Friday, June 26, 2009
At What Price Sobriety?
***Editor's Note*** The video is provided below for those who don't want to read***
I went to Tiki Wednesday night like I always do. It was good to see everyone as everyone showed with one exception, which is understandable, as he is taking a short vacation at the county's expense.
We all hashed out our woes of the week and caught up on how everyone has been doing. Some fared well, while others not so much. The conversation meandered as it always does as we moved from politics, likes & dislikes, to philosophy. Jerry suggested that our new motto should be, "Solving the world's problems one Tiki at a time." It seemed to have some small ring of truth to it, so we are going to put it on the back of our T-shirts when we make them. As the evening wore on, each member finished their beer, called it a night and headed home toward bed, leaving only Franklin and I to douse the lights and turn the radio off.
It is usually just Franklin and I left at the end of the evening as we have the shortest distance to travel to bed and we treat our philosophical discussions with a trifle more seriousness than perhaps the other members do, so we stay up a bit later than the rest.
"Have you ever considered giving up drinking and smoking?" I asked Franklin.
"Sure, why do you ask?" he queried.
I explained that I have been giving some thought to how much money I spend on beer and smokes, especially since my consumption has increased dramatically as of late. "So?" Franklin said. I told him that I had been considering a hiatus on my vices for a short period of time, if for no other reason than to prove that I could do it, but I was hesitant to go it alone. Would he like to join me in this experiment?
"You want to bet some money?" his eyes lit up.
"Hell Frank, I don't have any money. All I have is an uncashed check for $30 from Grandma for Father's Day." I am NOT a gambling man. I never have been, as the only money that is worth betting is money that you are prepared to lose and it has always been too precious a commodity to just throw it away in my book.
"Well, I've got a $35 check from a client that I haven't cashed yet. I'll put that up. So, no beer, no cigarettes, but for how long?"
"Well, as it is already after midnight, let's start at 12:01 AM Friday and it will run until we get together Wednesday for Tiki. By my count, that's six days. That should be long enough."
"I'll start now," he said as he stubbed out his cigarette and with a grand flourish of his hand poured out the rest of his almost full bottle of beer on the flowers. Then he took my pen and the envelope that I had been taking notes on and jotted down his cell phone number. "Be sure to call me when you crack," he said with a mischievous smile. I finished my smoke, bid him goodnight, and went home with a lot to think about.
All Thursday this ran through my mind. I was a fool to have made the bet as my will power is as tough as warm Jello and I don't really have the thirty bucks to lose. For one small moment I contemplated smoking cigars again and chasing them with whiskey or vodka, as neither one would violate the rules of our bet and I could keep my money without climbing the walls like a patient in Nurse Ratchet's ward, but I knew in my heart of hearts that this would be cheating and I just couldn't bring myself to do that to Franklin regardless the amount of money.
On Thursday night at 11:54 PM, I lit my last cigarette and watched the clock so as not to violate our agreement, and my supply of beer was long since gone. I crushed it out at 11:59 and went to bed wondering what Friday would bring.
That night my back ached and my sunburn from too much time spent in the pool topless grated against me. To top it off, my heartburn could not be quenched with stomach remedies or milk. I thrashed and rolled around until 4:36 AM until sleep overcame me.
I almost didn't make coffee Friday morning from the fear that it would weaken my resolve to not have a cigarette, but my tiredness won out and I drank an entire pot to coax myself to life. I was a lump of pain, discomfort, and grouchitude for most of the day. I envisioned myself praying for strength and resolve for the next five days as I sweated bullets and snarled at anyone who crossed my path. I pictured myself eating nine course meals, six a day, just so I wouldn't run mad down the street to buy Marlboro's and Budweiser's.
I worked my shift and headed home with all the joy of a miner trapped in the shaft and the water was rising. At 9 o'clock I called Franklin, just to see how he was doing. He answered his cell phone and after a few words handed it to his girlfriend Patrice.
She explained that they were at a very noisy birthday party in a swanky bar and Franklin had lasted until 4 o'clock.
All bets were off, and I lit a smoke before I finished the call.
To some degree I was satisfied with my performance although I didn't really shine under pressure as it were. I learned what a slave I am to my vices and that is a tough pill to swallow no matter how much beer I have to wash it down.
I haven't decided whether to take my winnings or not, as Franklin is as hard pressed for cash as I am and it would be rude to press a man for something he said under the influence of alcohol and nicotine. Should he pony up the money or not, I'm going to buy steaks and beer for Tiki anyway and count this as a lesson learned.