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8 Up by Ray Printer Friendly

Believe it or not, I do sometimes self-censor. I wrote this last night/this morning, mostly out of my mind. I woke up and read it this morning, and decided not to post it. Instead of deleting it, I decided to keep it as a back up post, like if I ever got desperate and needed to post something but had nothing written. Little did I know that that time would come less than twelve hours later. Anyway:

You almost got me, Good Sense. Heck, man, I even took my before-bed piss. But you let your guard down, and you ran your mouth just a little bit too much for our own good. Two thirty in the morning, burning eyes, tired, bored, canít think of anything to write. Calling it a night, because what the hellís the point of fighting sleep on a night like this?

Youíre making fine points all around. The only thing left is to dump out that watered down quarter-glass of whiskey. Mostly ice and flat club soda, anyway. And then you had to remind me about the can of club soda.

I can go to sleep leaving a watered down drink on my desk, but for some reason, I hate the idea of letting a can of club soda go flat. Which means one more drink. Or two, depending on how much is left in the can.

Half a can leftóthree drinks. By the time I mix and drink three drinks, Iíll be either totally awake or passed out. There wonít be any of this drowsy bullshit. One way or the other, and as I sit down to discover a fast song playing on my computer, I realize which way itís going to go.

One drink, two drinks, three drinks.

And then the Shawshank song comes on. Thereís this part in that movie Shawshank Redemption where Andy has just been sentenced, and theyíre taking him to jail. Youíve got Morgan Freeman doing a voice-over as the shot pans around the prison, and a siren begins sounding in the background, signaling the arrival of new prisoners. Itís a beautiful moment, full of sadness and fear and impending doom.

I used to watch that movie a lot with a friend of mine, and every time that song came on, weíd drink to it. At the time, it meant maybe two or three drinks a night, tops. It was probably a mistake to download it and stick it in my writing mix. Probably a bigger mistake to put it in my morning mix, but screw it. Itís a fun game:

You put all your upbeat music on a playlist, stuff thatíll get you motivated to get your ass in gear and start the day. Then you put in one song that you have to drink to. No excuses, donít be a pussy. Put it on random, turn the sound way up, and go about your morning ritual of getting ready.

I always kind of hope Iíll make it out of the house without hearing the have-to-drink songóthereís something vaguely unsettling about knocking back a shot of whiskey at 7 in the morning and then going to school.

I wasnít expecting the song just now, though, and Iím wondering if the forced drink will be enough to push me over some sort of edge.

I read an article the other day about how drinking alone is a red flag. I thought about it for a bit and then discounted it. Iím not an alcoholic, not yet. I drink when I write, and Iíve done it for years. Thatís a lot of drinking. But Iíve also gone years at a time without even touching alcohol, and Iím not just talking about childhood.

The truth is, thereís a laundry list of chemicals I would rather imbibe instead of alcohol. They all just happen to be illegal, and since I stopped doing illegal shit some time ago, Iím stuck with booze. Donít get me wrongóthereís something pretty smooth about ordering a double Jack at the bar and knocking it back without a twitch. Donít make a big deal out of it, and donít order another immediately afteróthose are two key things. You make a big deal about it, youíre just a goofy frat boy trying to prove he has nuts (if youíre a chick and you make a big deal out of it, youíre an attention whore). You order another one, you just look like an alcoholic.

You order your drink, casually knock it back, and then you walk away. If youíre a guy, you look slick, if youíre a girl, you gain two points on the fuckable scale.

So Iím not going to sit here and talk total shit about boozeóit has a time and a place. But frankly, booze is a terrible thing to involve yourself with on a daily basis.

Or even on a semi-regular basis.

I drink way more than I should. Not because I care about if people call me an alcoholic, but because itís terrible for my body and because it makes me feel like shit.

Back when I smoked weed, I was tepid and boring, but I felt great each and every morning. What little writing I got done was bland and incoherent, and usually some hack version of poetry. But I never smoked too much weed and ended up with a three-day hangover, either.

Booze is an evil, evil thing. And unfortunately, I have a predilection for evil, so over the years, booze and I have gotten much closer than my liver is comfortable with.

Itíll kill me if I donít knock it off. I know this. I donít have the inclination to drink a bottle of whiskey and jump behind the wheel of a car, so it wonít be anything like a drinking and driving accident. And I sincerely doubt that Iíll ever drink enough to alcohol poison myself in one night. But over time, this shit will wear me down, just like everything else has, and Iíll wake up one morning, all fucked up, and it will be because of booze.

The idea of a life without alcohol doesnít scare me.

But the idea of spending the rest of my life sober does.

Ooh. How messed up was that sentence? Armchair analysts love it when I bust out with that one. They go off about secret issues. What am I trying to hide from? Why am I not satisfied with life? Blah blah blah and blah.

You know what it is?

Iím bored. Getting fucked up eases that boredom. Thatís what it boils down to.

Iíve been around for over thirty years now, and Iíve seen a lot of cool stuff. A lot of that cool stuff has been seen sober.

