Monday, 30 July 2012

Past imperfect

That's what happens when you live 10 years alone in Bolivia: you get colorful.
Percy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Colorful, that's me alright.
Twenty years living la vida loca in full fucking living color.
Last night at dinner with an old friend, I was reminded that he often accompanied me on my one year bar crawl through Ottawa back when I was a music reviewer for the Ottawa Citizen. My job involved going to three bars to listen to three bands twice a week, then staggering back to the newsroom to write my review. Tom reported, with some glee in his voice, that most of that time, I was bouncing off the walls drunk on beer and power, as I set out to destroy the egos of fledgling musicians.
I was a nasty little bitch back then.
For this nonsense, I was paid $35 a night which pretty much covered my bar bill. Needless to say, if I could rely on the kindness of male strangers, I could get them to pick up the tab.
It was just the beginning of my journey of bad behavior.
I'd like to say that I reformed after moving on to my next job -- in politics -- but there are enough people who witnessed my ping-pong descent into depravity. I get reminded every once in a while, like last night, when I  meet up with one of my former partners in crime.
I don't remember the half of it. Often, I hear about terrific events and dinners which I attended of which I have no recollection. I do have some battle scars. I have a cut on my eyebrow from a face plant into the pavement in front of the Lord Elgin after a three hour lunch. And there is a chunk gone from my right ear which a maid might have found under a couch at the Westin, when I went to sit on the arm of a couch and sliced off my ear on a glass coffee table.
How Vincent Van Gogh of me.
Still have my teeth and most of the rest of me. Not too sure about the liver.
I am not particularly proud of my record. The past is littered with broken hearts, maxed out Visa cards and long days following after parties. Like most long time drinkers, I have to say a lot of it was fun, otherwise why do it?
What ultimately saved me from myself was becoming a mom, though at times, I can say that even that didn't stop me. There were long summers when the kids were away with their papa and the stepmonster. Freedom was never a good thing for me and it wasn't until I took up tennis that I ultimately saved myself from complete and utter debauchery.
I was the Judy Garland of my generation, though my ending turned out better.
I smartened up about 10 years ago, after I started to watch my pals take the high jump one by one.
Ghost of Christmas future.
Why all the bad behavior, you might ask?
I have a few pat answers. Some are even believable.
One, alcoholism is an occupational hazard for journalists. That used to be true, but not in today's world.
Two, I was having so much damned fun I didn't want to stop. That is also partly true. Until it stops being fun.
And three -- and I like this one the best -- some of us drink because we're poets; but a lot of us drink because we're not poets.
Truthfully, there are some deep-seeded demons I've been battling my whole life. I haven't beaten them; they're still in a closet outback with a flimsy lock. The key is to keep the monsters in the closet.
I'm not doing badly these days. Some wine in the evening and early bed. Maybe a margarita if it's summer time.
I eat well. I exercise. You'll rarely see me on a barstool.
I'm not perfect; I'm simply past imperfect.

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