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Worldwide Ace » Dr. Soused

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Dr. Soused

12 January, 2009 (13:38) | Social Commentary

He didn’t weigh much, maybe a hundred and fifty pounds tops by my estimate. Given his short stature and slim build it wasn’t a surprise. His lack of tolerance wasn’t a surprise either. The way he drank, however, was.

Tipsy’s Liquor World towered in front of us, the Swiss chalet style architecture a pleasure to the eye. It’s the New York City of Colorado liquor stores. Tipsy’s has its own sandwich shop, a wine bar, and two walk in refrigerators—one dedicated to artisan and important beers and the other dedicated to wines and champagnes. Walking down the aisles is like wandering through a wide boulevard, bottles lining the sides like spectators at a parade.

“I think Captain Morgan’s 100 proof should do us,” said Blotto the Clown, perusing the second shelf of major label rums.

“There’s no 100 proof Captain’s,” I say. I’m wrong, but it’s not on the shelves at Tipsy’s.  “There’s just Private Stock and something called Tattoo, which is only 70 proof.”

“Well, then I’ll just get vodka. Where the hell are the little bottles?” All the bottles are large and not the sort to be snuck into a theater.

Wholesomedick says nothing. He’s not drinking tonight.

“You could ask the security guard,” I say, pointing sarcastically at the uniformed mannequin as I peruse the vodkas.

Blotto the Clown wanders over and opens his mouth to ask. He laughs and punches me in the arm. “You ass!” He flicks the mannequin. The hollow thunk echoes slightly in the cavernous store. “You almost got me. I’m not that drunk yet.” He and Wholesomedick came from a bar and grill downtown where Blotto the Clown had indulged in several Belgian beers of high quality and high alcohol content.

When we check out, Blotto the Clown has a bottle of German beer and a 750 of vodka snagged from a display up front. Wholesomedick picks up a four pack of Red Bull Cola, for the sake of scientific experimentation. I, meanwhile, buy a 25 ounce bottle of Victory Beer’s V-Twelve.

It’s a tradition for me to smuggle drinks into sporting events and movies. Baseball games always call for a flask of Seagram’s Seven. Movies are often a beer or two. When my friends and I went to see 300, we snuck a twelve pack in between the five of us, polishing it off around the same time the last Spartan fell. It was a good night.

“Do you want me to grab you a soda to spike?” I ask.

“No, that’s ok,” Blotto the Clown tells me.

“I could cover a soda for you if you want,” Wholesomedick offers. Blotto shakes his head.

“So you’re just going to spike the Monster?” We each have a can. They were giving them away outside the theater from the back of a company sponsored pick-up truck.

“That’s hardcore,” says Wholesomedick. I nod in agreement.

“That’s how I roll.”

The pop of the cork elicits snickers from Wholesomedick next to me. I had spent the last few minutes carefully pulling it out, but the sound is too loud for my tastes nonetheless. Gran Torino had already begun.

Saturday night means the crowd is rowdy and possibly drunk, another reason I don’t feel bad drinking my beer in the theater. By the time I’m halfway through the bottle, I’m loving the movie.

SIDE NOTE: Gran Torino is a great movie, so my drinking during it shouldn’t make you think it’s not. When I bought the beer, I thought we would be going to see Role Models at the cheap theater, but it was not to be so. Now Role Models I’d rather be drunk at. I might even need to be to enjoy it.

The crowd has been slightly annoying. They laugh at the racist and prejudice comments. It’s rare the comments are actually funny, but the shock causes me to smile every once in a while. Blotto the Clown is laughing especially hard.

“Is he ok?” I whisper to Wholesomedick. I feel guilty for my buzz, given the way Blotto’s acting.

“Yeah, he’ll be fine.”

As the movie nears the end, Blotto isn’t even watching. He’s teetering in his seat, his cheeks a bright red. The credits roll and he hands me the bottle of vodka to stash in my coat. It’s three quarters empty.

Wholesomedick is practically holding him up as Blotto the Clown stumbles into the bathroom. He vomits on himself and in the urinal as people around us shift uncomfortably. A stranger passes him some paper towels to wipe himself up with. I grab a few more just in case.

“Toss the bottle,” Wholesomedick tells me. I feel a pang of regret and anger as I dump the bottle into the trash. It’s the right decision, but it’s a waste of liquor.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this particular combination of anger, shame and sympathy.

The seder had ended and I wasn’t happy. My mom had drank more than the requisite four glasses of wine. She couldn’t walk a straight line as we exited into the Spring cold in Cambridge. My friend Andy and I had ridden the T over, hanging out in Kendall Square before walking to our host’s house.

My mom stumbled to the driver’s side door, Andy slipping into the back seat. I weighed my options.

“Let Dad drive,” I said. My dad had been drinking as well, but he’d always been able to hold his liquor. I didn’t have my license yet, so I wasn’t an option.

“What?” She wasn’t pleased. I could see it in the way her face scrunched up.

“Let Dad drive.” My Dad stepped meekly back, rolling his eyes slightly.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” my mom said loudly.

“You’re not fine.” I had never been so direct.

The few months prior had been a revelation to me. All my childhood, I hadn’t known my mom was an alcoholic. She went to meetings, but I never joined her. The last two years I had been away at boarding school or camp or at friends houses and hadn’t seen her slip from her plan. Coming back, it was suddenly obvious.

She would hole up in the guest room with a book and a bottle of wine. All afternoon, I’d be at school or with friends and I’d come home to find her drunk in there. I tried hiding the open bottles at first, but she’d just go get another from the wine cellar.

This, however, was more than I was willing to take. I wasn’t about to let her drive drunk, especially with me and Andy in the car.

“You’re drunk,” I said.

She exploded.

We yelled I don’t know what back and forth, Andy and my father awkwardly watching. Eventually I stopped and just stared.

