I Don’t Drink

I don’t drink. No one in my immediate family ever did. We don’t have any great moral problem with it. We just don’t like the taste of it. 

No matter what alcohol you give me…fine Irish Whiskey…Guinness…expensive wine…it all tastes like Binaca to me.

And I have the kind of sensitivity that makes bloodhounds resent me. You could put three drops of alcohol in a gallon of Coke and I can taste it. That’s some mighty Binaca, my friend.

All through high school and college my best friends kept trying to find something I would find drinkable so I could get drunk with them. Oh sure, Dean and Billy could have been out helping the homeless or raking some widow’s front yard…but they had a more pressing project. They had to get Gary drunk.

Whenever I would go to a party or gathering with either of them, I made sure to scout out the lay of the land. I was looking for a corner with some sort of plant. Living or fake…it didn’t matter. I just needed some place to pour out my drink without them noticing. It is a proven fact that if you don’t ingest the alcohol but you instead pour it into a plant…you stay sober, the plant dies and the homeowner gets confused.
ONE TIME it worked. We were juniors and we heard that the senior class was having their big end of year blowout at a restaurant that was literally walking distance from my house.

The room had corners but no potted plants. The drink of choice this evening was rum and coke. They always say that a drink tastes better the longer you drink it. That is not the case for me. The first sip is “Hmm…I might be able to drink this.” The second sip is “whew…I’m not sure about this.” By the third sip it tastes like fermented roadkill.
But I must have gotten distracted. I was a junior and I still hadn’t talked to a girl yet so it couldn’t have been that. I don’t remember how it happened…but I got drunk. I probably drank half a rum and coke. 

The party is a blur but I remember I ended up sitting on a railroad tie out in the parking lot, watching the world spin like a Four Tops record.

I wasn’t sure what you were supposed to do when you are drunk. I had observed the talking too loud and close part. Also the “Hey! Let’s..(inset death inducing activity here)” part. Ditto the throwing up part.

I really didn’t feel like any of those things. I just felt dizzy and confused and I wasn’t sure where my friends were.

I remember a man coming over to me. He asked me if I was all right. I looked up and saw that it was a policeman. Don’t panic. What law was I breaking sitting here? I was too young to drink but I didn’t have a drink ON me. Just some portion of a drink IN me.

He asked my name. I told him my name. Suddenly the inner voice who had seen too many Dragnet episodes shouted in my head “Don’t tell him your name! Clam up!” Too late. He knew my name.

“Where do you live, son?”

I gained enough of my senses to tell him I lived on Harrington Street, just a few blocks away. Hah. I didn’t live on Harrington. I lived on Baldwin Street. One street over from Harrington Street. He’ll never see though it.

I vaguely remember him giving me a look that said “You’re a moron and one day you’re probably going to be dating my daughter so I should probably shoot you dead right now and cut thru the red tape.”

Instead he grunted and walked away.

I staggered to my feet and began walking in a direction that I hoped was home.
I remember falling asleep under a bush about three houses away from home. I woke up around two in the morning and gathered enough of my senses to get into my own bed. I’m pretty sure that it was my own bed. It had pillows.

I didn’t wake up the next day saying “That was way cool. Can’t wait to do it again!” I don’t think Dean or Billy actually knew that they had achieved their goal. 

That’s pretty much how I am today. I go to parties, find a corner near a plant and try to look cool with a drink in my hand. If someone comes and notices it’s only for show…I pour a little in the plant every few minutes when they’re not looking.

Every one is happy. Except the plant. Morte.