'My head's a very scary place; don't want to walk it alone...'
Christopher Cross, "I Know You Well' (1998)
In the past I've focused on advice and counsel which can be passed to a larger, more general public, especially since a sports editor asked whether he could borrow one or two of my posts.
Weekly exposure in a large-city newspaper leads to a number of outcomes: You end up with new 'friends.' You also gain new 'detractors.' Both are necessary to the aspiring writer. There's nothing like seeing your weak points exposed by a person who wants to "make points" in the public spectrum - they provide an unpaid (but not unappreciated) editorial function in the feedback loop. You go back and think a little more critically about the next topic; you read the first draft a little more critically. You make certain there's more "muscle" than fat. The editor has less material to polish, change or tweak.
This post is (most likely) not going to be sent up the line. Here is where I temporarily revert to that often self-abusive "make-you-go-blind-if-you-keep-writing-like-this" type of writing which to many appears to be the sustenance of bloggers. I feel a need to talk about a "very scary place" I briefly visited this past weekend. Some details will be trimmed to save friends and loved ones from needless exposure.
I like beer. However, I would not say I have a drinking problem. More often than not I am the person who sees the proverbial "line drawn in the sand," over which I dare not step for fear of ruining my personal, financial, or professional well-being. I will have anywhere from zero-to-three beers a day during the work week. There is the rare - perhaps two or three times a year - occasion when I will dance at the line and mock the Fates, after which I go back to my comfortable bed and sleep for a few hours. When I awaken, I chuckle at my good fortune, grab a cup of coffee and march smartly.
This weekend I have to admit I stepped over the line. It wasn't a big step, but it was a step. In the 25-plus years since I drunkenly stumbled out of a bar in my hometown and inflicted $600 worth of damage on my brand-new pick-up truck, I think I can say I've "stepped over the line" perhaps three times. For me, this involves or has involved drinking (probably in this most recent case) the equivalent of a 12-pack of American beer and climbing into or onto a motorized vehicle.
I've seen other people (try to) do this. In a far worse state of inebriation. With facial trauma from the outmanned tag-team match against gravity and disequilibrium that state of drunkenness so stealthily arranged. I've seen a few really good, and graphic examples of why not to drink to that state. Of course, when we are having a great time we don't quite think about those consequences.
I definitely thought about the potential consequences - financial, judicial, professional, medical, and so forth - once we returned (safely) home. The next morning's run turned into a long walk and chat with my wife. She now understands why I prefer to not drink as much as the next party animal. And naturally, my body decided to let me feel the lowest level of the potential consequences through the remainder of the day. A headache would have been acceptable. But no...my stomach taught me a lesson.
Small, 12-ounce opaque drinking cups are your friend. Large, transparent 21-ounce beer mugs are your friend, too...but for a brief period of time. Having the courage to say "I think I've had enough," or to ask whether someone (sober AND of legal driving age) can make certain you get home safely might not make the hangover, headache or gastrointestinal distress any less intense, but it might be much less expensive for you. And the ones who run with - or love - you.