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July 31, 2001
a search party
When I first stopped drinking in April of '98, I was told by those close to me that I was a " dry drunk." For those of you who have been in a coma during this Self-Help Epoch, dry drunks are people who have quit drinking, but who act like shitheads. This is not the technical definition, but you no doubt get the picture. To be truly "in recovery," an alcoholic must not only be sober, he must damn well like it. There can be no sulking or longing. No, you've got to wake up every day, realize that you are not going to feel any better than you feel at the moment, understand that it will be that way forever until you die, AND you've got to carry on as though Julie Andrews has just made you play-clothes out of draperies and has let you run amok in the Alps after teaching you the diatonic scale in solmization. Putting aside the fact that most of us do not live in the Alps and many of us do not own a drapery-jumper, this notion that drunks should enjoy sobriety is absurd. Here is the truth: Non-drunks feel superior to alcoholics and, having reached the moral highground, they are loathe to relinquish it. So they come up with catchy put-downs like "dry drunk." My catchy rejoinder? Kiss my ass. We're doing the best we can. And if you don't like us drunk, and you don't like us sober, then you just don't like us and you likely never did.
After completing my dry drunk stage (or after I stopped hearing about it) I became besotted by all things spiritual. Zen Buddhism. Hatha yoga. Old Andy Griffith reruns. It wasn't long before I penetrated the Shamanic realms of nonordinary reality and revelation. I wrote of my transubstantiation---not from bread to God, but from man to squirrel (see prior entry, "beginner's mind"). By indulging the spirit I could ignore my body. And then one day I heard a New Age companion remark that she was finding herself "in a bad place." I pointed out to her that, in fact, we were standing in my living room and, while it could hardly be described as a "great" place, it surely wasn't bad. I knew almost immediately that I had mispoke. Being in a "bad place," she explained, meant one was depressed or consumed by negative thoughts. I pretended I had been kidding, but I hadn't. I had honestly never heard of such an asinine phrase. But I recovered quickly. "Yeah, man. I 'hear you.' I've been in an AWFUL place. The WORST place. Like, the place I inhabit truly BLOWS." And so on. But even as I spoke, I knew this "scene" wasn't for me. I couldn't take the lingo.
So I'm in my pure science phase. Empiricism, that's for me. I look for God in the words and actions of others. Or in nature. I am not interested in searching for God within myself. No Cosmic Peekaboo, no Holy Hide-And-Seek. Besides, I think God moved out over three years ago. Said it was a "bad place." Then a dry drunk moved in.
© 2001 by the beastmaster