(WARNING! LOOONG POST...but read anyway? =grin=)
BOY SCOUTING--MY FIRST DRUNK c1943
About sixty-five years ago, I found myself a "Tenderfoot" in the Boy Scouts of America. How proud I was, with a brand newly starched "regulation" uniform, shoes, sox, "army-type" garrison cap, shovel for digging trenches (yeah!), official belt-hanging flashlight, and backpack. I still remember that ..."a scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent."
We assembled in a khaki field (khaki means dusty!) covered in our khaki-colored everything as if we were waiting to relieve "men" on the front line, and proceed undaunted into the bloody battle. The occasion was my first experience of a simple weekend camporee, and thousands, well--be honest, Steve--maybe hundreds?-- of us participated in the event.
My most vivid recollection is that of learning what a "Snipe Hunt" was all about. Here was me, the uninformed (but uniformed!) clod from the farm (where I practiced violin nightly in the horse barn!) out on an island mid-river--with cow crap still clinging to my shoe bottoms--from 5 PM until after dark, scared to death, water rising all about, not a sound (other than the horrible growls and shrieks I was imagining), holding a sack. Not one Snipe had I seen all that time, but I was planning how to kill something to eat--and also how to "kill" those other ten-year-old "men" who had left me out there to die! They finally got frightened themselves, thinking I might drown, and an Angelic Being, playing a violin, would come to haunt them throughout all their sorry--assed lives. And so I heard the shouts , as I prepared the bag to receive beaucoup of those flying Snipes. So yes dear friends, I know what it's like to be "left holding the bag!"
Part II (not much longer, you're halfway there!)
The dozen or so of us arrived at camp covered in khaki mud, quite wet--we had to wade in belt-deep river to return--thirsty, and hungry--from the Snipe Hunt. At least one of us--ME!--was very red-faced, not from the evening sun, but out of embarrassment. However, there was a celebration that night which included a feast, guitar-playing and singing and stories with Burl Ives, and an enormous vat of apple cider. Although I lived at that time on a farm with an apple orchard (a whole field of apples, pears, , etc., but no orange trees!) I knew nothing of apple cider. My Higher Powers--all twelve of them--told me the cider was called "Hard Cider" because it had fermented, and that it would give me a good feeling inside, and all my fears would go away...HA!
You can probably guess what happened: I drank very, very much of the "Hard" cider, until I threw it up, then drank some more. And I became as drunk as I can ever, ever remember experiencing during my later "heavy drinking days". With the encouraging crowd of scouts urging me on, I became at first happy, then boisterous, then fighting mad, then a crybaby, and, as best I recall, in a drunken stupor I passed out.
Of course of course, there IS a punch-line to this vignette. It happened that the afore mentioned "Hard Cider" was simply regular store-bought apple cider (no capitals, no quotes!)...I had gotten drunk sans alcohol! Rest of the story is that I knew then that alcohol would one day become my lover, my ruler, my god, my drug, my best friend. What I did NOT know was that thirty years later it would become my worst ENEMY, that it would turn against me with a vengeance, sickening my body, mind and soul, turning my life into utter chaos, and destroying my wonderful three wives' lives, along with children, relatives, and etc., etc. Y'all know what I mean! And I thank y'all for knowing...and for showing me that there IS a way out, and up. God bless you all and me, too!