Oh that my more horrific drunken escapades could have sufficiently chastened me that I would dare not pick up a drink again. Oh that I didn’t have to work steps, make meetings, get into service and otherwise maintain my spiritual condition so that I might get my daily reprieve. But such is not my lot. I have to get sober in the same manner as the millions that preceded me in Twelve Step recovery.
Not that I didn’t have episodes chock full of pronounced and painful humiliation. Episodes that would have chastened the non-alcoholic sufficiently that they would never pick up a drink again. Such was the case in June of 2002 when lance again found myself on a fictitious business trip.
You see, whenever the compulsion to go on a particularly decadent spree hit I would tell my wife at the time that I had been called to attend an out-of-town business meeting. Freed from her ever watchful eye I could drink like a Wisconsin girl at a frat party … or a Wisconsin girl on pretty much any day of the week for that matter. Sorry Wisconsin girls, I’ve partied with you and my liver will never be the same. But I digress …
At first, I actually made a little mini vacation out of these drunken extravaganzas–finding myself in San Diego, Sedona or Mexico. But as alcoholism progressed I couldn’t hold it together long enough to drive to such destinations. Instead, that hot June weekend I found myself in one of a half dozen business class hotels clustered a few miles from my home.
I’d like to say I remembered which hotel. Being brand loyal, I often started out at a Courtyard by Marriott. But the hotel I started in was usually not where I ended my spree. Two factors contributed to my moving about, projectile vomiting and paranoia.
When I tied one on I would drink until I physically couldn’t hold it down anymore. Most of the time (and by that I mean about 70 of the time) I made it to the bathroom. But even if I got close to the toilet I vomited with such gut-wrenching force that my eyeballs dislocated from their sockets and I decorated everything within a six foot radius with the contents of my stomach. Not wanting to face a disgusted hotel employee of questionable legal worker status I would abruptly check out and move to a hotel across the parking lot before knock-knock housekeeping made her rounds.
Even if I kept my liquor down I didn’t necessarily stay put. After the consumption of vast quantities of liquor forced me into an involuntary nap I often came to with no clue where I was and convinced that “they” were looking for me. I’m not too sure, even to this day, who “they” were or why “they” were looking for me. Had there been yet another incident at the pet store where I had tried to sneak armadillo food out in my pants? I know not. But when you come to all disoriented and paranoid you don’t ask a lot of questions. You just scoop up your stuff and bolt to the next available hotel.
Three days into that drunken June spree I had bolted hotels at least twice–picking up a few plastic card keys in the process. This little tidbit of information plays a vital role in what has become to be known as the washing perfectly clean clothes incident.
It was during said incident that I had an out-of-body experience. At least I wish it had been an out-of- body experience as that would have been far less horrifying. As it turned out, my whole body was involved as I awoke yet again from another unintentional nap brought on by the consumption of a quart of Skyy Vodka for breakfast.
For some unknown reason I began sniffing about my room upon awakening and in the process decided the clothes in my suitcase had a particularly unsettling aroma. Keep in mind that these were unworn clean clothes from home that probably smelt of Tide. But in a rather insane, four-sheets-to-the-wind state I deemed those clean clothes repugnant and decided they needed a good washing.
With great haste I gathered all my clothes into my arms and made my way to the hotel laundry mat. As my already clean clothes agitated in soapy water, my alcohol-addled brain took issue with the clothes that I was presently wearing. So I stripped down to my underwear and added those to the gyrating washing machine–making a mental note to discard my underwear in the trash so as to not infuse the washed clothes with a used underwear aroma.
After observing the washing machine for a few minutes I decided to return to my room and fix myself another drink … who am I kidding? I hadn’t “fixed” a drink in years. It was straight from the bottle for me.
Regardless, I made my way to the door leading to my room and swiped my card key. Nothing. I swiped again. Nothing. I flipped the card, swiped fast, swiped slowly. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Though intoxicated well above the legal limit, I had enough brain function to realize that I was clad only in my underwear (boxers, not tighty whities) and flip flops. A trip to the lobby was in order and I was a tad underdressed.
I never realized how busy a hotel lobby could be at two in the afternoon until that day. But I put on a brave face, like a clothes-less emperor, and waited my turn in line. Stepping up to the front desk I held my head high as 1 informed the clerk that his fine establishment had issued me a defective key.
He didn’t even bother to swipe it. He just took one look and informed me that that key was from a competitor’s hotel. I was crestfallen. My head hung low. Not only was a small, thin layer of cotton the only thing that prevented me from displaying the Full Monty, I had no beef (figuratively of course).
Fortunately, and, I might add, with some haste, the clerk issued me a new key. He didn’t even ask to see some ID since, if 1 had some, it would have been produced from an area of the body that would have rendered it rather unacceptable
A day later I was home with my ultra clean clothes, totally humiliated and swearing that I would never touch another drop of liquor again.
Only one glitch in that plan. Having not paid much attention in meetings and rarely reading the literature, I missed the part that reads: “We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.” Within a few weeks I was drunk again and the humiliation continued. But that’s a story for another day.
Follow this blog…