Memory Lane

WELL, THAT’S enough about you. Let’s focus on everyone’s favorite topic: Numero Uno, themselves.

Here are four of my favorite photos of my own true self. Sure, some have been posted here before. So what? When one focuses on oneself, overdoing is not an issue.

I was young once, but I’m not anymore. I like to look back and think, Gee, is that me?  And it always is.

My life up to this point has been a bit more varied than most. I did not choose that road. It just happened. Some was fun. Some was decidedly not. Booze played a role for a long spell.

But I’ve been a teetotaler now for 16 years, and I’m having an even better time than before. What does that tell you?

With no further ado:

OneSitting in a San Francisco streetcar in 1963. I was 19 and in the Air Force.

I had dropped out of Vanderbilt University about a year earlier — women troubles — and enlisted. Women have long been a curse for me.

It was only when I latched onto a Mexican woman late in life that the curse was cracked at last. Heed this, young men.

twoFlash forward about 15 years, and here I am sitting in a Cessna 172 in New Orleans. The cap was a gag item. I used to fly small planes.

I never mixed booze with planes because I am not totally stupid. I did, however, mix booze with motorcycles on a regular basis, indicating I am somewhat stupid.

Roundabouts the same year, someone took the next photo, likely my second wife. That’s my daughter on the back.

She’s cute, and considerably older now. Pushing 50.

fourOver the last couple of years, I’ve developed a real hankering to buy another motorcycle. I’m not going to,  however, for a number of reasons. My bones won’t mend so easily, and Mexican roads are full of potholes and maniacs.

The previous photos are in time sequence, but we’ll have to back up a bit — about five years — for the following.

threeI love this shot. I’ve even used it as an avatar online.

Note the cigarette and, if you’re sharp, the apron. I like to cook, or I used to. Now I just prefer to be served.

And I used to smoke — cigarettes, cigars, pipes — but I stopped that stupidity about 25 years ago.

The photo was snapped by my Argentine girlfriend atop our penthouse apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Now I’m 71 with a child bride. And feeling fine.

And that ends today’s stroll down Memory Lane. Feel free to post your own old photos in the comments.

Marriage perp walk

Julie

LET US CONTINUE down Failed Romance Lane. We’ve already passed the Argentine penthouse and the First Marriage Apartment, so the only address left is the Second Marriage Ranch House.

The photo, which I should have taken better care of, is from 1979, and it was taken in New Orleans. We did not move to Houston and purchase the Second Marriage Ranch House till the mid-1980s.

Meet Julie.

I was with Julie the longest of all, about 19 years, but we were married for only the last decade. I have been married to my Mexican child bride for 13 years, but we lived together just a few months before the wedding.

Julie and I met at a French Quarter party in New Orleans. I arrived with two dates, one of whom was married to somebody else, and I was drunk as the proverbial skunk. I could hardly stand up.

Julie told me years later that the first thing she noticed was how pretty I was. The second was how drunk I was. Forget him, she thought.

But my rakish charm won out in the end. But not that evening.

A sharp observer might notice my glassy eyes in the photo. Yes, I was happily under the influence. I mention this issue — again — because there are few people more annoying than a reformed boozer. Perhaps someone who’s stopped smoking. I did that too, years later. Ahem!

During our many years together, I supported us while Julie bounced from one business venture to another, all of which failed. It was only after she dumped me in 1995 did she become self-sustaining, by necessity, eventually earning far more than I ever did. She’s a computer wizard.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

She lives today in that Houston ranch house, which was entirely in my name after the divorce, but which I gave to her as a gift the following year because I am a really nice guy — or a total idiot — depending on whom you ask.

I prefer the first option. My mother embraced the second.

Drinking, smoking, drugs

I QUIT DRINKING on March 30, 1996.

martiniI was never an angry or violent boozer, but I drank every day from age 26 till that March day in 1996, which is a quarter century. The only exceptions were sick days. On those days that I drank, I drank until I was “happy.” Sometimes I went over the happy point a bit, but usually not.

The result of this was that it was difficult to interact with me in any meaningful way in the evenings or in the afternoons on weekends. I started early on weekends. My second wife felt this the most.

I was walking in my father’s footsteps. He did the same thing for almost exactly the same length of time, during the same ages, stopping in his early 50s. The only difference was that he often went far past happy, especially in my childhood. Sometimes he could hardly stand up but, like me, he was not violent at all.

Neither of us let it interfere with our jobs, which were the same jobs, newspapering. We drank — with some exceptions — on our own time, not during work hours.

When I quit drinking on that day in March 1996, it was an incredible revelation. My life and mental clarity did a 180-degree turn. It was like night and day. I was clear-headed 24-7, as they say. Who knew?

* * * *

smokingI quit smoking in 1991, and it was pretty easy because I eased into it. And I was never a heavy smoker in the first place. Years earlier, in the Air Force, I smoked pipes and cigars. I had some really nice pipes. Young fellows look kind of silly smoking pipes and cigars, but I did not know that then.

Later I was strictly a cigarette smoker, but by the early ’90s, I had wearied of it. I read one day of this technique: If you smoke, say, one pack a day, which is 20 cigarettes, do the following: One week, smoke your 20 a day. The next week, 19 a day. The next week, 18 a day. You see where this is going. It’s a very gradual way to stop.

Takes a long spell, but it works.

It was easy till I got down to five or four a day, and then that final week of one a day, but I did it.

Back to my father again. He never smoked. He never drank coffee or tea. Strange guy.

Smoking is an incredibly nasty and stupid habit. Can’t believe I ever did it.

* * * *

mushroomsI am a big fan of non-addictive drugs,* specifically LSD, psilocybin and Ecstasy. I have also tried synthetic ayahuasca and 5-MeO-DMT. That latter provides an incredibly powerful experience that only lasts about five minutes.

I have not ingested those materials since the late 1990s.

With the exception of Ecstasy, they are great ways to meet God in person — if you’re lucky.

Good books to read about this are The Cosmic Serpent, The Secret Chief and Food of the Gods.

Smoking and drinking are vices. Non-addictive drugs are gifts from the Goddess.

* * * *

* Non-addictive drugs should not be illegal, except for minors.

(TOMORROW: Mohammedans and machine guns.)