I got drunk one time and made a shooting range out of the pumpkins my guests had just carved during a Halloween party. You see, we shot the pumpkins because the bombs didn’t go off. Alright, let me explain. My Hasbeen and I hosted a Halloween party and we arranged a pumpkin-carving contest for our guests. Hasbeen thought it would be funny to build tiny little bombs for each pumpkin. Several of them exploded successfully, sending pumpkin shards reeling over the house. Friends ran for cover as slimy pulp rained down across the acres. Then…a couple of fuses fizzled. Rather than getting up close and personal with our miniature explosives (which actually packed a punch) to figure out why they failed, we just shot ‘em. The police paid a visit that evening but not because of the audible gunfire. It’s completely legal to shoot a gun out in the country where we lived. It’s not legal to spotlight deer however. “No, Officer. We weren’t spotlighting deer, just a few jack o’ lanterns.” Apparently there’s nothing on the books about that, so they left us to our pandemonium. The next day we awoke to orange shrapnel spattered in profusion across the roof of the house and a horde of birds that would have made Alfred Hitchcock proud. In the spring, we were graced with a lovely vine, which took us a while to figure out what it was. Zucchini? Summer squash? No. Wait. It’s pumpkins!
I got drunk one day and… What? That’s how most of my stories begin. So, as I was saying… I was baking cookies with Sambuca one time and I knew I’d have A LOT left over, so I looked up Sambuca drink recipes. I found one for a Flaming Sambuca, which was really easy; it only had two ingredients—Sambuca and fire. I set fire to my shot, but it didn’t light. Again I set the flame to it, but nothing. Oh well. As I lifted the drink to shoot it, I immediately felt the heat and in an instant my eyebrows were singed. I screamed in panic and blew the fire out propelling flaming liquor onto my cookbook. Sure enough, there were the flames on my burning cookbook. I put it all out with little effort or damage, except I had short eyebrows for a while. I hate Sambuca.
I was out at a bar with friends one night and, of course, got drunk. I made the drive home without injury to myself or anybody else and put myself to bed. Buzzz. Crap. The alarm came way to soon for this workday. As I agonizingly made myself presentable for the office, I tried to piece together events of the prior evening. The one thing I never did figure out was how that pile of gravel got onto the hood and bumper of my car.
“I’m just going through a phase,” I would tell myself. I had known people older than I who were notable partiers “in the day.” However alcohol didn’t seem to be a big part of their lives anymore. Either they had to assume more responsibility with the birth of a child, or they simply got bored with the effects of the drink. I always suspected the time would come when alcohol was no longer important to me, and my consumption would naturally decline. So I just waited.
I got drunk one day and… What? YES, again. After one drinking binge, I shopped at Costco. The sliding doors opened and I bolted through with the same force that a racehorse charges through a starting gate. STUFF! I know you’re not supposed to shop when you’re hungry, but the financial and caloric damage is much more devastating when you’re sloshed. Two-fers! Bulk buys! Door-buster deals! They sucked me in with their colossal crocks of this and their vast vessels of that. What a time I had filling my shopping cart. The downfall was explaining to MyGuy why we were gorging on 10 varieties of dip for dinner that evening, then eating two Caesar salads a day for the next two weeks, faking enthusiasm so MyGuy wouldn’t blow a gasket over my super-sized bargain purchase of romaine.
One day I got really drunk after a long bike ride. As a reward for a full day’s workout, I stopped off at my buddy’s house for a couple of beers or six. Still steady on my feet, I headed home on two skinny wheels. In typical one-for-the-road fashion, I poured a fresh one into my water bottle for the ride home because, well, I hadn’t had enough beer yet. I had just upgraded my bike with some clip-in pedals, and when I arrived at the first stop sign, I forgot to put my feet down. Crash, boom, ouch! Luckily my knee broke my fall.
I got drunk one day and got fired. I wasn’t actually drinking on the job, but I did show up at my place of employment extremely well-oiled. I was a waitress at a crummy American-style bistro chain. I had been carousing all day with coworkers and hit the restaurant for our last bar stop. I’m told there was a crowd of people waiting to be seated, and I arrogantly pushed my way through, ordering them to part the sea because I worked there—as if that elevated my social status. The next day, the manager called to fire me. “Oh, yeah, and can you also pay for the damage you did to my car that evening?” What car?! What happened?! Torrent of tears. Somebody had jumped on his new red Camaro, leaving black rubber shoe tread scraped across the entire hood. With huge dents! I liked the guy and had no grudge to carry. I couldn’t imagine doing anything to hurt this fellow, but who knew what I was thinking in my drunken stupor. In the end, I was saved. The shoes I was wearing that day had white rubber soles. WHITE. And the shoe marks all over his car were black. Case closed.
Surely to God, this is just a phase. I worked with LongHairHippieDude, who was heavily involved in A.A. It wasn’t just a group that he attended, it was a lifestyle, and his fellow members were the core of his social group. He had shared a lot about the program and his past addictions. He was very well aware of my antics because he had to cover for me (and kindly nurse me) when I was hungover. I asked him if he thought I was an alcoholic or if I was just going through a phase. “I think you’re just going through a phase,” he confirmed. “Right answer,” I breathed with relief.
