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Big Labor Day Weekend Party

I wonder who’s going to make it out alive

As I was pulling a cart out of the jammed metal lineup just outside my neighborhood Costco, I looked up to see two guys pushing a loaded cart out the other side. A small bag of green caught my eye. Limes.

The rest of the cart was densely packed with booze. Beer, wine, vodka, schnapps. The cart must have weighed a ton. Took both guys to push it.

The thought came unbidden. I wondered if, because of all that, someone was going to land in the hospital. With alcohol poisoning, or dead from a DUI.

Some 750 people have been killed by drunk drivers on Labor Day weekend, which is the fourth deadliest of all holidays. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), there are 300,000 drunk driving incidents each and every day in America.

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Photo by Samuele Errico Piccarini on Unsplash

Each and every day, all day long.

One death about every 48 minutes. That’s someone’s daughter, friend, husband, child, wife, cousin, grandfather, grammy.

Some years ago while I was living in Washington State I did a cover story on then -State Attorney General (later governor) Christine Gregoire. Gregoire had been very instrumental, along with other state attorneys general, in taking on Big Tobacco and retiring Joe Camel. When I asked her about alcohol, she shook her head. “Not going to happen.”

No, it’s not. Prohibition, which was instituted at the worst possible time in US history, was a monumental failure. Not only that, according to this article by the Cato Institute, banning alcohol did little more than increase consumption, create greater demand, establish a burgeoning black market, and send those in need of relief scurrying to other illicit sources ranging from (then illegal) pot to heroin. Of course it did.

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From this article’s references:

According to Warburton, from 1921 to 1929 the apparent per capita consumption of beer increased 463 percent, that of wine increased 100 percent, and that of spirits increased 520 percent. While per capita beer consumption in 1929 was only one-third the 1909 level, per capita consumption of wine and spirits was above 1909 levels. If that trend had continued, total per capita consumption of alcohol would have surpassed pre-Prohibition levels during the mid-1930s.

People gonna get high, no matter what you do. Making something illegal is only going to give organized crime another steady line of business.

Besides, the alcoholic beverage market is expected to reach $1.595 billion by 2022, according to this article.

Too many people make far too much money on shit that hurts us, shit that we use to distract us from the shit that hurts us.

Just ask anyone in the Mexican drug cartel how lucrative this business is. No matter what you tell people they can’t use, the very fact that something is banned makes it far more attractive. Scarcity sells.

Including what can kill.

No matter what you ban your kids from using, they will find an alternative somewhere in your household cabinets. Glue, paint thinner, nutmeg, cinnamon, computer cleaners, choking games are all part of the fun.

As someone who never succumbed to substance abuse, unless of course you include sugar (which, kindly, most certainly should be included) this not only gives me pause, it makes me terribly sad. Perhaps by the gift of genetic predisposition, I’m just not as susceptible. I was given opioids by the jarful during all the years I had horrifically painful dental surgery. All the extras quietly expired on my shelves, left forgotten.

That lack of susceptibility used to make me an arrogant bitch. However, I succumbed to addictions that simply didn’t have a cognitive effect: eating disorders, a buying Jones, exercise addictions. And this makes me superior, how, precisely? Just because I don’t go stumbling out into that good night and fall on my face on the sidewalk doesn’t make me any less drunk if I am wielding my credit card with abandon, abandoning all common sense. As I wrote elsewhere, one year I put $32k on my cards for clothing I never wore, didn’t need, and most certainly could not afford.

I struggle to understand where the sobriety is in that behavior.

My ex used to berate his alcoholic younger brother. On more than one occasion he had to pay bail and bail him out of the hoosegow. He’d show up back at my house, fuming about his brother’s lack of control. The ex-BF should have looked in the goddamned mirror. That man was as seriously crippled by his addiction to work as his younger brother was to booze.

He would have been horrified if I had pointed it out. Denial is as strong a drug as heroin. It can kill just as fast. Sure. I can drive. I got this. NO I’M NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU THE FUCKING KEYS. I’M FINE.

I noticed the full cart at Costco largely because of a recent article by by Robert Roy Britt about alcohol. That piece completely validated what I already knew. It’s also useless, in the sense that people aren’t likely to modify their behavior. If someone is addicted, screw you.

