True life adventures of my real true life.
“Would you please ignore that you found me on the floor
Trying on your camisole?
Oh, Alcohol, would you please forgive me?
For while I cannot love myself,
I’ll use something else.”
I don’t drink.
I may or may not have said that elsewhere in this journal or if you know me you know this. Or if you don’t know me you’re learning something.
I don’t drink.
I’ve basically never had any alcohol in my life. Well, that’s not true. I remember having a few sips of beer from time to time from my dad’s Coors beer can* when I was little.
I also remember a trip my entire family took to Carmel when i was in 6th grade. Everyone was having cocktails and I begged and pleaded my dad to give me a drink so I could feel grown up. He handed me a VERY watered down scotch I believe. Literally there was probably less in that glass that would fill a shot glass. I drank it down in one gulp and that was it.
That is ALL the alcohol I’ve had in my entire life. That’s it. (Unless there’s something in NyQuil that is alcohol related, because then I guess I’ve had more. Nothing like NyQuil to help you fall asleep in a strange hotel room in a different time zone.)
ANYWAY, my point is, I do no drink.
When I was in high school, i knew a lot of people I knew drank. I mean come on, it’s High School, Right? In high school I always was under the belief “You are not allowed to drink until you are 21, so what these people are doing is wrong.” That’s just the way I felt.
In High School I HATED people (friends, acquaintances, etc.) who drank. HATED. Like writing stories about killing them type hatred.
(As a side note, had Columbine happened while I was in High school, I totally would have been called into the counselors for observation. No question. Difference with me is I would not have gone home and “helped myself to my father’s arsenal” and then return to school and blew everybody up. I channeled all that anger into writing.)
These feelings lead to a lot of questions….Why Don’t You Drink? How Come You Don’t Want Some? At the time I had such little self-esteem that I thought, “Well if I tell them it’s because you’re not supposed to drink until you are 21, they will think I’m a pussy, so I’d better come up with a story as to why.”
So, Jim was created. Who’s Jim? Let me tell you.
I used to spend two weeks every summer in Oregon visiting my Mom’s parents. Jim lived next door to my Grandparents and for two weeks every summer we grew up together. hanging out, playing, exploring (the area, not in a “experimenting in college” sense). From the age of 5 we were good friend whenever we were around each other.
In High School, when I visited Jim, he asked if I wanted to go to a party out in rural Oregon. I said sure. At the party Jim got wasted. Just completely falling down drunk.
When the time came to leave, I had to carry him to the car. On the way home we came to a part of the road where the road dipped down into a little valley. At the bottom of this valley was a railroad crossing. As I was driving Jim’s car down the road he ran out of gas and we came to rest on the train tracks.
Grumbling with disgust I tried to push the car off the tracks, but it was too heavy for me to do alone. Jim was passed out in the back seat. So I started hoofing it to town to get some help. (Remember this is before every high schooler had a cell phone.)
I hadn’t got far from the crossing when i heard the whistle pierce the night. I started running back to the car. SCREAMING Jim’s name. Jim kept on sleeping in the passenger seat. I was about 10 yards away when the train hit the car in a shower of sparks.
I was told Jim was killed instantly. I was told it wasn’t my fault. I knew it wasn’t. It was alcohol’s.
That was my story. In Junior year my english teacher made us take a statewide writing prompt. The papers were to be graded and the score reveal anonymously on a computer print out on the wall of the classroom. The topic…Write About SOmeone Who Has Changed Your Life. I wrote about Jim. I told the whole story. The growing up part, the drinking part, the train. When the scores were posted a week later, the computer readout said I got an A. Then handwritten next to the score, the only handwritten thing on the page, was “What an amazing story. Is it true?”
Nothing like bullshitting and getting an A.
My point is, Jim became my excuse for why I didn’t drink in High School.
(Cue Surf Music)
Then I moved to Southern California to go to Long Beach State. I was a theater major and there were theater parties just about every weekend. I was over 18 and able to drink, but still did not. Why? Well, because I didn’t have the money frankly. Actually, that’s not true. I DID have the money. I just preferred to spend it on other things. Comics, CDs, Videos, Charo CHicken Giant Chicken Burritos, Porn. These things were more important to me than spending money on something I wouldn’t get to have 24 hours later.
I was at every party every Friday night though, don’t you worry about that. I just had my gallon jug of water while everyone else had their, whatever else. i just couldn’t justify the expense. Why spend money on something where if you drink too much of it, it’s going to make you feel like CRAP?
I was a pretty happy guy. Always joking laughing, etc. What the hell did I need alcohol for? It’s like I told someone who asked why I don’t drink at a End Of The Year Party for the Teachers, “I don’t need alcohol to pull my pants down at a party. I’d just do that anyway.”
So in college I didn’t drink.
After college I began doing stand up. I was around alcohol nightly working in clubs in San Francisco (okay, well club in San Francisco. The Punchline.) Was offered many drink by many people.
In 2001, Steven Page, lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies (and author of that quote above and the one below), bought me a drink in a small club in Canada. I thanked him, but I didn’t drink it. Why? I don’t drink.
