When you are nineteen and already a very serious drinker there are going to be some momentary lapses in judgment. Some of these lapses will last for months and some of them will last for years. Mostly, the problem with being a serious drinker is the people who are not serious drinkers cannot stand to be around you and you cannot stand to be around anyone who isn’t serious about their drinking. Professional football players aren’t prone to hanging around with arena league players. You don’t see professors with a PhD hanging around with middle school teachers. And you wouldn’t have caught me dead around someone who couldn’t drink an entire case of beer in one night.
The late seventies and early eighties were pretty wild times. Drinking was the least of the worries with affected human beings and I don’t remember anyone getting a DUI except for Old Man Kingston who stood alone at the peak of drinking ability. The man was never, ever, sober. He drove down the road at about thirty miles an hour with his passenger side wheels off the pavement by about six inches, just to let him know where the road was. Old Man Kingston was hell on mailboxes as well as tires. Drinking killed him before his driving did and it was an ugly, ugly, death. The circulation is his body slowly shut down and the things that were going right were eventually outnumbered by those things that were going wrong. The two pack a day habit, believe it or not, wasn’t the worst habit he had.
Old Man Kingston had a drinking buddy named Jones and Mr. Jones ran a store, which coincidentally, sold beer. We all knew that by about seven on Friday nights those two would be a lot drunker than we would be so we could get beer very cheap. “Just leave the money up there, dammit!” Mr. Jones would say and he never knew if you were leaving a little less than you ought to have or walking out with what someone else left before. His wife finally stepped in and took over but the damage was done. Far too much inventory had walked away and far too much of it had been drunk away.
One of the guys I knew that had dropped out of High School in his senior year became my first roommate and my first real drinking buddy. We moved away from our tiny hick town to become big time drug dealers, dangerous men, and irresistible to women everywhere. I would up getting into two car wrecks in two weeks, arrested once, and beat up by the cops. I also got a job as a dishwasher at a truckstop and was damn happy to have a place to work that would feed me. My drinking buddy got kicked out of the apartment because I just knew that sooner or later he was going to get me into more trouble that we could get ourselves out of, but I never thought that so much drinking was really that big of a problem. No one I knew did.
I sobered up a while back, about the time I started writing, and now I can’t drink a six pack in one night without getting sick. My drinking buddy hung himself back about the time I quit drinking, so I guess he did too.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
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