1000 WORDS ON…THE DEMON DRINK
They say when you are in college one of the most important things you can do is make as many influential friends as you possibly can.
In an obvious attempt to keep this age old academic tradition alive, I made sure during my spell at Belfield campus that I did my networking amongst members of a strategically critical institution; The UCD "Bar Committee”.
It was run by a group of drunkards elected from the student body, who in effect were in “control” of the premises, although the disdainful attitudes of the fully paid up members of the Barman’s Union working within would tell you otherwise.
It was on one of the many nights that I used my friendship with committee member Barry Mullen to secure a couple of after-hours’ beverages that this anecdote took place. I was on full automatic pilot as I stumbled home, which was then my grandparents’ rented house in Blackrock. As I passed the top of Booterstown Avenue on the Stillorgan dual-carriageway, I realized it was extremely important that I take a leak as soon as possible. A glance to my left showed me that I was in fact passing the entrance to a building carrying no less grandiose a title than “South Hill Evangelical Church”.
Overcome by a wave of student anarchical fervour, I found it necessary to make my own personal statement by relieving myself on the grounds of this place of worship. Here’s one for all those mindless bible-bashers, I must have thought as I did my business in the bushes which surrounded the structure.
I can actually hear a choir of angels singing as I recall what happened next. Seemingly out of nowhere, a bright, blinding light beamed down on me from above, illuminating all around me bar the area where I was perfoming my task which was sheltered by my shadow. If I didn’t come close to breaking the 400 meter record with my ensuing sprint, I definitely set one for Running With Your Fly Open!!! Of course I was as yet unfamiliar with the concept motion-activated lighting systems!!!
It would be pointless to lament the terrors of the demon drink as I relate my association with it over the years; as I currently have no intention to give it up. I am simply happy to report that however deep my despair may have been I have yet to be tempted down the alcoholic path. Perhaps these two brief stories will explain.
They were yelling at each other again. My grandmother was starting to believe after just a few months living in Ireland that her husband had moved us here just so he could drink all the pubs dry. He still had his voice, albeit a gravelly one, and their shouting led me, with my eight years of age, to come out of bed and sit half-way down the stairs. Out of sheer frustration I yelled something like “I wish I could smash all the beer bottles in Ireland forever!!!” These words were enough to inspire him to avoid booze for almost a decade after that night.
I paused in the corridor in St Vincents hospital that afternoon in 1996, as it dawned on me that I had been afforded the role of spokesperson of the Lee family. Grandpa had been taken in for yet another “fall” which resulted in a gash on his forehead. The nurse had asked me if there was any more information I could give on him, to which I said no at first, but quickly realized that I must overcome feelings of shame and inform her that he was prone to drinking significant quantities of scotch. She thanked me for my honesty and assured me it would greatly help them treat him.
And so I was determined never to have someone make such an admission on my behalf. I still enjoy a drink, often in more than moderation, but thankfully the consequences are limited to amusing ditties such as this one, which is best portrayed by a song I wrote.
© JL Pagano 2004
The song takes up the rest of the 1000 words and is called “The Night I Ate The Worm” - I will post it tomorrow.
NEXT, #37 – 1000 WORDS ON…THE OTHER WOMEN