To the Drunk Who Sat behind Me

I had been looking forward to seeing Arlo Guthrie in concert for months. Sure, this would be my 20th time seeing him since 1980, but that’s because I sort of view him as the milepost for my development. I grew up with his music. I still have several of his albums (remember those?) gathering dust somewhere. I’ve been at different stages of my life with each passing concert. I was excited about experiencing his wit and wisdom now that I’m finally at a place in my life where I know I’m exactly where I should be.

That, and the man is 71. I have no idea how many more mileposts he’ll be present for. Each concert becomes all the more precious due to the passage of time.

And concert tickets do not come cheap these days. While I’m in a better financial place than I have been in the past, I still have to sit in the nosebleed section. I still have to drive around and around and around in hopes of finding the cheapest possible parking. I still think about the many other things I should be doing with that money. Concerts are a luxury.

So you can imagine my irritation when I settled in to my seat at the theater and the alcoholic who was sitting behind me started acting up. (Lord knows I’ve made my opinions about alcoholics quite clear in this blog.) The woman would not shut up.

Not only would she not shut up, but she actually increased her volume to be heard over Arlo’s singing. And she kept shouting Wooo Hooo! (Not that I’m opposed to that. I’ve Wooo-ed my share of Hooos myself at more than one concert. But not in the middle of the entertainer’s enjoyable stories. Not 10 times during the same song.) No one came to hear your Wooo Hooos, lady.

She ignored my dirty looks. She ignored my leaning forward and cupping my ear. She ignored my husband’s polite request for her to keep it down. In fact, she got louder. Because the world revolves around her.

That’s why I know she’s an alcoholic without knowing her personally. Only habitual drunks go out in public and make a$$es of themselves, despite the disapproval of every single person around them. Only alcoholics are oblivious to the fact that they are ruining an expensive night out for everyone within earshot of them. Only alcoholics can be that freakin’ selfish.

I sat there and fumed for about 4 songs. I kept telling myself to not give her that power. I kept telling myself that I was there for Arlo, not for idiot. But she was so loud. So unbelievably loud.

Finally we moved to some empty seats even higher up in the nosebleed section, and had a wonderful time. Arlo never disappoints. He’s an American icon, just like his father Woody Guthrie was.

I noticed that Drunky McDrunkerson did not return to her seat after the intermission. I don’t know if she was passed out in the bathroom, or if she was asked to leave, but I guarantee you, she wasn’t missed by anyone. I just hope she didn’t drive home.

So, if you happen to be reading this, you drunken fool, please know that you looked like an imbecile, and everyone around you was resisting the urge to punch you in the throat. You are not liked. You are not appreciated. You are not the life of every party. In fact, you are the death of many of them. You owe us all a refund. You owe Arlo an apology. You should be ashamed of yourself. And now your horrible behavior has been immortalized in this blog. I’m sure it’s one of your highest achievements. How sad for you.

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White Privilege Run Amok

We all know it happens. Special privileges for the already privileged. Little blonde Barbie dolls getting a pass for their outrageous behavior. But it’s particularly sickening when it’s caught on tape.

Most people, if they’re pulled over for blasting through a stop sign at 60 mph, are reeking with alcohol, have weed in their vehicle, and come up as twice the legal limit on a breathalyzer test, would have at least enough sense to know that they’ve been caught dead to rights, and need to shut up and take their medicine.

But not Lauren Elizabeth Cutshaw. No. She’s a little ol’ South Carolina white girl, and therefore thinks that butter won’t melt in her mouth. She wails drunkenly in the back of the police car that she went to a really good school, graduated with honors, was a cheerleader, and had never been arrested before. She also said that she’s a pretty girl, and therefore shouldn’t go to jail.

Apparently, she also told the cop that she’s a “very clean, thoroughbred, white girl.” And that’s where I started to taste vomit in my mouth. Because I suppose I could say the same thing about myself, if it ever occurred to me, and lord knows it hasn’t gotten me very far. (Although, probably a little farther than I deserve, but that’s a topic for another day.)

The difference between me and Miss Lauren is that it would never occur to me to say such a thing about myself or anyone else. That unwavering sense of entitlement was never bred into me. But then, it would never occur to me to join a sorority, cash in on my looks, drive while wasted out of my ever-loving mind, or wail pathetically in the back of a cop car.

According to Linked In, this deluded woman is a Real Estate Advisor for a high-end real estate agency. I think it would be interesting to check back in about a year to see how well she’s doing now that her white privilege card has been revoked. Poor dear. She’ll only have the content of her character to cash in on at that point, and from what little I’ve seen, I’m not particularly impressed with that.

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In the flesh.

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Drunken Karaoke

I don’t drink, myself. And I’ve written about the havoc alcoholics can wreak. It’s actually one of my most popular posts.

