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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I have a lazy eye...it doesn't wander far.

Valentines Day-1989. An ice storm has turned the metroplex into a skating rink and I am getting married, frozen wasteland or not.

We rented a community center in Irving and some non-denominational Jacobite officiated the proceedings. My parents were in attendance, may have even nodded hello, but no blows were thrown. My best man may have been high and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Other than labored breathing, the sound of hundreds of ice pellets hitting the outside of the building masked the involuntary groans I think I was making as the vows were read.

She had the decency not to wear white and I tried to look happy. If you look at pictures of the event I am not smiling. I look like I have very painful gas.

We did it, cut the cake, thanked the crowd and slipped and slid all the way home, the backseat loaded down with chafing dishes and a couple of toasters.

Our wedding night consisted of diarrhea and silence. I think I may have shed a few tears, alone in the bathroom.

We should have had it annulled the next day, but I have always been one to see where things would lead, so we grimaced and left town the next morning, still ill, but having a honeymoon, all the same.

We had garnered a condo on Padre Island and the winter storm even hit there. I buried the MR2 in the sand at the beach during a freak snowstorm and spent most of our wedding money on a tow truck. She came down with a fever and tucked into a bottle of NyQuil and slept for a day and a half. I boiled shrimp and went to an AA meeting.

When I came back she was still asleep and I sat and looked at her. This was so patently unfair. To her, I mean. I should have left her alone to live her life and I know I am not an easy man to live with, even harder to love and understand. For better or for worse...Boy, did she get the bonus plan.

We followed up that nightmare with an overnight stay in a hotel on the River Walk in San Antonio. We ordered a room service cheese and fruit tray and in a playful mood I winged a piece of Gouda at her from across the room. SPLAT, right in the eye. Great. It left a bruise.

We walked the river and I kept her next to the water, keeping the urge to throw her in at bay.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Love is not something you can put chains on and throw into a lake...that's called Houdini. (J. Handey)

Love did not exactly enter into this.

We were caught up in the momentum, and the undertow was a bitch. I had stopped waiting tables and was working for next to nothing in a book store, attempting to support us both.

We had even moved from my one bedroom apartment into the two bedroom house I lived in while attending first grade. (That was surreal and there were times I felt like I was my Father and she was my Mother, and I held myself in check, not willing to go all the way down that narrow, shitty little lane.)

We obtained the obligatory Labrador and watched Thirty Something, taking notes.

I had started to write and enrolled in college, taking journalism and creative writing. My idea was she could go back to court reporting and support us while I obtained a degree, then, I could support us with my writing.

I was delusional as well as opportunistic. All I remember her doing was sleeping...I even did the cooking. Now, I'm trying to be fair, but I honestly don't remember her doing anything.

And these are my memories, after all.

I became the arts and entertainment editor for the school paper and my scholastic claim to journalistic fame was interviewing Terry Gilliam. Hell of a nice guy, and visionary, to boot.

I had a mild flirtation with a reporter but she knew I was engaged, and I was truly trying to behave...I didn't need the guilt, so I passed.

I learned a lot, and learned that I loved to write, and it didn't really matter what. I also learned that I hated rules, especially one's that hampered my creativity. I say that with tongue firmly in cheek. I understand today, that in order to break the rules, it is necessary for one to know what they are. Plus, I didn't know shit...and there are those who would say I still don't. That is not up for argument.

I entered into and won a short story contest. I wrote every spare moment I had, and meanwhile, the wedding was being 'directed'. I'd say planned, but it was not being planned by me, but rather directed by 'her', her mother, and mine.

It was similar to the Invasion of Dunkirk, but with fewer crying Englishmen.

I was nothing more than a work beast, used to procreate and lift heavy shit. My desires failed to enter into it.

So I lost myself in school, becoming an honors English student and excelling in academics for the first time in my life.

The wedding date was picked. Wait for it...here it comes...February 14. Again, I cannot make this shit up.

Cupid was throwing up Everclear the night of my bachelor party.

The Million Dollar Saloon was in it's heyday; lap-dances, foot massages, a platoon of plastic breasts and yours truly stayed sober. I had invited a lot of friends from my table waiting period as well as best friend and cousin. It was a good time, and everything a bachelor party should be, until the douche arrived.

The douche was a kid from the restaurant that no one liked, the original annoying-know-it-all who simply crashed the party. My best men handled it by taking us all to a Korean stroke job parlor on Harry Hines-where we got rid of the douche.

He was last seen running from a hooker and her pimp after he accused her of jacking his wallet.

We drove away with him running toward us in the rear view mirror, the whore hot on his heels.

We never saw him again.

Other than the birth of my twins, that was the most fun I would have for the next ten years. (And I'm not too crazy about c-sections.)

Deep down, I'm pretty shallow...but I mean well.

I got my own apartment and left my brother with a girlfriend. Good for him.

