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Frozen in time: My history with alcohol

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

ON YOUR MARK

I’m not a big drinker; I just don’t need alcohol to act like a fool – it comes naturally to me.

Nolan Ryan was born with a killer fastball, and I was born with the ability to be goofy enough to embarrass the Bride without imbibing.

(Before we got married, my silly antics were funny – today, not so much.)

Still, I’ll have a drink sometimes.

I’m not exactly the stereotypical macho man drinker, however – I hate the taste of beer, and there are no “gimme a whisky and leave the bottle” incidents in my history.

I like fruity frozen drinks.

This doesn’t always fly at Texas bars:

BARTENDER: Yeah?

ME: One mango daiquiri, please.

BARTENDER: Are you kiddin’?

ME: Oh, are you out of mangoes? Well, then, how about a frozen margarita?

BARTENDER: Wuss.

ME: Oh, and no salt!

You know that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life where Clarence the angel is showing George Bailey what the world would’ve been like if he hadn’t lived and they visit a bar and Clarence orders a “mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon and soft on the cloves”?

Yeah, I’m Clarence.

I didn’t even have a drink until I was 18 – and that’s the only time I ever got drunk. I think.

(I was not a guy who snuck one of my dad’s beers from the fridge. As I’ve noted, I think beer tastes gross, but, then again, Dad always bought whatever beer was cheapest. I never knew there was another kind of beer aside from Milwaukee’s Best until I went to college.)

If I ever did imbibe too much, it came when I was a freshman in – where else? – college.

I had ridden a “yellow dog” school bus from UT-Austin to New Orleans in February of 1975 for Mardi Gras. (That torturous 10-hour jaunt on such a bus could’ve certainly driven one to drink.)

The place to go, we were told, was the French Quarter. That’s where Pat O’Brien’s, home of the famous Hurricane drink, was.

The place was so crowded that scores of us were lined up outside on the street. So, O’Brien’s workers just came outside and took our orders – yes, on the street.

We – you can make lots of new friends on a long bus ride – chose Hurricanes of course, which are comprised of various and sundry rums which pack delayed punches.

The Hurricane deliverers warned us to drink these behemoths slowly, and, no matter what, don’t drink it through the straw. (Then why did they give us straws?)

Of course, giggling, we drank through the straws.

I remember nothing else.

I woke up the next morning on the gym floor of a nearby Baptist Student Center (where we were scheduled to stay) and have no idea how I got there.

Perhaps my new friends sprawled out nearby brought me to the right place, but they could not remember how they got there, either.

As near as we could tell, investigation of personal, uh, evidence showed nothing weird went on.

I learned my lesson, knowing I had gotten lucky. I did not drink for years afterward – even in this profession of journalism where it’s “cool” to have a cold one when the paper is finally “put to bed” and we are done.

Instead of heading off to a bar with fellow journalists and “knocking back a few” while solving the world’s problems, I just go home and watch old Frasier reruns with the Bride.

So, yeah, I’m Clarence – just with a mango (or a passion fruit daiquiri – so very yummy!) not a mulled wine (whatever that is).

Mark K. Campbell is the News editor, and he

likes his rare glass of wine sweet. Surprise.

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