Drinking: The Early Years


I don’t have a drinking problem.  I can drink; no problem.  If there is a problem it may be the length of time I’ve been drinking.  Of course I don’t understand how all that experience can be a bad thing.  After all, the longer you do something you usually get better at it.

I know exactly how old I was when I had my first drink, eleven.  It was a Budweiser, it was cold and it was good.  You may be asking how an eleven year old kid can get his hands on a cold beer. I’d say it’s none of your business, but as I am writing my therapy sessions down instead of paying a shrink, I’ll tell you.

My father was in the Air Force, making me a military brat and in many ways, I believe that is why I am so fucked up, but I digress.  My parents hosted numerous parties with the guys from his work and their wives coming to our house.  This was an opportunity to build camaraderie and drink, mostly drink.   I learned how to make nachos and other party type foods, as often the parties were unannounced and I would pitch to get things ready.

The parties were nothing new.  I can remember a party in the Philippines when I was seven; I watched my father tell a guy that the word nigger was unacceptable and not to be used in our house, and he was free to leave at any time if there was a problem. This was way back in 1966. There were parties in Nebraska, and finally in England.

It was in England that the party experience began to change for me.  After helping and hanging out at several parties, I was beginning to fit in with the guys.  I was funny and participated in some of the party hi-jinx.  Everyone was great and I wasn’t treated like a kid.  I even began to dj some of the parties, playing many of my own albums, yes those big circular black things with a hole in the middle.

The drinking started slowly and innocently.  A sip here, a sip there, maybe a little poured in a shot glass.  It was all great fun. Then one day someone opened a can and said, “That’s yours kid, don’t let nobody know.” I didn’t.  I was so good at not letting anyone know I often had several beers over the course of an evening from many different sources.  It was all harmless; I wasn’t going anywhere.

In a way this training was of great benefit to my school reputation.  Unlike when we would sit around and lie about our dealings with girls, I was telling the truth and that confidence came though and I was never challenged.  The other advantage was when my friends would steal bottles of wine, I could out drink everyone.  My friends and I would often go to pubs, find an old drunk in need of a drink and give him money to buy us all beers, with fish and chips, of course.  Once we reached 16, we didn’t need the help and could drink more with the savings.

We didn’t drink to fit in; we drank because it made us cool.  I drank because I was better at it than anyone my age, and that made me a leader.