On Alcohol - Part 2
In a previous post (By Degrees... Very Slowly), I talked about my party life in 1974 during my 2nd year at the
So, the evening before my audition, with all of my anxieties starting to get the better of me, I had a drink! Well, I didn’t just have one drink… I drank half a quart of Bacardi. Fortunately, I didn’t drink alone – because that would have been really pathetic. My roommate, Shep, was there, along with about a dozen or so other folks who lived at our dorm, Huron Hall. Perhaps it was from this humble beginning that people got the idea that our room was party central!
By the time I woke up the next morning, my audition was 15 minutes overdue. In a mild panic, I took a quick shower, grabbed my horn, and hurried to the
As for that 2nd year at school… well, it wasn’t all a waste. I met a lot of interesting people that year – mostly in our dorm room. There’s this thing called a “Purple Jesus" – it consists of a bathtub full of 180 proof alcohol mixed with grape juice. We’d make a batch of Purple Jesus during the day and folks would drop by with a glass, and scoop out as much as they wanted. We took turns purchasing the alcohol so, by the end of the school year, we had all contributed more or less evenly. As I mentioned in a previous post (On Drugs), Huron Hall was a co-ed dorm, so we almost always used a bathtub in one of the girls’ rooms because the chances were very high that the tub was clean! I say “almost always" because… well, sometimes we just couldn’t persuade any girls to give up their bathtub for an evening! After a few drinks, most folks didn’t much care whether or not the tub was clean. Hey… it was the 70s!
I discovered that I really liked to drink. I enjoyed partying and being the life of the party, and I didn’t see that any long-term problems would result. I drank a lot… mostly with friends, but sometimes I’d go to a pub by myself. At the time I thought it was a bit pathetic, but I rationalized my actions by telling myself “at least you’re not sitting in your dorm room drinking alone". The more I drank the more school I missed, but I didn’t much care by then. I enjoyed feeling good and having a good time but, after a while, I came to realize that I drank not so much to feel good, but to stop from feeling bad. It’s a vicious circle.
Well, I was wrong about the long-term problems. As a result of this partying (and the rest), I was kicked out of school for a year. It was probably good therapy that I got a job at Syd’s Bridge House – a pub near the school. Night after night, I saw the result of uncontrolled drinking. Regulars, some of them friends, ended up falling over themselves, and others, in an effort to stand up straight or get to the bathroom… not just men, women, too!
I didn’t drink as much that next year – 1975 – as the smell of the pub was pretty overwhelming and it stayed with me almost all the time. After a few months, the smell of stale beer made me gag!
I did have one more bout of drinking to excess but, as they say, the third time’s the charm. In 1978 I was dating a girl named Jane, a dramatic arts major. I had been asked by another drama student, Kate Boyer, to write the music for a one-act play she was directing “Out of Our Father’s House". Jane was one of the actors in the play. We didn’t spend a lot of time together during the show, but we’d walk home together since we only lived a couple of blocks apart. Once the show ended, Jane and I stayed together for another year.
Because we were both interested in the dramatic arts, Jane and I went to a lot of cast parties! At one such party, I had quite a lot to drink and I ended up praying to the porcelain god. Jane, who herself enjoyed quite a few drinks, didn’t think that drinking to excess and throwing up was particularly attractive – and I believe it was the beginning of the end for us. After that evening, I realized that I really wasn’t able to control my drinking, so the only safe thing to do was to give it up completely – at least… that was the plan. While I drank only occasionally over the course of the next decade, I never again lost control of my senses because of alcohol. It was quite sobering.