A terrible, awful, no-good, very bad kid
Once upon a time, I spent most of my days being a completely horrible human. I was really good at it.
I was a pretty happy-go-lucky kid. Nice. Polite enough. Snot-nosed bastard like most teenagers, but still an alright sort. And I think being thought of like that really bothered me. It seemed like the nice guy always finished last, at least where success and women were concerned. And if there was one thing 19-year old me was more concerned with than success, it was women.
I was pretty stupid in those days. I equated maturity with being dark and disturbed. Since I didn’t have any (or at least enough) personal problems, I felt I needed a problem in order to be dark and disturbed, and being a crazed alcoholic seemed like a decent problem to have, if I had to have one.
But decent problems are still problems and I remain not very well-equipped to handle problems. Enjoyable problem too, but still – problem. And while being a boorish boozehound may have made me more enjoyable, it alienated my friends, killed my body, mind and soul and made me less appealing to anyone that could be regarded as ‘dateable’. And since being dateable myself was the sole reason for attempting to become interesting in the first place…well, you can see where this pattern of righteous self-destruction was heading.
And so, like most self-starting addicts, I become a compulsive liar and fraudulent human who drowned the guilt of all his wrongs, real and imagined, in whiskey. I found it was very easy to be a train wreck, and it certainly helped lower expectations. Thankfully, college is a time for low expectations.
Eventually, I found a way out of the abyss. I take no credit for that – it was the epitome of a group effort, of which I had very little hand. If a diverse group of people hadn’t taken an interest in my well-being, at best I’d still be in college and it’s possible I could be dead or in prison. I’d thank them all individually, but they may still be horrified by my behavior and want nothing to do with me.
It’s difficult to reconcile that person with who I am now; there’s very little correlation, aside from the occasional tendency to throw down vodka like a captain in the Russian Army on leave – only in a responsible manner these days, with no work to do or class to attend in the morning. Occasionally I’m offensive and irreverent; I make no apologies for that. If you choose to hang out with me, A.) God bless you and B.) You probably already know what you’re getting into.
To paraphrase Red in Shawshank, there’s not a day go by that I don’t feel regret. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid. I want to try to talk some sense into him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kids all gone and this old man is all that’s left. I have to live with that.