The Man Who Understood

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

The surprises of life.

It was 1980, I was twenty-five and on my way up. But twenty-five is twenty-five. The first time you hear an offer that is too good to be true you might talk yourself into taking it. Early on, hope seems to reign supreme over reason. And that’s what I let happen. I had a job at that time that was not yet a career. You know, one of those jobs you take for maybe six months that lasts for eighteen months or longer till your ship comes in.

Out on the town with some friends searching for answers to our desires, one of my friends introduced me to his friend Andre. Andre seemed quiet, intelligent, well dressed, calm and articulate. He made an immediate positive impression. He mostly just sat and listened to my friends and I at the outset. Eventually, Andre started talking. He casually mentioned an opportunity that sounded intriguing. It was a short-term opportunity that had the promise of a solid financial return. Using my later-life instincts, I would have walked away immediately, but again, twenty-five is twenty-five. So, I jumped on the opportunity.

Andre handed me the keys to a brand new, shiny, full featured Mercedes. Wow, I always wanted to dive one of those, who cares where. All I needed to do was drive the Mercedes to an address on the outskirts of town and park it in the driveway of a house. It was near a bus stop that I could then take back into town within walking distance of my apartment. I would get paid $500, just for that short drive. Why not?

It was a scary, dark drive towards the end. I wound through narrow roads in heavily wooded areas. Eventually I came back onto a major road, drove a short while longer and there it was, my destination. It was an old house well back off the road. All I needed to do was park the car, take the keys with me, then walk about a quarter mile back to the road and the bus stop.

The house was completely dark, no driveway lighting, no lights on in the house and it was a long driveway back to the street. I started to get a little scared. What was I doing out here? Why was I getting $500 just for doing this? I started to walk back down the driveway, my heart starting to race. It felt like one of those dreams you have when you want to walk fast to get away from something, but you just can’t seem to move fast enough.

Suddenly a light went on in the house, I could see the light shining on the trees along the driveway. I was about fifty yards away from the house by now and about half way down the driveway. I voice screamed out: “Hey you, stop!!!” I was never a track star, but suddenly I knew how to run. I sprinted as fast as I could as I heard the door to the house slam shut and the hurried footsteps of my pursuer. I was too far away to be caught and I found the street at the end of the driveway and went into a restaurant just by the bus stop I was to take back into town. After 30 minutes or so the bus came by, and I bolted out of the restaurant and hopped on the bus. I noticed a couple of Sheriff’s cruisers speeding by as I ran to the bus.

A next day it was reported on the news about a large drug bust at that same house. A large quantity of drugs were found in a Mercedes in front of the house. Apparently Andre wanted to set up the house owner, a competing drug dealer, to get arrested with the setup and tipped the police to go there just after I would have left.

So, then I understood. If an offer looks too good to be true, then don’t take it. Those are the lessons of youth.

But it was those types of learning experiences that solidified my belief that I had a true understanding of how to deal with life and make the right decisions. I could learn and do the right things from my mistakes and not repeat them. I understood.

All my education, experience, training, and learning led me to the right conclusions and actions. I could not have misread the situations, could I? Being open-minded with clear perspective, and decision-making, I could not have been wrong.

My many interactions with high-profile people who respected me and wanted to spend time with me validated my legitimacy. Playing poker every Friday night in the house of the Musical Director of the symphony was reserved for the elite. Dating many beautiful, engaging women, all of whom liked me was reserved for only the best among us.

Having an upper-end apartment near the city with many successful people all around felt normal to me. I really enjoyed the parties and usually got on a roll as the parties went on. It was great just walking home from the apartment complex bar without needing to drive.

Sure, I had my times of uncertainty growing up. Everybody makes mistakes and learns from them. But, at the end of the day, it’s the smart people that make it through. People like me understand what to do.

I was also a person who could hold their liquor. That was a major source of pride for me. Many of my friends could not seem to manage it. They would need to be driven home, slurring their words. Or they would perform silly acts in bars or at parties. They were just too irresponsible to manage themselves.

One day myself, my girlfriend and two other couples drove into Boston about 2:00 in the afternoon. We did what we called “The Boston Tea Party,” but there was no tea involved. I drove us the entire way all over Boston, Copley Square, the North End for a great Italian Dinner about 6:00. Even today, twenty years later, I remember most of the details.

Boston is beautiful. It was spring and I remember seeing some of the parks and flowers as we drove in. I can almost smell the experience right now. I already had about three drinks already as I drove into Boston, but it had no effect on me at all, as it never did. But we were just getting started. I was the king of the evening, able to drink more than everyone else, keep my head, keep my composure, safely drive from bar, to bar, ….. to bar without problem or incident.

Scotch, it was always scotch. Blended, unblended, Pinch, Thornes, Black Bull, Dewars, Johnny Walker, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, you name it. It all went down like water. It was that way ever since college, my days at the University of Cincinnati.

But it was really “The Boston Tea Party” where I saw my power over alcohol. After starting at 2:00 in the afternoon my friends and I drank, danced, had dinner, then drank and danced some more. We finally closed a bar at 2:30. My friends were all getting a little out of it. But I was right there, just like nothing happened. I took us all to an all-night restaurant where we had a great breakfast.

After that I drove us out of Boston back to our great apartment complex outside of Boston. We got home about 5:00 in the morning and I was unfazed by the events of the evening. It was really that moment that I understood how powerful I was over alcohol.

I also had a talent for singing. Listening to great show tunes, music albums of great singing groups, I would imagine and create new harmony parts. In high school we formed a band that played for a few years at friend’s houses.

