Unbalanced feet threaten to buckle and blow my cover. The harsh ringing is getting louder now, threatening to split my head open. If it’s even in my head, where the hell is it even coming from. Just a pause, that’s all I’m asking. Where’s that damn button-why is it that the one time you need it to pick up on its own, this time it takes its time. Just a quick ‘try again later,’ an hour or so, hell I’ll take a quick 10 at this point. oh no, there goes one and now the other. Ahhh shit not again, God that’ll bruise tomorrow for sure, maybe I’ll have enough to start up a sideshow-note to self: count bruises in the morning if there is a morning or whenever I remember…[hmpppphhh]…beat…beat…one more…okay good/still/quiet/dial tone so they didn’t hear. Fate let’s make a pact here and now-if you disconnect right now, I’ll put you on speed-dial for next time, #1, promise. [pause, breath, heavy, rigid, thud, throb, silence, distant fridge vibrations].
Damn, not for nothing but this floor could surely use a mopping. Wait, when’d I get this here…elbows hurt like hell so I’d remember an elbow…but I’m drawing a blank. I look…I see…I count; one, two, three, left knee, right knee, might as well be all-of-me. Note to self: count bruises in the morning if there is a morning or whenever I remember. Oh shit, footsteps??!! Oh no, oh no, do you hear that? Hey wise-guy I thought we worked a deal, but now I’m in the body bag! So this is how it happens, this is how you planned it all along? I should’ve known that Fate is stubborn, should’ve known It only stands for the Express lane, I’m in standing in line with 13 items like the menace that I am-so Fate calls my bluff out loud for all to hear. And then there’s 2% all over the belt, white frothy walls coating the sea of black but it keeps rolling on and until the last bubble’s tumbled away. But it’s okay, It pats your shoulder, “should’ve bought skim anyway.”
Are those footsteps I can’t tell it’s too loud in here. Even though I’m the only one in here. Shit, it’s coming for real this time, it’s definitely coming for real. I can’t hold it, it’s coming on fast just like they said it would. Why didn’t I count, why didn’t I keep track-STUPID STUPID STUPID! Oh no, it’s here…//’’\\||@4^%**!!! …And it’s gone, over and done, until next time, God I hope there’s never a next time. Now this floor really needs a mopping. Oh, hi Mom…yeah I think it’s the stomach flu too…I’m so sorry about the mess Mom…a bucket, yes, a yes on the bucket. Wait did Dad wake up too?! SHIT SHIT SHIT NOT DADDY! OMIGOD IS THAT HIM COMING UP THE STAIRS??!! Hi Daddy…yeah the stomach flu. Oh no, not that look, he knows, he knows the truth. He’s on my level now, quick close your eyes and pray into the hardwood for salvation. He doesn’t believe me, he knows the truth. Questions, he’s asking questions. Questions I can’t answer and neither can the floor. Oh no it’s back, louder this time. Make it stop, someone make it stop, I’d give anything to make it all just stop now and forever. It’s coming up again, the fire is rising through the floorboards, it’s tearing through my chest now, it’s coming, it’s coming…it’s here. It won’t take no for an answer no matter how many times the machine answers. This call is for me to answer and me alone, and I’ll have my penance for my teenage sin right here right now between the floorboards of Fate and the wrath of a Father who’s just been viciously dosed by Reality and his little girl who’s not-so-little anymore.
I don’t advocate experimenting with alcohol at any age, much less experimenting while underage. However reflecting on my own ‘underage’ encounters with alcohol, I refuse to ignore or deny the fact that these experiences had a hand in shaping the person I am today. How pretentious it would be of the person I am today to think that untagging some photos and dumping some yearbooks could somehow trample Time and assume that Reality will maintain for the sake of maintenance.
What alcohol did for me, ages 15-20: sustained friendless friendships, saved face, face-plants, nickname ‘The Champ,’ hip-hop, sustained fading friend-friendships, reality’s no fun anyway, apathy toward short stories, poetry is pretty cool, weight loss, weight gain, gained renown, ‘Life of the Party’ in the senior yearbook, lost friendless friendships, lost friend-friendships, lost faith of the parents, lost faith in the parents, lost trust of the parents, lost trust in the parents, basically for a time lost the parents-but that was okay because they were hypocritical social-not-problem drinkers and shame on you society you’re grounded for the entire-weekend, gained an identity, lost an identity,
forgot various other identities, scared bad guys away, scared good guys away, created memories I forgot, it was Fate’s fault that Dad kept his bar out in the open living room/how could I resist the coconut breeze~caramel good morning~wisdom of the wyrm~attraction laws of the cosmos,
created memories I couldn’t forget if I tried, created memories I can’t wait to tell my younger brother when he’s 18, illuminated a way to connect with those I had no natural connection with, you actually can nail a coffin with a screwdriver, fear rendered obsolete paving the way for unadulterated self-confidence in the raw, tolerance as a source of pride demanding reverence, made my already-loud-voice-even-louder, created videos I know and don’t know about, snapped magazine-worthy photos I don’t remember snapping, bruises, more bruises, sprained ankle, chipped tooth, punched in the nose for no reason, dry heaving on the football field, spiked Dunkin’ Coolatas in A-Block, comfort,
angst, exactly what I was looking for, the green light, a dusty scrapbook, reality is a social construct, perception is socially constructed, everything is socially constructed, social constructs are malleable and change with the times, reality is only temporary so there’s that, a dose of reality, my own reality, reality’s no fun anyway, broken phones, a dopplegangar, a usurper, medium of communicating whatever-the-hell I wanted, apathy, triumph, validation, Holden Caulfield syndrome, the Mr. Hyde to my Dr. Jekyll…Fate’s inevitable therefore caution’s for suckers because we’re already-already dead.
