In my drinking days in The Bahamas I was fearless. I’d head out into open water with the captain, on a boat without any tracking devices (there was a satellite dish and a bunch of fancy looking controls, but nobody knew how to work them). We’d hop from island to island in a place so remote you almost never passed another soul and I did not have a clue how to turn my boat on, let alone how to operate any of the safety implements like flares, a ship to shore radio and the emergency life raft buried beneath cases of wine in the hold.
If the captain had fallen overboard or died, I would have been completely defenseless (we didn’t even have a first aid kit), but I never thought about it and of course I lived to tell the tale. These days I have become more cautious. I’m still an adventurer, but at least I carry bottled water and a phone. And I listen to my gut. If it feels wrong, I don’t do it.
I guess being sober for a while makes one more aware of how great life is, but also more aware of the dangers. Friday my car was in the shop and I called for a cab to drive me the short distance to pick it up. I didn’t call an Uber because Kim just sent me a Sword and Scale episode called When Uber Drivers Attack and now I’m scared to use them… My office is at the front of the building so I saw the car drive up and I instantly felt like something was wrong (see paragraph above). It was not the expected yellow with the name on the side, but a dirty, dinged up town car with all the windows down.
When I walked out, the driver jumped from his seat and ushered me around the car to the opposite door to let me in. He had a weird smile plastered on his face, a too eager demeanor, bright eyes and what appeared to be a large splotch of feces on the front of his pants. I’ve watched Criminal Minds, so I looked inside to make sure there were door handles and got in against my better judgement.
There were no credentials on the dashboard and the seats had most of the Naugahyde stripped off – foam rubber poking out – and a sad, looping spring on the other side of the back seat. As we left my parking lot and passed the expressway, I thought about what I’d do if he turned onto the ramp instead of going to the auto shop – I’ve seen Law and Order SVU… I swear I had a pen in one hand (to stab him in the neck) and my phone in the other (to dial 911).
There was a photo of a beautiful woman rubber banded to his visor, and for some reason I held this against him – as if he kept trophies of his victims. He was also wearing a hideous sweater. Then, out of nowhere, he asked me, “So what would you buy if you won the Powerball?” and I figured a serial killer (with colitis) would probably not ask a question that involved the future, so I began to feel a bit safer and I said, “I don’t know.” Then I was worried that wasn’t friendly enough and just in case he was a potential murderer I said, “I’d probably give it to my children.”
He said, “You should buy one. I’d like to travel with my wife.” So, then I started feeling sorry for him, because he had poop on his pants and his beautiful wife (I assumed it was the woman strapped to the visor) would be so embarrassed for him if they were in Paris. And when we got to the auto repair shop I panicked he might be all gallant and get out of the car to open my door and everyone would see that he had shit himself.
This is how my mind works now that I am sober.
No wonder I anesthetized myself for twenty-five years…