I thought I would go for a long bike ride today. Preparations were made. Bottles of water in my backpack. Snack bars in the side pockets. I was ready to go and set out in the abnormally cool morning air. I rode downtown and stopped at the tracks to watch a freight as I munched on a sweet and salty trail mix snack bar. My initial hopes were to get some of this wanderlust out of me. I grew tired though -- out of shape. I used to could ride for miles without tiring.
I moseyed on up to the shopping center and chained my bike to a post. Big S asked me where I had been. "Not far," I said as I laughed. "The tracks and back." George was also down there and we had a little talk about why he has been avoiding me.
"You've become militant about this whole not drinking thing," he told me.
"I just don't want to see you back in jail," I said. "You do remember who came and bailed you out the last time, don't you? Me!"
"I can't quit," George said in a rare moment where he let his guard down. "You, my doctor, momma all say I need to, but I can't."
I lit up a cigar and then handed one to George. He lit it up with his Zippo and took a puff.
"Just long as you are okay then I am okay," I told him. We shook hands and George gave me a hug. Soon, he was driving off with his next patron after they had finished their shopping.
Clara was no where to be seen today. I had hoped she was sleeping off yesterday's drunk. She was the proverbial wild woman yesterday flirting with disaster. I was amazed she didn't get arrested, but Big S said he had seen her earlier in the day looking worse for wear. The most desperate time you want a drink is the next day when the hangover hits. It is the only thing that will chase away what ails you and the hang over blues. I could imagine Clara sitting up against the back wall of some building nursing a bottle of wine to get through yesterday's ordeal and the next day's revenge a bender can bring.
Late in the evening found me at Ferret's campsite. He was cooking a strange concoction of canned beef stew and cream of mushroom soup over an open fire. "Come on and try some," Ferret urged me. "It tastes like beef stroganoff." My normally iron clad stomach just couldn't handle one of Ferret's homeless culinary masterpieces. "It smells like dog food!" I decreed, turning up my nose.
"Have just one beer," Ferret pleaded with me as we sat and the sun set to the west.
I cracked open one and drank it. I drink so little these days and that one ice beer went straight to my head.
"Feels good, doesn't it?" Ferret asked, grinning broadly.
"It feels wonderful," I replied, salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs.
I have always been terrible when dealing with peer pressure and succumbed. The next thing I knew, I had drank two more. I am a person riddled with anxiety both social and perceived and the anxiety melted away. Ferret and me both began to laugh and cajole each other about almost everything as we smoked one cigarette after the other.
"Camp out with me tomorrow night," Ferret said. "We will have a homeless homecoming."
It was tempting. I told him I would pack my big Kelty backpack and that I was going to do the cooking. Hoboes over a campfire sounded nice to me.
"Heineken?" I asked him as I got up to leave before it got too dark.
"Heineken, indeed," Ferret said as he grinned and then crawled into his tent to sleep off the twenty beers he had drank today.
As I arrived home, I thought about how insidious alcoholism can be. Cunning, baffling, powerful they always say of it in Alcoholics Anonymous. I toy with the idea that I can just drink a few beers and then quit. My bravado was bolstered by today's experience when I only drank three beers and stopped -- a wild and weird anomaly in my world. I am still debating on going camping with Ferret tomorrow night. It sure would be nice to let my hair down, though. Good night.