Between the cocaine and LSD and the methamphetamine binge a few years later, I spent a great deal of my time drinking. It wasn’t until after the soup incident that I already told you about when I really just lost any interest in remaining sober at all. Thankfully I had some supportive friends who were right there with me, encouraging me every step of the way.
This was mostly prior to the time when the guitarist moved out of the apartment during his transition to Denver. I was working at the local ABC affiliate at the time, which was located right there downtown near the bars that I frequented. I would get off work after the 10:00 News and immediately make my way to one or another of the bars I preferred to meet up with the guitarist.
My usual night would begin with a Long Island iced tea or two, a couple of Irish (or Belfast, depending on whether you feel like being particular) car bombs, and maybe a shot or two of akvavit…depending on which bar we happened to be in that night (since only one of them happens to have akvavit in stock). I was pretty well intoxicated by that point (putting it mildly), which was my obvious goal. The nights when I didn’t feel like becoming stumbling drunk within the first hour would consist, instead, of white Russians and the occasional whiskey sour. These days I can only really drink white Russians, having lost my taste for those other beverages for the most part.
I remember one night quite clearly (which is actually surprising, seeing as how I had probably consumed enough alcohol to be on the verge of alcohol poisoning) when I’d been out drinking with the guitarist, both of us drinking far too much to safely have either of us driving home…when, on the drive home, he slammed on the brakes with the car straddling the railroad tracks. Of course there was a train coming, to answer your question, otherwise it wouldn’t have been an interesting thing to do, and a less interesting story to tell. With the train only about a block or two away, its whistle blasting as a warning, the guitarist turned to me and screamed the most ridiculous, manic cartoon scream. I got in on the joke as well; staring out the window at the light of the oncoming train, plastering my hands against the glass and producing a similar scream myself. He obviously stopped fucking around and drove off, before we got hit (though not without cutting it a bit close), but it was entertaining to both of us just the same and neither of us stopped laughing until after we’d arrived at the apartment.
My little brother was a musician during his teenage years, at this same point in time, and a good one. He used to sign up to perform at a little place called the 6th Street Deli during their open mic nights on Tuesdays. It just so happened that the deli was just around the corner from where I was working. The timing was almost perfect because it coincided with the few hours of downtime between my shifts and I could make my way there without any difficulty. And, of course, while I waited for his set to begin, one of my favorite bars was right across the street. The guitarist would meet me a lot of those nights and I would be more than slightly intoxicated by the time I returned to work for the 10:00 news.
Those were the days.
My mother was frequently in attendance for my brother’s performances, so she got to experience the pleasure of seeing me drunk on an almost weekly basis. One of these evenings happened to be her birthday and she was opening presents from her friends while she was there. She showed me the cheap leather cat o’ nine tails that someone had given her as a gag gift and took my subsequent grimace to be an indication that the whole premise made me uncomfortable. She replied to that grimace by trying to make me more uncomfortable, saying something along the lines of, “What? Your mother isn’t supposed to have fun too?”
Without skipping a beat I replied that I was just disappointed now that my present was going to seem less special, coming (as it was) too late, because I was going to head down the street to a local porn store to procure something truly awe inspiring that I had in mind for her birthday. I’ve always had a nasty habit of taking jokes a little bit too far, and my family does end up being on the receiving end of that sense of humor on occasion.
During periods when the guitarist was out of town or otherwise disposed I would go out drinking with coworkers instead, after the news was over. On nights when I didn’t work I would frequently be downtown drinking well before that time, often wandering drunk to the television station and asking if anyone was feeling up to joining me for a drink or two after they were done working. A few of those times I was asked politely to leave before I ended up doing something stupid and making an ass of myself, and that they would meet me after they were finished. It could probably be assumed that I was drunk four nights out of any given week for a few months there, and I worked overnight Friday and Saturday nights (so I couldn’t be out drinking those two nights)…which left Sunday as the only night I was likely to be sober most of the time, primarily because I didn’t get off work until 11:00 and the bars close early on Sundays.
There was one particular coworker out of all of them that I ended up drinking with more than anyone else, probably the closest thing I had to a friend at work…in fact he was one of the two people I was sobering up over coffee with the night when I happened to ask our waiter about knowing anyone needing a place to live.
This coworker and I dedicated a lot of our time to fucking with another guy we worked with, one who made himself a target almost as if it was an actual objective of his, this was the same one who ended up staying on my sofa for a while there (the one who owned the pager that I shattered against the wall). One night he passed out at my coworker’s apartment and we left for a little while. During the time while we were away we began to hysterically consider some options as far as what could be done to fuck with him when we got back, and we definitely crossed some lines.
The poor bastard woke up to my penis only about an inch from his lips and his response was to gasp in shock, which led to a wide-open mouth. If our coworker had gotten his camera ready in time, it would have made a much better picture that way than it was going to be without him waking up. He might have remained asleep long enough for us to get a good picture of the violation if only my coworker and I hadn’t been giggling like fucking madmen from the time we walked through the door to see him still sleeping peacefully just like we had left him.
Yes indeed, those were the days.
I wish that I could talk about the horrors of alcoholism and drug abuse, but I really can’t pretend that I wasn’t enjoying myself. I am well aware of the fact that I shouldn’t have been living that way, and that I might have been less inclined to behave like such a degenerate if it weren’t for the fact that my life was hardly a pleasant thing to be living through. My life didn’t become miserable because of drugs and alcohol so much as it was my life being miserable that led to me alleviating the pathetic excuse of my life with those things, and it worked for a while.
My drinking began to taper off after the waiter moved in with me, and eased towards almost nothing after that wonderful girl moved from Indiana to be with me (at least until the end, when I was getting drunk and being an asshole with the intent of making myself less of an anchor to the life she had chosen to live with me).
There have been intervals here and there, since then, when I’ve been a fairly heavy drinker, but nothing quite like that period of my life…however that might only be due to the fact that I couldn’t sustain the habit financially with the ease that I had during the chapter of my life I just shared with you.