I, unfortunately, had one as well. I don't think she really liked me that much, but she was so screwed up from childhood and one failed marriage that I seemed like a minor step up.

She still lived with her parents, even after moving a load of her crap to my closet, including the feminine unmentionables under my bathroom sink. Yet, she spent five or six nights a week at my place, and only went 'home' when I told her I needed some space.

She was hostessing as a temporary respite from her court reporting job. (She had gotten arrested, and fired in the Denton County Courthouse parking lot for firing up a hog leg with the Sheriff watching from his window. This was the future mother of my twins. Great.)

So we were together a lot. Home, work, lather, rinse and repeat.

One day we were driving to lunch and suddenly I was possessed by something unholy.

I think the quote, jokingly, was "We spend so much time together we should get married..."

She laughed and agreed. I mean really agreed. There was that moment, and I saw it slide away, and with it my future, when I should have said, yeah right...just kidding, but instead kept my mouth shut.

Meanwhile, my brain was screaming..."What in the blue fuck was that? Are you kidding me? NO, No, Nooooooo!!!"

We drove all night to New Orleans and had lunch in the French Quarter to celebrate. I called my Mom from a pay phone to tell her, yes, with my brain in full free fall and Mom asked if I had been drinking.

This was the same woman that when she met her said , "Honey, he's ornamental as hell but otherwise pretty damned useless."

I assured her I was sober, and no she was not pregnant and reminded my Mom she's the one that said I should marry my best friend. She just never gave a firm definition.

"Now honey, why would I say that?"

Oh, shit...now what?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Age and treachery beat youth and volume...but not as well as a hammer.

I'm taking a break from the story to comment on a few things I have learned.

Last Monday I turned 49 and thought I should have picked up a few things by now, other than STD's and bad credit, and thought writing them down could be helpful.

To whom? Hell if I know...but here goes.

I know that sunny days are not automatically wonderful. Sunshine is simply nature's way of jerking you off, so don't believe it. On any sunny day, I promise you, a church official somewhere is tea-bagging a ten-year old. I prefer rain and gloom. It's more realistic.

I know that if you stand five women on their heads, naked, they all look alike. (Like 50 year old Armenian grocery store owners with no teeth and bad breath.)

I know that the older I get the phone calls in the middle of the night are from people dying rather than a 'booty call'. (I can't believe I used that term.)

I know that food always tastes better when someone else has purchased it.

I know that people who order salad dressing on the side suffer from a mild form of retardation.

I know there is a deep and meaningful joy in looking into someones eyes and telling them to go fuck themselves.

I know that the child support system in this state is corrupt and divorced Fathers are the largest oppressed minority we have. (If you're a black, one-legged, dwarf and a divorced Father, I kneel to you, although I'm probably still taller.)

I know that a perfect night can be had with a good movie, great meal and a decent hand job...meaning I can have one by myself.

I know that the whale squeezers and the folks who dry hump the rain forest are all full of shit. Let a whale become lodged in their drain pipes and they'll be the first one's to grab a chain saw.

I know that the urge which follows the statement, "I have to have that" passes in a few moments, followed by either more money in the bank, to include the absence of a groin pull if I'm talking about a major appliance, or one less heartache, if I'm referring to a woman. That could possibly apply without the appliance.

I know it used to matter to me what women thought of me. Today, I'd rather have comfortable shoes and a warm place to take a crap.

I know that pet ownership is for married people. They don't risk dying alone and being eaten.

I know that there are ugly babies, and all children are not special. Contrary to the opinions of the phenomenon of professional Mommies-they all grow in to adults. (Plus the ability to have a child does not make you a genius or qualify you for sainthood...I know a lot of stupid parents.)

I know that a college education does not automatically make you smart.

I know that simply having a vagina does not make you pretty...but someone will have sex with you. It also makes you a pretty good air scoop on the hood of a car. (Hey, I can hear the ocean...)

I know that the people who watch "Worlds funniest home videos" on purpose should be placed in camps.

I know that true romantic love may last for a while, but never forever. It is a myth. Much like the evil monkey in your closet.

I know that good girls don't finish last, they finish alone.

And finally, I know that if my special needs child ate your honor student's cat...someone would find it funny.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

They say you should marry your best friend...they are wrong.

The first time I got married, it was out of pregnancy and some misguided attempt at vaguely trying to do what was right, even though the execution was horribly and tragically flawed.

The second time, well, that's a whole different story, one that will begin here. (As I have children that are a direct result of this union and are now in college I am forced to be very careful, and maybe go slower in my descriptions in an attempt at uncharacteristic fairness than if she were just another release valve with lipstick. This is going to require thought.)

The first time I saw her she was standing outside the restaurant. Great heels, short dress, wild, thick Irish hair and a look that said I can suck your spine out through your shorts. I even remember the thought I had, as clear as if it were just a moment ago.

