don’t worry, it’s not really rehab.  Blink it away.  Blink it away.  Blink this fucking room with no bathroom away!

I was still blinking when an attendant came in.  He looked like the singer from Static X.  A reformed one of us, I figured.  He had a clipboard.  “Alright guys, it’s time to get up.”  I got to watch their expressions as they came to.  Some were baffled, others resigned.  We were told to make our beds.  I hadn’t made my bed in 17 years.  It seemed a losing effort.  Eventually, it would get unmade.  Make it.  Unmake it.  What utter futility!  It’s the torment of Greek myths.  In a world gone this mad can you see why I need to drink?  I made my bed, but now I wanted to lay in it.

We were shuffled off to the medical office for a check-up and possible meds.  I rode in this rodeo before.  Meds meant hope.  Meds meant maybe a little better.  Meds also meant it was time to dust off my thespian performance cape.  A tragic Danish prince with serious life issues is one role, but someone who is prone to seizure if not medicated is another.  I intended my Hamlet to be both.  I sat across the doctor’s desk and made sure he could see my shaking hands.

I get uncomfortable when people ask me a series of questions.  Usually, it has to do with the surroundings.  Hospital, crime scene, first date, booking room, shrink’s office, time-share presentation, or job interview.  It’s never where I’d prefer to be at the moment.  The right answers will facilitate me getting out of there the fastest, but are they the honest ones?  Rarely.  My other problem has to do with the Aristotelian nature of so many of the questions.  Yes or no.  Many times the answer is both and neither. “Can I get back to you on that one?” never seems to fly.  I also suck at remembering “when?”  When did the problem start?  When did you first notice this?  When did you leave the motel?  When did you sell this gun to the guy you can’t remember?

“I have to impress upon the court, that my client often has trouble remembering the events of last night.  Only with intense study of credit card receipts, matchbooks, and food stains, can any sort of time line be put together.”

Sadly this time, my honest answers were enough to get me a jackpot of medication. Yahoo!  I’m really sick!  They were right about the truth setting you free. I got my pills and rolled out into the day room to check out the other guests.  Let’s see who else ran out of rainbow.  The tableaux looked like something out of a cheap community theater production. There was the toothless White Trash meth-head, a red-faced street drunk, and a ghoulish heroin addict.  There was also a guy that looked like my Dad.  I found out that he had drank isopropyl alcohol when he ran out of Cutty Sark and almost died. Paaaartay!

Breakfast trays were rolled in on a cart by some trustee with a spider web tattoo across his neck and cheek.  He was clearly someone who understood the benefits of taking a cafeteria job when institutionalized.  I wasn’t hungry.  Besides, I wanted a nice empty stomach to grind up whatever pills they gave me.  Until then, I looked around for any distraction.  There were some dusty board games held together by masking tape.  They had Scrabble.  Hmm.  I scanned the room for a possible Scrabble partner. Forget it.  On one of the tables were some magazines  featuring shit I didn’t care about, like the news, the outdoors, decorating, sports, people, fashion, and health. In jail I’d read anything, but I wasn’t that desperate.  No need to make soldiers out of toilet paper and toothpicks,  just yet.

I hit pay dirt when I saw a  black dude with dreads.  Right away, I just knew.  I got that long-lost friend feeling.  “Welcome to the party,” he said to me.  “I was just about to step out and get more beer and ice.”  I had found a life raft.  It turned out he was a drummer in a famous punk rock band.  More importantly he was brilliant and funny.  He made those first days bearable.  I owe that man more than I can ever repay.

There were others.  Boris the Russian, a 19-year-old gang-banger heroin junkie. Vern, a commercial burglar and speed freak.  Richie, a porn producer from Chatsworth with a bouquet of addictions.  There was also Big Ron, a massive toxic waste dump of a biker, who lived with his mother.  They weren’t about to replace Mt. Rushmore, but they were all good men.  They made me laugh when things didn’t seem so funny, and I was very grateful.  How did I get so lucky?  When I found myself asking this in a rehab in North Hollywood, surrounded by some seriously fucked up social rejects, I knew I was on the mend.

