26 December 2005

The Entertainment Value of Beer

It was when 1975 turned into 1976 that I took my turn finding out just how much entertainment value alcohol had. It was not like I had never drank before - I was 15 after all. In Newfoundland earlier in '75 I had a few swigs of warm Screech from a bottle one of my young uncles kept in a pocket. That summer I had a few Black Horse beers too. They disturbed my balance enough to raise an eyebrow of my mom's and inspire a near lecture on the dangers of alcohol before a relative distracted her by asking her onto the grass dancefloor. But I did not get pissed.

On New Year's Eve '75 I intended to discover what humanity's ages old attraction to getting hammered was. I was a motherfucking man after all. I had handled Newfoundland beer and Screech out of the bottle - I could handle anything. I could drink white lightning. I walked down to my friend Cal's place through the twisted streets of my neighbourhood. My friends were showing up when I got down there. A couple of them were already into the beer an older brother had bought for us. Some Black Horse would have been good. We had Black Label instead.

Black Label was what my dad drank. He had been splitting a bottle between my brother and I as a reward for getting chores like lawn cutting and wood cutting done. The two of us had a relationship with a shared bottle of beer like that between a hungry dog and its treats. We would drink those cold half beers real slow at the end of hot afternoons of hard labour. Not slow enough to allow them to warm up much though.

"Have a fuckin' beer!" The party was on and I capped one. In the kitchen Jimi had a big glass in front of him of Orange Crush and vodka. It sat there bubbling deliciously. I asked him, "How can you drink that shit?"

"Fuck you. How can you drink that piss? Only fags drink Black Label."

We drank our booze. On Cal's dad's stereo Nazareth, Kiss, Status Quo, Slade, BTO and our other teenage favourites spun on the turntable. Cal had been pinching small amounts of weed from his dad's stash for several weeks so we passed a few doobies around. Laugh? I still hurt when I think about it. None of us had girlfriends to share in the fun yet but we knew if we drank enough booze and smoked enough weed we would have all the girls we wanted one day.

I drank 5 beers that night and staggered home after we had shot off a few roman candles at midnight. My curfew had been extended to 1:00. I felt good as I staggered home in the warmth of alcohol and Christmas lights. I was in love with beer and I could see the shiny brown stubby fuckers lined up to eternity.

When I got home the dizziness hit me and I barfed my guts into the basement john and passed out beside it. Eventually my mom came downstairs and gave that lecture she meant to give me about the great demon alcohol.

When I saw Jimi the next day and told him what happened he said. "I told you, man. Next time we party try some vodka and Orange Crush." For a long time after that when dad gave me and my brother Axel a half beer I had to pour my half into Axel's glass when dad was not looking or else I would have barfed all over the place. Luckily, Sliverville was swimming in weed and every other drug you ever heard of. All was not lost.

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