The thought was, "With my luck, I'll marry her." We were both applying for jobs, me as a waiter, and she as a hostess. We got hired and made small talk. My triumph was in the shop and I begged a ride home in her Toyota MR2.

Nice car, and a wiggle in her walk that could make the dead shudder. Dangerous ground for the likes of me, but I was swearing off the love tunnel but thought I might try to have a female friend. I should have picked one that didn't go dancing wearing nothing but an Indian blanket and toe rings. (The drummer she marched to was not just different, he was spastic.)

Turned out the benefits were exceptional, and involved hot wax, chocolate sauce and a myriad of lingerie.

So we hung out and got to know each other. My brother even made a run at her, asking her out. She turned him down and I still wonder how all this would have turned out if that had not been the case.

Come to think of it, I couldn't see him doing it.

She was a bone crusher and he was too nice a guy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I reject your reality...and substitute it for my own.

My reality. My world. It's not for everybody.

There have been times when I made a valiant effort to listen to those around me, and to act on the advice given, at least for awhile.

But the advice was always vague, at least to me. "Be like everyone else...get a normal job...settle down...stop being so damn creative and work hard for a living...and on, and on."

But one thing was for certain, this time, I was giving sobriety a shot. I went to meetings, and I got a sponsor, and I did the work. I looked under my personal rocks, and showed the white, squirmy shit underneath the light of day, and I worked at a job I didn't much care for, but I stayed clean.

I was waiting tables again, this time in the West End at a high volume, spaghetti themed joint that catered to tourists and rednecks from Mesquite, for some reason. A Wal-martians idea of Eye-talian food, I suppose.

The money, for 1988 was pretty decent, and I even talked my brother into working with me for awhile. God love him. Everyone was sleeping with each other and getting wrecked on substances, both legal and not but he hung in there. Hated it, but he did it.

But I was sober, and I got into an annoying habit of explaining myself and my choice of self imposed abstinence and became pretty freaking annoying to those who would listen. The newly converted are often like that. I have mellowed with age.

I hung out with my best friend who was still partying like a rock star and who now has been in recovery for over eight years, married for a million and has two great sons and his own business to show for it. I took him to his first meeting then (as I felt a bit responsible for shoving him down a certain path) and it took him quite some time to put down the bong, but he did it and I love him for it.

We met in high school, he a wide eyed innocent and me, well, we know all about me. I turned him on to weed and tequila and his own story reads like something I wish I could make up. One particular story comes to mind...

I was overseas and he was going to film school at SMU. He was also ass deep in a crack cocaine addiction and working as a balloon delivery mime. Yep, a mime. I cannot make this shit up.

One night after a delivery, dressed in full white face and mime drag (rainbow suspenders no less) his car ran out of gas, after dark, in Oak Cliff. I failed to mention he is of Norwegian heritage. And yes, he was in white face. The only white face within many miles.

The fact that he lived through that without so much as a minor injury is all the testimony I need to know that there is a God, and that at times he can be one downright twisted deity.

So we would all work till the wee hours, have late night Mexican food then water ski during the day. I brought twin sisters from the restaurant out to the boat one day and they then and there forever became the 'ballast twins' for largely apparent reasons. Stunning work, God...I remember them fondly.

As we forgot the ski's (it was my buddy's boat...) we bought a slalom ski at a gas station/bait shop on Lake Ray Hubbard. It was, as far as we could determine, an ironing board with a foot cup screwed onto it. I think it sank when we put it in the water.

The twins declined any future invitations to enjoy the lake.

It was during this time frame that fate determined I should be given another shot at a relationship and I met a very substantial her. Long, thick and curly red hair, and an hourglass figure. She was also crazier than a rat in a coffee can and later gave birth to my twin daughters and married me due to a bad joke neither one of us called off.

If you're a waiter...never marry your hostess.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

If you drink, don't drive...don't even putt.

Blackout.

The word rings with dread, especially for the serious drinker. Because once the blackouts start, one can never again use the "I'm not an alcoholic because I don't have blackouts" (bullshit) excuse.

I have suffered from them from the start. I thought everyone had 'missing time' when drinking. Come to think of it, maybe I was abducted by aliens.

By the nature of the phenomenon, in which we are functional, ambulatory and upright, but not aware of it, or have any memory of the event other than brief flashbulb moments, it is hard to describe.

The flashbulb moments are horrible for me. Black...black...naked in public...black....blood smeared bathroom...black...black...riding a stolen tricycle through a bar...more black....then morning. Wow...that was fun.

As in my previous post I have just been fired faster than the Olsen twins can throw up a Triscuit, I was of course still plowed when I was ejected with undue force from the premises.

The rest of it is all flashbulb memory, but the scary thing was this started on a Monday...I came out of it the following Friday.

