And now for something a bit different

I once had a friend – a fellow Marine. I served with this man for a couple of years when I was stationed in Kansas City in the early 1980’s. When we first met, I knew by the end of that day that here was a guy who would be the best friend I ever had. And it was exactly that way with Bob: we were friends of the closest sort.

When my first son was born, my wife who was a Catholic at the time insisted that we have godparents for him. Without a moment’s hesitation I chose Bob to be that godfather, and just as quickly he accepted. I kept no secrets from Bob, and he kept none from me.

We stayed in close contact down through the years after we both left the Marines, he in Ohio and I in Florida – distance meant nothing. We spoke on the phone with great regularity.

There came a time when Bob lost his job and his marriage hit a rocky stretch, and I suggested he come to Florida to get his head together. So he came down, and he spent several months living at my house and working at various jobs to make ends meet. But he was miserable the whole time being away from his wife and kids. So when he got drunk and made an ass of himself in my house – in front of my kids, in front of my wife, and I told him in no uncertain terms to extricate his cranium from his posterior, it was just the impetus he needed to go back home and straighten things out with the Mrs.

Without the slightest shame or discomfort I can honestly say that I loved Bob like a brother. In all my time on this earth, I do not expect to ever have another friend of the same caliber as Bob Winston. So when he died on New Year’s day 2002, it about tore me apart. You see… Bob was an alcoholic, and everyone around him knew it. He had no control over himself when it came to booze, and ultimately it killed him and orphaned his three boys.

Now almost nine years later I have another good friend who reminds me a lot of Bob. He apparently can’t control himself when he drinks. He repeatedly embarrasses himself when he’s drinking, and the next day he’s busy apologizing to everyone he offended. My contemporary friend (who will remain nameless) is a smart, honest, motivated individual whom I would be proud to call my friend under all circumstances but one: when he’s drunk. This quiet, intellectual, insightful man, when he's in his cups, does a Dr Jekyl, Mr Hyde personality change into someone I don’t even recognize. In fact the diametrically opposite natures of the sober man and the drunk are so counter to one another that it’s positively shocking!

I did everything in my power to make Bob see what he was doing to himself and to those around him that loved him. And while sober he would agree and promise and even swear to make a change in his life. But it was beyond his ability to do so. I am afraid that my new friend may be just as unable to get it under control as was Bob. And while this new friend has no children to orphan like Bob did, it still saddens me to see someone with so much promise and so much potential to throw it all away in exchange for wallowing in the vomit of an inebriated existence.

I hope my friend reads this, and instead of getting angry and defensive, realizes that only folks that really care would take the time, and risk the reaction, in order to say the hard things that need to be said: Pull your head out of your ass, and pull your lips away from the bottle, and stick around for many future years among friends that care about you!


Anonymous said...

Lost a brother last year to that crap! One of the smartest men i've ever known. And for the life of me i cannot figure why it seems the best & brightest drink themselves to death.
The wife & i gave it up 15 yrs.ago or better now.
All i can tell your friend is, Its never too late to stop.
Your a marvel of god's engineering, There is a purpose for your life.
Jesus already paid the price,so, Quit flogging yourself.
Take as small a steps as you need to, but start taking them.
There is life AFTER alcohol, alot better life.One where you can actually solve problems.
Start on your knees, and work up.
Cause we all love you......Hope it helps....mthead

Concerned American said...


This weekend, God willing, I can pick up a sobriety coin from an unnamed 12-step group with the Roman numeral XXIX on it.

From that perspective, three observations:

1) AlAnon 101: You didn't cause it, you can't cure it, and you sure as sh*t can't control your buddy's boozing. What you can do is draw a hard line, explain it to him, then execute. Next move is on him, and just know that he will likely (>90%) not make it. Got rid of a prescription-drug-addled fiancee last summer that way. It's hard, but the alternative is worse.

2) One of my closest friends told me years later that he felt guilty as he didn't try to help when I was in the bottle of scotch. I told him not to be silly, as there was literally nothing he could have done to help me. I tell you now the same thing.

3) The Serenity Prayer works for the people shattered by others' boozing, as well as us boozers:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Learn it, use it, live it.

Be hard.

Don't put up with any crap.

It's the only way to help your bro.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head.
Hopefully our bro. will see that we have to be hard because we care.
Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we'll help him through.


Chief Instructor said...

Hang tough, buddy. You're doing a good thing here.