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Under the Influence

By Larry Gross · February 24th, 2010 · Living Out Loud
I can’t say I know this person. She’s really just an acquaintance I run into every now and then. but apparently she feels like she knows me well enough — or more likely had enough drinks in her — to send me some text messages.

Here’s an exchange one night a few weeks ago.

“Hey Larry! How r u?”

“Good! What’s up?”

“U come downtown — drink at arnolds.”

“Nope, staying in.”

“I want to cuddle with u!”

“What?” “I want u in by bed.”

“(Name withheld), drink some coffee, go home and then go to bed.”

After this text-messaging exchange, I made a mental note to myself that this is yet something else you shouldn’t be doing while under the influence.

The truth is I’m no better than the acquaintance who sent those drunken messages.

I’m a little smarter now, but in the past I’ve done plenty of stupid things with a drink in my hand.

Some years back, there was a woman I knew and liked and wanted to get to know better. After more than a few “belts,” I got up the courage to call her with the intent of asking her out.

Wanting to be upbeat, I thought I was being pretty witty and charming. After about five minutes — when I finally remembered to shut up and let her talk too — her words cut me down to size.

“Larry, have you been drinking?” Of course I said I wasn’t, and, of course, she knew I was lying. She hung up before I could get around to asking her out.

I wasn’t witty or charming or upbeat at all.

I was simply intoxicated. I haven’t seen or talked to her since.

E-mails are something else to be careful of when under the influence. They’re too damn easy to spit out when you’ve got your computer on.

I’ve received plenty of them over the years — some from “macho” guys who need a few drinks in them to say “I love you, man,” and some from female friends urging me to “tear down those walls and let me in.”

Drunken e-mails can also be thoughtless.

More than a few years ago, my intent was to have coffee with a female friend I was sort of dating. It wasn’t working out and I was going to tell her so in person, but my computer was on and I was drinking. I think you know the rest. It was pretty chicken-shit of me to break it off in an e-mail.

I finally learned my lesson when it comes to sending those kind of e-mails, but it took me a long time to learn the biggest lesson of all — what you absolutely shouldn’t be doing when under the influence: driving.

I think this was back in 2002. A CityBeat employee was leaving the paper, moving out of state. There was a big going away party for this person, held by another CityBeat employee living in Northside.

I was a beer drinker back then, and there was plenty to go around. I was having a great time and lost track of how many I had, but I’m guessing at least six.

Around midnight, I figured I’d had enough and got in my car to head home. Others at the party asked me if I was OK to drive. I said I was fine.

I was at a stoplight on North bend Road. I was in the left lane. A police car was in the right lane. The cop inside motioned for me to roll down my passenger side window.

“Where you heading?” the police officer wanted to know.

“Price Hill,” I replied.

“Sir, have you been drinking?”

“No,” I said, “but I am lost.” Actually, I wasn’t lost. My intent was to throw the cop off and get off the subject of my drinking.

The police officer gave me instructions on how to get to West Eighth Street in Price Hill. I listened intently while not listening at all. My goal was to continue to fool that police officer.

After giving me instructions, I rolled the window back up. The light turned green and I took off. The police officer followed me in his car for a few minutes before turning off onto another street.

By that time I was dead sober and felt damn lucky. I could have gotten a DUI. I could have killed somebody. I could have killed myself.

Since that late night in 2002, I no longer drink and drive. It was stupid. Really, it was beyond stupid.

Drinking can be fun and I have no intention of stopping, but I don’t think it brings out the best in a person. In my old age, I’ve learned to try and be responsible about it — basic stuff like no phone calls, no e-mails and certainly no driving while under the influence.

Last Friday, while walking around downtown, I ran into the person who sent me those drunken text messages. She acted normally and didn’t say a word about them. I didn’t either.

It did occur to me to say in a mocking tone “How r u?” to let her know that I knew she was drunk when she sent those messages. but what would be the point?

When it comes to the dos and don’ts of being under the influence, you probably have to learn by making those drunken mistakes. Like me, she’ll learn.

CONTACT LARRY GROSS: lgross@citybeat.com



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