Vicky will never understand why I got so drunk.
It was last Saturday night, Trish’s 40th birthday party. I had been warned about two things that don’t go well together but I had no idea how much. First, there would be a lot of booze. Second, there might be someone there I didn’t like.
His name was Ricky and he was a figure from high school. Like all high school stories, it’s a silly one but, basically, he shared a little intimacy with my first love, Teresa, and that’s enough for even the least macho guy to go a bit nuts.
But after a quarter of a century?
So, of course, as it turned out, Ricky was at the party, being a friend of Trish’s, and the booze was there, too.
Standing by them, Ricky said to his brother, “Do you have any idea who this is?” He was referring to me. “This is Ken La Salle!” Now, here’s something you may not know about me but when someone recognizes me by name, I get two impulses. I think either “He must have seen one of my shows” (which is growing increasingly unlikely the longer I’m away from the theater) or “Someone from high school is about to find out that I never succeeded in life. I must kill him.”
Another high school story. Sorry. The short version goes like this: I was expected, by teachers and other students, to either win a Pulitzer Prize or an Oscar after high school. Other people’s expectations of me were so high that failure has always been painfully bitter. I’ve grown to loath those expectations and, peripherally, anyone related to high school.
And so, here was a guy who – if you picked one guy out of high school and asked Pacifist Ken if I’d like to kick his ass – here’s the guy. Only, Vicky was there. And her reaction to Ricky’s blood on my hands – and believe me, I could have taken him – might not have been too nice.
Instead, I did the next best thing and started beating the hell out of myself… with booze. I pounded so many drinks, I actually blacked out. Don’t remember a thing. And that’s honestly not something I do… ever…
I woke up at about 3am… on the couch. I was downstairs, resting between episodes of running to the bathroom just in case I was going to barf. It was cold and I was weak. Still dressed. A mess. Very, very disappointed in myself. I thought, “Ken, maybe it’s time you let a few things go. Maybe not everything. Maybe not your divorce. Maybe not the things you’ve done wrong in your adult life. But… seriously? Ricky? It’s time to let that one go.”
Vicky may never understand why I got so drunk but I am very glad I do.