In rehab, good company will take you far, but it won’t let you miss your stop at Bummerville.  Afterall, no matter how deranged and deluded you are when you crash, you can’t help but see a little clearer when the dust settles.  There’s the gnawing fact that what landed you here is also what helped you cope with out there.  Sticky situation.  A doozy of a puzzler.  A motherfucking quandary.  I decided to play along  until I could figure out an angle.  In the meantime, I was discharged from Detox to Residential Stay.  I took a diploma, and was even chosen valedictorian at the ceremony.

It was February of 2004.  It rained non-stop that month.  I was glad.  I wanted my outside to look as depressing as my insides felt.  The place was mostly populated by Prop 36 inmates. They had been offered the choice between prison and rehab.  This was the easier softer way, but they gave the joint a certain jail vibe.  In fact, Boris was grinding down a toothbrush into a shiv on a brick he had found when I moved into my room.  “I would use the brick first,” I said, ” and keep the dental hygiene as back up,”  He laughed.  We introduced ourselves.

Boris was skinny and fluorescent white.  He had a shaved head and wore the Pendleton-Dickies combo so pop with the barrio murder crowd.  His family had moved from the Black Sea to Montebello.  How romantic.  He adapted to his environment and began to gang-bang with the homies.  Because he was Russian, he did a lot of extra stuff to prove he was worthy of their respect.  Some of the shit he later told me,  made my teeth sweat.  Russians can be cruel bastards, but the hybrid you get when you cross one with a vato loco is an exceptionally potent psycho.

Somehow, we hit it off right away.  Because I wasn’t clueless about Latino street culture and protocol, and versed well enough in the vernacular to get myself into serious trouble, we could communicate.  We formed an alliance.  At least I didn’t have to worry too much about him trying to rape me while I slept.  Seems like a small thing, but again, I was grateful.  This was a new habit I was developing.

That first night as I sat on my bed,  I could see a big neon sign of a circus clown advertising a liquor store across the street.  It was a fiendish taunt, and a little heavy-handed in its irony. I hate clowns, but I love liquor.  The rain on the windows made the clown wiggle and dance.  It was like being stuck  in a student art film.  The clown spoke to me.  “Hey there glum chum!” he said, “I’ve got just the thing to turn that frown upside down.”  We weren’t locked in.  I could bug out anytime.  Many others did.  But I knew if I walked across that street and bowed down to that clown, I might never straighten up again.  It was time for the fucking circus to sweep up its elephant shit and get out of town.  I unmade my bed and went to sleep.

"Hey Kiddies, who's thirsty?" Circus Liquor, next to Cri-Help Rehabilitation Center

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Farty Pints a Day!

Biddy Mulligan's, Woodhaven, Queens.

It was an amazing sight to see.   Six or seven bar patrons thomping on one dude. Some were trying to drag him out of his car, others swatting and poking him with pool cues.  It might have seemed unfair and unjust, but when you knew the whole story, it was actually a beautiful thing.

I love the Irish.  Even though hanging out with them has almost killed me many times, they have my utter devotion.  These mischievous Elves of Eire have always lifted me up when my life had me hammered down.  “Dere, dere, Mahreeus, sorry tah here about yahr troubles.  It’s nat ahl tha’ bad. Cheers!”  A pint of Guinness would appear, and somehow, from the ocean’s depths, I would rise again.

Biddy Mulligan’s is a working-class bar located three blocks from my grandparent’s house in Woodhaven, Queens.  People of Irish descent tend to frequent the place.  So do people of an Irish disposition.  If I die and become an earth-bound spectre, unable to reunite with the Source of All, I’ll probably drag my ghost ass to Biddy’s.  There I’ll haunt eternity, drowning my disappointment among the other lost souls. It’s a special place.