“Get in the car,” she said.

“I’ll see you at home.” I began to walk down the street.

“You get in this car right now!” I didn’t stop. I could hear my Dad pleading with her quietly as I walked away. “Fine. Your Dad can drive,” I heard her say.

It took 40 minutes to drive home. It took far longer for me to forgive her.

Blotto the Clown is draped over the two of us as we drag him out to the car. I buckle him in since he seems utterly incapable of doing it for himself.

“Where are we?” he asks.

“We just came out of a movie.”

“For real? I don’t even remember that…”

As I strap myself in, Wholesomedick chuckling nervously, Blotto the Clown’s cheeks fill and vomit begins to dribble out of his mouth. Wholesomedick snaps the belt off him as I swing the door open and pull him over. He spews across my arm and the waiting ground.

“I’ll be right back. I’m going grab some more paper towel,” I say, knowing I want to wash my hands while I’m in there.

I’m nearly at a sprint on the way back out, whipping past people and thinking the jogging has actually paid off.

“Jesus!” says a woman as I zip by. I grab the post of the railing to slow myself and turn toward the car. Blotto is still leaning out the back door, breathing more heavily than I am, a collection of pasta and liquor splayed across the ground like a twisted piece of modern art.

“Here.” I hand him the wad of paper towels.

“Are you done?” asks Wholesomedick. He mumbles what sounds like “uh huh” and we shove him upright. He immediately topples down on the seat.

“Can you sit up?” I ask.

“Why?”

“You need to sit up and put a seat belt on.” I’m talking to him like a 5-year old. Drunks really aren’t that different. He tries to right himself, but needs help.

Before we’re even out of the parking lot, he’s flopped over in the back seat.

“Are you doing ok?” asks Wholesomedick.

“He’s out,” I say after he doesn’t respond. Blotto the Clown is one of Wholesomedick’s friends. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve gotten a bad impression of him. “Have you ever dealt with this before?”

“What?” he asks. He’s paying attention to the cop in the parking lot.

“I said have you ever dealt with this before.”

“Not usually,” he tells me.

“Surprise!” comes the call from the back seat, an arm flailing into view. I start laughing. This is fucked up.

I could smell it before I saw it. The urine pooled around her as she snored on the landing outside my door.

“Aww shit,” I said in disgust. It was the exact phrasing I’d hear from my Dad a few years later when I came home with a tattoo.

I went downstairs and got my Dad. He moved her to the bed and cleaned up after her. I went to sleep angry that night. Little did I know it was the last straw for her.

She came to me the next day and apologized. That weekend, she went back to AA and started over. She hasn’t been perfect since then, but for the last five years she’s been clean and sober. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I’m practically carrying Blotto the Clown as we walk up to his apartment complex. He swipes his work badge several times trying to gain entry before realizing it’s the wrong badge. He lets go of me and tries to bound into the apartment complex, but falls down by the inner door. Wholesomedick lifts him up. He slams his head against the elevator wall and says, “Ouch.” He can’t help but giggle.

We’re halfway down the hallway to his apartment when he falls asleep while we carry him. He wakes up as Wholesomedick tries to grab his keys.

“I can do it,” Blotto the Clown slurs as he fails over and over. I eventually grab the key while Wholesomedick holds him.

“I love you guys,” he says, giving me a big hug and slapping me on the belly. I’m tempted to slug him, but it wouldn’t be a contest sober, let alone with him drunk.

After giving Wholesomedick a hug, he immediately strips off his shirt and flops onto his bed. Wholesomedick gets him a glass of water. After a couple sips, he’s up and bouncing around hectically. He throws the cup, spilling water across the carpet. I’m rather shocked the porcelain didn’t break on impact.

“Fuck yeah,” he says loudly. After a moment of silence, he topples to floor. “Where am I?” he asks as Wholesomedick helps him up.

“We’re at your apartment,” I say.

“Come on,” says Wholesomedick, coaxing him toward bed.

“Seriously? I don’t even know how we got here,” says Blotto. I catch him as he begins to throw up the water he just drank. Once again, my arm is coated. I push him onto the bed and wash my hand in the bathroom. Wholesomedick dumps out the water.

“This is my apartment!” he yells to no one in particular. “I can crash wherever. I can crash on the couch. I can crash in that chair. I can crash right on the floor. It could be my bed tonight!” He flops onto a beanbag by the floor for a few moments before bouncing up. “Whoa, did I spew on the floor? Fuck!”

It’s another 20 minutes of arguing with him and throwing him in bed before he finally collapses and we slink out.

“Jesus,” I say.

“Normally we’re within stumbling distance,” Wholesomedick tells me.

“He’s an alcoholic, you know.”

“You’re probably right.” We walk back to the car. “That’s going to be a funny phone call.”

“What?”

“The phone call tomorrow. From Blotto the Clown.” He snickers.

“Oh.”

I am not amused. I want to call him up and yell at him. I want to confront him and tell him to stop drinking for a while. I want to force him to an AA meeting. He’s not even really my friend.

I’m still angry the next morning when the text message comes in.

It reads: Thanks for your help last night guys. I owe you one.

I type back: Don’t thank us. Get yourself some help.

I stare at the message. I simply don’t have the desire to send it. My thumb hovers over the send button.

Who am I to tell him to stop? I drank too. I supported his purchase. I snuck the bottle in. I have no place telling him anything. I have multiple family members in treatment and I wouldn’t go to an AA meeting or even an ALANON meeting.

I hit cancel.

“Do you want to save the message?” asks my phone.

I don’t think I’ll ever send it. I click yes anyway.

Maybe tomorrow, I think to myself. Maybe tomorrow.

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  • Dee

    This was a good idea, Ben.

  • Dee

    This was a good idea, Ben.