My favorite caption when I post a picture of a drunk is “I’ve been that fucked up before” and folks, I ain’t lying. I was a heavy drinker when I was a youngster and I’ve done some seriously off the wall shit when I was drunk. Here’s a few stories for you, most of them involving getting my ass beat for something stupid I’d done while drinking.
I’ve always enjoyed drinking, not only for the sake of getting wasted although that’s a nice benefit. Nope, I enjoyed everything about it from the places I was drinking in to the people I was with. Drinking opened up whole new adventures to me and lots of good stories, some of which I can remember firsthand.
I can’t remember my first drink. My old man was a hard drinker and when he’d had a few he’d slip me a watered down mixed drink just for grins. I mean, he wouldn’t let me get drunk but like a lot of folks in that generation, he saw no harm in letting me have one drink.
I do remember the first time I got drunk though. I was playing AYA football and we’d had a game that weekend. AYA was American Youth Activities, a service for military kids that had all kinds of programs like a football and baseball league, dances, shit like that to keep us little thugs occupied and out of trouble. Anyways, I was maybe 13 and had a game and did pretty good in it, which means I didn’t get knocked down too many times. Pops got about half lit at the ballfield with a bunch of his buddies and carried the party home. Later on that night I asked Pops if I could have a drink and he pointed at a bottle of Kessler’s and said “Take a slug off that, boy” so I just upended the bottle. Up until that point, the only drinks he let me have were watered down mixed drinks like bourbon and Coke. His drink was single malt Scotch and as expensive as that is, I wasn’t allowed none of that shit. I bet I was in my 40s before he finally broke down and shared a drink of his beloved single malt with me which surprised the hell out of me even though I bought him the bottle for his birthday.
I’m getting off track here. Back to my first drunk.
Now anybody that’s ever met Ol’ Julius knows he’s a mellow old man – that whiskey has no bite to it at all, so I just kept swallowing until the old man finally realized that I was fixin’ to finish that bottle and pulled my arm down. “Holy shit, where the hell did you learn to drink like that???” I just shrugged and walked back to my room, the badass that I am. Mr Cool, right?
About a half hour later Pops decided he was going to cook up a bunch of steaks for the guests, so he came in and asked me how I wanted mine. I thought about it for a minute and started sobbing, crying about that poor fucking cow that gave its life just so a bunch of drunks could eat steaks. My very first drunk and very first crying jag, all in the same night. Imagine that.
While I’ve drank Kessler’s many, many more times over the course of the years, I’ve always been somewhat suspicious of it after it tried to turn me into a vegan.
My love with alcohol really came into its own when I was in the army. It was cheap, it was available, and I didn’t have Mom’s disapproving eye to trip on. It didn’t help matters that I fell into a crowd of miscreants, drunks, and ne’er-do-wells. I can’t really blame them though, it was sort of a natural attraction.
I don’t even remember how I got my first invitation to the Redneck Rooms, but it was a couple months after I got there. Everybody in those two rooms worked in the motor pool, was white, and almost to a man, from a southern state. Here I was a signal dog and a Californian. About the only thing I had going for me was I was doing ranch work on the weekends before I went into the army, so that pretty much qualified me as a redneck in their eyes. It pissed them off later on down the line when I started rubbing their noses in the fact that while they all proclaimed to be rednecks and hicks, I was the only one in that crew that had actually spent any time on a horse. Hell, half of them hadn’t even driven a tractor before.
Anyways, I had my invitation and me having manners and shit, took a couple quarts of good bourbon with me. I was instantly accepted with that move – not that they needed the booze, but because I showed respect. There were back slaps, handshakes, and Hoagie roused himself long enough to stick his tongue in my ear when he man-hugged me.
I had found a home. I think I spent more time passed out on their couch or floor than I did in my own bunk – weekends, anyways. There was always some good Country or Southern Rock on the stereo, plenty to drink and depending on your mood, you had your choice of somebody to talk to or fight with.
Good Lord, the fights… there was at least one a night on the weekends but there were nights where it was almost a continuous rolling fist fight. A good 90% of them were just a quick flurry of fists and boots before they were broken up, so serious injuries weren’t real common, maybe a black eye or busted lip, something like that.
