I was lying in bed thinking about Idi Amin, then for some reason the Ice Capades, when I remembered making an inappropriate remark at someone’s funeral. I sat up in a cold sweat. It was just a little observation about an attractive woman walking by the casket, mumbled quietly under my breath, but heard plenty loud by all the wrong people. It happened over 17 years ago, but if I had a dagger near me, I would have plunged it into my gut and run the gears on myself. I don’t keep daggers by my bedside just for this reason.
After thirty years of drinking, I have built up quite a stockpile of events that upon remembering late at night, when my psycho-defence mechanisms are off having a cigarette, leave me with a hankering for harakiri. There seems to be an endless supply of forgotten ones that float up from the froth and flotsam of my consciousness. Like corpses that have decomposed loose from the tubs of cement their feet have been sunk into before being thrown into the East River, they bob to the surface, ready for examination by criminal investigators.
They are not pretty to look at. All alcoholics create wreckage in their lives. For some, it looks like broken tool sheds with knocked-over buckets of curds. For others it looks more like the smoldering ruins of Stalingrad, with knocked over barrels of bio-hazardous waste–Soviet waste, the kind that kills all life it touches.
You look like someone with keen intuition. I’ll let you guess which category my shit fits into.
Hey, if I’m going to do anything, it’s going to be big. Why would I leave fucking up out of the program? Everyone has a path they must stumble along while learning the lessons of life. Apparently, I signed up for the Grueling Epic Journey walking tour. The last ten years of my drinking were a Bataan Death March, except I was thirstier than those dudes. But, oh what magic memories. Let’s sit around the slide carousel and take a look at some of the more memorable ones, shall we? Fuck that.
This blog doesn’t pay. I can’t divulge my most humiliating moments for nothing. If I’m going to totally embarrass myself …again, I’m going to need to make enough money doing it to buy a gated hacienda in Belize; somewhere I can hide, and never have to look any of you in the face again. Armed guards will patrol the grounds with trained Jaguars. Servant girls armed with blow-guns will sleep curled up around my bed. That shit isn’t cheap. Only Oprah can save me now.
“Oh,” you say “But you’ve already written some pretty embarrassing things about yourself, what’s a little more?”
“Oh,” I would say back, “I bet you feel like a big smarty pants right now, but I haven’t even scratched the surface. There’s a ratings level: A) Okay for public entertainment. B) Okay for private entertainment. C) Okay to privately confess to trusted confidant, who will be secretly entertained. D) Okay to privately keep to yourself while sticking a dagger in your guts.”
You’re asking me to cough up Level D stuff without going through the required security clearance system. D Level stuff is so secret, I don’t even admit it to myself. I’m not about to hand it over to The Internet. That place is populated by some seriously troubled individuals. You should see some of the sick search terms they Google that eventually lead them to this blog. It probably says more about my writing than anything, but I’m not going to think about that now.
Let’s just say I don’t yet fully trust this New Age of Information.
Until I can figure out how to erase huge swaths of my past, I’m going to hold some of my cards a little closer to my vest. I’m still holding out for a time machine. I know the Nazi’s were working on one. Maybe we took over the program with their scientists we kidnapped after the war. That’s what hope looks like to me.
In the meantime, I have to learn to how to accept and assimilate my past in a healthy way. I like to imagine that I was part of an alien experiment in mutation designed to create a species that will survive the Apocalypse; a creature so used to dealing with miserable bullshit, that the tribulation from the End of Days will seem like just another rough Monday.
While everyone else is wailing and gnashing their teeth, I’ll be eating a breakfast burrito and washing down aspirin with a spicy Clamato. There’s no money, gas or food? Hell, I know this. No need to freak. Take a nap first, then try to figure it out later. Maybe go pick through the stuff the looters dropped.
A strange belief system perhaps, but it works for me. I won’t make fun of the crazy-ass shit you believe to help you cope. I’m sure some of it is pretty laughable. No, I know, not to you.
There’s not much to do with shame, but try to get over it. It’s best to share some of it with a close-mouthed friend, preferably one with a terminal disease. I figure if we both get a laugh over it, it’s a step towards healing. (For me at least) Oh, by terminal disease, I mean alcoholism. I would share it with another alcoholic in recovery. That’s what I meant. Not using a dying person to safely unburden myself, like “Oh, here’s something I was going to take with me to the grave, but since you’re heading that way anyway…”
That would be a very bad thing to do, right?
That was the hardest part for me about getting sober. Looking at it all, with clear eye-balls. It made me want to unclear them again quick. But, that kind of goes against the point? I felt like the rat that finally got trapped, but with no teeth left to gnaw my leg off with. So I’d peek at it, feel bad, shake it off as best I could, and keep moving forward. You have to step lively, because there’s always some little demon dogs still nipping at your heels. It was a bad time, but not as bad as before, and that’s what keeps you going.
Eventually, I slowed down when I realized nothing had been chasing me for the past 3,200 miles. Next thing I knew, I had been issued a Citizen-in-Good-Standing Certificate with convenient iron-on patch. The instructions say to use a warm, dry iron setting. In small letters it says “Revoked upon request.”
I’ve been a good little boy ever since. That is, of course, relative to how I was before. There’s a lot of slack in that rope, but there’s not too much fresh stuff to cringe about. Sure here and there, but nothing that requires a seppuku solution. I consider that a resounding success. So what if some memories still give me a little jolt, they’re not going to kill me. Running from them was.
The only effective way I’ve found to change what’s happened is to change how I think about it. Realizing I had the power to change the narrative of my life was liberating. Ultimately, I write my story. Now I just have to figure out how to write about the time I pissed my pants on the subway, and make it seem awesome, and I’ll sleep a lot better at night.