Cab to the West End...singing loud Irish songs with a rugby team...throwing up on Elm Street (in a crowd)...another Irish Pub by Fair Park...headbutting for fun...and back to the Bar and Grill where it started. Then, a red haired girl with a freckle on the very tip of her nose...she matching me drink for drink...her apartment...tequila...coming to Friday morning having a naked knife throwing contest in her kitchen.

I was unwell.

Very, very, unwell.

I managed to talk her into taking me to a meeting...I knew I was headed to oblivion and somehow, I had had enough. She thought she might have a problem, as well, gee...ya think...so she agreed.

She lasted a half hour and bolted.

I stayed, and this time lasted seven and a half years, one day at a time.

And so begins life, without my crutches, but with all my faults...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Heaven has a road, but no one travels it; Hell has no gate but men will dig to get there.

The following may in fact be my actual ticket to hell; rather than marrying again. It is a bright and shining example of the dark and shitty place my sense of humor will take me, given enough alcohol.

It is a fact of the restaurant business that the first one's for dinner are your older patrons. They are there to avoid the crowds and take advantage of any early bird specials one may be offering.
It is also a fact that in the eighties the restaurant business was a hotbed of substance abuse (not much has changed) and the break between lunch and dinner-the launching pad of bad behaviour for later in the evening.

There was a bar and grill across the parking lot of the restaurant and a few of us were pounding down cocktails to steel us for the slow and crushing onslaught of the geriatrics at five o'clock.

I may have been overdoing it.

As I began to go into a black-out before four p.m. there seems to be no question of it. I was always cursed or blessed, depending on how one looks at it, with being able to maintain and function even in the darkest, most incomprehensible of binges.

It was if my sense of humor rose to the surface of my consciousness and took over, steering me past the rocky shoals of complete annihilation, bringing me to berth at a safe and sound location.

Except this time.

My first table was a man and his wife; both probably in their eighties-man in a walker; woman, outfitted with what I can only refer to as the voice box prosthesis given to trachea cancer victims, or what I lovingly refer to as "the cancer kazoo."

I was dimly aware of standing in front of them, weaving a bit, with the full intention of explaining the evenings specials when suddenly I was possessed with the spirit of Bill Murray's lounge singer, grabbing the said 'kazoo' and going into 'the bit.'

"Hey, what a great crowd, anybody here from out of town?" The man became apoplectic and I found out the dear old lady was attached to the apparatus so as I weaved about the table, she lurched and jerked along with me. That was when I broke into the song "Feelings."

You haven't lived until you have heard that schmaltzy song run through someone else's voice box.

The entire waitstaff was absolutely silent and stood open mouthed, watching the debacle.

I have never been fired so fast.

Experience is what life gives me when I don't get what I want.

My Mother loved the fact her boys were together. In some way it made her more complete. I think it simply enabled her to drive us both bat shit with one phone call.

I had found another 'her' at a Mexican restaurant where I was working in Los Colinas. She was five years older and an ex-cheerleader.

I was hooked. We saw each other every day for a month and culminated the relationship with four lobsters, a lot of drawn butter and plastic sheets on her bed. (I said my depravity was not bottomless, I didn't say it wasn't deep.)

We hung out with some friends of hers who were into staying awake for a week at a time and who also smoked weed. I stayed off the crank, but got right back into the weed. I have a huge denial system, one that will tell me as long as it's not alcohol it's okay. Today, I know that anything I do to cut me off from reality is doing more harm than good, so I elect to feel the hurt, knowing it will eventually go away.

My grandmother died at my Mom's house during this period after a lengthy battle with cancer and she left my brother and I both $1,000. If I don't sound broken up about this it's because we were not close. She thought me far too much like my Dad, and hated us both.

We took a trip to Florida with the cash and I took my new 'her' with us. We went to Crystal River and swam with the Manatees. Awesome experience until she woke up in the middle of the night screaming I was her dead grandfather (who as luck would have it had a similar tattoo and molested her as a child.) The crazier they are the more they love me.

She wound up moving to California for her career. The nerve. (This was the late eighties when it was considered cool for a woman to tear your heart out to further her career, so she was the coolest.) Yeah, I know...how could I have gotten that attached in a month...do you forget who we are dealing with?

This was back when that was all I needed to fix whatever the fuck it was that was wrong with me. This meant I had to find another one, and do the dance all over again. (I was starting to tire of the process, but wouldn't become completely exhausted with it for another 12 years. Talk about never say die...Jesus wept.)

So I found a new seafood place to work in, not half a block from our apartment. Started hanging out with another waiter who was a part time musician, who had done time and I started drinking on the sly. I at least think it was sly, as I didn't do it in front of my brother, but felt it okay to smoke weed sitting in the open windowsill of my bedroom, while my brother literally prayed in the next room.

The dark was starting to close in again and I soon performed an act that will probably seal my fate and send me to hell. Not as bad as if I were Kosher and ate a bit of bacon, god forbid, because I think my God is bigger than sending me to hell over a fucking side dish, but, pretty bad all the same.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I get my first concept of a higher power...who knew he could see in the dark?

