Ethanol in the Fuel Tank
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Introduction to Fuel Additives
First, I want to say that I’m not proud of what happened, but it is reality, it all occurred. And I promised you honesty so here it is, bared to the bones. Life can lead you onto some really strange roads. I want to emphasize that I do not want to preach to you—Thou Shall Not; I just want you to know if you’re on the same road there are people more than willing to help you. Contact your school counselor or check out the ads in the newspapers or Yellow Pages.
The first time I got drunk was the fall of 1978, my sophomore year of high school. At the time I was an alcohol virgin, I had little drinking experience to draw back on. In the fall of this year, that is 36 years ago. I was a member of the High School Pep Band—attending a football game—and had returned my tuba to the band room. I noticed that some of the cheerleaders had red noses, rosy cheeks, and you could tell by the fumes they were breathing out that something wasn’t kosher. They were also sipping from their lip-gloss bottles; somehow, they had managed to fill them with whiskey.
At half time, the cheerleaders all disappeared, and my friend Stanley S. said, “C’mon, Don, it’s party time!”
We drove over to Twin Lakes, really not much more than two puddles in a farmer’s field outside a nearby town. Big Mike, a large-sized man who had graduated two years previously came over not long after we’d arrived. Big Mike had a police scanner walkie-talkie hung on his belt and was nephew of one of the town cops so we knew we were safe as kittens to get hammered.
He was drinking a can of Mountain Dew. He poured half of its contents onto the ground, pulled a pint of blackberry brandy out of his pocket, and poured it into the Mountain Dew can, filling it three-quarters full. Shaking it a little to mix the two elements, he handed it to me. It was one noxious cocktail, but after I started drinking it, in a little while I didn’t notice the taste anymore. Everything became extremely funny and people and the surroundings began to move in slow motion, then spin—this was my first experience with chemical-induced escapism and it was not all pleasant—in time I grew to like the feeling of not being in control. Both Stanley and Big Mike are now deceased—Big Mike from excess weight, Stanley S., from unknown causes. In respect, both will remain nameless as far as their actual names; people who went to Saint Croix Central know full well the identities of Stan and Mike, how the former had been labeled an agitator and troublemaker, then made good, serving Uncle Sam overseas.
Highway to Hell
The next morning I discovered that there was a price to be paid. I never had a hangover in my life, but it felt as if a giant hand had taken hold of my legs and another my chest and proceeded to wring me out like a washrag. After the initial vomiting, the dry heaves commenced. My abdominal muscles were sore to the touch. This was the first time I prayed to the porcelain goddess, head hung over the toilet bowl, puking, or at least attempting to. Needless to say my parents were not pleased. I thought to myself, only an idiot would make a repeat of last night and this morning.
The next football game was in a town far to the south of us, it was a repeat performance—this continued during the football season, town after town, game after game. This was over 30 years ago and laws pertaining to liquor were loosely enforced—sorry to tell law enforcement that, but it was all too true, I’d say one third of my high school class, maybe as high as 80%, had a serious problem with alcohol.
Wisconsin’s baseball team is the Milwaukee Brewers—need I say more. If I had a beer, the old inhibition switch was turned to the off position. So yes, I had a serious problem with alcohol—time has magnified, rather than diminished that in my memory.
In the Good Old Summertime
I’d graduated high school at this point in time, and I was lying back in my room cutting some Zs. A man named Pete—from my class drove his Dad’s convertible, and pulled up in front of our house on the eastern edge of town. He knocked on the front door, it was a weekend, Good Neighbor Days in the nearby town and the result is that we got hammered, plastered, legally stoned, green to the gills, stewed, or any of the many other idioms for intoxicated. As usual, I paid the price on Sunday morning, Church for me that day was praying to the porcelain goddess—the toilet.
A Party Town
I went to college—the University of Wisconsin, River Falls—for one year. River fall was known as a party town with eight bars—I knew the inside of several of them. When you have classes at 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and you sleep in until 1:00 p.m. it does not do wonders for the grade-point-average. That year I blacked out two times, with the amount of prescription medication I was taking in combination with the amount of alcohol, it is a wonder I didn’t end up on a slab in the morgue. My church’s former Pastor, Carol Ann, said she was sure God had another purpose for me.
We moved to just outside of Hudson, Wisconsin, way out in the middle of nowhere, on Highway 35, 6 miles from Hudson, 8 miles from River Falls—I basically dried out. After three years of sobriety, in 1986, I began attending classes at WITI “witty” (Wisconsin Indianhead Technical Institute)—now known as WITC (Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College) for a course called—Microcomputer Accounting Assistant. It promised to be a bad year, one in which I staggered down a twisting turning road that had a faded sign that read—Alcoholic Stupor at the roadside
A group of us went to a dinner/play at the Old Log Theater. I believe the play was called “Lights Out.” At intermission, I wandered out to the bar, some instinct told me no, damned if I was going to lose control again, damned if I was going home unable to remember what I’d seen. Out of instinct I’d ordered a Light Miller Beer, I took one swallow and the taste sickened me and I knew that God had given me another purpose to live for. So, I won’t preach to you.
That was in 1986, it will be 29 years since I drank any alcohol in the Fall of this year, 2015. Oh, there has been the odd shot glass of communion wine, but now at Zion Lutheran—the church I belong to they have grape juice as well as the wine. My mother’s side gets together on Christmas Eve and one Christmas Eve Mom thought I might like to join in and have a glass of wine with everyone else, it tasted like vinegar and I wanted to puke. My body rejected it like I was allergic to it, and I was glad. Christmas Eve, a couple years ago, we had a bottle of sparkling alcohol-free grape juice, and that’s as close as I’ll ever come to wine again. I have had Sharps and O’Douls non-alcohol beer that is not exactly my idea of good tasting; still, it’s better than the alternative.