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Grapevine : January 2012
I remember the first time Itookadrink.ItwasaNew Year’s eve party hosted by friends of my father, in a big, empty carriage-house. It was full of adults, with my friend Peter and myself the only kids I can remember. I think I was about 8 or so. At some point in the evening the adults thought it would be fun to give us kids some shots of booze and see what we would do. I sure didn’t disappoint! It wasn’t so much the booze that time that I relished so intensely; it was being the center of attention that I became addicted to. There were lots of laughs from those watching us, until I decided to try and beat up my friend and wound up get- ting my head smacked into a sharp concrete pillar. I was taken home, bleeding and wondering what hap- pened. Not much changed with my drinking over the years. Not long after that experience, my uncle came to live with us after being released from prison. He was another adult willing to pay atten- tion to me, and he quickly molded me into a promising juvenile delin- quent. I learned all the attitude and gained all the style and accoutre- ments that would define my short drinking career. From him I was to learn the finer points of a guitar solo, how to commit various crimes, and a wealth of information on how to drink like a professional alky. I was discovering the survival skills I’d wanted all my short life. I didn’t feel out of place all the time anymore. I was starting to feel like I was starring in my own movie. I was replacing the fear and uneasiness that had so haunted me with cockiness and alcohol. I had moved almost ev- ery year, one parent to another—new illUStRAtiONBYSiSSElK. 17 GRAPE_16-21.indd 17 11/22/11 3:57 PM