An Invaluable Lesson
Yesterday was a rough one. I was still trying to recover from my Monday marathon at work when I received an e-mail informing me that one of my best friends (Sacto Ritch, who you may remember from the “Tijuana Travesty” epic posted a while back as well as from his frequent comments from earlier in The JEP Report) was in town. Since I had to cross back into the US early anyway to ship some parts back to one of our plants, we decided to meet up for a quick beer before he took off with his wife to northern Michigan. Our quick beer turned into two full pitchers and an extra pint for good measure.
It was great to catch up. We discussed some old friends and acquaintances, a couple of whom spent some time in jail and suddenly found religion upon their release (Ritch figures that Jesus must be one prolific hell-raiser considering how many people seem to find him during their incarceration. Personally, I don’t think it’s the guy they talk about at church but rather some smooth-talking Mexican named “hay-ZOOS”.) Though, as always, it was a great time, it had an uncharacteristic lack of general weirdness. The only surreal moment came when a commercial popped up on the bar’s TV screen showing the first President George Bush and Bill Clinton asking Americans for financial donations to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. These two men, who not all that long ago were fierce political rivals, now looked as cozy together as life-long fraternity brothers. Seeing both of them together showing mutual admiration for each other’s achievements could not have looked more wrong had George Sr. put his hand on Bill’s knee and then seductively slipped his tongue in Clinton’s ear.
When our little reunion was over, we promised to embark upon a proper booze bender next week and parted ways, Ritch and his wife back to his parents house a few minutes down the road and me 70 miles up the expressway to where I recently moved close to Flint, Michigan. I had only gotten about 4 hours sleep the night before, my last meal was a handful of carrots and dip at 9:30 the previous evening and I had just consumed a pitcher and a half of inhibition suppressant so I should have known my semi-sober state was not going to last long.
When I left the bar, I was fine. When I pulled out of the parking lot however, my motor skills went all to hell. I also found myself starving and in desperate need of sleep. Luckily, the sale of my old house was still pending and we had not yet closed the deal, meaning that I still had the key. So instead of trying to weave my way back north for an hour and a half, I made a beeline for my old digs which were less than a mile away.
When I arrived at my old house, I found myself saddled with a terrible dilemma. I needed sleep in the worst way, but I also had a bladder that felt as if it were on the verge of exploding. To sum up my situation, I was too exhausted to pee, and had to pee too bad to fall asleep. To my knowledge, this is the first time I have ever found myself in that particular situation, which makes me stop and wonder whether it is sign of age creeping in or a sign of a severely degraded alcohol tolerance. God, I hope it’s the former. I eventually decided, as my consciousness was fading, to try using the bathroom first. Initially I was concerned with the quality of my aim but once I remembered that I no longer lived there, I just focused on getting the job done so that I could take a little nap.
Once my bladder was out of the way I grabbed the laptop computer I had brought in with me to use as a pillow, and laid down in the hallway. Since there was no furniture in the house, it was as good a place as any. The carpet provided at least the vague semblance of padding and, with all the bedroom doors closed, it was the darkest place in the house. I don’t think it would have mattered where I decided to lay down in hindsight though. I was out like a light before my head hit the computer case.
It was my cell phone that finally dragged me out of my groggy reverie. Even though I had already put in eight hours before I met Ritch, the plant was open all day so if any issue came up I had to respond or, at least come up with an excuse on why I couldn’t that was better than “I drank so much at lunch that I’m now sprawled out comatose in the hallway of a vacant house having just narrowly avoided pissing myself.” Come to find out, it was not work calling me. It was worse. It was my wife and she was pissed.
My wife had called to complain about streak marks on the toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom that, in addition to being just plain gross, could pose a potential health hazard. I was on the verge of apologizing for that when she finally said that the marks were from my son and it was up to me to teach him about the post-potty clean up procedure a little better. Sounding far more alert than I actually was, I told her I would, ecstatic that he was the one that did it and not me.
“So where are you?” she asked.