I discovered it during one of my trips home.  At first, I was a little hinky about going in.  These local bars are often very tribal. There’s a whole elaborate dance you have to do as an outsider to get any love.  Oh well.  It was time to dance.  The first part required tipping big and keeping my mouth shut. They’ll be a time for storytelling, jig-dancing, and lass-squeezing, but not now.  It was time to let people get used to seeing me, and critically, seeing me not do anything but drink.  A strange thing happens when I people watch. I turn into a single floating eyeball.  I become nothing more than a point of perception, a mere mathematical cypher.  Existing sure, but only in theory, and certainly not a threat to any established bar hierarchy.  Meanwhile, I’d wait for the generous tips to strike a spark, a wee tiny one, with the bartender, then cup my kindling and blow.

The Irish have traditionally made good kindling, certainly for revolution and disorder.  That’s my favorite part of them.  The music is lively too.  Yet even among all that riotous disorder there were certain set rules.  There was a difference between going “totahlly wide-o” and really crossing the line.  With all the fighting,  fussing, and frolicking,  some things were still sacred. I noticed that everyone left their money on the bar. The bartender peeled away bills and gave back change from the pile.  People would go to the bathroom, step outside to talk business, make phone calls, pick a fist fight, whatever, and leave their pile of money on the bar.  People coming and going,  but the money staying right there.  All this in New York City, in a fairly rundown neighborhood in Queens.

One old guy went on about it to me later.  “Marius, in here, a fuckin’ man can fuckin’ leave his fuckin’ money on the fuckin’ bar!”  He said you could take off for three days and come back to find your money where you left it.  I was impressed, and sort of believed him.

Now, honest to God this really happened.  Shortly after this chat, a guy walked into the bar.  A greasy sort of lowlife, with lots of pawn shop jewelry.  He ordered his drink, and put the money back in his wallet instead of on the bar. I noticed that. He’s drinking next to me, and starts running off some shit to me about being a cop, and being able to do whatever he wants.  He pulled out a NYPD detective card and handed it to me.  A lieutenant.  Probably not, I thought, but maybe.  Cops in New York run the gamut.  I’m sure there’s more than one bad lieutenant out there.  He starts talking about all the guns he owns, but I don’t see him printing anything through his shirt.

I was trying to size him up when a big, sweating and puffing fat boy came rolling in.  A lovable load in a wife-beater, name Al.  He orders a double scotch and hands the bartender a hundred.  He announces that he just won six hundred bucks at the track.  And then mumbling  “It helps make up for the beating I took yesterday.”  He lumbered toward the bathroom.

“Can you believe that fucking Pollack bragging about $600?” the bad lieutenant says to me, then reaches over and takes a twenty from Al’s pile.  I was shocked, but the brazen way he did it freaked me more.  Maybe he is a bad cop who can “do anything.”  Holy shit.  Al comes back from the head and looks down and right away notices he’s twenty short.  He never questioned the bartender.  He turned to the two of us. He said he was going to go back to the bathroom and when he came back he expected the money to be there, then left.  Pretty classy.

Now the next part is hard to believe, because it happened in front of me and I didn’t.  The bad lieutenant says to me “Why the fuck would I take his chump change when I got plenty of money?” and reaches over and takes another twenty!  Ok. Ok.  What the fuck is going on here?  He has to have an angle to pull this shit off, especially in this joint where they make such a big deal about trust.  I thought about putting in $40 of my own just to make this situation go away, but Al had come back.  He looked down, and then looked up at the two of us pissed.  I didn’t know what to do.  If this thieving fucker really is the heat, he could ruin my vacation.  On the other hand, I saw what I saw.  I took a chance.

“I saw this dirty fucker take your money, Al.”

