This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Dennis’ story: Me and Cato lay up in the corn crib and drank a whole jar of his grandfather’s homemade wine. About ten or fifteen minutes later a wave of wisdom washed over me that ran my I.Q. up to about 200. My kneecaps started tingling, I felt soul come over me for the first time, it put glide in my stride and I was the king of cool. Things suddenly got brighter and that was my first spiritual awakening.


Me and Cato headed down a dirt road and hid up in some plumb bushes because we intuitively knew it must be illegal for two Baptist boys to have that much fun on a Saturday afternoon. We hid in those plum bushes and imagined what we’d do if those two Britney girls came over that hill. But they didn’t and we didn’t get to do it, but it didn’t bother us because we didn’t know how to do it anyway. But I did know that I wanted more of that alcohol; give me more.

My next encounter with alcohol was that same summer when I decided to make homemade wine. I was smart like that. I woke up one day and knew that I could make wine. We had moved off the farm into town and there were some wild cherries growing in our backyard; I was a wild man so it seemed I should make some wild wine. I boiled some cherries and put them in two jars, but I hadn’t quite figure out the fermentation process. I thought I was supposed to leave it set for a time while alcohol mysteriously got into it. I dug a hole in the back yard and buried the jars and sat on the back porch and waited a while before I dug them up again and drank one. I was greatly disappointed when it didn’t make me feel like the wine me and Cato had drunk. I got impatient and decided to hurry it up by pouring rubbing alcohol into the second quart, it didn’t make me high either, but it gave me the worst case of gas I ever had. See, I was trying to recapture that wonderful feeling I had experienced the first time I got high.

By the time I graduated high school my alcoholism was in full swing. I made the cut for freshman basketball but drank myself out of the athletic program, the college preparatory program, the general studies program, the vocational program and barely managed to graduate. Eventually, I started shoplifting to get high.

I thought about those days since I’ve been sober and I don’t know whatever made me think I could drink alcohol and shoplift; I was too drunk to run and always got caught. Before I graduated from high school, I was confronted about my alcoholism at least four times. The first time was by my English teacher, she was a preacher’s daughter who taught me three years in high school. Back then teachers knew you, your family and your possible potential. She said, “Dennis, I believe you have a drinking problem.” I said, “Me too, it costs too much and I can’t get enough money to buy it.” She showed me my attendance record and said that the work I did my freshman year was better than the work I’d done my senior year, but I didn’t listen to her because she was a lot older than me. The second time was by a girl the same age as me and the third time was by a preacher’s daughter named Silvia, she said, “Dennis, I believe you’re an alcoholic.” That changed the whole ballgame. I didn’t mind having a drinking problem, being called a thief, or a bum, but I didn’t want to be called an alcoholic. I said, “Silvia, does this mean you won’t keep doing my history homework?” Well, she did and it was because of her that I graduated from high school. Then there was Linda Lowe, she said, “Dennis, you’re a nice guy. If you stay off the booze, everything will be OK.” And finally there was Janice, she said, “Dennis, one of these days reality is going to hit you square in the face,” but it took sixteen more years of hard drinking before I understood what those good folks were trying to tell me.


To be continued.

The Waynedale News Staff

John Barleycorn

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