Then there were the years with the local community chorus singing and finally the chorus of the Boston Pops. Singing was a joy that gives you a sense of purpose and requires discipline and preparation. Another great learning experience the helps approach life’s challenges and overcome the fear of failure in performing to the public. I was confident and had complete understanding of how to confidently sing.

During one of the community chorus performances, we were presented with quite a challenge. I was a baritone and was singing the background part of “O Holy Night” at our Christmas performance. The lead solo was to be performed by another baritone in the group. But where was he? Nowhere to be found. There was no phone call, no text, no indication of where he was as we approached the start of “O Holy Night.” The director looked at me and winked. She had confidence in my ability to pull off the solo. I drew on my old experiences of repeating songs I have heard and pulled it off. Understanding how to respond to life’s challenges was a talent I seemed to have and understand.

Of course, time goes on and life changes. Since those early days I found my career as a successful sales representative and started my family with two small children. Just another life challenge to be met and conquered.

The birth of my first child was a true wonder. It created a rush of unique feelings inside. I had never experienced those exact feelings or an intensity of any feeling quite like that. But it was a challenging birth process. Due to complications the doctor had to ask me to choose between a vaginal and C-section delivery. Me? I am supposed to choose which? My head was spinning. “What do you mean I need to choose?!” I blurted out to the doctor. But I settled down, talked to the doctor, and then made the decision. I needed to call on all my life’s understanding of how to react to challenges in the past. It was just another challenge to handle, no different from Andre, “The Boston Tea Party,” or singing. I understood how to react and made my decision for a bikini-cut C-section which was the right decision.

Could there be a better life feeling than the birth of your first child? Unlikely. But what a change in lifestyle. How could I manage this new challenge?

I remember coming home from the hospital with my newborn son in one of those baby carriers, placing him on the couch and thinking “where is the user’s manual for this?” But, as all parents do we figure it out somehow. We read books, articles, and talk to grandpa and grandma and figure it out over time. Everyone eventually understands how to manage it.

My new family was my ultimate joy. Those morning walks, talking to neighbors, comparing experiences was new and exciting, and life successfully went on.

But somehow in the back of my mind I longed for those former “glory days.” I still longed for those old experiences, or at least rubbing up against them.

I still found myself stopping after work just to have a drink, sit and look around and remember how it was. I still longed for the adrenaline feeling of sprinting down that driveway from the Mercedes I dropped off. I still want the conquering feeling of outlasting my friends at “The Boston Tea Party.” But, early on, I just stopped for a drink to just reflect on those things and then go home.

Over time, I stayed a little longer at those bars after work. Rubbing up against those old feelings just did not seem enough. But that was fine, I still made it home in enough time and could still easily manage my driving after a few drinks. I still understood how to manage myself and my life. The kids were doing fine. Of course, they were unaware of what I was doing and why. So what if daddy was late a few times coming home from work.

It's natural to feel this way isn’t it? Anyone could understand couldn’t they? It’s easy to separate these old feelings, experience them on your own and still have your great family life. Some would try to tell you that would all be an illusion. An illusion created by alcohol-fueled visions that only people with alcohol problems would delude themselves with. But obviously not me. I understood how to drink with no problems and successfully live my life. Remember the “Boston Tea Party.”

Things went along nicely for several years. I understood how to maintain the right balance between my family life and retouching my old personal life. It was thrilling and fulfilling. I would occasionally encounter those friends from the old days and re-experience some of those old thrilling feelings. Maybe not the adrenaline of the Andre experience but still exciting. And my home life, my children, two by now, was another source of fulfillment. I had the best of both worlds and understood how to manage it.

Sure, there were some challenges. My wife would question my activities, but my salesman instincts were strong enough to explain away anything. Weren’t they? My kids had the occasional question, but I could easily manage those. Couldn’t I? It was clear to me that things were on track without question, and I understood everything.

But did I really understand? Was I aware of what was really happening? Sure, I had that one DUI accusation that was reduced to a reckless operation. That was no real problem. That happens to a lot of people. Everyone goes to parties, has a few, and then makes a mistake. It’s not like I killed Mary Jo Kopechne. Just an innocent mistake like everyone makes.

And that one time I stayed out all night was no real problem. What was I supposed to do? I could not really drive being in the state I was in. I needed to walk to that motel and get a room. I understood what to do. Afterall, the “Boston Tea Party” was a long time ago. Who could possibly repeat that level of control so many years later?

But now, I am not sure what to think. As my attorney friend comes to visit we don’t have the fun conversations that we had back at “The Boston Tea Party.” It is all detailed talk about legalities, and testimony, and pleas. Those glorious feelings of adrenaline have all worn off. There will be no more Andre experiences, “Boston Tea Parties,” exciting choral performances, and I may never see much of my family again.

As it turns out I did not understand. I did not understand that the adrenaline was just an illusion, or that the “Boston Tea Party” was a problem with alcohol tolerance that would later disappear, or that my life was just part illusion and part real.

It took this car accident, the death of the other driver and the stark realization that I am at fault and that my life is now totally disrupted, all simply due to me not understanding what alcohol can do, not recognizing the signs, not listening to others who were telling me, and blindly ignoring the truth.

I always thought I was the man who understood ….. but I never really did understand ….. not until now.

Submitted: July 08, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Kelty. All rights reserved.

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Interesting story. Aren't we all guilty of being masters of self deception...sigh...

Fri, July 8th, 2022 7:53pm

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