2008: Sometimes Your Crossroads Are Honesty And The D.U.I.
I drank a ton; I looked my friend in the eyes and said: I can drive; I drove right across three lanes of traffic into a fence.
Eighteen years old; three months away from nineteen. My door was five feet away from a streetlight. I hear those things don’t have much give, and my 1988 Dodge Aries didn’t have much of a front end from the time I angrily decided to fight a semi-truck on accident. (But I can always use the line “I fought Optimus Prime and I won.”)
When the police came to get me, I was listening to Sufjan Stevens. I ripped off a Mountain Goats lyric just then.
I still have some of the paperwork about some of the incoherent things I said on the street, out there in 10-degree weather in a bomber jacket and slacks. I don’t want to look, but man, I was incoherent.
Then, I was in the back of the police car, wrangling my arms out from under me to get my phone and call my girlfriend. The cop was amused. My girlfriend was not.
She always remembered a text that I sent: “I am quite incredibly drunk.” I ripped off a Warren Ellis line in 2008.
I smirked in one mugshot and when I turned, the terror hit me (good god, do I wish I had those pictures).
I broke the breathalyzer. Seriously. It broke. I don’t know if I did something wrong, if the level of booze in my body clogged it, or what the hell, but I swear to you I broke that breathalyzer. It took them an hour or longer to fix it.
So I did them the courtesy of throwing up all my whiskey and Mexican food onto their floor. The officer who had the unenviable cleanup task almost threw up, himself.
Finally they fix the thing and I’m sure my BAC dropped exponentially. Still very high. Enough to extend the court case.
The point here is: I had an out. I had a really good out. It required lying my ass off.
I’m an excellent liar. I looked a Navy man in the eyes and told him I could drive my car after I drank most of a bottle of whiskey. I am an excellent liar.
A year or so before this, a friend — a mentor and a kind of spirit guide, really — was the person who saw through me and told me that if I ever wanted to have friends or not get my teeth wrecked outside a bar someday, it was time to stop bullshitting before somebody else caught me.
I was a piece of trash. This is no self-deprecation. My teenage years are lost to the well of memory repression, but I remember how they felt, and it wasn’t good. I knew the difference between right and wrong, how to treat people and how to not treat people. I was most definitely not an idiot. That’s how I got away with near-pathological lying and some deeply untoward actions.
When I got the come-to-Jesus moment above, I remembered something horrible I did. Something unforgivable, criminal; something that it took me a decade or more to forgive myself for. And I still drift.
I stopped lying. I went from just the edge of pathological lying to kind of a pathetic honesty. Again, not self-deprecation — some people just don’t need to know things about your life, like your DUI from when you were… uh.
My lawyer and I had a come-to-Jesus ourselves. I told him I drank myself stupid, got behind the wheel, and drove into a fence, and there was nothing more or less to it.
Even as far back as that one goes, I could maybe have a lot more money in the bank. I could’ve had interesting experiences. I could’ve seen my friends more often, as opposed to contributing to a drift and harboring the shame of getting a DUI. (Probably some of you still don’t know this. Sorry!)
I wouldn’t change that decision for a million dollars.
Getting the DUI is not some badge of honor; it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done, and my life has been a collection of dumb things that just kind of spun in my favor once in a while through luck and charm. But: I knew what I was getting into, and I could’ve just slept on the floor. I didn’t. And now I have this story.
Even if I tried really hard, I don’t know if I could tell you why I’m typing this. The things that keep going dingdingdingdingding in my head are kind of a mish-mash. Bear with me.
I lied, a lot, forever; I did something horrific and never got caught; I had a lucky star smash me in the head and tell me to stop lying; I got drunk and I got arrested; I chose honesty over the easy way; my life at the time suffered, and god, it was uncomfortable, and having this story to tell at all just sucks, but —
That day, I started living behind what I’d been saying. Getting told about my lying is always something I equate to a kid who’s getting away with things over and over and knows they’re doing the wrong thing and they’re looking for that authoritative slap but it never comes. My situation just got way out of control before the proverbial slap.
The accident was the part where I attached my name to my actions. That’s part of why I post everything I do on the internet with my name attached (including my dating profiles — sorry, people who have found out too much about me). Accountability is something I look for. A receipt for an action, right or wrong.
Now I’m that pathetic kind of honest I mentioned. I’ve fucked up a few times, but my record’s good enough for me to look at over a decade. I repel some people, and others get what I’m going for.
The tie to the accident, though — it’s about that signature. Over and over. You did this. This is who you are. You screwed up, bad. You should be ashamed.
It was all true. And I figured, well, I’d like to not feel like this. I don’t want to be scared to tell my friends about this. I don’t want to come out of this some kind of person I don’t like, another dude that lies and omits the truth.
Trick of it was, I didn’t. It’s kind of a ‘holy shit’ thing to look back at. Because, seriously, I have made so many mistakes and done so many wrong things. I can look at that and go: I did a thing right. I’m continuing, with the occasional blip, which I always atone for, to do so. And I still sign my name to every bit.
So jesus christ what the fuck am I typing and rambling and looking at my god damned navel about this what’s the point what the f —
It kind of started me on the path to becoming who I am.
And I kind of like that guy.