So somehow I entered the third grade. A Catholic third grade. Without transcripts from the second grade. Don't ask because I don't know. Maybe it was divine intervention.

I was given a uniform; dark green slacks, white polo shirt and dark green cardigan sweater. And ugly assed black shoes. But I was wearing clean clothes and eating three meals a day, and being disciplined and hugged without provocation. Strange.

We had a fat kid from Cuba in our class, always going on about Castro. This was very soon after the whole Bay of Pigs incident and a few of them had managed to dog paddle to freedom.

I tried to cut his throat with the brass edge of a ruler in the bathroom.

I just wanted him to shut up. Seems I brought some issues to the table. He was sweaty and pale and quivering when I hissed in his ear if he ever told anybody I'd burn down his house and then he'd have to go back to Cuba.

I was the quiet kid in the back row. The one with long lashes, that liked to read and drew his classmates for milk money. Remember me? No...I imagine not. I even had my first girlfriend, if I remember right, she broke up with me. Boy did that establish a pattern.

At any rate, we had mass before we had class and I learned to pray, at least one way and I watched, and listened and tried to stay off the radar of the nuns, waiting for the day my Dad would take me to live with him.

I later would regret that, as he didn't often tell me he loved me, but was a WWII vet so I imagined he was beating me in Morse code.

And I learned what a real family was like-five girls and only two of us boys-but my cousins accepted me readily and to this day they are my siblings and I would throw myself in front of a truck for any of them.

This is not to say we did not fight. We fought. And screamed and punched each other silly. And no one in the neighborhood dared fuck with any of us. Because we would descend on the poor slobs en masse, and no one wanted that.

And God was always present. He was there in school, he was in the chapel, he was in our house, and I thought he lived in the giant family bible open in the front vestibule of the house, the one we passed coming and going each and every day.

I was also told God could see in the dark and from what I understood he was easily pissed off and quite judgemental...much like my last ex-wife. As I had hit one part of puberty really early the whole seeing in the dark thing really threw me off.

I treated myself like an amusement park ride after dark, so to say I was a conflicted young lad would be an understatement.

But before I got off on this childhood rant I was moving in with my brother; two bachelors out to set the world on fire. Okay, he was a sunbeam for Jesus and I was Satan's cabana boy-but we gave it a shot.

I resume my narrative...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The thing I admire about Hitler is he never took any shit from magicians.

That line is from Larry David and I write it because it's 3:48 a.m. and yesterdays post and dead relatives have me awake. I simply think it's brilliantly funny, and after yesterdays post, I could use some laughs.

The dead relatives? I've heard that between three and four a.m. is when most spirits are active and for most of my life, if I wake in the middle of the night, it is during that time frame. So, if they want me up, I can assume it is to finish what I started yesterday, and not zone out in front of a Chuck Norris infomercial. (Chuck Norris has no chin under his beard...it's another fist.)

I stayed with her for a while and I have a vague recollection of the incident repeating itself but the memory is locked away. The first memory seems to be doing all the heavy lifting anyway.

She would talk to my Dad in Dallas on the phone, and she would hand it to me with tears in her eyes. He would tell me he loved me, and call me Tiger and tell me I was going to come live with him. As he was playing at the Baker Hotel and living at the YMCA in downtown Dallas, I thought that rather exciting. I stayed with him there on weekends before my Mother and the fish grease smelling cook absconded with me to Vegas in a small, white Chevy Nova.

(He failed to mention that all his money had gone to child support, of which my portion amounted to cheese sandwiches, and legal fees, having my Mother declared unfit was apparently expensive and exhausting- the staying with him part would have to wait-filling in the gap would be my Aunt and Uncle and my five cousins. I found this out when they picked me up at Love Field in a giant, gas guzzling station wagon.

I remember driving to my new house in this behemoth of a car and seeing a white Chevy Nova. I hid on the floor boards of the car and no one mentioned it. Either they were letting me work it out, or were too stunned to say anything. But they became my first real family and I learned what it meant to survive in a loud, sometimes violent, fiercely loving, Irish Catholic home.)

I remember leaving Las Vegas, dressed in shorts and a white dinner jacket, with a note on my lapel giving my age and name-now that I think of it-more of a brief menu description for an airborne pederast than anything else, and my first commercial flight went off without a hitch, minus the ketchup episode on the dinner jacket.

The funny thing is, I don't remember saying anything at all, just being this big eyed, long haired, (the haircut of the day in 1966 was the burr for boys my age, so my shoulder length locks were a topic of conversation among the space waitresses minding me on the flight) silent, little boy who left town without saying goodbye to his Mom. (I found out when I lived with her as an adult it took her two weeks to notice I had left...)

I wasn't scared or excited.

I just knew I wasn't going back to the trailer. And that was enough for me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Women; the fairer sex...when there's nothing fair about them.