But I don’t begrudge you your right to partake. Unless you get mean when you overdo it. There’s nothing worse than a mean drunk. If drinking lowers your inhibitions, and that was the only thing standing between you and being violent or destructive or cruel, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. I have zero tolerance for that.

People frequently use drinking as an excuse. “I was drunk. I’d never do that, normally.”

Well, I don’t think alcohol invades your body and turns you into someone else. I think it strips you down to your bare essence. Drinking lowers your mask. It’s kind of sad when what’s underneath isn’t pretty. (That, and nobody held your nose and poured the vodka down your throat. You chose to drink, so you need to take responsibility for your actions.)

I must admit that I do find happy drunks kind of amusing, within reason. I know some who like to have a party once a week in which everyone gets drunk and sings karaoke. They don’t drive. They don’t mean anybody any harm. They appear to be relatively functional the rest of the week. It’s funny, unless you live next door and are trying to sleep.

I know others who get all romantic when those inhibitions take a hike. Not that they can follow through, but at least it’s positive energy. That counts for something.

But when all is said and done, you need to make very sure your behavior isn’t negatively impacting others before you indulge. If you aren’t capable of doing that, then you should take a good, hard look at your life. Because it’s not only about how much fun you have, it’s about the legacy you leave behind.

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Starting Out Silver

Dating in one’s 50’s, or even later than that, is something else again. It’s not for sissies. It adds another whole layer of complexity to things.

In your 50’s, you’re more apt to come with appliances. Glasses. Dentures. Night Guards, canes or back braces, arch supports, bottles of pills.

There are things you can no longer do. Maybe your lower back isn’t up to that 10-mile hike. Or you don’t hear well enough to hang out in that noisy bar. You become less flexible, both physically and emotionally.

Chances are you’ve outgrown a lot of the shenanigans of your youth, too. Getting drunk isn’t as much fun anymore. One night stands are just depressing. And yes, I’d love that slice of pizza, but green peppers give me indigestion.

You also come with a boatload of baggage. You’ve got your whacky adult children, for a start. And ex-husbands or wives. Experiences you’d rather not repeat. You are skittish.

And lest we forget, that first impression of you naked is not going to be as stellar as it was when you were in your 20’s. Gravity has taken its toll. There are surgery scars. There are wrinkles and sags and grey hair, or no hair at all. Some things don’t work as well as they used to.

And, speaking from a purely female perspective, there are a whole lot of older men who are still looking for women in their 30’s. Lord knows why. They won’t be able to keep up with them. But they still expect you to be lean and athletic, with nice tight… skin. In other words, they’re in a fantasy world.

But oh, when you get it right… it’s magical. Age-appropriate partners are much easier to relate to. They get your cultural references. They understand your jokes. There’s a feeling of “we’re in this together.” You’ve each made your share of mistakes and have therefore learned a great deal. You’re hopefully more patient. You have many more stories to tell.

And even better, you get to feel young again. Just when you thought those butterflies in your stomach had moved on, they’re baaaaack! You forgot you knew how to blush. Life seems much more exciting. Hope springs eternal. And best of all, you appreciate things so much more because you never thought you’d ever have those things again.

What a gift!

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That Place Beyond Logic

There ought to be a word for people who irrationally cling to their beliefs way beyond the point where they could possibly make any sense to anyone, including themselves. Some of these people are simply desperately stupid. Others are just so stubborn that they refuse to change their stance even when they themselves must realize that they look like fools.

Here’s an actual conversation I once had with an ex-boyfriend. Not only does it illustrate my point but it explains one of the many reasons he is an ex.

Him: “Anyone who has ever had alcohol is an alcoholic.”

Me: “Er… what?”

Him: “It’s true. Any alcohol of any kind means you’re an alcoholic.”

Me: “So the woman who has one cold beer a week to celebrate the weekend is an alcoholic?”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “Even if she has never been drunk in her life.”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “Even if during hard times she can’t afford that one beer and that doesn’t particularly bother her.”

Him: “Yes.”

Me: “How about your amazing Aunt Linda, who has only had the occasional glass of champagne at New Year’s?

Him: “She’s an alcoholic, too.”

Me: “She would be as stunned as I am to hear that, I’m sure. How about someone who partied pretty hard in college because that was the thing to do, but who outgrew it by the time he was 23, and hasn’t had a drink of any kind in the past 50 years?”

Him: “Alcoholic.”

Me: “Seriously? And someone who has never consciously partaken, but has had Nyquil, which contains alcohol, when suffering from a bad head cold?”

Him: “He’s an alcoholic, too.”

Me: “Nothing but communion wine about once a month?

Him: “Alcoholic.”

Me: “How about a fundamentalist (insert any religion here) who has avoided alcohol of all kinds since birth, but one day accidentally takes a sip of vodka, thinking it’s water, and immediately spits it out, but one evil drop manages to slide down her throat?

