In the spring of 1980, I had barely a year of sobriety under my belt. And I wasn’t happy about it.
I was still in my band, Skidder Munrow, working in a restaurant, and trying to chase the babes around.
None of these activities were appealing to me sober. The guys in the band were still using, and the gig profits went up everybody’s nose but mine.
Work sucked when I had to do it sober, and it seemed I didn’t have the same nerve with the ladies without my bottle of balls.
So I slipped. Big time.
There was a big party on a Saturday night and I was determined to be the life of it.
I drank a half a bottle of Jack Daniels before leaving the house and continued into the night with, as Jack Kennedy would say, “great vigor and aggression.”
That evening was shithouse crazy. All through the night I was rethinking my new life with my old friends, drugs and alcohol.
Oh, happy days are here again…..I thought.
The next morning I felt like I had contracted malaria. I was sick all over. I was shaking and puking while trying to stand up straight. And I dare not fart.
I had to go to work, so I had no choice. I had to have some “hair of the dog.”
I grabbed the half empty Jack Daniels bottle from under the sink and it was “over the lips and across the gums, look out belly here it comes.”
It burned so good. I immediately felt my composure start to come back. Then that old evil grin came over my face.
Then I vomited, lit a cigarette and headed out the door for work. Just like old times.
The ten hour day in a hot, noisy kitchen was a feverish nightmare. I couldn’t stop shaking. I was terrified to pick up a knife. What’s this all about?
Luckily, I discovered an unopened quart of Seagrams V.O. the band left in my trunk, and when I felt I was getting sick, I would step outside for some “Dog.”.
That happened every fifteen minutes.
How I got through the day, I will never know.
That night, after a nightcap or two, I passed out. In less than an hour, I shook myself awake. I thought I was having a stroke.
I got violently ill, and in front of my bathroom mirror that night, I vowed I would never go through that again.
That next night there was an all men’s AA meeting at a church in Woburn center.
It was a smoke filled auditorium that wreaked of body odor and heart break. The stories they told were terrifying.
Drunks only go to AA after they’ve lost everything.
These were 200 of the toughest, meanest, and orneriest men I have ever been around. Everyone was there but the warden.
They were convicts, construction workers and miserable losers. And they did not suffer fools. At all.
Physically, I was barely hanging on. I stopped drinking, but my nerves were so shot, I was laughing and crying uncontrollably for seemingly no reason.
I could have gone to detox but I was determined to tough this one out.
Just as the meeting was ending, I raised my hand to speak. Big mistake.
I decided to tell my tale of woe to the group and how quickly alcohol can take hold of you after you slip.
Well, I know how to dress up a story, and the way I described my downfall, the group started laughing. Oh, I love this, I’m thinking.
So I continue to regale these guys with all the ups and downs of my big slip. Which were actually a comedy of errors.
Now I have a couple hundred natural born killers rolling on the floor. I could hear gasping and choking through the gales of laughter.
At the end, the whole room broke out into applause. I couldn’t believe it.
As the meeting was getting ready to close with the Lord’s Prayer, this little old man raises his hand.
He stands up with his tattered scally cap in his hand and says, “Shame on you. What the hell is wrong with you people?”
Then he proceeds to take the whole room down for encouraging a moron like me.
“He could have been dead or killed somebody while driving, and there you are applauding him.”
“That goddam fool will go out and do it again just to make you laugh. Shame on you all.”
I was mortified. The room went dead. My face was burning. I could have slipped through a crack in my chair.
As we were all filing out in silence, a hand touched my shoulder and a voice said, “Hey, kid, that’s still the funniest fuckin’ story I ever heard.”
But It was too late, the voice of reason was still echoing in my ears.
Thank God .