The bartender came over.  “If Marius says it’s so, it’s so,” she said.  People appeared around us. The bad lieutenant started yelling.  Somebody grabbed his arm and the place went off.  More people had been watching than I realized, and nobody seemed worried if the guy was a cop or not.   A construction worker picked him up by the back of the belt, rag-dolled his ass out the door, then Dublin Dropped him face down into the street. People were pulling on his pocket trying to tear out his wallet as he struggled to get in his two-toned LTD oil-bleeder.  He finally peeled out and away, pool cues still banging on his car.

You don’t steal money off the bar at Biddy’s.

There was much rejoicing, and the man of the hour was a hometown Lithuanian.  Rounds of Guinness keep materializing in front of me all night, and my money pile never shrank.  A girl named Shannon told me I looked “suitable for framing,” and Al kept pulling me into his sweaty arm pit. I made it. I was welcomed into the tribe. I wasn’t Irish, but I could still put away “farty pints a day.”  And I could be trusted.  I may have been an alcoholic loser, but I still had some people’s trust.  I hung on to that.  I didn’t have too much else.

The Rose of Tipperary

Big Joe from Kokomo and Jimmy Shannon. Check out the headline.

Burning Bridges Ahead of Me; Scrabble and the Art of Seduction.

I was an early starter with my two most painful addictions.  Love and romance have plagued me since kindergarten.  The need for my proton to find an electron had complicated an already miserable existence.  No womanizer I, but rather, a wistful troubadour, easily mislead by the competing siren songs of so many different, beautiful, and deadly creatures.  As I strolled along in my youth, dreamily strumming my lute in madrigal abandon, I’ve had more than enough opportunities to get my short-hairs scorched by the dragons I mistook for damsels in distress.  The fact that I was so greedily quaffing ale by the goblet, insured my mistakes were oft-repeated. 

Thrice and fourscore badly burned, does not insure a lesson learned.

So as you saddle up for more, make sure you know who is the whore.

These were some of the iambic spondee couplets that I’d write to win m’ lady’s hand. (Which is exactly what I’d wind up having to settle for.)  The springs of my poetry flowed from a well-watered well, and the flowers of my art grew from a ground well-fertilized. Given all this drunkenness and bullshit, I knew my  relationships came with an expiration date.  From the moment a woman opened the door to let me in, a timer began to ticketh.  Hence the haste in which I fumbled with my lute while I crooned my mating sonnet song. 

I really didn’t have game.  I did have two things going for me though.  I appealed to bargain hunters looking for a fixer-upper, and I was easily manipulated by guilt. I also had some stories that were funny the first time you heard them. That’s about it.  Every little girl’s Prince Charming.  Oh sure I was a little thirsty, but that will go away once I get deeply involved in a committed relationship.  Just don’t get too attached to things like heirloom china, your credit rating, or your sanity, and it will be like a dream come true. Girl meets drunkard, drunkard reeks havoc in girl’s life, girl leaves drunkard, drunkard makes any next man seem like the great love of her life.  Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a dream…

While I did not have game, I did have a game.  I used Scrabble as a tool for seduction.  Why?  Because women have good intuition about men.  The trick is to keep them from listening to it.  A man with money can lure a woman away from her common sense with a few crumbs in the direction of Cancun or Cartier.  A handsome man can distract her attention from the red flags with a soulful glance and a touch on her arm.  A man with neither money or looks might use alcohol to blind his prey, but even I found this reprehensible.  It also left me with less to drink.  No, I didn’t need to impair her better judgement.  I just needed a temporary suspension of it.  I had to create a situation in which she’d  forget the need to employ it.  Why bring pepper spray to a petting zoo?  What could be more harmless than coming over to play a wholesome and beloved board game, one the whole family can enjoy?

I learned early on to exchange high scoring tiles and throw the game if it looked even close.  One night, Mad Chance (or maybe it was Cruel Fate) had me defeat a very smart girl named Lisa.  Not only did I not get any, she made me walk seven miles home.  I hadn’t been walking eleven minutes before I was stopped by police.  There had been a complaint about a Peeping Tom in the neighborhood. (I later figured out who made that call)  Oh fucking great, I thought, I so look the role right now.  Black beanie, black leather jacket, black pants and boots.  I was about to go down on a perv charge that I was innocent of,  that night. 

I had trouble with the cops at first.  There’s something about the lighting from a police spotlight that gives me stage fright.  Being innocent doesn’t always mean you can sound like it. I almost do better with guilt, because I dig down deeper to sell my innocence, at least according to my attorney. As I was giving my alibi,  I couldn’t remember Lisa’s address, or even the name of the street she lived on.  I didn’t mail her letters, I explained, I just knew how to get there. 

Finally, I decided to recount the whole Scrabble incident.  I told them how that night I kept winning against a girl who was ten times smarter than me, had a far greater vocabulary, and was sober while I had…around two beers. I told them how she got shit points for her eloquence while I was landing major scores with words like “foxy” and “dong.”   Adding insult to injury, I connected my “dong” to her “face” forming “faced” across a triple word score.  I knew it would win the game and piss her off, but I couldn’t resist. I laughed and laughed.  “Look what I just did! Don’t you get it?” 

She got it alright.  The fact that I was drunk, dumb, and depraved, and beat her at her favorite board game was hardly an aphrodisiac.  As soon as the tiles were back in the bag, my ass was out the door.  The cop grinned.

“Listen Officer, I am no angel,” I confided.  “And many women have thrown me out of their places, many times, but never because I beat them at Scrabble.  It’s a wholesome and beloved board game, one the whole family can enjoy.”  He shrugged and said something into his radio.  He handed me back my licence. “You don’t know anything about a Peeping Tom?”   “Officer, I’m sure there’s plenty of folks around here having more fun than me, why would I want to rub it in by seeing it?”  There was some more radio talking, then he got into his car, followed by eight other cops, and drove off.  I walked home.

Sometimes even the best plans can’t survive the alcoholic’s contribution.  The nicest people start to not like us. It’s a bitter irony that drinking, which I used to help overcome my fear of connecting with people, pushed them away from me.  I looked up Lisa on this new social media format thing that the kids are all hopped-up on, and saw that she was married with kids, and looked happy.  At least her story ends happily.  Mostly because I was no longer around.  I was glad and sad.  Strange mix.  Not my favorite. I like just glad, with maybe a sprinkling of sustained euphoria.  Whatever. Sometimes just not being drunk, no matter how you feel,  is good enough.

Wreckage, wreckage everywhere…still a lot to drink!

My television was constantly blaring World War 2 documentaries.  I figured it was an appropriate soundtrack to the destruction and chaos around me.  The night before, my friend from Ireland, Dez, had tried to break a Negra Modelo bottle on a table at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.  He wanted to dramatically punctuate an anti-American diatribe he was delivering. It was the 4th of July and he was drawing some serious stink-eye from the other patrons, but that just eggs an Irishman on.  They’re all closet demagogues, anyway.  Show me a rabble that needs rousing, and I’ll suggest an Irishman on his 9th beer.  They’ve got charisma.  The accent makes their words carry weight.  It doesn’t take much for a Celt to swing my vote for madness.  They make mayhem seem more lyrical.  Their drunkeness is of the old-timey-hanging-off-the-lampost-singing-Danny Boy variety, sometimes coupled with good-natured bare-knuckled fisticuffs.  It’s charming and lively.

I knew Dez liked America all right, but because he had an attentive audience,  he couldn’t resist poking at the wasp’s nest.  He loved when events went “toh-tahlly wide-o,”  and bodies started to tumble over each other.  Now, he was on a roll, getting all Michael Collins on the crowd, but using the C-word a lot more. When he reached the climax of his rant he swung the bottle down hard. It thunked.  He quickly tried to save the moment and banged the bottle down again, but it remained intact.  He tried one more time to no avail.  Feeling that he was losing his audience, he sat down defeated. The waitress came by and took away the empty bottle.  We continued to drink, but now more quietly.

