Bad Influence

Ted wore square hipster glasses and slicked back his thinning hair. We met when I was 23 and he was 30, which seemed really, really old, like Dad old, which is probably why I trusted him more than I should have. The night we met he drunk drove me home from a dive bar, pulled over in front of my apartment and said, “You know I’m just trying to score right?” When he smiled, I saw through the gap between his front teeth. He laughed and shrugged, “What? I’m just being honest.”

He was honest and I liked it. Ted never tried to cover up who he was—he was base and dirty and swore, and drank too much and broke the law. I learned this over the years, but during those few seconds before I gave him my number and got out of his car, I could already see everything. I knew exactly who he was—and I didn’t care. I wanted to be friends.

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My Break-Up With Booze in 12-Steps

Arguably, my longest relationship has been with alcohol. This was almost natural, since I went to high school in Wisconsin where we started constructing beer bongs before we could drive. As a fourteen-year-old, I remember a friend’s dad mixing me hot toddies at the bar in the basement (which also functioned as a taxidermy studio). He used to make koozies out of squirrels, which will give you a real good picture of my roots and the cornerstones of my cultural heritage.

Alcohol and I have a long and tumultuous relationship, one that has inspired heartache, but also some winning times. Needless to say, a post-break up narrative on the subject is a little tricky. It’s like pouring through an old photo album, and like those pictures of an ex, it’s easy to dismiss the fights and romanticize what were undoubtedly some hazy, but first-class nights.

Booze and I…we have traveled the world, walked on beaches, sat on rooftops, lazed on river banks, warmed next to fires… For every really terrible drunk story, there are at least as many, “best night of my life stories.”…but for addicts, “chasing the dragon” is real. You always want that one amazing night back.

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