About half the guys drinking in there were E-5 buck sergeants and a couple of staff sergeants. I remember the first time me and Doc, the cable platoon sergeant, got into it. I hesitated because I wasn’t quite sure if the were any regulations concerning striking an NCO during a drinking party, but Doc being the wily NCO he was, didn’t hesitate one bit and laid me out with a hard right. He apparently wasn’t worried about any silly regulations concerning assaulting an enlisted man. Doc was that way, though – if somebody in his platoon fucked up, Doc would give them a choice between extra duty or a few rounds in the gym after work. He also didn’t carry a grudge – me and him became pretty damned good friends after a while.
It was along towards the end of the month and we were all broke. I mean, so broke we were having to eat all our meals in the chow hall. We were so broke that we were rationing whiskey, everybody keeping a close eye on each other when we were passing the bottle.
The day before a Friday payday, the inevitable happened. We went dry. We had drank every drop in the rooms and we had even tapped our own personal stashes. We were in dire straits.
I went down to the redneck rooms to see everybody huddled around a footlocker, on which was a pile of change. Desperate times indeed. I went back to my room and got what I could scrounge up from the couch cushions and took it back to contribute. Every penny counted – we could party hard that night if we could scrape up the funds because when payday landed on a Friday, we made formation, got paid if you didn’t have direct deposit, then we got the rest of the day off.
We didn’t have much. I don’t recall how much it was but not even enough for a quart of Jack, and that shit was incredibly cheap there at the Class VI store on post. We drew straws and I came up with the short one which means I have the responsibility to go to the store and buy enough whiskey to get us all a decent buzz with what change I have in my pockets. I wasn’t left with a whole lot of choices either – I was not to bring back ‘no fucking gin, no fucking rum, and none of that foreign greaser shit neither’ so that pretty much limited me to either bourbon or rye whiskey.
I’m in the package store and my eyes land on a half gallon jug of Imperial whiskey and lo and behold, it’s $1.50 less than I have in my pocket. Ho-lee shit, I’m gonna be a fucking hero. We’re not gonna get fucked up on a half gallon but at least we won’t be coming down with the DTs in the next 8 or 10 hours.
As I’m walking back to the barracks fighting off the temptation to crack that bottle, I see Worm double timing towards me. It turns out somebody had found a few bucks, so they sent him to add to the fund so we could get some Jack. Too late, but he had enough to buy another half gallon of Imperial with what he had and I had left.
I did good. Smiles and backslaps abounded and I was pronounced a pretty good guy for a fucking yankee. Hell, they appreciated my resourcefulness so much they even let me open the bottle, then they drank after me without wiping the California germs off first.
It got better as the night wore on. Okay, nobody had eaten since breakfast because we didn’t want any food taking up room in our gut if we found whiskey, so people were getting seriously fucked up. I’m talking blind staggers here. Fucked up enough to consider adopting a cat. The kind of drunk you wake up from wondering when you got your dick tattooed.
The thing is, it was way different than it usually was. Normally the conversations ran from the eternal Ford/Chevy/Mopar debate to rifle calibers to whatever – you know, shit that will start an argument or a fight at the drop of a hat. Fuck, I’ve seen fights break out because somebody put on side B of an album first.
The night, though? Motherfuckers were sitting around talking about how much we liked and appreciated each other, about what great guys we all are. “I mean it, man, y’all are some straight up motherfuckers. I love you guys, even you, Lane, you fucking California faggot.” Why, it almost brought me to tears. As I was basking in my newly found popularity I remember thinking “Damn, maybe we oughta start drinking this shit full time. It’ll cut down on me getting my ass beat.”
The next morning….. I came to the next morning to a quick succession of sonic booms and a blinding light, with screams of a banshee in the background, sounding somewhat muffled. I was horribly hung over, easily the worst I’d ever been up to that point in my life. The blinding light was the sun shining in my window, the sonic booms was Greg pounding on my door and the banshee was him screaming something along the lines of “Lane, I’m going to fucking kill you.” Apparently he was hung over too.
Yup, him and everybody else involved. Let me tell you how sick we all were – we made formation, everybody got paid, then were dismissed for a long weekend. Everybody that got fucked up the night before went back to their rooms and spent the day puking into their trash cans. I think that was the only Friday as well as the only payday in the 2 1/2 years I was there that there was not a party in the Redneck rooms.