Him: “Yes, her too.”

Me: “What a scary world you live in. Every single person on the planet is an alcoholic. How about you? You had one drink your entire life, a glass of wine as we rode a gondola through the canals of Venice. Are you an alcoholic?”

Him: “I am.”

Me (after a long pause): “Do you have any idea how insane you sound right now?”

Defying logic is the worst kind of stupidity. I just realized that there is a word for this type of person: idiot. Or maybe it’s republican. Or maybe both.

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My Own Personal Dallas

The other day I had a unique opportunity. I attended a friend’s extended family gathering. The thing is, no one there knew me except my friend, and they didn’t realize how much I knew about their family dynamics. I’ve been friends with this person for decades, and he confides in me. I know all the family scandals.

Once I connected the names with the faces, I sat back and watched the show. It kind of felt like I was the omniscient voice in a sordid TV drama. I had a running narrative going on in my head.

  • Ooooh, A just rolled her eyes behind B’s back. That’s because he’s talking about being generous, even though he’s constantly borrowing money from A and never pays it back.
  • C and D just brushed shoulders. They’re having an affair. I wonder what D’s husband would think about that if he knew? Especially since C is his brother.
  • E looks annoyed at everyone. As well she should be. She’s the only one who is taking care of their mother with dementia.
  • F and G are siblings, and they had sex with each other when they were teens. Ewwwww.
  • H is secretly gay. It seems obvious to me, but denial is pervasive in this family. How sad that she feels the need to keep it a secret.
  • I is a heroin addict.
  • J isn’t really the father of K.
  • L once got drunk and French kissed Uncle M at a wedding. He was horrified and everyone still whispers about it.
  • N is mentally ill, unmedicated, and once threatened to kill his nephew.
  • Everybody hates O’s wife.
  • P is part of a really lunatic fringe religion.

This was an interesting experience because I got to see the public face that each person put on while at the same time knowing what was hiding behind each of those masks. People can really by duplicitous and complex. The irony is that setting all this inside information aside, everyone was really nice.

The only thing I don’t know is who shot JR. Maybe that will be revealed at the next gathering. It kind of makes you wonder what you don’t know about the people you think you know, though, doesn’t it?

JR

Another Rant About Alcoholism

One of my most popular blog entries is Why I Hate Alcohol, and I genuinely thought I’d gotten all my anger about the subject off my chest when I wrote it. It turns out that that is not the case. Far from it.

The other day, someone who calls himself “Dad” commented on another one of my blog entries, Do You Know This Child? Help Solve a Mystery. In that one, I mentioned that my father told some outlandish stories about the war, and that because he was an alcoholic, I never knew him. “Dad”, without knowing me at all, implied in the comment section that my disbelief of my father’s stories is probably “what drove him over the edge.”

Okay. Hoooo. Wow. That still pisses me off to an unbelievable degree. And when I have such a strong reaction to something, my first instinct is to take a closer look and ask myself what about the situation is pushing my buttons.

First of all, I hate being misunderstood, but in this case that was probably my fault for not clarifying my relationship. When I said I did not know my father because of his alcoholism, I didn’t mean he was present in my life but always “in his cups.” I meant that because he was such a mean drunk and a worthless fraction of a man, he left my family when I was three months old. I never met him, never got child support from him, never received so much as a phone call or a Christmas card my entire life. So yeah, I suppose I didn’t make myself quite clear in that entry. I literally didn’t know my father.

But what really makes my head explode is the implication that, had I known him, I could have in some way “driven him over the edge.” The man came home a drunk from a war that had ended 20 years before I was born. I’m sure he had PTSD, and that was a contributing factor, and that’s tragic, but making the assumption that the blame for one’s alcohol abuse lies somewhere outside oneself is the worst of all alcoholic excuses.

No one forces someone to start drinking. Not once did anyone hold a gun to the man’s head and pour the gin down his throat. Millions of people have experienced horrors and not tried to pour alcohol over those memories.

I’m sorry. I know this probably won’t be a popular sentiment, but dammit, the bedrock of being an alcoholic is selfishness and irresponsibility. Without those two things, you don’t destroy your life and the lives of every person within your sphere of influence. Full stop.

Alcoholics are very adept at blaming the rest of the world for their problems. The whole “poor me” thing may as well be tattooed on their foreheads. But I refuse to feel sorry for an alcoholic. I don’t care how often people try to call it a disease. It’s an addiction, which is a mental health issue, and yes, more often than not one will need help to conquer it. But unless and until you admit to yourself that you have made the bed that you so frequently pass out in, no healing can take place for you or anyone who has the misfortune to love you. You can’t clean up your mess until you first take ownership of it. Grow up!

“Pushed him over the edge,” my ass. Sheesh.

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