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Grapevine : May 2011
of water and (maybe) urinate once, losing most of your water through evaporation. I was so dehydrated, of- ten times I could not drink enough water to either evaporate or elimi- nate. I’d need to stop a dozen times, huffing and puffing my way up the steep, boulder-strewn mountainsides of southern California deserts, hang- overs getting heavier with each step. During the day, I harassed em- ployees in the office for failing to achieve my overachieving work (so- called) ethics. I was short-tempered and directed temper tantrums at employees, surreptitiously criticizing them for failing to meet unrealistic standards which fluctuated from high to low because of my cyclical superi- ority and inferiority complexes. In the field, I surrounded myself with drinking buddies who walked with me all day and drank with me all night. I had home-bars-away-from- home in every town, where I’d drink with strangers whom I confused for friends, sharing my misery with old drunks getting older by the drink, habitually occupying the same desig- nated barstools. They’d wave me over and we’d sing along to country music lyrics celebrating adultery. My outdoor workplaces typically required that I drive 100 miles east to Joshua Tree or 100 miles north to ridgecrest. My favorite destination was east to Twentynine Palms where, after a day of walking the desert, I’d get a fat blue quart of beer, followed by another in Yucca Valley 30 miles to the west, then a quick stop at the Mule Lip Saloon in Lucerne Valley 30 miles further west for several icy cold schooners of beer, and finish with a cold fatty for the final 30-mile drive to my mountain home. The fact that I was drinking and driving never oc- curred to me, except when I saw po- lice cars. I spent half my time looking in the rearview mirror. My favorite form of consumption, though, was the “beer-and-a -bump” method. Shooting bumps (shots of liquor) got me where I wanted to be while sipping beer allowed me to hang out all night. But that, as they say, was then, and this is now. I still walk 15 miles each day in oppressive heat. At 52, I still keep up with a 22-year-old employee (who also happens to be a sponsee), even in August. I’ve come to realize, in the absence of pain these last five sober years, that most of the suffering I en- dured during fifteen long, hot years getting drunk in the sun, was self- induced. I’ve learned that there is no virtue, whatsoever, in enduring self- inflicted pain that can be completely avoided by not drinking. I haven’t taken a sink-bath in years, nor have any hookers or drug dealers recently knocked on the doors of the motels I frequent these days. I’ve exchanged a thousand barroom happy hours for thousands of truly happy hours. In working several Fourth Steps with two different sponsors, 20 May 2011 GRAPE_18-21.indd 20 4/4/11 1:08 PM