Many of you may have heard about my Halloween weekend, about how I spent all of my time drinking hard from Thursday through to Sunday morning, when the absolute worst hangover of my life took over. As I write this, I have only just conquered it by mere hours, and it is Tuesday night.
Conquered. Shit, that’s laughable. This hangover LET ME GO. It had its ugly way with me, blew its load, and finally removed the fetters. It was like booze had unleashed a Terminator on me, and somehow, after days of torment, the cold-blooded killing machine decided I wasn’t worth the effort.
Jesus. Alcohol had never turned on me like that before. It scared the shit out of me. I decided, in the darkest throes of this hangover, to never drink again.
Big words for someone like me, I know. Let’s look at my history with my beloved whiskey.
Though my mother had given me alcohol when I was a child, I didn’t really start drinking of my own accord until I turned 21. Very soon, I realized that it unleashed something interesting in me. I’m a control freak, something I’ve always hated about myself but could do nothing about. In fact, if most of you knew what I was like in my sober years, I guarantee that you would all have fucking hated my guts. I was anti-social, I despised everything, and I looked down on everyone.
But then booze made its official arrival in my life. I suddenly had an excuse to relax the unhealthy death grip I had on my own life. Not only that, but it made me a much nicer person, far more likely to have a conversation with a stranger. Yes, suddenly I was social. Not only that, but I found out that I could actually be entertaining. I was always a writer, but now I found myself performing in front of others, mostly through verbal reproductions of tales. I soon acquired real life stories, which really helped my popularity. A wonderful thing was happening to me: people actually liked being around me. To those who remember me from high school (and I know none of them are reading this), a likable John Bruni is unthinkable.
I rode this crest for quite some time, and I still do. Alcohol taught me how to be a human being. Sure, a human being who had some quirks that set me vastly apart from others, but a human being nonetheless.
Shit, I think back on the time I lost my job at the library, and it astonishes me. If you guys think I drink a lot now, you would be absolutely shocked by the obscene amount of alcohol I consumed in those days. I still had my day job at the public works garage, but it was only part time. I would spend four hours every day working through a hangover, and then I’d go back to drinking and fucking around. Jesus, those bouts of drinking were legendary.
But I eventually got a night job, and I slowed down to almost nothing. Then, I traded both of my jobs for an infinitely better one and picked up a bit more. Nothing crazy, just business as usual.
And then that horrible pain in my head started attacking me. By that point, I was putting down a handle of whiskey a night because there was nothing else in the world that could make the pain go away. I would suffer through work, then rush home to get tanked within two hours. Luckily, I stopped being stupid and went to a doctor, who recommended a dentist, who solved my problem by covering up the nerve exposed by tooth decay that was causing the pain.
But after that, I never got crazy, especially after I was diagnosed with my bevy of health issues. This may be shocking to all of you, who know exactly how much I hate fruits and vegetables, but I’ve been eating them for the past month. Apples, corn, all that disgusting shit. No booze, no caffeine, no sodas, nothing but the healthy shit and water. I allowed myself a day a week to have fun. All right, sometimes I slipped in two. Don’t tell my doctor.
This took its toll on me. It drove me crazy. Life was so boring without the stuff that I enjoyed, and what exactly is the point of living a joyless life?
So I cut loose this weekend. I went balls out for the first time in ages. I demanded of myself that I go out for a bender, which must consist of remaining drunk for at least four straight days (as any good drunkard knows). Holy shit, did I get crazy. I got a haircut I don’t remember. At some point, I detailed my car but have no recollection of doing so. There are a lot of missing memories from the day after THE RUM DIARY.
And then there was what happened at the Halloween party on Saturday. Some of you were there for that little scuffle, which I’m not proud of, by the way.
But I can say one thing that still keeps me within the realm of the drunkard and not an alcoholic (as per my Stations of the Boozehound): I have never done anything while drunk that I wouldn’t have done stone cold sober. Even if I’d gone to that party dry, all of those horrible things would have still happened.
Sadly, I failed at my bender because I fumbled on the fourth day. I was sooooo hungover the very idea of drinking disgusted me. It made me miserable for days, and that scared the shit out of me so badly that I decided I didn’t want to see so much as a pussy hard lemonade for 666 years. I decided that my run as a drunkard had to come to an end. Fuck man, I had the shakes, which I’d never had before. I saw shit moving from the corners of my eyes. That can’t be good.
Then, earlier today (today being Tuesday), I checked my previous Everyone’s Got One entry and saw the anonymous comment. You know the one. At first, it pissed me off. Am I stupid? Yes. I have no issue with that comment. But pompous? That word has all the wrong connotations. I’m an egotistical bastard, but to the best of my recollection, I’ve never been pompous. That implies I was lording my superior abilities over others less fortunate than me (alternately, it could mean I was putting on airs, which I've never done). The anonymous commenter also suggested that I was whining and that I needed to face the world on my feet. Now that I give it more thought, I can see why this person thought I was whining when in fact I was trying to explain. Here’s the thing: I like being me. I’m proud of myself. I don’t want to change. The problem is, other people want to change me.
I was going to fire off an angry missive in the comments, but as I was typing my response, I realized that saying anything at that point would be useless and probably whiny. (Of course, it hasn’t stopped me from talking about it here, but fuck it.)
But that part about facing the world on my feet made me wonder about the decision I’d just made regarding alcohol. Am I really that much of a coward that I’d let an inanimate object give me The Fear? Just because things got rough, I was going to lie down and quit?
When I was a young boy, I was going to be a scientist. Writing at that point was just a hobby. I really wanted to study the world and understand the nature of reality. I still follow this urge in my spare time. Quantum physics is a baffling but enlightening topic, and I recommend that all of you reading this get involved. Your understanding of reality will be challenged, but you’ll emerge with a soaring heart and an open mind.
Why not approach this as a scientist would? Apply the scientific method to my life as a boozehound. This situation didn’t call for my unconditional surrender in desperate times. This called for a new way to approach the bucking bronco.
I’ve decided that instead of being a pussy, I’m going to experiment a little. It’s time to start counting drinks, calculating proofs, testing what can be mixed with what. Every time I’ve had booze in the past, I’ve done so to lose control, to get so absolutely blasted that I’ll have incredible stories of debauchery to tell others.
But what if I drank merely to take the edge off, just enough to alter my perception to the right level? Most drunkards can figure out, to the drop, how much booze it will take to get them to that magical place, the perfect buzz.
The beast has thrown me and trampled me mercilessly, but I’m still alive. I am still healing. Does the cowboy give up simply because a horse threw him? No, he comes back and dominates the animal.
That’s what I intend to do. I will dominate the booze. It might take some training and experimentation, but I will conquer it. I might need an assistant, since alcohol tends not lead to sound judgment, but it will happen. There's just one wrinkle. I recently had a endoscopic ultrasound, and the doctor who did it noticed that my pancreas was inflamed a bit. He said that it's definitely alcohol related. If it gets worse, it will develop into pancreatitis, which will kill me. He advised me to stop drinking, which will stop the inflammation in its tracks. So . . . I have to give myself time to heal before I embark on my great drunkard experiment.
I will become a refined drunkard, my blunt club wit sharpened to a rapier point, and then I will kick the world’s ass. You’ve been warned.
By the way, I’ve been thinking of serializing a novella I recently wrote and post a chapter here every Friday instead of an opinions column. There’s no way in hell I’ll ever sell this thing (novellas are notoriously difficult to sell), but I think it’s a pretty funny sex romp through space, and it deserves some readers. Your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.