Which leads me to what I’ve come to discover about MY feelings about drinking. Alcohol is a complete waste of time. Totally. I have more important things to do than drink.
I kind of look at it like playing console games. (And this is probably why my state of the art console is a Nintendo 64). I don’t play video games because I LOSE TIME. It’s gone. Can’t get it back. Sure, every once in awhile I’m “sucked in” like when that Everquest Demo CD arrived in the mail and I popped it in at 3 PM and played through an open mic I was planning on going to and when I was finally able to rip myself away from the computer it was 3AM. And for what? Nothing.
To me drinking would just take time away from creating. Writing Dr. Floyd, new songs (yeah, like that ever happens) or just doing stuff. I have no time to WASTE on drinking and to me, that’s what it is.
I just don’t have the time to waste on drinking.
While in college I lost my hatred for people who drink. If they want to drink, let them, as long as they leave me alone. If they want to drink and they don’t bother me or smash into my car, I’m fine.
What I have a VERY hard time tolerating is people who blame their behavior on alcohol as if that’s supposed to explain away their behavior and make everything okay. Fuck that! YOU drank. YOU acted like an ass or did something you weren’t supposed to, it’s YOUR fault. Not Alcohols! Take responsibility for your own fucking actions! People use alcohol like a get out jail card. That does NOT work with me at all.
Oh I slept with so and so. Oh I acted like such an ass (bitch) last night. But what can I say, I was drunk!
I totally wrecked my car. I got pregnant. I killed a guy. But, hey, I was drunk. It’s not my fault.
No. It’s your fault.
“The phone rings, it’s early, it’s seven o’clock,
He says, “Sorry I woke you, but I just had to talk.
You know last night, remember, when I tried to choke you?
I didn’t mean it, I was drunk, it was only a joke.””
I’m not perfect. Far from it. I make mistakes daily. I don’t think I’m above anyone. i do think I’m better than those who try to explain away their behavior by saying, “Oh I was only drunk. I’m sorry.” No. Doesn’t work. Grow up.
I’m SO glad I never have to (or get to) use the excuse, oh you’ll have to pardon me last night, i was so wasted.
These days I have found the excuse, “I don’t drink.” works great. Although I hate the immediate assumption that I must’ve been an alcoholic at some point. No. i just don’t drink and I never have. It’s not for me. After that explanation I usually get the, “Wow. Really? That’s so awesome. I wish I could be like that.” Why the FUCK can’t you? I did it. It really didn’t take any great effort on my part. I never drank. Easy. Is your life so pathetic you can’t get through a day feeling like yourself?
Then there’s those who say, “Well I need a drink to work my courage up to do…such and such.” If you need alcohol to work your courage up to do something…DON’T FUCKING DO IT BECAUSE YOUR INSTINCT IS TELLING YOU NOT TO! Holy Crap on a Crutch! Grow a spine. Be strong enough to face this fuckin’ world we live in. Cheese and crackers!
I have friends that drink. I have friends that don’t drink. I REFUSE though to hang around people who get drunk because it’s the thing to do or because they can’t stand being themselves.
Mike has often asked me, “Don’t you just want to try it? You don’t have to drink to get drunk, just drink to get a “buzz” on?” Because I don’t need that “buzz”. I love my life and I love being who I am. I don’t need a “buzz” to help that along.
If you do, I’m sorry, but that is sad to me. I feel bad for you. I truly do.
Finally, there are those who say they drink “for fun”. If drinking is something you do for “fun”, you have a warped sense of fun. I can think of a million things I’d rather do than drink for fun. Why not try creating something. Creating is my fun. Creating is my addiction. Creating is the monkey on my back. I need nothing else. When I’m celebrating the premiere of something I created on TV and you’re watching it, from a bar. I’ll think of you. But probably not.
So there you go. I could go on. But I’ll stop now. This will take up enough space on Friends lists as it is.
The point is…
I don’t drink.
As a side note. i do drink water. Constantly. Probably way too much water for someone to drink. So if you see me at a bar or club, buy me a water. no lemon please. Who the hell decided water could be improved with lemon? Also, give me a BIG glass of water. Don’t tell me you have a policy about serving water in big glasses. Just give me a big glass of water. Or leave the pitcher.
*I have no idea if saying my dad drank Coors means he was classy or trailer trash. Apparently there’s different classes of beer. At the time of these events it was the late 70’s and my dad was a hard working sheet metal contractor. So there you go. He drinks Jack Daniels now and as far as I can tell that’s pretty classy. But what the fuck do I know? Just don’t fuckin’ judge my dad.
(i reserve the right to go back and edit this and add to it or whatever. Why? Because I fuckin’ do.)
“What did you do before you shaved this morning.” That was the usual greeting I received from him. That or, “Why don’t you stand a little closer to the razor next time?”
I shave, I just don’t shave DAILY. Like when I’m on vacation, which is usually when I’d see him. This would always anger me. Especially in later years because really, why was it any of his business when I shaved?