I used to get drunk and tackle guys. You’ve heard about the little boy who has a crush on a girl and pulls her hair? Well I was the girl version of that punk kid. I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions and sexual attractions. Compound that with my intense insecurity, and I was a dating disaster. I’d be out drinking with friends, and suddenly I’d get the urge to tackle one of my male pals. I’d get them well pinned underneath me and shout, “Help! Help! Get him out from under me! Get him out from under me!” I actually head-butted MyCrush in the nose one time. He never spoke to me again.
I drank so much beer one day that my bladder was about to burst. We were on a long road trip, and rather than wait it out until the next rest stop, I opted for the nearest bush. Stumbling off the shoulder to pee in the thick of the shrubs, I lost my shoe somewhere along the way. I never recovered it on that dark night. That’s not the worst of it. I also sustained a case of poison ivy on my ass.
Speaking of poisonous foliage. I got really drunk one day and the sunny blue sky called me to the Blue Ridge Parkway for an afternoon of sunbathing. Naked. It was a gorgeous day, and I found the perfect spot just beyond a tiny hill. I could still view the mountain range while the hill kept me shielded from ongoing traffic. Little did I know, I had parked myself smack in the middle of a well-cultivated crop of poison oak, to which I am highly allergic.
I continued to hang on to the non-professional assessment LongHairHippieDude provided many years prior. “It’s just a phase.”
I got drunk at my own dinner party once and for some unknown reason, I hurled myself into the lap of a male guest with such force that the chair collapsed beneath us propelling me, him and the chair into the grill, which then spilled the still-red-hot coals into the vinyl siding. I never did repair that melted wall.
I continued to wait for the time when alcohol would no longer be important to me, and my consumption would naturally decline. I wondered when that phase would come.
I got drunk one day for a year. It was 2006 and I used a mini bottle of tequila for medicinal purposes. I experienced a couple of personal tragedies that caused me a great deal of sorrow like I had never felt before. On top of my losses, both my home and work lives were going to change forever. I was saddened and terrified. I could find no relief for the pain and no rest from the crying. Mid-day I came home from work and took a shot of tequila. Liquid comfort poured into my soul and my grief was instantly lessened. I became committed to a new, more potent vice. My new vice was no longer a party drug of choice, it was a daily staple that I required to get through each day. I was no longer concerned with exotic micro-brews or finely crafted wines. I wanted hard liquor, unadulterated, straight-up in a shot glass. The shot glass grew into a tumbler, and eventually I was drinking straight from the bottle. The pain and sorrow, from which I had earlier been liberated, returned. I could never duplicate the glowing comfort I received from that first shot of tequila—try as I did. The alcohol wasn’t really helping me, but I couldn’t stop. With every sip, there was the hope that I could eliminate the pain.
I thought if I could just get through this pain, this phase, my drinking would return to a manageable state. What I didn’t realize was that in order to heal, we must experience to the pain—not mask it. And thus my journey took much longer than it could have. After a long, long haul, I finally recovered from those tragedies, but I didn’t stop drinking.
I hated the business I owned. I was bored, stressed and desperately wanted a change. My downtown office was conveniently located smack in the middle of several bars and restaurants. I indulged in many liquid lunches, and I’d take my work with me to happy hour. So that the local bar tenders didn’t know I was a drunk, I’d make the walk of shame down the street taking only one or two drinks per stop. I would think, “If I could just change my career situation, everything would be better. A new career; a new phase. If I could just get a job, I wouldn’t need to drink so much.” I Finally landed a great job. I was contributing to the success of a greater organization and using all the skills I had developed while in business for myself. It was a perfect employee/employer match. My stress was radically cut, but I didn’t stop drinking.
My relationship with my boss was wonderful. He was full of ideas and provided many interesting projects for me. Collaboration was fun, and he was easy to please. Then one day he vanished—not realistically but figuratively. He became inaccessible, and I wondered what was wrong with me that he didn’t want to work with me anymore. I’d leave for lunch, buy a six-pack and drive around for an hour. Eventually new management took over. They had no mind for my job function, so I worked in isolation for a few years. I could work fast and furiously for one week or I could watch YouTube for one week and no one would know the difference. I was depressed and I drank. I thought, “I need to get out of this phase of my career. If I could just get another job, everything would be different and I wouldn’t need to drink.”
Like a Mac truck in the face, it hit me. I had said this before and I would definitely say it again. I was the living definition of “wherever you go, there you are.” If you don’t make an effort to learn and change, you will definitely take your problems with you. That’s when I realized that I had to make the change from within. It wasn’t outside influences that were making me drink. It was the simple fact that I am an alcoholic using outside influences as an excuse to drink.
A few years back, I had the good fortune to hear a woman speak about drug abuse. She was the director at a women’s home specializing in addiction recovery. I learned that alcohol is defined as a “drug” because it changes behavior and perception and is taken for the effect. It’s every bit as dangerous as cocaine or meth; it’s just socially acceptable because it can be legally purchased. She described the effects of alcohol as being equally as devastating as crack. In the end, the amount of damage is the same. The alcoholic loses his job, his family, his home, everything. It just takes a lot longer.
When I did finally recognize that I was an alcoholic, I knew that if I didn’t get control, this would eventually be my fate. A lot longer was coming all too soon. I could recognize the disease progressing in me. Alcohol was no longer a party drug. I depended on it. I craved it. After many failed attempts to moderate, I knew that I could either watch my life decline or quit.
I made the choice to quit. It’s just a phase though. Fortunately for me, phases last a good long time.