My drinking has gone from “recreational” to “self-destructive” over the last couple years. I could easily quit drinking if I really wanted to. And now and again I’ll quit for a month, just to make sure I can still do it. But the thing is: I enjoy drinking more than I want those last 10 years at the tail-end of my life.
Yesterday I was drinking with this tragic, young guy, Denny. Now some people think alcoholics are all alike. But me and Denny are prime examples of two of the basic alcoholic types. Denny is what I call an “oblivion alcoholic.” He drinks non-stop. And he drinks the cheapest, strongest booze he can find. And no matter how drunk he is, he always wants to get even more drunk. Until he finally knocks himself out. He craves oblivion. He’s tormented by something in his psyche. So he wants to short-circuit his brain so he stops thinking. He’s also extremely sensitive, so he uses the alcohol to de-sensitize himself. Feeling less means feeling less pain.
Whereas I’m what I call a “measured alcoholic.” My drinking is measured. I usually start drinking at the same time every night (around 6 o’clock). And I drink the same thing (Olde English or Racer 5) at the same pace (about 80 to 100 ounces of booze over the course of the evening) every night. I’m more out for a buzz than oblivion.
Last night, Denny was lying on his back in People’s Park, smoking a cigarette and pounding cans of Four Loco — the drink of choice for the hardcore street alkies these days. When he suddenly rolled over onto his side and started puking into the dirt, as well as all over his hand and shirt sleeve. But in true alkie style, he kept his cigarette going. “That’s like the alkie who falls down a flight of stairs but doesn’t spill a drop of his drink,” I said.
I gave Denny a paper towel to wipe the drool off his face. And then he staggered off down the street to the liquor store in search of yet another can of Four Loco.
In a seemingly endless series of Four Locos.