In my 20s and 30s I was a member in good standing of the work hard and play hard club. For example, I recall a certain BYOB dance at a Knights of Columbus Hall in northern Maine. Kim was in charge of organizing our alcohol supply that night. When I grabbed my first beer at the dance I conducted a quick count and found that there were only 17 Michelob Lights in our cooler. I was incredulous. “Hopefully someone else brought extra beer,” I mumbled.
Due to my MS, today I no longer have the urge to consume much alcohol. I’ve become a two-drink kind of guy. If I go beyond that I become even more tired and weak than usual, and that is no fun. I can’t remember the last time I really tied one on. Wait – yes I can.
Our good friends Marco and Jean, who were regular weekend drinking buddies of ours back in the day, came to visit us in Portland one Saturday night about six years ago. At that point I was a scooter user. I could still get around a little bit with forearm crutches, but preferred to use the scooter when I had to travel more than 50 feet or so.
We started the evening at a sports bar called Rivalries. April is the only time of the year when the Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics each play regular-season games. As luck would have it they were all on TV that night. Because Rivalries has an abundance of screens, we watched all three games from our table, plus a Yankees game too.
It was a night when everyone felt nostalgic, and we wanted to drink until we got drunk – except Kim, who was the designated driver. Marco and I conceived an elaborate drinking game where we would consume alcohol whenever the Red Sox scored, the Bruins scored, or the team playing against the Yankees scored. We couldn’t think of a way to incorporate the Celtics game into our drinking without suffering alcohol poisoning. It turned out to be a good night for the Boston teams, a bad night for the Yankees, and a memorable night for all of us.
We eventually tired of Rivalries, and Rivalries tired of us I’m sure. Our next stop was an Irish pub called Ri Ra, where the Red Sox were still being broadcast on one of their TVs. We continued our drinking game until we could drink no more. It had been a while since I had consumed so much alcohol, and things got away from me. We stepped out of Ri Ra and found ourselves out on the sidewalk of Commercial Street in Portland, Maine. This is the heart of the Old Port District where all the cool bars, fancy restaurants, and beautiful people can be found.
I steered my scooter down the wide, brick sidewalk, slightly ahead of Kim and our friends. I dodged imaginary obstacles, carving a path like a drunken slalom skier. I soon came upon a solitary, stoic man standing in the middle of the sidewalk ahead of me. I was inspired to cheer him up by demonstrating just how merry I and my band of followers were.
I throttled the scooter up to maximum speed and locked in on this unsuspecting pedestrian. My plan was to run circles around him until he smiled, and then continue down the sidewalk, perhaps seeking out another forlorn soul to sprinkle with my magical happy dust. About halfway through my loop-the-loop around this man, however, the laws of physics asserted themselves.
According to Wikipedia, centrifugal force is “the apparent outward force that draws a rotating body away from the center of rotation.” Well, away I went. I spilled my 3-wheeled scooter on its side. Fortunately, my fall was broken by the hard brick sidewalk. And because I was inebriated, I felt no pain. Instead, I considered my predicament to be about the funniest thing I had ever experienced. I began laughing with such intensity that I was gasping for breath.
Mine was only one perspective on these events. The innocent, unsuspecting soul who I targeted had another perspective. What he saw was a drunk, handicapped man, who had tipped over his scooter onto the pavement and injured himself so severely that he was having difficulty breathing. Was he dying?
Luckily, my posse caught up quickly and assessed the situation for what it was. They attempted to put the pedestrian at ease, but he had not signed up for this. Although he soon came to understand what was happening, he didn’t exactly see the humor. He was too traumatized.
When a larger than average, disabled man like me falls down drunk, it’s not easy to raise him. But my team of three people plus the pedestrian, with scant cooperation from me, was eventually able to scoop me up and pour me back onto my scooter. I had only a few minor scratches and bumps to show for it. I should have been embarrassed beyond consolation, but I wasn’t (and oddly, I still am not).
Kim didn’t take me directly home, but at least she cut me off from drinking for the rest of the night. They worked some food into me, and I said some funny but not creepy things to a waitress. I never fell off my scooter again that night, or ever.
This story is almost too pathetic to tell, yet I do. I find that sharing a self-depreciating anecdote on occasion helps maintain my humility. But do I regret that this fiasco was never made into a viral YouTube video? Hell no! Luckily, six years ago most cell phones didn’t have video capability.
I think that night was the last time I was really drunk, or ever will be again. MS has made me a more responsible drinker. Yet, although I find intoxicated behavior to be boorish and immature, it feels like a loss to no longer have the option to be boorish and immature.