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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Get Out of My Space!

Anyone reading the account that I am about to relate should set back the time when this event actually occurred to nearly two months ago.

Tonight (22 September), while I was alone in the house, as I will be for the next two weeks because my wife is down in Florida seeing to her stepfather, who is even more aged than I am, a visitor knocked, that I definitely did not want to see. It was N., the older son of G. and C., two of our closest friends and neighbors on this road. I have known N. all his life, and he was back from a very successful stint working on a salmon fishing boat in the waters of Alaska. But he is very severely plagued by an alcohol problem, though I had never seen him as thoroughly tanked as I could tell he obviously was the second I laid eyes on him.

Once, years ago, while I was also alone here, building my house, one cold night something scratched at my front door, and opening it, I found a skunk there right at my feet, grinning up at me. There was very little difference between that and N.'s appearance now.

He was expecting my wife to be there, knowing that she would be easier on him in that state than I would be, and I very much wished that she was there, too, because I spent his whole visit, which lasted not much more than a hour but seemed to stretch to an eternity, wondering how I was going to get him out of there.

One of the great tragedies of alcoholism is that people deep in their cups have no idea of what a big drag they can be on everything. They think they are just what the doctor ordered, when nothing could be farther from the truth.

I also deeply resented the fact that he, more than most people, should've already known and had a feeling for how much of a similar thing I had already suffered in my own family ten years ago, which left me badly traumatized and completely averse to having to go through anything like it again. Yet my wife, when I called her later and told her about it, said she thinks there's something about me that makes drunken people like to talk to me. She was thinking of a usually very mature and stable woman who took me through exactly the same kind of nightmare over the phone for another eternity, not long ago. And there had been others, farther back in the past.

I will admit one thing, To amuse myself nevertheless, I had a lot of fun launching every kind of insult I could think of against N. -- within limits. But he was so happy and completely out of everything that it was all water off a very slick duck's back.

But finally he said something like "Wha yer really tryntta tell me is geyoutta yer space. " (By that time he had lost nearly all command of the King's English.) And it was with great relish that I answered, "That's exactly right. Get the hell out of my space!" Or words to that effect.

My wife said that if she had been there, she would've let him stay here and sleep it off, but I didn't want anybody in that state to be in my house, and I did try to convince him, to no avail, to simply go to his parent's house, which is a very short and safe distance just up the road, but he wouldn't hear of it, and if he had stayed here, all he would have done would've been to keep raving on constantly and telling jokes and engaging in all kinds of other verbal tomfoolery, including telling me what a great and unique person I am.

When he finally did drive off, after I had escorted him up to the head of my driveway in the dark, it was in the direction of his own house, which is on the same road, but about 15 twisty miles away. This was soon after I told him the obvious, namely that after several close escapes already, he can't count on Lady Luck being on his side forever, but I guess that forever tempting the fates is N's biggest pleasure in life -- besides drinking -- and telling people to "f--k off."

What a trap he's in, and it's already been driving his parents and his newly married younger brother crazy for a very long time.

Now, fast forward to today when I am actually posting this.

My tolerance for drunkenness must have gotten even lower than it always was, even during the several times when I engaged in the same behavior myself, nearly six decades ago, though luckily I never had the ego that would have allowed me to get anywhere near the point where I would go visiting anybody while in that condition.

A few days ago we saw "Another Year," a Mike Leigh movie that had Leslie Mandeville in it -- another of that string of fabulous "mature" actresses of whom nearly half are British and in whom I seem to find an endless fascination. But that fascination still wasn't enough to stop me from failing to finish the movie, and the reason was that near the beginning of the film, and looking much younger than I thought she was, she played a very intense and convincing drunk scene.

Strange. It was just as if Mandeville herself had been in that state, though of course that could never have happened.


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