Not everyone can be Keith Richards, who is going to outlive Methuselah out of pure spite. But just because Richards possesses a cast-iron gut doesn’t mean you do. Ask any ER nurse.

Within my intimate circle, my closest friends all drink. One of them, who is now 70, loves her gin and tonics, her wine. It doesn’t do her a lot of good, whereas exercise would, and she doesn’t do much of that any more either.

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ePhoto by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Look, I don’t speak to anyone about alcohol. It does nothing but annoy the holy shit out of them about a perfectly legal preference they have. They enjoy their wine.

What annoys the shit out of me, on the other hand, is when people lecture me about how “you don’t know what you’re missing.”

Kindly go fuck yourself, will you?

Because I do know. Let’s just ask all of us who have carried armloads of empty beer and wine bottles to the curb, while inside a family drunk turns mean, ugly and abusive.

Let’s just ask all of us who are married to people who punch holes in our drywall, or fracture our faces, and do our best simply to survive what alcohol does to people we made a promise to as they break every promise they made to us.

Let’s just ask all of us who watch our children succumb to alcohol because of peer pressure, and we bury that child after an beer-fueled car accident ends an entire car full of young lives.

Kindly ask my best buddy Steve, whose fourth and last DUI slammed the door on a prison cell for him for six months. After he cleaned up, his older brother, a wreck after too many tours in the Middle East, nearly killed himself with alcohol poisoning. He finally cleaned up, but not before nearly ending the rest of his family in the process.

I consider someone’s trying to get me to drink just as offensive as someone’s trying to fob off their religion onto me. Both are seriously delusional addictions. But that’s just me.

Prohibition doesn’t work. Saying no to your kids doesn’t work.

That’s particularly true if you’re admonishing your offspring to lay off the booze while you have a highball in your hand and have already pissed into the kitchen sink. Sure, Dad.

My parents banned my brother from the liquor cabinet, but that didn’t stop him. He went on to much harder stuff for the rest of his life, then ended his existence completely a few years ago with pills and an entire bottle of tequila.

I despise the sickeningly sweet smell of a drunk’s breath. The monumentally stupid, sloppy behavior of people who have had too much. How alcohol releases inhibitions. On the other side of that lack of control, people’s worst evils crawl out and create devastation.

While my friends can tell very funny stories about riding their bikes into the bushes after one too many gins, I wonder how much I’d be giggling if they had swerved into the road instead, leaving their brains splattered on someone’s grille?

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Photo by Rachael Henning on Unsplash

Perhaps the saddest thing for me is that now, according to Britt’s article, some 10.6% of seniors- my peeps-are binge drinking. Look, it’s bad enough that the whole lot of us have a whole lot of additional physical challenges to navigate. For many, just getting across the room is hard enough, after a lifetime of lousy habits. Add alcohol to the mix and granny’s going to wobble her walker right into the open fireplace.

While that may sound funny, it isn’t to those of us who are dealing with drunks every day. I have, far too many times.

It is not my intention, nor is it my right to vilify those who choose to drink. Or for that matter get high on their drug of choice. I am simply saddened by our inability to moderate much of anything that we engage in that causes us harm.

I am far more concerned, as we wend our way through 2019’s Labor Day Weekend, about the families and kids and cyclists and runners and all the other folks who will end up in a morgue because of booze. How many girlfriends or wives will end up in the hospital because the wrong team won, and someone’s booze-fueled rage ends up breaking their teeth.

How many relationships will break, how many noses flattened, how many nights in the county jail. I don’t find any of this funny. It’s too close to the bone.

Alcohol is the crucible on which several friends of mine have discovered their character by learning to say no. That said, that fact alone doesn’t recommend consuming poison for any reason.

When you and I consume poison, it consumes us.

Worldwide alcohol consumption is on the rise. The way I see it, we are struggling to deal with rising anxiety. While I’d much rather folks smoked pot, I can hardly blame them.

But I do blame them, if holidays are swiftly followed by funerals.

And therein lies the problem. You want to self-immolate? Have at it, Sparky. It’s the innocents you take with you that make you poisonous.

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Written by

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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