My earliest memories of my Grandfather were of his and my Grandmother’s condo in Millbrae, California. I’d also see him at Star Sheet Metal, which is the company my Great-Grandfather started, then he took over. My father worked there as well before spinning off his own company. He always worked hard but he lacked the business sense to run the company well and when it became his, it started going downhill. Despite several offers from my Dad to help run it, all of which were rejected, my dad bailed and started his present company. Grandpa soldiered on, but soon it was clear that the company would not survive, so into retirement my Grandfather went.
I also remember as a kid working several Lions Club events. Paper Drives, where all day we’d drive around Millbrae picking up brown paper shopping bags filled with newspapers that would be tossed into big metal shipping containers and sent off to be recycled. I also remember the Lions Club annual Christmas party, the highlight of which was a visit by the king of Christmas himself, Santa.
Santa reminds me a lot of my grandfather. They are both big guys, big as in several hundred extra pounds, a path I’m dangerously heading down myself. In recent years my Grandfather has taken to wearing a big white beard which, though not as long as Santa’s, still helps with the “separated at birth” image. My Grandfather has also started losing his hearing. So anything you say to him is usually followed by a big bellowing, “WHAT?!”
One time my Grandfather took the whole family on a cruise. My parents did not go, saying they needed to run the business. We went up to Canada where I spent my time in Vancouver scouring used record stores for rare Barenaked Ladies stuff. I also had the whole family on pins & needles saying I had a big surprise for the formal “Captain’s Dinner” on the ship. My powder blue tuxedo with ruffles. My Grandfather was right next to me as we strolled right into the main dinning hall, always the center of attention.
At my Grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary, a microphone was passed around the room so those who wanted to could give their thoughts on my Grandparents. When the mic came to me, a murmur of, “Uh-ohs!” and “Here We Go’s” went around the room. I proceeded to tell about one of my fondest memories of my Grandparents, which was our yearly trips to the Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. We’d go and watch the bull riding, calf roping, etc. All things I’d be bored with later in life.
I’d always leave the show with some sort of souvenir. Usually this weird sort of boomerang thing that one of the rodeo clowns came out and demonstrated throwing in the middle of the arena. I know this guy had to create the desire to want to buy one of these things in every kid as he’d send it sailing out over the heads of the audience where it would loop back and he’d easily catch it…on the top of his hat. This was a MUST HAVE item and they sold them by the hundreds I’m sure. Sold them by the hundreds to kids who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area who, undoubtedly, had nowhere as spacious as the floor of the Cow Palace to throw the dam things. I wonder how many of these bright green circles litter the rooftops of houses all over the Bay Area to this day.
One time my Grandfather booked me to play a Lions Club function. I don’t think he “gets” Throwing Toasters, but he’s always very supportive. I think that was one of my first paying gigs too and at $250 I was stoked!
But the reason I’m writing about all this is to tell the story of BAR-BA! THis has become sort of a running joke in my family and even a few of my friends have picked up on it. As I mentioned earlier, my Grandfather is losing his hearing, so he often shouts what he’s trying to say. My Grandmother’s name is Barba. Yeah. Some sort of weird misspelling spelling of Barbara, Barba. Anyway, my immediate family has noted that at family get-togethers, inevitably, my Grandfather will be in one room and need something and will, at the top of his lungs, yell out, “BAR-BA!” This is always followed by a far off, “Yes?” from my Grandmother.
Two Christmas’ ago, during one of these family functions, the call went out and my brother, Dad and me all started giggling like madmen. Then my brother, made known one of his mutant abilities. He can mimmic my Grandfather PERFECTLY. To the “T”. So after a few minutes of egging him on, Brandon finally let go with a big, “BAR-BA!” It was immediately followed by a, “Yes?” and we were in tears.
Now the problem came in that when my brother did this, my Dad and I were not the only witnesses. My older teenage cousins were in the room and seeing how funny this was they started to copy the call in their own, sub-par imitations. THey took this back to Reno with them, where a lot of my family and my grandparents live, and several weeks later, my brother received a stern e-mail from my Grandmother telling my brother he should not make fun of my Grandfather. Saying it was disrespectful and that my Grandfather has worked very for this family, etc..
This letter was a little out of line, because I truly believe that our saying, “BAR-BA!” was NOT making fun. It was a tribute. That’s how it sounded!
When I was writing songs for my Kid’s CD, I added a line in the song I CAN’T ADD that mentions Bar-ba & Don. Another tribute to my Grandparents.
My Grandfather was killed in a car accident Friday night. I’m heading up to the Bay Area for the wake before I head out to South Dakota. I’m going to support my dad, who I feel bad for. In recent years my Dad has sort of called my Grandparents out on some of the their behavior, which I won’t go into here and I’m worried that he’ll take it out on himself.
I was told it would be appreciated if I was a pallbearer. I have said I won’t. Funerals/wakes are not my things. It’ll probably be a bone of contention with some family members, but I just can’t. I was asked to be a pallbearer at Jamie’s funeral and refused even there.
I don’t believe in god, so there’s no need for prayers. I’m actually quite fine with it as I focus on just remembering the good things. The Cruises, The Rodeos and, of course, BAR-BA! In that respect my Grandfather has not died, so there’s no need to grieve.