Discover more from The Last Hundred Miles
December 11th, 1978
Monday morning arrives brightly like a well kept promise. A new week begins like fresh rays of dawn on a beach battered by storm the night before. The weekend, like some terrible nightmare, has ended and, beaten as I am, I feel a new week set before me like another chance.
Saturday night was a horror story. Fragments of the evening float through a dim memory of an evening that surely has changed much in my life.
Friday was my operation– removal of the venereal warts– that had me numb with fear for three weeks. It went well. I did not die under anesthesia as I had so vividly imagined I would. Instead I found myself recovering nicely more from the damage of my own anxieties than from the simple operation.
Saturday night Allan had invited Wendy and I to a party at his friend Allan B.’s home. Typical Saturday for me; wandering through the house dramatizing my own existence. Keith had not called and I knew that his lack of communication for three days was his preparation to not pursuing this relationship with me any further. So, as usual for a Saturday, I began drinking early in the morning. I drank all day. That night, Wendy and I began our familiar efforts at getting ready to go out– showers and painting and dressing each other, usually to blasting music and, of course, the drinks to get us underway for the evening. I would never dream of going out without initial drinking to get me going. The object is to be thoroughly blasted but not inoperable before laving the house. Any other aids in getting ripped are also employed. Poppers and god forbid we should be so lucky, cocaine. Usually, however, a few good hits of pot or a couple of cheap caffeine pills that we take to ensure a longer evening. I had run out of beer early and turned to scotch. The telephone call finally came from Keith– confirming what I had suspected. A clear message of no involvement couched in the kindest excuses and explanations (just breaking up with his lover, needing time to himself, etc.) Perhaps it was a combination of this disappointment and the huge relief of having the operation over with. Whatever the cause, Saturday night became one more horror story in drinking.
I had what is known in alcoholic parlance a “blackout.” In fact, the evening itself is fragmented and disjointed. I remember going to Allan’s apartment and having a drink there. I remember the drive to the party and drinking long slugs from the bottle on the way. I dimly remember being at the party just a short time before I realized that I was not coherent enough to be around people. I told Wendy this. She was just beginning to enjoy herself. I told her I was leaving to catch a cab and go home. I left. The rest of the evening is at best blurred and incomplete. I remember finding myself at Mr. P.’s still drinking– but I have no recollection of getting there. I vaguely remember getting my coat and leaving the bar, and I vaguely remember stumbling through the park on my way to Georgetown, presumably to catch a taxi home. I vaguely remember falling. And I vaguely remember lying face down in the dirt, I guess in the park, knowing that I had hurt myself somehow, but being too blithering to get up. I remember hearing people’s voices near me, perhaps passersby. The next thing I remember is being at home in bed with Wendy sitting on the edge of the bed asking me if I am OK. I assure that I am and she leaves to spend the night with a man she met at the party. (She had returned home specifically with some premonition that she should check me to see that I had gotten home safely.) My next recollection is coming out of a thick sleep about 4:00 a.m., with a blood curdling scream that brought Chippy to my room. My ankle, the one I broke a year and a half ago, was swollen and I was in complete agony. I was convinced that it was broken again; so Chippy drove me to Georgetown Hospital emergency room where x-rays were taken. No break, thank God, but the ligaments were ripped and torn. Now I am in a soft cast hobbling on crutches for at least the next week.
So, is it not time for me to finally admit the huge problem that drinking has become in my life? I have known for some time of my total inability to drink hard liquor. Yet I have balanced putting away at least a six-pack, usually two, of beer per night with maintaining a normal day-to-day existence. Normal in that I continue to meet basic daily obligations. Abnormal in that I have forgotten what it is like not to wake up with a hangover. I have forgotten what it is like to relax without at least six beers to calm me down. I have learned to live with the change in my appearance. The haggard eyes, the pallid skin, the disgusting beer gut that I can no longer attempt to disguise or hold in. For a 27 year old male in excellent health, I should be bright-eyed and bushy tailed and full of energy. Instead I drag my innervated body home after nervy days of coffee drinking downtown to lie in heaps as I have done for so long drinking myself into oblivion. Hating myself in the process.
How glamorous to be lying face down in some park in the middle of the city with a leg torn and bruised.
No, something has changed. Much has changed. The drinking has stopped.