About getting lost

By the time I was 13 or so I was determined to be anyone but myself. I suppose this is typical of most kids at that age. The insecurity and anxiety that goes with trying to belong, to be accepted, is part of growing up. It was definitely when things got crazy for me. Unfortunately my path to adulthood was vague, dark and inclined toward the depths of hell.

I can clearly remember my first drunk. Columbus Day 1966, a 5th bottle of Ancient Age bourbon shared with my friend Kirk. It was around 9 AM when we guzzled the whole thing down in a matter of miunutes. This produced immediate and profound results that lastes well into the late afternoon, and a hangover that didn't let up for days.

What happened over the next few years was a lot like being on a slide and not being able to get off. I just kept on going down, but just when I thought I was at the bottom, I realized I was just at another ledge, and that there was plenty of down left to go.




But of course down is a relative thing, and as I slid farther my ideas of what was OK changed as I plummeted.

The roaring twenties

My 20's started off just like the end of my teens, with me just lurching from one girl to another, hoping at this point that someone might find me worth saving. I was tossed out of one relationship after another. I guess I just wasn't a keeper.

So I worked hard, drank all the time, and made up characters to be, on the spot. I just became someone else. why be me? I had no reason to. It was just another thing I did because I could get away with it, or so I thought. It was just such a lie that permanently changed my life, the way a a bullet wound might change change you, or falling out of a car at high speed.

Perhaps that was where my life started to get real, ironically real.


That First Look

She came in with a friend, they took two stools at the bar, close to the door. I noticed that they had no men in tow, and that both of them were quite attractive. I made my way over after sizing up the possiblilties and made room for myself to the right of them at the bar.

I acted as though my sole purpose for sidling up there, was to get myself another drink, pretending to be surprised that I was suddenly in the company of a couple of great looking ladies. I think the curly haired one may have been the one I noticed first, until of course I was face to face with her friend who was well, drop dead beautiful. She had those bluer than blue eyes, and a smile that smiled across her whole face, not to mention a very female body, with just enough baby fat to make it really hard to ignore.

Once I had them engaged in conversation I asked the barman to pour three Glenfiddichs. Then the lie that wouldn't die poured out of me onto the bar. The two girls went along with the whole story and I just kept making up more shit as they sat an listened. I had no idea why or where it was going, but it definitely went until the bar closed and I made a half hearted play to take her home. We exchanged phone numbers, scrawled on Bill Mc Nally's matchbook covers and kissed each other goodbye out on the sidewalk while her friend waited patiently for her to say goodnight.

I got home that night full of scotch and was too drunk to worry about all that bullshit I had laid on those two chicks. I wouldn't have to explain any of it anyway, because girls like that usually were gone forever. In a way though I was disturbed that I had sat for hours in my local bar and pretended to be someone that really didn't exist. But I was soon asleep and dreaming.


I was out on Telegraph, putting my time in on the sales end of our little business. It must've been late in the day and I was tidying up after one of the many bus exhaust pipe blastings that punctuated life on the western side of the Avenue. I heard her voice and I looked up and tried to look something other than paniced. I immediately flashed back to the night at McNally's and rather than just be myself, I put on the Texas jive act I had created back at the bar.



Single Malt Scotch, but not just another night on the town


I was well on my way to another face-scraping-the-floor night at my current regular nightspot, a rowdy little place on College Avenue in Oakland.
Bill McNally's bar was place I had been frequenting for a few months, usually after I had worn out the beer joints up near Telegraph avenue. Most nights I would roll down College from Berkeley in my VW bus in the hope that I might meet the love of my life, or just get "lucky".
This particular night was toward the end of a profitable summer on the Avenue, and I was feeling like I was capable of just about anything. As it turned out, I was.

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