Saturday, December 31, 2016

Clean & Sober, Part One

Dear (eventual) grandstickies and great-grandstickies,

I am not a drunk or a druggie, nor do I play one on TV. I was a sorta/kinda (weed smoking) druggie when I was a twenty-something sorta/kinda hippie with a job.

I didn't define myself as a druggie at the time. To me, druggies were people that dabbled in, or were hooked on, addictive substances. I also didn't/don't care for people that liked/like to get roaring drunk. Not pleasantly buzzed, roaring drunk. Drunks and druggies were/are, often as not Jekyll-Hydes, people who become their own evil twin when they ingest their recreational pharmaceutical of choice.

Not me and my buds, pun intended. We were cool. Yeah, we smoked weed, but we weren't addicts, we weren't alcoholics, we had jobs.

In retrospect, I freely admit that I was a callowyute for far too long. Most of the friends I didn't go to college with couldn't get married/mortgaged/reproduced fast enough and become hipper, Depublican/Republicrat voting versions of their parents once they got their degree. Revolution? what revolution? That's kid stuff, grow up!

Maybe later. I...

[Aside for historical context: This was the early seventies when all that stuff you've heard about the late sixties was still going on but had begun to fade. The revolution mentioned above, with the exception of the relatively small handful of maroons committed to actually blowing stuff up, was a vague, ill-defined thing. It was a pampered, self-indulgent baby boomers happening to come of age when the cultural consensus collapsed and the threat of death by Vietnam loomed for 19-year-old males (some much more than others) phenomenon.]

Maybe later. I was having too much fun living a very tame version of what I romanticized to be a sex/drugs/rock and roll lifestyle. Get high and do something fun -- like have sex or go to a concert. I wasn't getting high because I was an addict or to cope with my crappy job/life/spouse/children. I was also very lucky in that my lifestyle never led to any legal problems and I had never even heard of AIDS at this point.

In my defense -- weed was way less potent, much cheaper and often hard to come by a thousand years ago. Droughts were common. I went out of my way (successfully) to not reproduce. I believed, and believe, that once you have kids, while selfless sainthood is not required, it mostly is, it's part of the job description. I didn't want that particular job, or a career, at that point in my life -- just a job, so I could pay my own way and live my life.

Truth be told -- I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. So, I figured I might as well enjoy the ride while waiting for instructions. I had two very vague notions. I would eventually meet my soulmate and then, somehow, all would become clear and we would live happily ever after. Or, I would meet my guru and spiritual enlightenment would follow. Maybe both.

[Important aside: The first time I smoked weed I was almost 20  years old. I'm so old that drug use by high school kids was just starting to take off when I was in high school. Drinking was more common but serious partying of any sort was limited to a relatively small minority. Considering that it's now common knowledge that the human brain isn't fully mature until the age of 25 or so, I'm glad I started at what nowadays would be considered a late age. More on this later.]

Eventually, in my late twenties, which coincided with the late seventies, I met and fell in love with a blond girl next door type, a college student. This coincided with Rock n' Roll hitting a wall (pun, once again, intended) that it hasn't been able to break through/climb over/go around since and the fact I was getting bored with being a callowyute and finally starting to grow up.

[Aside for baby boomer gentlereaders: By the way, just because Rock hit a wall, that's no excuse for some of you to still be listening to the same songs, over and over and over again, decades later. I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, think of it as one of those things that somebody had to tell you. Think of it as someone meeting you for coffee at an obscure location and gently giving you a heads up about something, for your own good. They'll give you a big, sincere hug and a warm genuine smile when it's time to part ways.  

There's all sorts of music out there. I highly recommend jazz. If you would prefer to maintain your rock/pop sensibility you might think about trying to find some time to go exploring. Even if you prefer to stick with the old stuff, the "hits" were from entire albums of songs you may have never heard. Admit it, you've thought about this. Now, if you could only find the time...]

And we're back. I spent about three years in a grup with a life, wife, and 2.5 kids training program. Many requirements had to be met in order to qualify and get promoted to adulthood. In the end, she changed her mind and ran my application, and my heart, through a paper shredder. She said she was sorry. No soul mate or a guru. That sure sucked sweaty socks.

When I came to I found myself managing a fleet of ice cream trucks in Texas. One day I hired a woman to drive one of the trucks who, in short order, became my wife. She came pre-equipped with a daughter. Hey! look at me, I'm a grup! Well, more or less.

[Uh-huh. Um, is there a point you're trying to make Poppa? Sheesh, it would seem that I not only have an imaginary gentle reader and a muse living in my head, now I've got to deal with an imaginary grandsticky/great-grandsticky. For the record, my grandstickies are real, but I'm addressing them as a group and writing to them as though they won't be reading this until 20 years into the future. Please see last week's column, Sea Change. The great-grandstickies aren't here yet. So, the imaginary grandsticky is a stand in for a group of people, some of whom don't exist yet. Man, this is getting complicated.

Oh for the love of God! exclaims Dana, my imaginary gentlereader. Marie-Louise, my muse, is giggling.]

Calm down everyone. OK, listen, first some literary housekeeping. No, poppa is not misspelled. Both papa and poppa are authorized by the language police. I prefer poppa because papa looks like it should be pronounced paah-paah. Poppa -- pops. When I'm king, I will correct this situation and delete, or at least imperially frown upon, the word papa. Poppa is what my grandstickies (grandkids) call me. Please see my websites glossary for more information.

Second, sorry, I've got to go. I'm already well over my theoretical 1,000-word limit. (A snort of frustration followed by angry footsteps and the sound of a door slam. Dana has left the column.) Hey, it's not my fault that attention spans have been reduced to the point that 500 words without pictures is considered long-form writing, I'm trying to build an audience so I can quit my soul-sucking day job. Poppa loves you. To be continued...

Have an OK day.