Drunken Peeing / "Hello Officer"
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Writing about alcoholism and recovery on Medium has caused me to look back in time a lot more than I normally do.
One result of tha is to remind me of some of the worst, most stupid, and most dangerous moments that I endured.
Another result is that it is keeping it green for me. These memories are reminders that I never want to live that way again.
Here’s one of them:
I was home for summer from college, and living with my parents.
This was the summer of quaaludes and wine.
The quaaludes may have been of good quality, but the wine certainly wasn’t. I was drinking good ol’ Gallo or Carlo Rossi wine in gallon bottles with metal screwtop caps.
One of my biggest hobbies that summer was to drive around aimlessly, with a friend or alone, it didn’t much matter to me. I’d have the stereo blasting, a bucket of ice, a big plastic cup, and cheap wine. I’d put ice into the cup whether I was drinking red or white. It made no difference.
One or two quaaludes, a lot of weed, and an entire gallon of wine were a regular intake, nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, I’d smoke a couple of packs of cigarettes daily as well.
One of my friends had gotten an apartment, and we spent a lot of time there. Every night was a party.
I lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. This area had extreme wealth and down-trodden working-class neighborhoods in close proximity, and everything in between.
One night, I was driving in a well-to-do area near a country club. I was wasted, having drank most of a gallon of wine, and high on weed and quaaludes.
At a quiet 3-way intersection with stop signs and a bright overhead light, I stopped.
With the car door hanging open, loud music playing, bottle of wine on the passenger seat and a bucket of ice on the floor, I stood a few feet away from the car and took a piss.
I had my cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other, happily singing along and pissing away.
It wasn’t the most opportune time to have a cop car pull up behind, but that’s what happened.
My memory is that the cop was more shocked and disgusted than angry.
Who knows, he may have cracked up before getting out of the car.
I was allowed to finish peeing and then made to sit in my car. I gave him my license, which at that time was made of cardboard. It had no photo on it but did include my address, which was a couple of miles away.
After checking that I had no warrants out for me, the cop came back to my car.
He said - “I’m going to let you go, but you have to straight home. Since it’s so close, I know you can make it. But don’t let me see you again tonight.”
That’s the way it was back in the day.
I drove to my street and up past my house to the top of the hill where I sat in a cul-de-sac so I could finish off the wine and smoke another joint.
I thought it was “so wild” that that happened. I was relieved, of course, but the enormity of it didn’t sink in. It seemed to be a routine, boys will be boys kind of reaction by the cop.
I thought to myself I really ought to be more careful so I don’t get into trouble.
But that thought didn’t amend my behavior in the slightest. Except for the peeing in the middle of an intersection thing. I’d at least pull over and take a few steps off the road.
Of course, this story is not without some humor to it. The pure outrageousness of it, and the picture of young, strapping, wasted, peeing, drinking, car-door-hanging-open me in the intersection is in some ways a hilarious vision.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, had recently formed, but it had yet to have a big impact on attitudes toward drunk driving. That would change over the next few years. I'm quite sure they wouldn't have found humor in the situation.
If I had an idea of how dangerous it was for me to drive like that, I was firmly in denial about it. I was a “good driver,” or so I thought.
What I was, was lucky, and fortunate.
I’m so grateful I didn’t hurt anyone.
I don’t know if serious consequences would have led me to get sober years before I eventually did. I didn’t face courts and jail time, and I didn’t have to face families of people I’d killed or injured. Thank God for that.
I thought that cop was pretty cool.
I was dead wrong. I had no place driving that night, or any of the other tons of nights that I drove in that condition.
“Peeing in the intersection” became a funny story, one of many misadventures that me and my buddies loved to recount for each other.
Now, it elicits shame, and it brings me gratitude that I’m living on the other side of the bridge. The sober side.