The next night, as we drank at my place, he expressed his amazement at not being able to break the bottle.  He picked up another bottle of Negra Modelo and (I swear) barely tapped it on my small table.  This time the bottle exploded showering every square inch of my tiny inefficiency apartment with slivers of brown glass.  “Well bravo, old boy,” I told him. “Just a pinch off in the timing department, eh?”  I wasn’t too upset.  The place was already covered with broken glass from when I had gotten locked out and decided to punch out what I thought was a small pane of glass in the back door.  That small pane turned out to be a full door’s worth of glass, carefully disguised behind a faux frame fraudulently dividing it into what appeared to be small individual squares.  The final result of this decorative deception was spectacular. It was also too daunting a mess for the hairbrush and flattened Tecate box I was using as a broom and dustpan, so I just left it.

The average alcoholic learns to tolerate a lot of things normal people wouldn’t stand for.  An entire apartment covered in broken glass was a small thing.  Just ignore it like the bullet hole in the toaster,  the deadly mold growing in the bathroom, and the burned taxidermy owl in the oven.  If there’s still a bunch of 16 ouncers hidden in the toilet tank, everything is fine. Let the Nervous Nellie’s from Squaresville dither in a thither with their brooms sweeping up little spills.  Alcoholics have real problems–problems that can only be cleaned up by direct impact with the Meteor of Oblivion.

A few weeks later, Dez called me. He was all exited.  He thought a bomb went off in his apartment.  All the windows were blown out from the inside, but he wasn’t sure what happened.  “Protestants?” I asked.  “Ah Jayzus,  dere’s no way tah tell.”  When I got there the place looked like a scene from Londonderry during  the 70’s. Every single window, seven in all, were smashed from the inside.  He had been outside working on his van when the place blew up.  Strangely, everything inside was fine.  Not even the bong had been tipped over, and we knew how little it took to spill that bitch.

Never having stuck around long enough at a crime scene to be able to investigate one, we were at a loss while poking around for clues.  If there was anything different, it was the new fresh smell the place had.  Finally, he found a ruptured can of deodorant behind the radiator.  We figured out his cat, Scabby, had knocked over the can on to the radiator where it heated up until it blew. The concussion was enough to force all the windows out of the panes, but not to knock over the bong.  It was an impressive lesson in physics, especially for Scabby, who would not come out from under the couch.

It was Saturday afternoon by then and felt like it was too late to go to a glass place.  A Santa Fe summer storm was blowing in fast so we decided to get trash bags and tape them up around the frames. They didn’t have trash bags at the liquor store we went to, so we decided to ride out the weather. We sat there drinking beer after beer while the wind and rain blew in from all sides.  The curtains were flapping around like mad ghosts. Occasionally, lightning would illuminate the whole place.  It was very cinematic.  “I feel like we were on a haunted pirate ship,” I announced.  “Aye, aye Cap’n,” Dez mumbled before his chin took a dive into his chest.

The next morning, the carpet was soaked.  The book shelves had crashed down across the glass coffee table, breaking it and the bong it supported.  The art posters were torn and curling up. The stereo was ruined, important court papers soaked in bongwater, and the cat was gone.  None of this was due to the elements.  It was the spontaneous bouts of kickboxing we’d erupt it.  The irony here was that the place had survived an aerosol bomb explosion, and a howling storm, but couldn’t survive us.  We assessed the damage as we looked around for leftover booze.  The damage was considerable, the leftover booze scarce.

The problem for the alcoholic with paying The Piper is the discriminatory loan shark interest rates he seems to charge us. Our escape seems to cost more.  Unfortunately, as much as it costs  in wreckage, both material and emotional, we keep paying.  The vig is big, but the options seem worse.  Until we run out of resources, get incarcerated, or die, we don’t stop.  Healthy people don’t get that.  Why would they?  Hell, even we don’t get it.  At this point, the wreckage was piling up, but I could still drink my way around it.  It would be a little while longer before the big hammers started to come down.  Their shadows hung over me as I swept the pieces of the bong into a snow shovel with a paper plate.

Dez, feeling tired.

Hooray for The End of The World!

Someone once told me it will be one of the signs of The Apocalypse when I finally get off my lazy ass and publish a blog. Strange signs and wonders abound these days, but this one really seals the deal.  Now I feel guilty for fulfilling that prophesy, thus speeding along our collective demise.  In my defence, I had to do something with my time.  When I shifted from DMM (Drunken Maniac Mode) to H&I (Harmless and Inconsequential) I found myself with a lot of dead air-time, and a lot of programing slots to fill.  My life had become like the fringe cable channel that repeats the same episode back to back for an entire week-end.  Work, eat, sleep. Gone were the surprises that come with being an impaired lunatic, The wonder. The mystery. Who is this person sleeping next to me?  Why are the police here?   How did THAT get broken?   Why is there a live lobster in my bathtub? 

Don”t get me wrong.  This new life is easier, and according to my core values, easy always trumps difficult.  I’m kind of nut like that.  However, it was not easy making the switch. First, there was the matter of re-entry into Reality.  Reality terrified me.  Reality held things like Cancer and awkward silences. Reality seemed to always intrude on the Ideal. It always managed to show up when it was least welcome.  Hell, without Reality there would be no “Reality TV,” and that’s a damning enough indictment. Reality was the ultimate buzz-kill.

Now Reality was everywhere, and everything I never wanted to look at was looking at me.  And, there was no place to run.  I get nervous being in anything without knowing where the emergency exit  is located.  That’s why I carried my own, one that came with a convenient handle. When the walls started to close in, I’d pop open an escape hatch and check out. Losing my mind in reckless abandon was the one sure way out, out of just about anything, except losing my mind in reckless abandon.  Emerson said that the fastest way out was through, but to me the fastest way out was out, way out.  Beer reassured me that no matter what, there was a way out.  It could be a little tricky measuring how much each individual predicament warranted, so I chose to use a blanket standard.  More.  

To quote another pioneer of American Transcendentalism, Liberace, “Too much of a good thing is…wonderful!”  (God bless that fruit-cake!)  To me, beer was a good thing, and too much of too much of it, was just enough. When it started to pour down my throat anything could happen, and no matter what, I could be guaranteed it would be different from before. Often it was something much worse, but you had to take that chance. You might just fix everything in one mad act.  But which one?  Why chance it?  Do them all.

Inside the average alcoholic, no matter how sodden and downtrodden he might appear, is the heart of a fearless daredevil.  A 12 pack of beer for breakfast just before the job interview/probation hearing/department meeting?  No problem. Fuck it. Let’s roll!  Time to take care of business.  I was bullet-proof, baby.  I was rolling like a dump truck filled with broken patio concrete.  My head was an Easter Island statue, but with lighting bolts of charisma shooting from my eyes. I had the ability to overcome all obstacles, crush all opposition to my will.  Two breath mints and a splash of  Old Spice Woodland Reserve ensured that nobody would suspect where my superpowers came from.  All I had to do is be as loose and spontaneous as possible and I could charm Death itself.  

Of course, this sort of  liquid bravado often resulted in zany misunderstandings and kooky misadventures.  I will attempt to document some of the more colorful examples.  I’ll also share about my return back to The Land of The Living, which itself was not devoid of mischief and hijinks. Hopefully, nobody will get bored along the way. While recovery from alcoholism is serious business, it doesn’t have to be a total drag.  The ride itself might have been painful and heartbreaking at times, but it wasn’t without a lot of healing laughter.  It is a journey I’d like to encourage any downtrodden daredevil to take.  The rewards have exceeded my wildest expectations.  Afterall, everything we alcoholics want from inside a bottle turns out to be already inside us.  We just need to be brave, take a crazy chance (we’re experts at that) and look.  Now, shall we trudge?