alcohol forged memories that are a part of me, because memories are past experiences of past moments-in-time in which a choice of mine resulted in said experience which is now part of my memory of me. The case of identity haunts basement cold-case files and Fox Mulder and every being ever and yet grappling with said fabled identity is a popular pastime for many-dare I say most. Identity is an omniscient, intangible force beyond all known forces and it permeates throughout every facet of the human condition; pages, blogs, tofu, broadcasts, sonnets, lipstick, lyrics, stationary, rhythm, bumper stickers, links, screen savers, ‘Likes,’ verse, t-shirts, wallpaper, e-books, booze, the why-to-the-how of each and every daily lifestyle choice that is made, they drive/they mock/they laugh/they ridicule/they smile/they say nothing at all/they say it all/they nod/they converse this/converse that/they go to the mall/they treadmill/they walk/they talk/they breathe/they check the mirror for spots waiting to be wiped clean. The truth is that identity is both arbitrary and anything but. Identities vary from human to human, being to being. Identities are shaped-at the very least heavily influenced-by past experiences, present experiences, and experiences yet-to-come so there’s hope for you Scrooge’s. Identity is hence no independent entity, and is interconnected in ways with answers far beyond our ultimate-answering-capacity. Identity is perhaps the one true individual experience to be experienced. Though not all experiences are unique, individuals will encounter each life experiences in a unique manner and thus experience every experience in a unique manner. Chalk it up to the case of identity; the ways in which one encounters and reacts to an experience depends on the aggregated identity of the individual which depends on all the past experiences (or lack thereof) in the one’s repertoire up to that crucial moment of current experience-to-be-had. That said, my past experiences with alcohol are not unique by any means, however I am me because of these experiences and I know what is not me because of them. But I don’t yet know what I can also be. Because if you did know, then what’s the point?
The floor is no more-it’s everywhere. No amount of Pine-Sol will ever scrub it clean. So I have to come clean now because this floor isn’t going to clean itself. Yes Dad, I’ve been drinking tonight. I don’t remember. Dark rum, Myer’s I think. A glass about half-full. And then another one after that and one or two shots of Absolut. From your bar cabinet in the living room. Like an hour ago. No I was alone when I did it. I don’t know, because I wanted to? I wanted to experience something, I don’t know. Yes, I know I’m stupid, I know I’m an idiot. No I didn’t know that. No, No, No No No NO NO NO NO PLEASE DON’T CALL! I’M OKAY I PROMISE I DIDN’T HAVE THAT MUCH DON’T CALL JUST DON’T CALL PLEASE I’LL MAKE MYSELF THROW UP MORE OKAY JUST DON’T CALL DON’T PLEASE! Thank you Mom. See the water will help Dad. The water will wash it all clean. Mom let me help you with that…are you sure? I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ll never do it again, I swear. I promise I’ll never do it again, I swear on my soul I won’t. Yes I want the bucket back please. I swear I’ll never do it again Mom and Dad. I’m sorry. I never want to experience that ever again. It isn’t worth it. It isn’t worth it.
