Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Late Into The Evening

Years ago, I attended a writing conference in west Texas, the kind of conference where everyone drinks all the time and "forgets" to wear their wedding rings. Many of the participants were a rough bunch, the kind of men who make jokes about Tailhook and didn't see anything wrong with Clayton Williams' suggestion that if a women was being raped that she should just "lie back and enjoy it." My friends and I were drinking margaritas late into the first evening in the big ballroom that had been decorated with chili pepper lights and sombreros. George Jones on the jukebox, singing "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Late into the evening, I declined the offer of another drink, a rare act of self-control. I was delivering a paper the next morning on some bullshit about workshop structure and needed what little wits about me that I could collect. One of my companions, a deeply alcoholic dude named Will said, How did you do that? I didn't have a clue what he was talking about until he said, Turn down a drink. Just stop. I could never do that.

I looked at him, saw that he was serious, and shrugged my shoulders. Mostly glib, a whole lot irritating, fairly handsome, Will exuded an ease that seemed completely natural, but in fact was almost always chemically enhanced. I didn't think of him as an alcoholic -- to me, alcoholics were people like my Grandpa Charlie who drove around tossing beer bottles out of his window and kicking anyone's ass who so much as looked at him. But at that moment, I could see into his soul a little bit, the loss of control that had begun to bleed into his life. I forget almost everything else about that conference, all the fake intimacies and promises to write about this or that subject, the drivel people talk about because there's no other common ground. But I remember the moment with Will; we did not speak of the subject ever again. Like a secret SOS, it drifted into the ether, never to be addressed, not really, but it was heard, and I suppose that's something.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love." Butch Hancock

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Sorry, Haters

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!


Stephanopoulous said...

That George Will is a thigh slapper!

Charles Gramlich said...

There was a time when I'd not stop until the booze was gone. That's no longer true. I'm not sure how it worked out that way, but I think it's mainly because I'm basically happy these days.

Mamalujo said...


And this will mostly be just a comment for the sake of commenting.

That got to me. There's a story there. I enjoyed the quote alot too!

eric313 said...

I love that you captured the essence of the lonely writer, lonely despite having so many other writers falling crawling the barroom floor. Writers just always seem to have that one thing in common: They love themselves too much and plenty of times we get in our own way with all that other jazz we try to sing. And I include myself in that special little whipping group.

Everything gets old. It's good to have the older fall backs and reflexes of youth--reading, writing, drinking, love, and whatever you like.

Good post, thoughtful and dreary, but with plenty of alcohol and the wreck-yourself attitude that only can only come from the heart of the damned.

the walking man said...

God Damn you do like me as a person, I have been chemically enhanced in one way or another every single time we have seen each other in every class.

It's been so long since I wasn't taking something or another that I don't remember what it's like to not stand at my dresser, in front of the mirror and, enhance my self before I jump (crawl) into the shower.

You know for a kid you have so many good stories to tell that relate to me, I wonder what it would have been like if you were the same age as me in the same 'hood with the same opportunities at chemical enhancement of the mid 60's available to you. Ohh the trips we could have taken chemically enhanced.



paul said...


Susan Miller said...

I enjoy the moment with Will that seems so pure and made even more that way in the midst of a conference. Looking back it is those moments that we remember with compassion.

Beautiful, Michelle.