The Night I Became A Drunk

People aren’t born drunk; people become drunks. It wasn’t something you inherited or learned or came into this world with – it wasn’t something dormant in you waiting to spew out at the right moment or be triggered by the right factor.

People become drunks. It’s not a choice they make, it’s a fact. We are all prone to it, we are all tempted into it. But we don’t all fall into it.

You could avoid walking into the trap. But sometimes you get caught especially if you didn’t know the trap was set there in the first place.

Even drunks get hurt. Even drunks get zeroed out by women. But you didn’t need to get drunk to be rejected. And you didn’t need to be rejected to become a drunk.

It happened with me one Wednesday night. I was crashing at a friend’s place while he was out of the country. I had the house to myself but chose to mostly stay in the bedroom. It was 3 a.m. and I sat on the bed staring at the yellow walls peeling in front of me. I sat and stared at the layer of dried paint covering cracks that started to become more and more visible.

I sat there and thought that drunks could get lucky too – or at least they thought they could. Their only advantage was that once they got drunk enough, they became immune to fear. They’d just step out of the house believing they could become anything in this world: firefighters, police officers, writers.

God damnit! They’d forget about the odds! They’d forget about the scientists and data researchers that stayed up all night to come up with the statistics that told us what we should and shouldn’t become. They’d forget about the local women that wouldn’t settle for just about anyone who showed up in front of them or had the guts it took to say hello.

They’d forget about society’s eyes – always scanning and diagnosing and dissecting their every move.

So how did they get themselves in that heap of mess in the first place? Well, it all started with a drink. I found the bottle of Red Label on the table counter next to my friend’s bed. I got an empty glass from the kitchen and poured the first one. I moved the glass from one hand to the other while observing the surface of the liquid bouncing up and down and about…surging like a wave coming at me and threatening my mouth. Then I tasted it. It was sour. Then I tasted it again. Even more sour. Then I drank it…and I remembered sitting in the car with my face between my legs trying to get the engine to start while the girl I loved leaned against my window.

‘Well, come on driver,’ she said to me, ‘get the car started. Real men know how to work their vehicles.’

‘I love you,’ I told her sheepishly, ‘and if I can get this damn thing to start I know there’s nothing that can stop me from being with you. We’re a masterpiece, two neatly-drawn units that belong in the same frame and complete each other. And once you open your eyes and see that then you’ll know I’ll be here waiting for you. Whether this damn car starts or not I’ll be here holding our love together until you make it back.’

She sighed at me unimpressed. So I knew I had to impress her. I had to get the car to start. The reason why I was so hell-bent on getting that thing to work was because I was short on other ways to impress her: I was poor so money wasn’t an option, I was Lebanese so it was hard for me to travel and take her to exotic places even if I could afford it, and I was uneducated so I was eliminated from the job market before I even got into it. The only thing I pretended to be good at was writing but that didn’t seem to be enough to get to her. She didn’t really believe in words the same way I did. I found gods among men in writers and worshiped them like a man of faith embraces his cult. She, on the other hand, called it scribbling and practicing a harmless hobby that would get me nowhere fast and thought I should give up on the ridiculous notion fixated in my mind that writers could save the world.

So I had to get the car started. But the devil thing wouldn’t start and all it mustered was a little cough that meant it had surrendered all hope and annihilated my chances with the girl I loved.

So I’m back in the room and the walls are narrowing on me. The car and the girl and the dream were gone and I’d finally given up. I could hear the sinister snarls of the other Lebanese drunks scattered all over the country watching me as I obsessively poured the second glass. And then the third one. And then the fourth. And after that I had wiped out the whole bottle and lost count.

I had been initiated to the world of drinkers and the clock had started to move backwards or reset.

I started wishing I could die or at least pull my hands together and place them on my waist at which point I would be certain I was still in good shape and able to control myself. But the alcohol hit me hard and forced me to sink into the sheets and forget about the heartbreak and the girl and the broken car and the unfinished words I started…that is, until I woke up the next day fully fresh and sober and then had to worry about them all over again.

So the best thing for me – the best course of action I decided to take – was to never wake up sober again. It was logical for me to never return to that sober state which caused me tremendous pain and relegated me to the lower echelons of society: the place where other drunks and melancholy romantics and losers and bums spent their time pouting and pouring out their miseries to each other over drinks or drugs or cigarettes. So I opened another bottle, and another one, and another one, until I had an entire army at my disposal ready to serve me and my drunken needs.

That was the night I became a drunk. And that was the night I forgot about my worries. And now lying here all alone with the bottle I still ponder two things: the first is whether getting that car to finally start would ever bring back that girl, and the second is my fear that the honesty wasn’t clipped from my words and that my writing – even drunk – still contains all the fears and wishes and desires that are real in me.

***

Be sure to check out my debut novel, A Road Away From Home, available on Amazon Kindle for 2.99$ and now in hard copy.

A Road Away From Home – Hanna Abi Akl

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