It has been 42 years since the following incident and it is time I put it to rest.

The psycho babblers would say I was looking for my Mother in all my relationships, and they may, or may not be right. All I know is this...I learned something about women, and my place in their world a long, long, time ago...and it was not from my Mother.

We were living in Las Vegas and I was six, maybe seven years old. It replays in my head like some weird loop of a grainy surveillance video, and it is time it stopped.

My Mother had farmed me out to a friend of hers- a showgirl- who was between shows. She knew my Mother was incapable of caring for me as she showed up one day at our trailer and I was on the front step, playing in the dirt with a stick and my Mom was passed out, naked, on the toilet.

She bundles me up, and takes me to her house, where she has a pool and a poodle and real food and a color t.v.

I am wary, as I know this won't last and I will eventually be returned to the trailer, where I live on cheese sandwiches and my Mothers voice echoes in my head from the bedroom, while I try to close my ears and eyes, in a small ball on the couch- "When you fucked me did you mean it, huh, cowboy, did you mean it...?"

She lets me take a long bath, and makes me spaghetti and meat balls and has bought me a pair of real pajamas.

She lets me watch t.v., anything I want, and I settle on 'Gypsy"-with Rosalind Russel- the story of a famous stripper, the irony of which is not lost on me...but not until later.

I'm engrossed with the colors and the beautiful women, Natalie Wood to be exact (Rosalind was a little long in the tooth for my seven year old taste.)

She calls my name from behind me and I twist and look to see what she wants.

She's wearing nothing but a pair of panties and her breasts are, in hindsight, spectacular. I have very little to compare them to as my Mom was a hard A cup at best and my only real knowledge of the female form came from a Playboy I found folded up on my way to first grade.

( I kept it in my plaid winter coat pocket and Mom found it. I was grounded, as well as confused, but I wanted to see them again, that was for sure. I never went through the stage I hear of, where boys find girls gross, or have cooties. I found them behind the bushes at school with their panties down and I was enthralled.)

She sat on the couch and asked me if I wanted to touch them. All I could do was nod. If I said no, she might get mad, and I couldn't swim in the pool, and I did as she asked. The experience left me flushed and her breathing hard and she suddenly stopped me and said that was enough, and left the room.

The movie ended and I went to bed, in her room, and she tucked me in to her big bed, with the fluffy comforter and she gently kissed me on the forehead, and I smelled scotch. She left the door cracked so the light from the hallway shone in, like a triangular night lite.

She returned a few minutes later and slid her hand under the covers, touching me, making me grow.

She put me in her mouth and I felt her tears on my stomach.

She told me I was a good boy...a very good boy.

I drifted off to sleep, confused yet knowing something had happened that would forever change me.

I learned to be a good boy with all the women in my life.

And all of you wonder why it hurts so much when you leave...?

Because I wasn't very good, after all.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Better living through osmosis...oh, who am I kidding?

So I worked and stayed clean.

It was becoming usual. The crawling back into meetings, fessing up and growing up in public, and the sobriety countdown started one more time.

To be honest, I couldn't wait to get loaded again. Crazy? You bet. Reason? Not a clue.

Sure, I could dissect the childhood thing, product of my environment, yada yada...but the truth was, I romanced my addictions and loved the effect drugs and alcohol had on me whenever I ingested them. They changed me, and I couldn't stand to be me.

I hear it now... "How could you? You knew what would happen..." Every time, baby...just no guarantee when, or what or to what strange degree I would sink.

It was that magic place...about 13 minutes into two large ales, (I timed it) when the world would become a singular, perfect moment, and I was in my heaven. It truly was a beautiful place, a place in which I was brave, and handsome and witty and loved everyone and everything.

I loved a good two glasses of red wine; a pint and a half of Bass, or three quarters of a well smoked joint.

It's that place I want to live in and I seek that moment long after I have stripped my clothes off and run screaming through a Cantina bellowing 'I am the other white meat!' (True story...but that's for another time.) I could just never stay there...I had to go farther, and deeper...and ultimately, darker.

So I knuckled it, and tried to enjoy being without armor.

My mother's oldest son, five years my senior, was moving into an apartment near White Rock Lake and needed a roommate. He asked me to join him. His first marriage had grown unpalatable and he too was starting over.

Talk about the odd couple.

He was a Methodist Youth Minister;born to the position, I mean, I have never known him to not do the right thing.

Growing up, we kept in touch, although our Fathers (his-ex Air Force and a Math teacher...mine-Jazz musician and Scotch drinker extraordinaire) never met.

I love the guy to death, but I'm stumped. He inherently knows the right thing to do, and freaking does it. Without fail. And he is genuinely nice to people, especially the elderly. Now, were he to read this, he would without a doubt tell me I was wrong, he certainly made mistakes and has regrets about the choices that he made. I'm sure that's true, although he never made any where I could see them.