That shit was flat out fucking nasty and I’ve never touched it since.
It seems like every town in Germany has its own brewery, and of course they’ve got have a fest every year to commemorate it, which means that there’s a bierfest damned near every weekend close by when the weather’s warm. Sometimes you can go to 2 or 3 different fests if you’re on your toes. The rail system in Germany is pretty damned good and the cost of an annual rail pass was very reasonable, so basically all you needed to have a good time was knowledge of a bierfest, your rail pass and some money.
I was at a fest somewhere, I can’t recall where but it was fairly close to home and I blacked out. This was in a beer tent with my friends, bright lights, lederhosen and dirndls, oompa band, the whole works.
I came to on some fucking back road with no traffic, the glow of town lights in the distance and a sign that says “Stuttgart – 22km thataway”. Now Stuttgart is about 50 kilometers from Heilbronn which means I’m either 28 or 77 klicks from home, depending on which side of Stuttgart I happened to be standing. I’m staring at this sign while doing the standing staggers – you know, where one foot is planted firmly on the ground while the other is flailing about so you don’t fall over – and wondering “What the fuck?”
The next thing I remember was climbing the stairs in the barracks to get to my room and snarling “FUCK YOU FUCK YOU” at the CQ as I staggered past his desk and him with this look of amazement on his face before he busted out laughing.
He came in the next morning just as I was rousing and he was still laughing. “Man, what the fuck happened to you last night? I was sitting at my desk when all of a sudden the door came crashing open and you came staggering in. You had your cowboy boots in your hand, only one sock on your foot, your belt slung over your shoulder and your shirt was covered in blood.”
Fuck if I know. I never did piece together what happened. My buddies said I was there one minute and gone the next. Everybody thought I went to the bathroom, then forgot about me as they got more and more fucked up. I have no idea how I ended up on that road, but a couple days later we found where I’d been standing – between Heilbronn and Stuttgart so I had only wandered 28 kilometers. The blood? No clue. There wasn’t a cut or bruise on me, I had all my teeth, or at least the ones I started with, and I didn’t have a bloody nose because there was no blood on my face and my nose wasn’t sore.
I did lay low for the next few days until I was reasonably sure I hadn’t accidentally killed somebody while I was blacked out.
I once got my ass kicked twice by two different people in one day and don’t remember either incident – that blackout thing again, right? I’d started drinking pretty much right after morning chow one fine Saturday because I had duty the night before and had some catching up to do.
By noon I was rolling drunk and off post sitting in a gasthaus drinking with some friends who were just getting started. Apparently a guy I had a beef with walked in and I started running my mouth. I say apparently because that’s what the witnesses told me and they had no reason to lie. Anyways, the argument was taken outside where I was pummeled severely about the head and shoulders, bad enough that my friends put me in a cab and sent me back to the barracks. My roomie Wally told me that I passed out for 4 or 5 hours. When I came to, I did a quick check on functioning limbs and appendages then took a shower and got cleaned up. I was pretty sore, so I said fuck it, I’ll just stay in for the rest of the night and lick my wounds.
I ended up getting seriously fucked up again. I didn’t mean to, but then again, I wasn’t trying not to. Last thing I remember was I was flopped out on the couch with my headphones on listening to some Texas swing and nodding off. It wasn’t late, maybe 6 or 7, but I’d had duty the night before which means I’d been up since 6 AM Friday morning, plus I’d been blackout drunk already once that day, not to mention my asswhipping. It was time to pack it in and call it an evening, Gents.
Yeah, I don’t know what the fuck happened after that. Apparently (there’s that word again) I had woke up and went right off post to Stubes, the nearest gasthaus about 150 yards from the main gate, and was talking to a girl that I knew out on the patio. Her boyfriend saw us, took offence, and smacked me right in the side of the head from behind. I never saw it coming. Witnesses told me later I dropped like a bag of rocks but was still holding my beer when I hit the floor – they gave me a solid 9 for style on that.
Two asswhipping in the same day and don’t remember either of them. I haven’t duplicated that in the 40 years since.
We were coming in from the field and my girlfriend Shelby was waiting at the main gate for me when we rolled in. My buddy Juan was driving and he slowed the truck down for her so she hopped up on the running board and gave me a big ol’ wet kiss, squeezed my dick and slipped me a quart of bourbon, then said she’d see me the next day after I had a chance to unpack and unwind. Right on, she usually frowned on me drinking hard liquor, so that was a nice surprise.
