August 24, 2012
I'd love to say that I've never had a hangover or an embarrassing experience in my life, but of course that's just not true. The truth is that I've had so many "worst experiences" that I can hardly single out just one. I've never believed I'm an "alcoholic" yet I've had many "hangovers". I've done some really stupid things in my life, and have really peeved some people off because of it. I thought, in the spirit of Jack Kerouac, who shared with me a love of "speed" at one time in our lives, that I would just type and free associate, instead of preparing an essay.
So many people tell me I write "such long entries" (hence the Kerouac reference, he attached a roll of paper to his typewriter when writing "On the Road" so he didn't have to change sheets of paper and interrupt his rambling train of thought.) so I'll attempt to "make this short", but in my own inimitable way, I will not list just "one" experience. I'll spill my guts for you all about every damn embarrassing moment I can remember!
1. The earliest "worst experiences" (notice the plural) occurred during field trips to the L.A. County Fair when I was in elementary school during the 60s. Each year, almost the whole school, from first to sixth, would go on a massive field trip to the L.A. County Fair. Six or eight of those large school busses would line up in the parking lot, ferrying dozens of screaming kids to paradise at the Fair. This wasn't a regular field trip, for learning purposes, but an outing that occurred right as the school year began in September. I never went on one of these excursions because of my perennial "weak bladder". None of the teachers or parent chaperones wanted to be stuck with me needing to go to the bathroom continually, so I would always have to stay at the nearly deserted school and read, which was really okay, because I loved to read, but I am still embarrassed about having to stay behind while the whole school got to have fun.
2. During college, I missed my Mathematics final in my third year. I don't know why at this late date. College schedules can be hectic, and because I attended both day and night school on different days to accommodate my 40 hour a week work schedule, it was easy to mix up dates. Finals are somewhat important during college, however, and make up a goodly percentage of the grade. I was an English Lit major, so my few sciences and math courses were required. I remember very well walking up the steps to the classroom, and wondering why everything was so quiet. When the knob to the room didn't turn, I was devastated. I remember great disappointment that lasted about 15 seconds, and then I think I went to the museum or park to while away the next hour and a half. I never repeated the course. Then Dad died, and I eventually dropped out of school.
3. After one particularly raucous night of heavy drinking and partying, I was supposed to accompany a friend on a hiking trip up in the Angeles National Forest. My hiking friend was not a big drinker, and engaged in healthy sports and exercise. He arrived at my door at the appointed time, right when I was just starting to settle down from the spinning in my head. I had completely forgotten about the hiking trip, and didn't want to go. But he urged me to shower, and get dressed, and I ended up with a particularly bad headache, hiking through the hills. When passing another on the trail, one should always be hearty and hale, and I can remember it was quite a chore to even try to smile and greet the other hikers.
4. When I moved to Torrance in 1974, in my early 20s I became a regular fixture on the "beach party circuit". One time I was driving back from a party in one town, through three others back to my apartment. (I do not condone drinking and driving, which is never a good idea even in the most "normal" seeming circumstances.) It was one of those routes that I travelled so often I always said my "car memorized the trip" and I didn't have to think about which turns I would make, or where I would be stopping for red lights. My car, a classic 1961 bullet nosed Thunderbird, ran out of gas somewhere along the trip, and I got out with my gas can, at about 2 or 3 in the morning, and blindly started looking for a gas station. I half remember talking to some wandering drunk who told me they were all closed, and I ended up walking home, which was probably eight blocks away. The next day I enlisted the help of my friend Harry, we filled the gas can, and went looking for my car.