I looked up to him my entire life, and still do and always wanted my big brother to be proud of me, and then somehow I would screw it up. But he never, not once -tried to force his views or beliefs on me or drag me to church, or God forbid-'save me'. He let me make my mistakes and was always there when I needed him.

He eventually became ordained and several months ago gave me communion. I cried when he did it, out of gratitude and respect I suppose. It meant more to me than I can possibly describe.

It gets chilly living in someones shadow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I learn to play the part...

The bus arrived on a misty Saturday morning at the bus terminal a few blocks from Dealey Plaza. My Mother and her hulking, brooding husband were already waiting for me.

(Mom was afraid if they weren't, I'd go get drunk. I had to laugh...I was stone cold broke and really had no intention of drinking...she didn't need to worry. At least not yet.)

She looked me deep in the eye when we hugged, and I knew she knew where I had been.

Her husband asked me how the trip was, and I told him it was fine. I don't think we said anything else to one another for the entire day.

We got to the house and I immediately took a shower and had something to eat. Then we went to a meeting. Just that simple.

However, I had lost my identity somewhere along the way. While I never really knew who I was and chameleoned into whatever group I wanted to belong to, from now on, I was my Mother's son, and that was how I was introduced at meetings for the next year.

My Mother had been sober for quite some time, was very active in recovery, and was a circuit speaker, traveling to recovery conferences and giving her talk. I was the 'little boy in the trailer' in her talk (that started the weepers in the group every time. )

And now, here I was all grown up in recovery too. How fucking wonderful.

One may think I was ungrateful. Well, one may be correct. I was in this dog and pony show, well scrubbed and sober, tap dancing as fast as I could, while smiling at the right people, and saying the right things in meetings, (that's Patty's son...yes., the one in her talk) and I was using my Mother as a sponsor. Note to anyone seriously wanting to get sober...not a good idea.

I wanted to get screwed up again but knew I couldn't, so I white knuckled it, and smiled, and pretended to pray.

Landed another job waiting tables, saved a little money and bought a '63 Triumph. I painted it midnight blue and picked up women at the restaurant bar. (I had to bring them back to Mommy's house-very uncomfortable-but she had a pool, so it was a plus, I guess.)

I was learning I was a natural observer and that it kept me at the edge of things. Too close equaled pain, too far equaled isolation and bad craziness. A balancing act to be sure.

I've balanced that for quite some time, now, and I still do it. I can learn what you want me to say, what's necessary to pay the rent, while I watch you, the things you do (sometimes actually in the name of God-which really slays me) and I incorporate what I can use, and write about the rest.

The time with her taught me to stay half in the shadows and half out, walk that line...and try to stay out of the deep shadows.

In the deepest shadows I am not alone.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf...not my Mom.

Now you didn't think I would really go into tawdry details regarding the aforementioned passenger, did you? My depravity, contrary to popular belief, is not bottomless.

I was too sick, and too scared to do more than smile back and indulge the fantasy. (Although if they ever do perfect time travel in my lifetime, I will be going back to several moments just like that.)

I tried not to peek as she read, jacket over her lap like a blanket, occasionally doing what appeared to be wrestling a muskrat one handed under the jacket, leaving her pale and shaking, but I could be wrong...

So I slept, or tried to and watched the desert scrub whip by, fantasizing about getting off at the next stop, changing my name and becoming a short order cook for a mining camp, while I slowly drank my self to death.

Not a bad fantasy, I just couldn't see myself being called 'Cookie'...the guy with a past.

So I tried to envision what I would be coming home to. To Mom and the last remaining meal ticket.

All I could conjure were the stories she told me when she tried to sober me up before, sort of a scared straight bedtime story.

The time she learned to sew coveralls in the Reno County Jail, doing an undetermined stretch for an undisclosed crime; being driven to the California State line by the CHP, tired of arresting her, begging her never to come back; being flown in a blackout from Vegas to Hawaii by a bona fide, rat pack gangster, and not remembering the trip; working from good casino, to lesser casino, being fired from every one until she was blowing cowboys in our travel trailer in North Las Vegas.

(This was Frank and Sammy time, 1966, none of the Disney bullshit...you could wind up in a hole in the desert faster than cashing an unemployment check.)

Driving from Vegas to California with another husband, an even bigger drunk, who would slip into a seizure in the passenger seat while she drove, and she would pull off the road, kicking the bejesus out of him, sideways in the seat, until he passed out and lay still. Not an after school special.

And there was my story, she-six months pregnant with me; slipping into DT's which induced premature labor and me being born, one lb. thirteen ounces, the doctor slipping her a grain alcohol IV drip to stop the withdrawal, pumping sweet ethyl spirits in to all of me at the same time.

She said that explained the feeling I had of coming home, once I took my first drink-made sense. (I chased that feeling for the rest of my life...thanks again, Mom.)

