Monday, June 9, 2008

Day one hundred and sixty one ... Gluttons for punishment.


I haven't given this much thought and so, it may be a bit scattered and unfocused, but I don't care.

It's all about honesty, and if you have to think about being honest ... you're probably lying.

I'm not in the club anymore.

I'm not paying dues, I'm not attending meetings, I'm not utilizing the secret handshakes.

But I'm still getting the newsletter.

And I'm not talking about AA.

Because really, nobody likes it when I do that. When I do that, I notice people react almost as if I were a Jehovah's Witness in a sharp suit and tie with my small, utilitarian shoulder-bag ... 

They react the same exact way I used to.

No, I keep the AA stuff to myself because that's where it works best.

What I am talking about is the selfish, misogynistic, depraved, gluttonous, macho, bullheaded, reactionary club of drinkers.

Now, I'm not trying to be judgmental.

Lord knows I hate that shit. I will always rail against anyone who professes to be better, smarter, and/or above someone else by comparing themselves, and in the process, making whomever they compare themselves to a victim of scorn.

I don't compare, I identify.

And I identify so unbelievably with the mindset and M.O. of the average drunk.

There are several distinct stages that I can relate to.

The first stage is when you're a kid. You're doing something you're not supposed to. It's a thrill to sneak a shot or two from Dad's liquor cabinet, or go off in the woods with three of your friends and a twelve-pack and talk about motor bikes and boobies.

It's ultimately innocent, and will remain so for a finite amount of time.

Then comes the legal years when you enjoy the feeling of proudly purchasing at the local package store where you were turned away umpteen times as a young adult.

But, you're really still that: a young adult.

You buy for your underage friends, for underage girls, for whole parties worth of people who see you as a hero--a hero made powerful by the randomness of time. Had you been conceived a few months or years later, things would be reversed and you would be the one emulating the guy who was 21 and could buy for you and all your friends.

And that gets old fast.

Just like you do.

And you hit your stride in your late twenties and you think you have it all figured out.

You have the package store with the clerk who knows you by name. He gives you the occasional free trinket, otherwise only available with the purchase of a horrible, novelty beverage.

At first, you feel like a king.

The clerk (let's call him Dave) knows what you drink. He even knows what size bottle you drink. And, that's assuming you get the same size every time. If not, he may even know, just from the expression on your face, whether you want the half pint, or the pint, or maybe he'll just see that you have a liter in your hand and, instead, just pull down your pack of smokes; that choice is usually standard in volume.

And Dave, the clerk, will do this all while taking care of the customer in front of you--the one who is waiting for his debit card to be authorized.

Because he knows you're in a hurry.

And you get by for a while, enjoying all the fun that comes from carefree inebriation with it's many detractors telling you that someday you'll have to worry about health consequences, be they liver problems, a beer gut, or any one of the many problems that arise from steady, consistent alcohol use.

But you laugh it off and tell them to go to hell--loudly and slurred.

And then you hit thirty.

And the fun starts to wane a bit.

You can't help but notice that the people who were just punk teenagers a few years back are drinking in your bar--the place where the bartender has your drink waiting for you before you even make eye contact.

... perhaps that first one is on the house.

To them, it's almost as expensive as the coaster that it rests its sweaty bodice on.

And you watch TV, and you hang out, and you get wasted, and you get banned, and you get in fights, and you write stupid shit on the bathroom walls, and you buy drugs you can't afford, and you make passes at girls who you subsequently call stuck-up because you can't understand why they won't talk to you, and you go to Christmas parties and make a fool of yourself, and you fall down walking into the bar and you hurt yourself, and the owner tries to help you and you yell at him, and he knows you'll never remember doing it, and you wonder why he looks at you like that, and you drink yourself blinder, and you walk out on your tab, and you get banned again, and you get PC'd, and you go to the other bar--the bar you hate--and get drunk again, and you leave your stuff there, and it gets stolen, and you show up the next morning to try to retrieve it and the only person there is the cleaning guy, and he lets you in, but he hasn't started cleaning yet and the bar smells like it did at one in the morning when they shut the door after last call, and you vaguely remember walking out and thinking you were forgetting something, and the smell overpowers you and you begin to gag ...

... and you ask the cleaning guy if he'll pour you a quick shot.

And you feel okay again.

And a few years go by and you start to commiserate with the many avenues available for someone who rebels due to necessity rather than personal conviction.

You have to disagree.

Because to agree means to admit that they were right and you were wrong.

To agree that what you are doing is detrimental to almost every facet of your life is to admit that you have willingly followed the ever narrowing and winding path that you so ardently set out on a half a lifetime ago.

And you send away for the magazines for drunkards, and join the clubs online where people discuss how to get drunk faster and not get a hangover. And it piles up on your doorstep and on your hard drive.

And you become bitter at the world.

Because, there are so many more people willing to argue that they are right despite all the evidence that surrounds and envelops them, than there are people willing to fight to reverse the effects of a life filled with deception, quick fixes, and easy short-term achievements.

And finally, that last stage awaits.

And if you make it there standing, or you're wheeled out on a stretcher doesn't matter much.

You can only feel so bad for someone that killed themselves slowly, right in front of you, while you tried your best to make them notice they were doing it.

Like I said, I'm not in the club anymore.

But, just like the United Auto Worker's Union I belonged to a couple of years back, they still send me the newsletter.

And every month I have to throw it away.

It's all about honesty, and if you have to think about being honest ... you're probably lying.

Thanks for reading.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Inevitably I reminisce about my glory days.. the softball game celebrations with Tanqueray and Tonics.. slaps on the back.. re-living the homerun that won the game.. let's have another round.. and the cute girl with the sparkle in her eye looks at me in just that way.. we're going to be together.. I had finally arrived.. this is what I'd been looking for...


Much like you've described here Frederick Von Freedom... my drinking was rarely as glorious. It was more like the rush out of work early leave the calls unanswered get to the car to get home and be unable to resist the pull of the nearest packie even though you swore you'd wait until you got home cuz drinking and driving was too dangerous.. not because you could kill someone but because you could get caught.. and you can't even wait till you get on the road and crack the bottle open and drink right out of the brown paper bag, look back over your shoulder hoping no one sees wish you'd bought two 40's for the ride home cuz the first disappeared before you knew it kind of glory days.. That's what it was like. That's the club I was in..

It wants me back. It'd take an instant to rejoin.

I would think that all I was doing was putting $3.50 on the bar for that glowing pint of amber richness. In truth.. I'd be putting my job, my kids, my friends, my woman.. my life.. up on that bar. $3.50 is the price of admission... don't forget to read the fine print. The rest is just chump change.

I couldn't pay for the kinds of gifts I've gotten for being dragged out of that club. I thought I was "quitting"? How could quitting mean I was winning?

Thx kiddo.. thanks for the read.