But one time, I ate a bunch of illegal, hallucinogenic something and went walking through bear country. It is outside of my financial means to do something to match that feeling without chemicals.

Maybe if you skydive from outer space while firing a machine gun that is rigged to explode in your hands at any moment. Maybe then you could get that feeling.

I wouldnít bet on it, though. Every noise, every movement, it might be a bear, and you arenít even sure if youíll be able to run if it is a bear. Plus, you donít know where youíll run if itís a bear.

On top of all that, you have some dude telling you about how he has this broke down Jeep in his backyard, you know? And he likes to open a can of those ďliíl Vienna weeniesĒ and put Ďem up on the dash. Right behind the steering wheel. And then you wait. The bears come out, hungry for those weenies, and they crawl up there into the seat, and they reach for those weenies, and it looks just like theyíre driving.

The image of a bear driving a Jeep is too much, and itís even more hysterical if you imagine him eating Vienna sausages as heís driving down the highway.

So suddenly, you have to worry about how youíre laughing so hard that if that movement really is a bear, you wonít be able to catch your breath. Youíre dead.

Itís hilarious and terrifying, and itís a situation you instinctually realize you shouldnít be experiencing.

What compares to that, sober? Tell me.

Iíll tell you:

Fucking someone you arenít supposed to be fucking. And even that, you usually canít do unless youíre under the influence of something.

Maybe killing someone, I donít know. Iíve never killed anyone, contrary to what the authorities would have you believe. But Iíve heard itís quite the rush.

So you can either smoke something or drink something or eat something that alters your perception, or you can have forbidden sex or you can do some murder.

Insanity is also a pretty neat diversion, but that tends to get classified right down there with forbidden sex and murder, as far as social acceptance goes.

Iím oversimplifying, of course. But screw it.

My point is that sobriety is boring. It has to be, or weíd all die of high blood pressure at age twenty-eight.

Maybe someday, Iíll have a kid and be overwhelmed with the magic of procreation and Iíll settle right the hell down, because I donít need that high anymore. Or buy a house. Or make something amazing.

I doubt it, though. I wondered if that would happen with true loveóIíve heard stories about guys cleaning up hard-core because they found ďthe one.Ē They didnít want to get wasted anymore because life was now so wonderful. I found true love, and as amazing as it is, itís still happening in a relatively boring world. Sunsets are beautiful, but the sun always sets, you know? Then you head your sad ass back inside to balance your bank account, and shit ainít nearly as magical.

What was the point of all this? Drinking alone is bad? Hell yeah. I really need to knock it off. Red flag? Drinking alone is one? Shit, Iím doomed.

Or maybe Iím just going off because trying to live by the rules sucks. You canít smoke that, you canít sniff that. You can drink that, but only sometimes. Go to school, get a job, have a kid, Stop thinking like youíre thinkingóweíll tell you how to think.

Cookie cutter living isnít for me, not just yet, as tasty as the finished product looks. And booze is the one thing I can put into my body that isnít illegal. So thatís what Iíll do, until I decide to break the rules again.

Man, I should have just gone to bed.

posted 7/06/08

Entered By Claude Bonski From St. Ivy
2008-07-06 05:12:59

You have a broken-down jeep behind your apartment!?

Entered By Ray From Austin
2008-07-06 15:32:31

No, no--that experience was a LONG time ago, in a place far away.

Entered By Karen From Indiana
2008-07-07 02:15:51

I drink alone, because I AM alone. Should I invite someone over just so I'm not drinking alone? I'm also an introvert, so screw that, I don't feel like having someone over - people annoy me. And I like drinking at home - it's comfortable, and safe (no drinking and driving). And yeah, being a parent won't stop you from drinking (responsibly, obviously). I don't think it should. (shrug)

Entered By Ray From Austin
2008-07-07 02:39:51

Karen, I'm worried about you. We should probably discuss your alcoholism.

Entered By Jesse From Austin
2008-07-07 04:42:47

Hmm. Drinking + Parenting = Never drinking alone. Eureka.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2008-07-07 05:15:45

Damn, Jesse, I don't do that "LOL" shit, but your equation had me laughing. Loud. You're like a funny Einstein.

Entered By Karen From Indiana
2008-07-08 15:42:05

Jesse, that's hilarious. "I had kids so I wouldn't be drinking alone."

Entered By Lauren From NH
2008-07-12 00:16:12

I am SO ordering a double Jack the next time I'm at a bar. I'm knockin' it back smooth and neat and walkin' away without a word. Nice.

Entered By Diane From NH
2008-07-12 01:39:11

Ray - wait till you're 40 and even drinking a little bit kicks your liver's ass. And we've got 50% of the same genetics, so your time is coming. ...and genetically speaking I think we're both easily bored and it's our DNA's friggin fault. Leslie has just figured out how to relieve the boredom without beating the crap out of her body.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2008-07-12 01:57:50

Lauren--you're already as cool as they get. Diane--I'm probably going to have to switch to some sort of opiate when I turn 40. Sure, my heart will explode by 43, but at least I'll go out feelin' good.

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