First, by reflection, which is the noblest;
Second, by imitation, which is the easiest;
And third, by experience, which is the most bitter.”
Confucius (551 bc – 479 bc)
It was around 11p on March 30th some time between 1998 and 2010, I had been over at a friend’s house playing some guitar and having drinks…but in reality I hadn’t done much of either on account of my brain being kinda broken that night. I left in a manor I generally wasn’t accustomed to, early. In earlier re-tellings of this story I had attributed this fact to the possibility that I was trying to be responsible (you know, not staying out till the small hours drinking), now, I doubt that had anything to do with it. Regardless, I was in my truck idling along side the highway, it was pouring rain, to my left traffic slowly and cautiously crept by, to my right enormous ships long mothballed as a result of not being very effective at killing people or toppling dictators (or so is my naive understanding of foreign policy), in my rear-view mirror red and blue lights lit the night sky like fireworks on judgment day. In my chest, my heart was telling me I was trapped. Deep down I knew she was right.
I started that Sunday like was usual for me those days, by dispassionately getting out of bed and getting ready for church and helping as little as possible to get the rest of my family ready. That night there was a block party that was put on by my friends’ band; I was looking forward to it. I knew, however, that I had to prepare; this involved drinking enough alcohol to relax but not so much that I relaxed too much…sounded simple enough. I had spent around a decade working on the formula that gave me these results, but I was still far from perfecting it and this night was going to prove to be great evidence in the realization of that fact. I had about four beers at home prior to heading down to the party; while at the party I had a couple more, plus, part of one somebody left on a table. This was not a huge amount of booze, but it was enough; it was time to go home. At the party I hadn’t really eaten much so once home, my wife made some dinner for me and I had another beer with my meal. Between drinking and hearing my friends’ band my thoughts started to vacillate between jealousy and disappointment in my own accomplishments (more to the point the lack there-of), this started at the party and intensified as I ate my steak. A friend invited me over to his house in Purdy for an after party, despite my wife’s protests, I hit the door and headed out to the party.
Once there, I had a Coke and whiskey, the Coke was fine; the whiskey was a blended Canadian, not great, but who was I to complain. I was talking to my friends and things were okay, but my thoughts were still ebbing to and fro, flirting with the dark side of self-reflection. I finished my drink. My friend mixed me another and I talked him into bringing out some guitars to jam a bit. This was semi-antisocial there were people having a good time talking to one another and I was pounding out “House of the Rising Sun”, I looked up from the guitar and was embarrassed by the looks I saw the room over. I was embarrassed by my own selfishness. Without finishing the second drink, I headed for home. It’s about 45 minutes from his house to mine, which leaves time for many a slip between cup and lip, and in the process of moving from point a to point b, I found myself sitting outside the shipyard with a state patrolmen behind me. This was not good.