“Stuck in traffic.” I answered. I then told her that I would be home in about an hour and a half and made up something that I can’t remember to get her off of the phone quicker so I could get going. She knew I was meeting Ritch but did not expect me to get smashed before three in the afternoon, though I honestly can not figure out how she could have expected anything different. After I got off the phone, I grabbed my computer and headed for the car. After backing out of the driveway, I drove up two blocks and stopped at the corner gas station to stock up on cigarettes, non-alcoholic but caffeine enriched beverages and something solid to put into my stomach. My head was still full of cobwebs as I strolled down the snack aisle and came across a package of Fun Dips. Fun Dips are basically packets of citrus-flavored sugar, still in powder form, eaten by licking a candy dip stick and plunging it into substance, which sticks to it so it can be licked off. This is a little tough to do while driving under the influence of an intoxicant, fiddling with the radio, sipping a soft drink, smoking a cigarette and picking my nose, all of which I was likely to be doing simultaneously during the long trip home. Still, this particular snack was almost pure sugar and just the thing I needed to bring me back to life before I tried merging into 80mph expressway traffic to begin my jaunt to Genesee County. I bought two of them.
I tore open the first packet while stopped at the last light before reaching the freeway. I was fiddling with trying to get the candy dipstick out when the light turned and I had to go. Knowing there was no way to arrange the complex ensemble once I hit the highway, I just decided to pour the substance into my mouth. Like an idiot though, I accelerated as soon as I got the packet up to my lips and ended up dumping all the powder inside out onto my tongue at once. I then inhaled, breathing it right into lungs that instantly rebelled. My chest convulsed in a powerful cough that expelled most of the substance right into my nasal cavities, resulting in an incredibly excruciating sensation that I imagine one could also experience by snorting blue raspberry-scented drain cleaner. So, as I was speeding up the freeway entrance ramp, I was convulsing in a brutally violent coughing fit, sneezing uncontrollably and blinded by the impenetrable tears in my eyes brought on by my body’s hysterical attempts to force raspberry flavored citric acid-laden sugar from places it never should have gotten into. Still, I made it all the way over into the left lane and reached the standard 85mph Detroit cruising speed even though I had lost complete control of my muscles due to my coughing and sneezing seizure and had the visual capabilities of Stevie Wonder during a midnight spelunking expedition.
When my fit finished, I wiped the tears out of my eyes just in time to see that I was coming up on the same curve in the road where I had caught speeding by the Lincoln Park Police Department last week. I immediately cut over to the far right tortoise lane, slammed on the brakes and watched the speedometer pass below 65 mph just before the patrol vehicle peeked into sight. With my heart racing, I drifted passed the velocity Nazi, well within the legal speed limit and as consistently between the dotted white lines on the road as anyone else around me. Still, I watched in sheer terror as the officer pulled into the road behind me. I immediately broke out into a cold sweat as I watched the cop gaining on me and this time, my consideration of “making-a-break-for-it” turned into a little more than just a passing thought to make the commute home a little more exciting. Again, it took about a mile for the flashing lights to come on but when they did, my heart sank. I was not getting a ticket this time, I was going to jail. Though I did not believe myself to be particularly drunk (just incredibly tired), I'm sure my BAC was enough to get me some room and board in local hoosegow a little later. I screamed a string of profanities at my rear view mirror and started to pull onto the shoulder. I then, though by no means a religious man, promised God that if he got me out of this mess, I would never do something so irresponsible behind the wheel ever again. Just as I made this divine promise, the patrol car flew right past me and zeroed in on a car in the left lane down the road. I let out another scream, thought this one was of pure ecstasy, lit a cigarette and turned the volume of radio up until I was sure I was violating local noise ordinances. The adrenaline rush I got knowing how narrowly I had missed being felt up by a hairy biker in a Wayne County Jail cell, along with all that sugar I had just sucked into my lungs, completely dissipated any fatigue I had left in my system and not only was I no longer on the precipice of involuntary sleep, I had more energy than I knew what to do with.
Well, God kept his part of the bargain so I guess I have to uphold mine. I now stand before you, the readers of The JEP Report and solemnly swear that never again, in my entire life, will I EVER attempt to eat the contents of an entire packet of Fun Dip while behind the wheel of an accelerating automobile. Not unless I can figure out how to manage it with that candy dip stick anyway.