Drunk and Driven

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My pursuit of drunken perfection (humor)

I’m thinking about becoming an alcoholic. Beer and wine are my favorites, so I’ll drink a lot of them. I don’t like hard liquor, but I’ll drink it if that what it takes to realize my ambition. Unlike some people out there who want things handed to them, I’m willing to work and am dedicated to achieving my goals.

I have little doubt that alcoholism is a good career move. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers can’t take adverse employment action against a reformed alcoholic based on his alcoholism. As a practical matter, this means any time an alcoholic is denied a job, a promotion, or a raise, he can scream, “It’s because I’m an alcoholic, isn’t it!” As Dick Vitale would put it, “Protected class, baby!”

For guys like me, alcoholism is the only way to get such protected status. I could also lop off an arm or something like that, thus becoming genuinely disabled, but I hear that’s painful and it would adversely affect my golf game. (Drinking, incidentally, doesn’t — nor does it impair my bowling.)

I’m not just working the legal angles, either. I also look at alcoholism as a way to build up my credentials.

I’ve noticed that reformed alcoholics (and drug addicts) are uniquely respected. Once a person goes through rehab, he’s certifiably sensitive. I often strike others as unfeeling, so I could use a credential like that.

Reformed alcoholics often have new career opportunities, too. Once I go through rehab, I could work to become a counselor: a rehabbed alcoholic who helps struggling alcoholics. I might also get a job in a high school to help troubled teens; I’d latch onto those public school employee fringe benefits without even getting a teaching certificate.

Alcoholism is one of the few career moves that offers a lot of fun in the process of earning one’s stripes. No long hours of study. No late nights in the office. Just hit the bars with friends frequently (something I enjoy), drink a lot of beer while watching TV on Tuesday night (something else I enjoy), and do some stupid alcohol-induced stunts that give people reason to believe you have a problem.

The stupid stunt part can be the most enjoyable part, but also the trickiest. The stupid stunt could be dangerous, like getting drunk and driving one’s car under a low-bridge obstacle, thus tearing off the roof. As a kid, I remember hearing about an alcoholic doing that; he had no idea why his car roof was gone.

That type of thing is too dangerous for me — I could get crippled, killed, or jailed. I’m ambitious, not foolhardy.

I’m thinking more along the lines of extra-marital affairs. I’d get drunk and start cheating on my wife. Eventually, she’d confront me with my two (or three or four) timin’ ways, and I’d get the ultimatum: Get dry or get divorced. I’d then be forced to check myself into rehab to save my marriage. Once I’m out of rehab, my wife would have to forgive me, and in the meantime, I would have had a great time.

And if she didn’t take me back, my credentials as a public speaker would be enhanced (“Alcoholism cost me my car, my wife, my family, and almost my life. . . .”).

But she’d have to take me back, or else come off as hard-hearted — which would make her look especially bad because, being rehabilitated, I would be prima facie tender-hearted. And anyone else I wronged during my drunken years would have to accept me too. It’s sociological absolution. Even the Catholic Church and its 2,000 years of confessional practice can’t give that.

Though there’d be a lot of fun involved in the process, I’m aware that there’ll be sacrifices, too. The monetary outlay ($2.75 for a longneck at my favorite bar), the time commitment, the hangovers, and the effects of withdrawal. But few things worth having come without cost.

I guess I could take the easy way out and check myself into rehab based on one of those drinking problem questionnaires. Back in college, one of those questionnaires revealed that all sixty guys in my college fraternity were alcoholics. I remember one question distinctly: “Do you ever go out at night with the purpose of getting drunk?” This question was asked of me when I was a college sophomore. I thought it was a typo at first and the drafter had inadvertently dropped a negative: “Do you ever not go out at night . . .”. Or I could answer the question, “Do you regularly feel the need for a drink after work?” to which I could in good faith answer, “Every day.” Heck, sometimes I feel the need for a drink before work.

I could get away with the easy alcoholism route, not only because the rehab industry (for some odd reason I can’t quite figure out) seems to encourage findings of alcoholism, but also because I have a fairly extensive family history of alcoholism. My ancestors were alcoholics back in the days when they were labeled “drunks” and “bums,” back when there was no glory in it.

With such an ancestry, it would definitely be believable that I could succumb to the demon of alcohol.

Oops. It’s not a demon. It’s a dependency. If I’m going to reap the benefits of alcoholism, I better ditch the terminology that once made it a stigma and adopt the language that today makes it a credential.