Friday, July 08, 2005

Relative Sobriety

Four weeks ago, I attended the Cubs vs Red Sox opener at Wrigley with some of my in-laws. The atmosphere was great...lots of fans in from Boston and everyone was getting along.

We got to Wrigleyville early so we could catch some of the live bands at The Cubby Bear, a popular bar/venue across the street from the ballpark. My brother-in-law and nephew went in and we proceeded to enjoy a few beers. As I said, the atmosphere was great, and 4 beers later, we strolled out of the bar and bought lunch at Taco Bell. Then we went into the stadium and got to our seats in time for the anthem and first pitch.

Our seats were in the first row of the upper deck all the way down the left field line. At some parks, these might be bad seats, but at Wrigley they were great (all seats are good at Wrigley unless you are behind a pillar--then they suck).

It was a great game, the Cubs were hitting like crazy, and even milktoast pithcer Greg Maddux had a home run. During the 7 innings that you could drink, I enjoy 4 more beers, and I was having the time of my life.

After the game, I went with my brother-in-law to Murphy's Bleachers, the venerable bar located (of course) across the street on the north/east side of the stadium. There, we enjoyed 2 more beers in rapid succession, then met up with the rest of our party to catch the bus down Addison Street to the L station. We jumped off the bus at a White Castle, ate dinner, and walked the 5 blocks to the L station.

I don't recall the walk to the station, the train ride, or the hour car ride after that. My only impression of the entire time was that I wanted to die. When I got home, I was so ashamed of myself that I just went upstairs and hid from my wife and kids.

I don't drink very much. Well, what I should say is that I don't drink very often, but in the past year, when I do drink, I binge like a college freshman on my first semester away from home. This is not a good thing. It seems that the old warning light that used to come on telling me that I've hit my limit no longer comes on.

I have no doubt that alcoholism runs in my family. While I don't think I'm "addicted" to alcohol, I have "consumption issues". And so, on June 11, I made the decision that I won't drink anymore. It seemed like a smart decision to make. I gave myself two "outs": I'll allow myself a beverage in a controlled situation (like a holiday party or a similar function with my wife around), or if I'm in Texas and have a Shiner Bock. Of course I know that giving myself "outs" may lead to disaster, and I'm not sure that I would take advantage of my "outs", but it was part of the deal I made with myself.

Last Friday, I returned to Wrigley Field with almost the same group, and I had a wonderful time. Sure, a beer would have been nice; but even with my wife there, I didn't "want" a beer. Two days later, I played golf with my brother-in-law, father-in-law, and uncle-in-law, and was able to enjoy myself without drinking. Yes, a Mike's Hard Lemonade would have been terrific, but a Sweetened Tea was pretty good, too.

One day at a time is right.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It's that time of life

Mom passed away about 5 years ago (4 years, 8 months, 4 days ago), and faithful reader James' father passed away about 5 years ago (4 years, 9 months, 15 days ago), pal Stuart's dad passed away almost 4 years ago (3 years, 10 months, 5 days ago), former love of my life Lori's dad passed away almost 2 years ago (1 year, 9 months, 20 days ago)*.

We're getting to the time of our lives when our parents are dying. My dad's health is spiraling downward, James mom is as spry as the come, but she is in her 80's, Stuart's mom was in good health the last time I asked.

Lori's mom passed away last Thursday.

Having both parents pass within 2 years of each other is a jolt. I always remembered her folks as being a vital, engaging couple. They enjoyed a certain level of affluence, and had high expectations for their children (which is why I'm married to someone else --hahaha**)

I know that Lori did not take her father's death very well. It was very sudden, although at 72, he lived a full and productive life. It's just that everyone thought he'd live to see 85 or 90. The same with her mom. It's my understanding that she had been suffering from strokes and that her passing may not have been so unexpected as Lori's dad's.

When Mr. Hill died (I never called him Jack), I sent Lori a short e-mail, which to my relief, she did not receive. The content wasn't bad, I just regretted not sending her a card.

Things happen for a reason, I guess. Last Wednesday afternoon, I was thinking about Lori and her mom, wondering how they were getting along without Mr. Hill. I went as far as yahoo-ing Mrs. Hill to find her address. I was going to send Lori an e-mail, just checking in, but I got distracted by a phone call.

Tuesday morning, I turned on my work phone, and retrieved a voice mail that had been left there on Friday afternoon. It was from Linda (see "First Kiss" posting from November 04) who told me that Lori's mom passed away on Thursday.

I'm not claiming any great psychic connection between Lori and I. Sure, it exists, but it's not some unfulfilled romantic psychic connection. I usually feel it a day or so before she sends me an e-mail, and she usually tells me that she's been thinking about me after I send her one. You spend enough time being someone's friend, and you just know. She's forgiven me, and I've forgiven her. Some things just arent' meant to be. But that's the topic of a future post.

I really liked her parents. They were so....exciting. He travelled to the USSR on business. She was quite the socialite. They always treated me with dignity and respect, even though it was obvious that I wasn't son-in-law material.

Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I bought a nice card and mailed it to Lori this morning. I included the following note:


I’m really sorry to hear about your Mom. I know this is a sad time for you.

Here’s what I remember about your Mom:

A quick wit, a caring heart, a loving person. Very classy, lots of character. Strength, confidence. Elegance. Charm.


She taught me how to play Shanghai (go-ers and stay-ers) while the Cardinals played the Brewers in the ’82 World Series. She held the townhouse together during Hurricane Alicia in 1983 (who needs electricity?). She put up with ardent admirers of her daughter. I remember the “30-year Service Rings”.

Last Wednesday afternoon, I was thinking about you and your Mom; wondering how you were getting along without your Dad. I have no idea why I was thinking these thoughts, I just was. Linda left me the message on Friday afternoon, and perhaps there was a reason I thought of you both, after all.

Your parents made quite an impact on me. I was always impressed with their dynamic. While I wouldn’t say that my parent’s marriage was dysfunctional, it was a lot different than your parent’s. I preferred the way your parents interacted as peers instead of “leader-follower”. I respected their confidence in each other; their obvious pride in each other. They were comfortable in letting each other “be”. You may not have realized that this was special, but I always thought it was. If a man and woman were meant to be together, it was your Dad and Mom.

It is the way I want Marriage to be. It is a worthy aspiration.

I know you miss your Dad, and I know you will miss your Mom. If it is any comfort, I’d like to think that they have reunited and are together as they should be, as they should always be.

Thinking good thoughts for you,


*Thanks to SSDI database. I don't know these things off the top of my head, you know.