After everything was taken care of in the truck park I headed to the barracks, took a hot shower and was getting dressed when three of my partners from another unit stopped by to see if I wanted to go to town. I begged off, but to be hospitable I broke out her bottle and we passed it around until it was empty, then they took off.
Fuck. Now I’m out of whiskey and I’ve got a full night in front of me. Not only that but I’m out of money and the bank’s closed. All the rednecks are still in the motor pool unloading their shit, so I figured I’d head down to Shelby’s room and see if she’d loan me the price of a short bottle. I’d buy my liquor, then go back to visit with her for a few hours, have a few drinks, smoke some hash and just mellow out. I hadn’t seen her in over a month and I was pretty fond of her, so I thought it would make for a nice domestic evening.
She was incredulous. “I gave you a quart of whiskey when you came in!!!” Well yeah, but that was almost two hours ago…
Suffice to say, that evening didn’t go as planned.
Michael was a good, clean cut kid, a crypto guy that was in the room next to me. He came from an upper middle class family in Connecticut and was a jock in high school or college, you know, dated the Homecoming Queen and all that. While he drank occasionally, I don’t ever recall seeing him with a load on.
He was a nice guy, always smiling and in a cheerful mood. He insisted on calling all the guys in the barracks by their first names in an environment where everybody answered to their last names. Besides him, I can think of one other guy that called me Ken instead of just Lane. Hell, even my girlfriend didn’t call me by my first name. But yeah, he was the kind of guy who’d always greet you with a handshake and a big smile even though you’d seen him just the day before.
Anyways, he had a fiance back home, and this girl’s family was fucking loaded. I’m talking personal shoppers, Porsches, and household servants loaded. Big bucks. The plan was for him to go home on leave to marry this babe, so he starts getting ready a good month ahead with regular haircuts and manicures and shit like that. He wants to look good for his new, very rich family.
Here’s where I pretty much fucked that up.
Me and Juan are in my room drinking some homemade mescal that his brother had shipped him from home and playing backgammon. I was doing laundry at the time and had a couple piles of clothes sorted on the floor waiting for a washer. Both of us were well buzzed but not fucked up by any means, but when I accused Juan of cheating he got pissed and jumped up with his fists all balled up, so I jumped up too and took a swing at him before he took one at me. The fight was on. We were standing there toe to toe beating the shit out of each other and he started getting the best of me, so I backed up a couple steps to get a break. When I did that, I slipped in a pile of clothes and it threw me off balance. Juan took advantage of the situation and hammered me 2 or 3 times in the face and boom! it was lights out for me. I hit the wall and slid down, still trying to fight, but I was done.
The next thing I remember was somebody grabbing me by the shirt collar and slapping me, so I fired a shot straight up and was rewarded with a good solid crunch. I shook my head and cleared my vision only to see Michael holding his face as he staggered around.
After Juan had put me down, he saw me flopping around and thought I was having a fucking seizure so he grabbed a towel and ran down to the latrine to soak it down for me. Michael had heard me bounce off the wall so he came next door to see what the hell was going on and came in to find me laying on the floor tangled up in dirty boxers and towels, so he grabbed me by the collar as he shook me and slapped my cheeks to bring me around. That’s when I nailed the motherfucker right in his eye as hard as I could.
This is the night before he’s going home to get married.
Juan got back with a cool towel and we put it on Michael’s face to try keep the swelling down but it was no use. That eye was turning colors on us as we watched. We helped him back to his room, me apologizing profusely, then me and Juan went back to our mescal and backgammon. I didn’t know what else to do and besides, I wanted Juan to explain just what exactly is a cold compress supposed do do for somebody having a seizure?
Michael departs early the next morning before I got up and went home to marry his sweetie. About 10 days later I got a big manila envelope in the mail from Connecticut. When I opened it I pulled out a beautiful wedding picture of the Bride and Groom. Both of them looked very nice – Michael had enough make-up on his face that you couldn’t see the bruise, but there was no way they could hide that swelling. His whole damned head looked lopsided. Across the bottom of the picture in black magic marker and a feminine hand were the words “Thanks a lot, asshole”.
I framed that motherfucker.