And I remembered the good, for her at least; getting sober, finding a real day job and taking a bus to work at Love field, getting a paycheck and paying her rent for the first time in years; meeting Mr. Normal, and her weird fairy tale wedding.

Who knew...maybe I could have one too.

I watched the sun go down over the mountains in Arizona and settled in for the trip.

...and I started to think...I just might live.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rule one of the Salvation Army: You can never baptize a cat...even if he joins your church.

I was suffering the tortures of the truly afflicted as I boarded the bus leaving the pearl of the pacific coast. They never put the bus station in the wonderful, kitschy part of town, but where people like me hang out. Outside small beer and liquor stores, blood banks, adult bookstores and gotta love 'em, the Salvation Army.

I always wanted to put that on a resume-under military experience- Special Forces, Salvation Army. I could kill you with a spork and a rolled up sermonette, while bashing your brains in with a tambourine, and do it all...silently.

"Just a closer...WHACK...walk with...WHACK...thee....Sing, DAMN IT, sing."

We were the usual bus passengers...garbage bag luggage, pockets filled with crap food, and all smelling ethnically divergent. God, I felt like hell. As the bus pulled out I leaned my head against the window in the flow of the cold, air conditioning.

It would be some time before I felt like living. As we cleared the south part of the city, I knew I was done with this part of my life, with no knowledge of any kind of future.

So I slept, fitfully, as best one can on a Greyhound, waking as we pulled through some little California desert town, stopping briefly, then rolling out again, the miles stacking up.

We had stopped outside Modesto when she got on. My age, carrying a rolled up copy of Penthouse Letters. She sat across from me and smiled.

Whoever was in charge of irony was laughing their ass off. "Dear Penthouse, we had stopped outside of Modesto, when she got on the bus..."

You had to be freaking kidding me. I watched her read, look up, catch me, and smile.

Oh my.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

You can go home again...but you'll never, ever live there.

My options were shit. I was losing my mind in this weird free fall and reached down deep to get it to stop.

I did the unthinkable. I called my Mother.

Now, our relationship was odd, as she had nothing to do with me from the time I was seven until I was fifteen when I moved in with her and husband number four in a small town in Oklahoma.

They met at the State Hospital. He was a butcher by trade, but told me in private he was a secret agent. Said he was one of the one's they sent to get Francis Gary Powers from the Soviet Union. Yeah, and I was Eleanor Roosevelt.

She found him hanging one day in the front yard. Swinging from a mulberry tree, his face bloated and purple. There was no note.

She got drunk and bought a pet rooster.

She loved often but desperately and her choices were poorer than mine.

Her last husband had killed his wife in a car crash, and the guilt left him totally impotent, and to tell the truth, pretty fucked up.

My Mom and I were more like Harold and Maude, and he was jealous of whatever it was we had with each other.

There was no apple pie and Motherly advice. There were Viceroy cigarettes stubbed out in my eggs, and the smell of nail polish remover, and the memory of a quart of cheap vodka under the kitchen sink.

But she was sober, and she knew where I was. I sincerely believe she wanted to help.

She sent me a bus ticket, and said sure baby, come on home.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Swimming in it, but too stupid to stay under.

I don't need to tell you. I don't need to describe it. Those of you who know, certainly don't need to be reminded, and those who don't, well, we should keep it that way.

Couldn't drink enough when I was drinking, and couldn't not drink when I wasn't.

It was worse first thing in the morning, especially when I was broke, and I knew there would be an eternity of ground glass under my skin, sweats, shakes so bad I couldn't write my name, auditory hallucinations like a softly spoken conversation in the next room that I could never quite catch.

I could only hope to die in my sleep, as bravery was not my strong suit, but God only shook his head, at times embarrassed to call me his son.

I took to haunting churches, alone, huddled in a pew, away from the altar, away, always away from the pitiful, withering gaze of his only begotten son. (I was more the mixed-race stepchild) but still I went, and kneeled, crying out if not for mercy, at least some fucking sympathy.

And one day God answered.

He said, "No..."

My new disclaimer...yeah I know.

Okay, the old disclaimer was tired. The ideas were outdated and keeping me stuck in a place I don't want to be anymore...so now for something more refreshing.

I have recently changed my views regarding women. Seems I had some issues with the fairer sex due to past pain and self- centered fear. (Yes...duh applies.)

I'm done with that.

Being in recovery has helped me change my entire life, perceptions and attitudes. I cannot change my history but I can change my today and my future.

I recently realized that the women I know in recovery are some of the strongest, bravest, most gentle and kind teachers I have ever had. You exemplify integrity and spiritual growth, and I hope you know who you are.

Some may know of my past marital and relationship history and been a participant in them as well. It's past and that's where it stays...in the past.

I own my part in those failures but claim no more responsibility in any misery you may be experiencing. I am sorry, but it's time to get off the cross. We need the wood.


Thank you all...