~Two Years Later~
Come on, don’t you remember what it was like growing up, being a goddam TEENAGER thrown into a fiery pit of hell forgotten by God! And by the way that’s part of a quote by Mickey Knox from Natural Born Killers in case you were wondering. Bet you’ve never even seen it! You don’t know what it’s like, YOU DON’T KNOW ME. You just pretend you do. So you can sleep at night. I hope you pillow’s hard and your back sinks through the floor. You guys should’ve seen this coming, that’s what Amber said, she says she’s seen Dad drunk more times than she’s even seen her father have a drink! If you cared at all about my opinion and my perspective and gave a damn about empathy you’d find tons of research with a quick Google search proving that when a child is exposed to alcohol in their home environment during the formative years then the child will hold a favorable view of alcohol and want to experiment with it as an adolescent–BECAUSE THEY’VE SEEN THEIR PARENTS DRINKING AND LAUGHING AND DRINKING WITH THEIR FRIENDS AT HOUSE PARTIES AND BARS AND RESTAURANTS AND BEACHES AND APARTMENT-COMPLEX-POOL-HOUSES EVER SINCE THEY WERE FOUR YEARS OLD!!! This isn’t the 50’s anymore and you can’t smoke in restaurants and you can’t drink scotch around your kids and teach them to fetch the perfect neat pour and science means something nowadays and expect your kids to NOT be curious and because clearly kids know right and wrong and because clearly kids understand right from wrong.!? How can you blame it all on me, YOU ARE THE PARENTS! YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO RAISE ME NOT ME YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO TEACH ME RIGHT AND WRONG AND RIGHT FROM WRONG YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HOLD MY HAND WHEN I CROSS THE STREET YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO TELL ME THE TRUTH ABOUT THE STORK YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE EXAMPLE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE AND YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO MAKE SURE I KNEW ALL THESE THINGS BEFORE UNLEASHING ME INTO THE WORLD BEFORE ADULTHOOD EXPECTING ME TO REMEMBER THAT I HAVE WINGS AND WINGS ARE FOR FLYING NOT FALLING AND DYING. Mmmm hmmm, yep, whatever. You’re right, you guys are right. Yep, I’m terrible, I’m an alcoholic tyrant. I’m a disillusioned disenfranchised privileged entitled youth who needs a hard dose of reality. Maybe you guys should ship me off to military school or boarding school or Rwanda to restore my sense of shame and humanity and humility. I’m not trying to be fresh I was trying to give you ideas I really think they’re all good ones. I’m not being sarcastic! I’m not being sarcastic! Okay okay okay I’M SORRY OKAY. REALLY I’M SORRY. IT’LL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. I’LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN. I’M AN AWFUL HUMAN BEING, AN AWFUL DAUGHTER, SPOILED SELFISH ENTITLED HEARTLESS SARCASTIC LITTLE SUBURBAN SHITHEAD. I don’t deserve anything, I don’t deserve parents who love me and care about me. I deserve to be whipped for my sins, I deserve to be punished in the seven levels of hell. No that’s not sarcasm that’s the truth! I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I’m sorry. Why don’t I say it some more for the hell of it, maybe the more times she says it the more she’ll feel bad and the more she’ll realize that we’re right and she’s wrong. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Okay I’ll go to my room now. Sorry I wasted your time and made you guys upset. I’m sorry, I’ll start changing my behavior, I’ll change it right now I promise. Yes I will call later I promise. I promise I will. I’m sorry. I promise.
Yes, in fact I do. Please stop cussing we didn’t raise you like that you know better. Yes I have seen it and it isn’t something you should be watching. I do know you, I know the real you hiding behind these walls you’ve built. Don’t tell me what I should-have-seen-or-not young lady that’s outright disrespect your spewing. No that isn’t true, nope, not at all. Plenty of parents do the same thing and always have and their kids turned out okay. They weren’t you. They didn’t go off the deep-end for their first dive. Shit yep all that was a mistake-but we were young, in our early 20’s, didn’t know any better then. But we do now. My father drank around us all the time and it was just the adult norm never just the norm like you’re saying. You truly haven’t a clue. Exactly we are the parents, not you, our house, our rules, and we will not tolerate this behavior from you. I don’t care, you’re old enough to know right from wrong, you know drinking at your age is against the law, you know from school that it’s bad for you especially now as a teenager. You have no case here I’m not sure why you’re still trying and still talking. Our parents didn’t teach us any of those things we had to learn on our own, it was survival back then, but we made it out. You have no idea what it’s like to grow up in poverty. You don’t know want, you don’t understand need. We’ve handed you everything, everything we never had, everything we ever wanted growing up, you’re blessed and lucky and you don’t even know it and that is disgusting and it isn’t fair to us. Stop the drama Alise, stop the tears we know you’re faking it. It’s not working this time. You WILL get your head out of your ass Alise Eve, and you’ll do it fast and learn to appreciate EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOU AND THE WONDERFUL LIFE OF OPPORTUNITY YOU HAVE THAT NEITHER OF US COULD’VE EVER EVEN HOPED FOR AS KIDS.
Don’t you roll your eyes-get back here YOU HAVEN’T BEEN DISMISSED YET. DON’T WALK AWAY WHILE WE’RE TALKING TO YOU, UNDERSTAND? CUT SARCASM AND STUFF YOUR SORRY’S IN A SACK, little shit. We don’t deserve insolent remarks like that, next time sarcasm comes out of your mouth then you’ll REALLY be SORRY, understand?! Sorry isn’t going to cut it, not this time. SHOW that you’re really SORRY through ACTION, not WORDS. Words are nothing. Did you forget to take your meds this morning? Give me the cellphone and go to your room we don’t want to look at (face our failure-as-parents) you right now. And you need to call Dr. Andrea later and schedule an appointment- you should talk to someone and don’t look at me like that. Get out of my sight. Christ, what the hell are we going to do?
*No control-out of control, lost control, need control back–get it back, be the parent, be in CONTROL*