Sunday, December 28, 2008

Posted elsewhere

Somewhere in my profile, I mention that most of my good stuff is posted at other people's blogs. I've also mentioned that I don't spend a lot of time with my family. Here's a little story about a family wedding. It was originally posted as a comment at Mr Beer N. Hockey's DOPE CITY FREE PRESS.

"(My Cousin) Sandy from Indiana. She was managing a Pizza Hut in Indianapolis. Got really drunk after work and ended up in bed with a guy who was working as a bus boy. Shortly afterwards she discovered that she was pregnant. The bus boy, Russell, agreed to marry her. Family tried to put a brave face on things but everyone knew what was up. The wedding turned into a gigantic booze up. The high point for me was when the Maid of Honor disappeared. She was found, face down, in a mud puddle, unconscious and very nearly drowned in two inches of muddy water. Sandy got drunk enough that she forgot what the party was for and almost took some guy from the groom's side off to bed with her. Uncle Jimmy and I never liked each other. We almost came to blows. I was on one of my periodic dry spells, not to be confused with sobriety. He took that to be a statement on my part that I was too good to drink with him. He stopped everything and announced that he was going to kick my ass. This was a continuation of a fight that had been going on since I was 15, when he decided that my hair was too long and he was going to kick my ass. He never got around to kicking my ass. He would just swagger around and loudly announce his intention to kick my ass. I took a beer, ended up really fucked up. Sandy was crying, "Oh God! I'll never be able to bring home anymore hot men!" Periodically, Uncle Jim would come over and tell me I was an asshole. There were a couple of fist fights, I forget why. It was a special day that most of us will never forget, if we can remember any of it."

This all took place a long time ago. Uncle Jimmy is dead. Cousin Jimmy, his son, is dead. James Frederick the fifth is estranged from his father's family. Sandy had a terrible time with cancer. She has become a quiet and dignified woman who has obviously suffered great pain. That whole side of my Mom's family had some terrible things happen to them. The wedding happened back when times were "good". I might have remembered some things wrong. I apologize. I was as drunk as anyone else.

These weren't poor people. Uncle Jimmy was a major local employer. If you got in trouble anywhere in Owen County, Uncle Jimmy could fix it for you. Not just in Spencer, even in Gosport or Bean Blossom. He was the kind of guy who got escorted home by the sheriff when he got pulled over for drunk driving.

I used to dry out periodically. Like I said, it was not the same as sobriety. When I was dry I was pissed off, self righteous and a drag to be around. You wouldn't have liked me drunk, but you would have liked me less when I was dry.

I like to think that I'm not the same guy. It wasn't just the passage of time. If I kept drinking, time would have stopped passing a long time ago. I got sober in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. These days I don't spend much time with my dysfunctional alcoholic family of birth. I hang out with my dysfunctional alcoholic family of choice. Some days it's a big love fest. Occasionally it's a little pity party. Collectively, they've never let me down. It's been OK.

Hold On, Hold On - Neko Case

1 comment:

ib said...

I read this originally over at Beer's, but didn't comment. Great fragment of familial infighting, and interesting to hear your observations on the difference between being "dry" and "sober".

Like running on empty, when you're dry there is invariably the rusty silt of all those previous blowouts fucking up the tank. I haven't driven anywhere in a good many years, but the analogy holds true.

Outside of my son, I am not much of a family person. With or without the lubrication of alcohol or narcotics it still seems to boil down to the option of just walking away or coming to blows.

I enjoyed reading this, though. Damn funny despite it all. "Five Easy Pieces" was on tv yet again over the Christmas period. I didn't make it through it all - I haven't managed to for a couple of decades at least - but what is always enlightening about that film is the contrast in years between myself as a spectatator and Nicholson's character. Damn it all if he hasn't begun to look seriously young.

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