If you scroll down to the pictures at the very bottom of these posts, you will see one of Mike, my best friend in Baltimore. (I’m not a native.) Although 15 years my senior, Mike exhibits a less advanced form of alcoholism than me. He drinks every day, but it is relatively rare for him to get shit-faced. He rarely gets hangovers and never gets the shakes. Yet by noon on any given day, he’s sporting a BAC of at least .12.
When Mike’s welfare check and sold food stamp money is exhausted, he funds his habit by walking around the city, checking meters for change until he amasses enough for his next 40. Quite an accomplishment for someone with numerous physical injuries. He is too proud to panhandle.
I, on the other hand, will go weeks without drinking, feeling great and wondering why I drink at all in the first place. I can get drunk here and there and have it not be problematic, but at some point I will invariably go off on some out-of-control bender. Blackouts, grayouts, panhandling, and passing out everywhere but the middle of the street are par for the pathetic course when I’m in this mode.
Mike and I had an amusing conversation when I ran into him yesterday.
“Yep, just need about 40 more cents to go get me a beer. Took 30 cents off Edgar Allen Poe’s grave earlier.”
“What?! For one thing, I can’t believe you walked all the way up there.”
“Do it all the time.”
“Dude, I don’t know if I’d fuck with Poe like that. You’ve heard those stories about people disturbing Injun burial grounds. Comprende, amigo?” Mike is proud of his partial Indian heritage–the teepee type, not the 7 11 kind–but he gets irritated by repeatedly being mistaken for a Mexican.
“I’m sure he’d understand. He was a drunk.”
“True. And while he got kicked out of West Point, you got booted from the Marines.”
“You know, selling pot on base seemed like a good idea at the time. Plenty of customers.”
Mike laughed at my bon mot, spitting out his water. But that could have just been his body’s reflexive rejection of a nonalcoholic liquid at the late hour of 10 AM.
“You know what happened to the guy that hit Stephen King with his car, right? The one that fucked him up real bad?”
“He died about two years later on King’s birthday.”
“Yeah. And I’m no mathologist, so don’t quote me here, but the odds of that would be, uh, about 1 in 365. Unless it was a leap year, of course, which makes it even more sinister.”
“Yeah, that sounds like some curse shit there.”
“If I were you I’d take it back.”
“Nah, I’ll take my chances. But if anything spooky happens to me, you tell people about it.”
“Sure, soul mate.” I joke with him that he’s my nonsexual soul mate, since we have an uncanny tendency of running into each other in disparate parts of the city. “At your funeral, I’ll eulogize, ‘what an ironic way for a former plumber and avid Ravens fan to die: Having his eyes plucked out by a raven, blinding him and causing him to fall into the harbor and drown. When I heard the news, I thought, “I shall drink with that po’ SOB, nevermore”.'”