Lost high way
But onscreen and off, most of us mere mortals have had our share of substance-induced shame and degradation. Who can forget Ray Milland's foiled attempt to hide a gin bottle from the prying eyes of his brother--by tying it to a rope and hanging it out the window of his apartment building--in The Lost Weekend? Or Jack Lemmon in the Days of Wine and Roses--tied down, glassy eyed and sweating in the alkie ward, biting at the air, trying to ward off the little green men attacking him with pruning shears? And then there's Woody Allen in Annie Hall, sneezing onto a mound of coke at a hip LA party.
And then there's me. No one on my mother's side of the family drinks at all. But although I never saw him drunk, before he got married, my dad was quite the wild man. One night, he apparently had a disagreement with a knife wielding maniac at some southern roadhouse bar. His lifetime souvenier was a deep scar running down the entire length of one cheek. I vowed to learn from his mistake.
Consequently I've (almost) always been able to hold my liquor--both at the bar and in my stomach. But since my boyfriend BG is older and has been drinking longer, he's had a few more unfortunate "incidents" than I have. Aside from the catastrophe with brother Ubba covered previously, he's experienced a plethora of substance-related tragedies.
When BG was a tender youth, he got turned on to the wonders of Robitussin AC by his older sister's boyfriend, who hailed from NYC. You used to be able to go into a pharmacy and just sign a fake name, get your bottle of legal codeine, and be on your way. One time BG got two--each from a different drug store--and slipped the second one in his pocket. As he headed out the door, the bottle slid out onto the ground and smashed in a zillion pieces. Since codeine was apparently the ultimate drug of choice for BG--he still has fond memories of those days--he very nearly got down and licked the sidewalk. The lesson here is to keep in mind that the more eager and excited one is about getting a substance into your system, the more likely that your nervous anticipation will lead to broken bottles and shattered dreams. So take a few deep breaths and recite your mantra before purchasing.
Back in the summer of '69, BG had his first foray in NYC. He did tons of drugs, met scores of hippies, and experienced myriad adventures. One memorable one involved a road trip to Montauk Point, about a three hour drive from Manhattan. One of his pals had a big beautiful chunk of black hash that the gang were planning to smoke out there. Montauk Point is on the very eastern tip of Long Island, surrounded by the Atlantic--an apt setting for a mellow hash party. But just as they were about to set up shop, his friend dropped the whole chunk of doobage, and it fell on the rocks and into the undulating ocean below. A three hour trip to get wasted--wasted.
I used to have a great connec at work for bowleg (aka evil weed). I had been on a ten-year hiatus, and the first time I got my hands on some of the new, powerful homegrown stuff (shortly before meeting BG) it was quite an ephiphany. My colleague's merch consisted of huge buds that smelled so strong I was afraid a cop would apprehend me on the subway. In fact, one time I was heading to BG's and a drunk was swilling from his bottle when a cop spotted him and escorted him off. Meanwhile, I had my fragrant resinated "z" tucked away in my purse. From then on, I wrapped my precious treasure in a sheet of fabric softener before heading uptown.
As I mentioned in a previous pot-related post, BG used to fall on and off the wagon with regularity. Periodically, in a fit of remorse after yet another hellish hangover, BG would impulsively perform the morning after ritual of flushing the remainders of the booze and joints down the toilet--only to wind up kicking himself for his folly a few days hence. One time, in fact, we'd been buying so much weed from my work pal that we had amassed an impressive collection of roaches--many of them Mach II (roaches made from roaches) and even Mach III (roaches made from the roaches of the roaches). During one of his repentant intervals, I wound up giving my co-worker back a few prime leftover buds and the entire bag of uber-roaches. I felt like a schmuck on wheels a few days later.
For awhile, along with the cheap scotch BG insisted on buying, he developed a penchant for Mr. Boston's blackberry brandy. The stuff is tasty as hell--esp. poured chilled straight from the freezer--but it produces hallucinatory hangovers. One fall, his brother Ubba was up visiting. BG was recovering from another wicked night of rotgut-and-brandy induced hell. Ubba took him aside and said: "BG, you're my brother and I love you. Listen to me. Don't buy that off-brand whiskey. And ixnay on the Old Mr. Boston's. That stuff is what a Bowery bum drinks when he's lost his windshield-wiping job."
BG agreed, and admitted that the mere thought of the brandy was giving him the dry heaves. We headed off to the neighborhood bar for some hair of the dog. After sitting there awhile, we heard a crash, and an all-too-familiar, sickeningly sweet smell wafted through the air. Sure enough, the old codger sitting two stools down from us had sneaked in a bottle of Old Mister Boston's blackberry brandy, and dropped it on the floor. Oh, the humanity!
Sometimes, BG's drinking would even drive him to the psych ward. Since he's schizophrenic anyway, the booze only made it that much more likely that he'd do the old cutting his wrists routine before heading off to the VA for a little R & R. One morning, after a three day BG bender, we took a cab to the Manhattan VA hospital. BG, wrist wounds wrapped in gauze, asked me to take him to the bar across the street for a final drink. He ordered a double scotch, but his hands were shaking so badly that he promptly spilled it all over the bar. The old timers sitting there at 10 in the morning--many of them wizened vets--nodded in sympathy. One put his arm around BG's shoulder soothingly, and said: "There, there, my boy. Happens to the best of us." The bartender prompty poured him another on the house.
If a young person just starting out on their drinking/drugging career were to ask my advice, I'd tell him something like this: If you can't drink lightly, hold onto your glass tightly. Try to slow down before the room starts spinning and your face meets the bar floor. Avoid bar patrons with switchblades. Stock up for Sunday, when the NYC liquor stores are closed and you can't buy beer til noon. Skip the tasty Old Mister Bostons, and use the extra few bucks to get a decent bottle of scotch that doesn't sport a skull and crossbones on a crooked label. Don't be Mr. Fumblefingers with the hash, and if you must smoke, stay away from large bodies of water. Try not to drink for three days straight--give the old brain cells a little break. And even in the throes of a screeching hangover, think long and hard before you flush.
OK, YOUR TURN! PASS THAT VIRTUAL BOTTLE AROUND AND SHARE YOUR SHAMEFUL TALES OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE GONE HORRIBLY WRONG!