Bad Habits » Moodswing

An Unsuccessful Intervention

Trying to save me from myself

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It's a given that Grant is bad at abducting people. For example, two summers ago when we kidnapped our meth-addicted friend to take her to rehab, Grant was full of big talk about how he had training in the art of subduing people because he used to work at an insane asylum. He even had a big roll of cellophane for the occasion, but when the occasion came upon us sooner than we expected, all he did was sit there gripping his steering wheel hollering, "There she is! What'll we do?"

But I had hope for Lary. He was in New York when Grant, Daniel and I staged our first kidnapping, so all he could do was serve as an off-site consultant. "Get rid of the cellophane," he guided us, "and get some big blankets. Just jump out, toss the blanket over her head and haul her away." He even knew that the back door to Grant's Honda Element had a locking mechanism that was perfect for trapping people.

So you'd think Lary would be the perfect predator, but no. In fact they have both been threatening to kidnap me for weeks now, and when it comes to a decent intervention, I have to say they're both about as useful as a big bag of brain tumors. It doesn't help, either, that they each love alcohol, because everyone knows you can't capture anything worth crap when you've been drinking.

"You stupid poo-tards," I griped into Grant's voicemail. "I've been following my normal routine -- I'm standing out in the open right now -- and nothing! What the hell kind of incompetent kidnappers are you?"

"Don't push me," Grant snipped when he called me back. "I still got the suck wrap. This is an emergency. Something needs to be done."

So we all met for breakfast later that morning. "Just what the hell am I doing that's so bad, anyway?" I asked, because -- and maybe this says something -- I didn't think to ask until then.

"What do you mean, what the hell are you doing?" Lary asked, incredulous. "Hollis, it's like I don't even know you. When was the last time you got drunk? When was the last time you flashed your tits at a tiki bar and went home with the waiter? God, it's like you've been replaced by a pod from Planet Pussy! Who are you?"

"It's true," Grant added gravely. "You're upholding your responsibilities and conducting yourself in a civilized manner. A lot of people are really worried about you."

"Jesus God!" I huffed. "Have you guys ever met me? I stopped drinking two years ago. Two years! And you just now noticed?" Here these two drooling reptiles claim to be my best friends, yet they had all this time to intervene -- all these chances -- and didn't take a single one. Instead they just allowed me to slip into sobriety. What's worse is that I didn't even know my last drink was my last. I just remember thinking I'd cut back on alcohol a bit, then that whittled down to nothing, and now two years later I'm still thinking I'll get back around to it one of these days, but stuff keeps coming up.

Because drinking, if you're gonna do it right, takes a lot of time and commitment. I know because I used to be really good at it. Much better than Grant, for example, who still conducts a neighborhood tour of all the vomit markings he made the night he famously chased his three-day lemon-juice "cleanse" with two pitchers of Bazooka martinis. But that was then. Now, like I said, things keep coming up, and all of a sudden I like looking around me without booze blurring the view.

Take the time, in this very diner, when my girl burst into an impromptu display of interpretive dancing right along the linoleum. It was sudden and fleeting and unplanned -- and even kind of awkward, because people were eating and stuff -- but thankfully no one interrupted her, and she twirled and shimmied and waved her arms with absolute certainty of her abilities. I remember thinking this was the beginning of a slew of future episodes exactly like this. Really, I thought there would be tons more chances to catch her as a 3-year-old performing with such gusto and seriousness, but years have passed and it turns out that was my only chance. That was it. Pffffffftt. Gone.

Thank God I caught it. What if I'd been drinking and that moment simply fell into the puddle of other booze-muddled memories living in the periphery of my brain? But it didn't. I captured it. I have it now to take out and admire like a tiny trophy. And even though that moment has come and gone, there's a constant litany of others that prattle by so rapidly they're like pebbles in the palm of a Kung Fu master, and I'm the apprentice charged with plucking them up before they're whisked away. I feel like I have to be alert to keep them from escaping. That's why I don't drink, because everyone knows you can't capture anything worth crap when you've been drinking.

Grant eyed me keenly. "We need to take action," he said, and Lary nodded.

"You worthless bunch of blow monkeys," I told them, "you're too late."

Hollis Gillespie is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories and Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."

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