Last week I traveled to celebrate my cousin’s nuptials, hosted by the bride’s family. As we drove there, my other cousin suggested we stop at the liquor store and pick up a bottle of something. (Just for clarification, we were headed to a backyard cookout, not like a reception hall. Although also for clarification that probably wouldn't have made a difference. LOL!) I told him that might not be a wise choice seeing as how this wasn’t our family. And we didn’t know how they got down. My cousin called our cousin the groom, to see what was up. He said there was some alcohol there, but if we wanted something in particular, we should bring it. My cousin was all, “alright! Liquor store!” I nixed that idea. “Let’s just go on,” I said.
It didn’t really matter to my cousin because he had been drinking all day anyway. We arrived to the function and I watched him continue to drink the little bit of alcohol that they did have - that strangely (we'll see why I feel that way in a moment) was kept out of sight from us guests, and doled out in small dosages. And then cousin suggested we keep the party going and hit a bar. We did. But he hit it harder than all of us – throwing back Long Island Iced Teas (what is this college?) and beers alternately.
I watched in awe, overcome by a feeling of fear and sadness. As my cousin slurred words. Fought back droopy eyelids. And nodded off in the car – I fast forwarded 30 years from now. I saw my great uncles in him. Hardworking men during the week who drink even harder during the weekends. But always make it to work on time on Monday. Functioning alcoholics, is what they call them.
As the night progressed my cousin revealed that some chick he was shamelessly tryna talk to at the wedding celebration said she didn’t drink. So he had to keep it moving. “What the fuss,” I asked aloud. Who knew that was a valid reason to nix what was probably gonna be a one night stand? Oh wait. Maybe that’s why. Heh. “I’m saying, don’t you drink every night,” he questioned. “Uhhh…no,” I said. “Oh I do. A beer. Or a glass of wine with dinner. Something every night though.” “Oh,” I said, shaking my head in disapproval.
But the truth, if I allowed myself to be honest with myself, is that there have been times when I have probably, no most definitely, had a drink every night – whether out of a feeling of necessity or habit. And that has been me hitting the bar harder than anyone I came in there with. And that has been me with glassy eyes, incoherent statements, and horrible, horrible morning afters.
There are plenty of scary things in this world, but one of them has got to be being born into (and subsequently raised in) a family prone to and wrecked by addiction. People whose families don’t drink don’t truly understand what you grew up with and around.
That there is always alcohol. At everything. Funerals. Weddings. Cookouts. Christmases. Family reunions. In flasks and pocketbooks. Brown paper bags and coolers. Front and center on tables and hidden in closets. With spades games and fried fish. To ease the grieving process. And to makes sure everyone is having a good time. That it is a badge of honor to be able to hold your liquor. A rite of passage to have your first taste.
Along the family spectrum there are some people who don’t drink at all because they have observed the dark side. Some drink a little. Some way too much. Some no longer because they have been that dark side and are now recovering. But there is always alcohol. At everything.
And it is understood. And expected. And consumed. Whether while alone in bedrooms. Or together around the table. Because there is a deep, private pain that only the bottle soothes. And there is a muted shame among those who know they drink too much, but can’t stop. There are those who serve as cautionary tales, who were conquered by the foe, who let the bottle take them down the rabbit hole and they had to go through hell to be able to see daylight again. As you get older and become more aware, it becomes a scary thing to witness and acknowledge - while you find your own self constantly attempting to walk, shooot to just balance even, on the tightrope of addiction.
And there are times when the truth is spoken in hushed tones or tongue-in-cheek jokes followed by nervous laughter. That we are a family of drinkers. (Because no one would dare say alcoholic) These words are suspended in the air for a moment and are then crammed back down throats and deep into psyches. And the very real cycle of addiction gets excused by the banalities of life of: paying bills, raising kids, working two jobs, keeping a roof over your head, going to school, just trying to make it, getting married, finishing school, just living and breathing. After all of that you need. No, you deserve a drink. Or two. Or three. To help slay your personal dragons. And haunting demons. To allow you to function in this cold, hard world. Plus, it’s not really a problem cause you make it to work on time every Monday...
That’s my time y’all! Happy Rum Punch Friday!
I'm really just posting this cause I love the "blood's thicker than the mud," line... You can also check the live version here, should you wanna see what drug addiction can do! Whew Lawd!
SO LONG, FAREWELL...
The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot