Growing up it seemed to be the only thing the bands I loved used to sustain themselves. Fuck food, water, falafel or Jesus biscuits. These bastards were all about their Jack. I was always impressed by this but as an 8th grader I knew it was too much for my mortal soul. I avoided booze at all costs; it terrified me the same way drugs did. The after school special and PSA culture of the time wreaked havoc on my young mind and filled me with a life time of unjustified fears; to this day I cannot enjoy a nice jazz cigarette without flying off the handle in a fit of paranoia that can only be remedied by cleaning my apartment.
It isn't like alcohol was never around. When I look back I realize I grew up with kind of a fast bunch. We weren't Over The Edge fast but for middle school students we were pretty advanced. By the time we got into high school most of my friends had been drunk at least once. Some had lost their virginity and others, me included had been far more sexually active than a 12 or 13 year old ever should. It is kind of creepy to think back on, a bunch of semi intoxicated eighth graders aggressively making out around someone's pool amidst the debris of discarded Bartels and James bottles and Milwaukee's Best cans. I blame the conservative mindset of Reagan era America, only because it's easier than accepting that this behavior is part of growing up. It's the punk rock wannabe in me.
Little did I know that this lifestyle of debaucheries would quickly come to an end in the fall of 1986 which, as previously documented is when the ladies we loved would leave us for older gents with cars and easy access to booze. Being a freshman at Hendrick Hudson High School in the 1980s sucked. The mix of white trash culture, jocks, heavy metal's hyper aggression and developmental differences from the time a boy is 13 till the time he is 18 is a drastic one and one we were on the losing end of.
Luckily, though I was a slight fellow, I had a quick wit and with a bit of an anti-authority streak. For some reason this kept me in good standing with the older kids, it did little for my grades, future prospects and ability to avoid getting my ass kicked a few times as I got older, but as a freshman it kept me on the radar but off the shit list. Regardless of this we were still the losers of the school. The drastic social flip definitely leaves one feeling disoriented and lonely, looking back now it is a foolish concern, especially since I rarely saw any of these people after high school. Outside of a few classmates whose company I enjoy, the rest of these people might as well have never existed.
It was during this period that I decided to throw caution to the wind and get enjoy the nectar of my gods. Gods like Nikki Sixx, David Lee Roth, Joe Elliot, and Metallica or as they were affectionately known by their fans - Alcohollica. It was time for me to grow from boy to man and who better to lead me on that journey than a collection of emotionally stunted a-holes who are so self-absorbed that they decided to document their therapy sessions and air out their hurts for the world to see.
I vividly remember listening to Kill 'em All on my giant, yellow, water-proof SONY Sport walkman after a freshman football game where my only action was running a down and out on a two point conversion, being wide open and the QB throwing to another, more covered teammate because, and if I am being honest he had a better chance to actually catch it than I did. It was here looking down at my spotless uniform that I decided that it was time for me to reclaim my manhood. And sure reclaim and manhood are a bit of a stretch but that was damn sure how it felt.
So that night I stayed over at my friend Steve's house and we plotted a plan to get drunk with some help from his parents more than ample liquor shelf. I chose Steve because he had been my best friend since we were 3 and he had experience in these matters. That summer, at a party at a classmate's house he got so drunk that we had to make up stories about him being in the bathroom every time his parents called looking for him, which was about every 20 minutes past his curfew. I ended up riding bikes back to his house with him and telling him that he didn't seem drunk at all, then again my idea of a drunk was Dudley Moore in Arthur, he definitely wasn't behaving like that dick-bag.
Unfortunately his parents saw right through it, and his mother interrogated me while his father took Steve upstairs and from the sounds I was hearing through the ceiling he was body slamming him repeatedly, but the next morning he had no bruises so I guess the body slams were imagined by my fear riddled mind. I held my ground and didn't rat him out, so I felt that he owed me one, and that one was getting me drunk.
We waited until his parents went to bed around midnight and then waited an hour after that. We grabbed two stadium cups, if you aren't familiar with a stadium cup they are the giant souvenir cups one gets from a sporting event when you spend $8 on a 72 ounce soda that is also flat. We decided the best way to approach this was just to mix a bit of everything in the liquor cabinet into one giant whiskey-vodka-bourbon-gin-tequila cocktail. It was as flammable as it was disgusting. Using my superior 13 year old logic I decide that the band-aid approach was the way to go. Instead of slowly sipping this noxious concoction I decided to slam it back in two big gulps.
It only took a few minutes for the effects to be felt as the booze attached itself to my bloodstream. It was here that I got the first taste of a heaven I would eventually come to know quite well. Unfortunately the snake quickly turned as a cold and clammy sweat started to cover my flesh. At the same time my mouth started to produce excess saliva from glands behind my tongue and the fear started to creep in as the room tilted off its axis. I made a mad dash to the bathroom and proceeded to deposit everything into the toilet. After about an hour of puking my memory of the night fades, I woke up the next morning feeling every bit of the hell I created. I managed to eat a bit of a bagel before my parents came to pick me up. Acutely aware that something was not right my mom asked me if I was ok. I somehow convinced her that I had eaten something that wasn't agreeing with me.
We got home and I tried to sleep it off but rest would not come as I continued to throw up for the next three days, which in a strange way worked in my favor. My parents were sure it was some sort of a bug that hit me. Plus I got out of being a tackling dummy at football practice. I avoided devil alcohol for the next year and a half before eventually succumbing to its glorious wrath in the form of cheap and warm Meister Brau. I guess the lesson learned is that it while it's important to have heroes, it is even more important that your heroes aren't sociopaths with the self awareness of a crack baby.