5. I drank quite a bit of alcohol in my youth. I also took a good share of hallucinogens. While "fu*ked up" I would experience many concerts, trips to bars, nights out with the boys, and parties. One weekend afternoon, partying with my friend Keith, I journeyed to a bar in Long Beach right on the water. Keith drove. Since it was afternoon, the sun was shining, and the bar wasn't as packed as it would be later that evening. We were somewhat drunk when we started the journey, which took us about 15 miles from my apartment. At the bar, Keith spotted a friend of his. He was gay, but I don't think I knew it at the time. As he chatted up his friend, I spied a good looking gal sitting at the bar and as I swallowed drink after drink, I conversed with my newfound friend. At some point I must have passed out. Drinking vast amounts of alcohol can cause one to do so. It is much better to be in your own bed when this happens. I don't remember the end of my conversation. I don't remember what happened to the girl, or my friend Keith, who undoubtedly left to go to his friend's house. I awoke early in the evening, as the sun was setting, in one of the booths of the bar. (Probably I was riled by one of the barkeeps, since they were getting busy.) I left, with a screaming hangover, bloodshot brain, and discombobulated memory. Keith was gone. Darkness was falling, and I ended up standing at a bus stop on Ocean Blvd, and ended up getting back to my place on public transportation.
6. I hosted an "Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" at my apartment in the late 70s, and I was so messed up that I grabbed a knife and started cutting up some photographs I had hanging on the wall. My guests, about 10 in number, all left the "party" as my demeanor got worse and worse. As the LSD took it's toll thought my psyche, I was having what was generally known as "a bad trip". "See ya, Mike" one after another of my friends would proclaim as they left. When alone, I peaked, and I tore apart my papier mache "dummy" called Croaker, who was life size, and had one of those Mexican porcelain skulls for a head. I 'killed him'. Since his insides were stuffed with pillows, when I tore him apart (using the aforementioned knife) I ripped open a pillow stuffed with orange colored kapok. Upon regaining some of my senses about 12 hours later after the "trip" I groggily looked around the apartment, and the scattered bits of orange foam resembled blood and guts to my demented acid soaked mind.
7. I once passed out in my apartment with the music blaring so loudly that somebody complained and the police were called to snuff the noise. It was a stormy night and the police arrived in rain slickers. They pounded on the door, but I was dead to the world. Finally, they roused me. I opened the door, head almost bursting, to hear their proclamation. "This is the police." "You can't be police", I slurred. Police are Blue. You're YELLOW!" I'm pretty lucky I didn't get arrested. I did turn the music down and retire.
8. I partied so hard in those days (1974-81) that sometimes I would go to three or four places, either bars, apartments, or outside beachside gathering places, in an evening. I was always passing out, and then regaining consciousness, sometimes in another place, and returning to the party. I would also "black out" where I would be "active" and moving around, but wouldn't remember my actions the next morning. This would cause quite a lot of embarrassments as I would suddenly "wake up" in a place where I knew not a soul, and then would have to try to remember where I left my car, and how to get home. One time my roommate and I went out to a bar only three blocks from our apartment, so we didn't have to worry about "driving" home. I chatted up some bikers at the bar, and I got a little loudmouthed as the evening wore on. At some point, I blacked out, and probably said something I would later regret. When I finally awoke, I was stumbling through somebody's living room about two blocks from the bar. I knew the resident of the house, but wasn't aware that I did. My last memory was drinking in the bar. The guy in the house freaked a bit, but was able to get my phone number from me, and called my apartment, where my roommate had finally gone after he "lost me" when I was out with the bikers. Seems I had been beat up pretty badly. My wallet and money had been stolen, and I was left in the gutter a few doors down from the bar. When I came to, I stumbled around, and somehow walked into this guy's house. My roommate walked down to 'get me', since this all happened within blocks of where I lived, and took me home. It is a good thing that I actually knew the guy into whose house I stumbled, or else I would have spent the night in jail.
Suffice it to say that I quit drinking soon after the last episode. I admitted I had a problem, and remained sober for many years, finally falling "off the wagon" when I was fired from my job as a manager at Target Stores in 1987. But that's another embarrassing story!
This is an edited version of an entry originally presented for the Featured Grownups blogring on Oct. 22, 2005. It got 28 comments. And only one of the commenters is still an active Xangan!