Drinking to the point where you are endangering yourself...is risky business
It was a late night gig on Dauphin Street in Mobile, Alabama and I was with my son Eric Erdman. He was playing a duo with Josh Ewing, a great musician.
It was about 1:00am when a young beautiful lady asked to sit at my table. I welcomed her and assessed her as she took a seat. She was clearly intoxicated to the point that she slurred her words; she lacked focus and seemed to have little awareness of her surroundings. I asked her right away if she had driven herself that night. She nodded. While I think she nodded in answer to my question, it was possible she was just nodding off in her stupor. I then told her that she was in no condition to be driving. She said not to worry, she could not remember where she had left her car anyway and someone was coming to get her shortly.
There was a relief for me when I realized she would not become a safety hazard on the road, to herself and others. For the sake of the story I will call her Jessa. I watched as Jessa picked up a drink that was left on the table by another young lady who had left moments earlier. The lady who departed left over half a glass of draft beer. Jessa began drinking this discarded beer as though it was hers all along. Then she spied three other drinks, one mixed drink and two beers that were placed on my table by those who were dancing on the nearby dance floor. She poured all of them into her glass as soon as she completed the initial beer. I said, "You don't want to drink that do you?"..".Other people already drank out of those drinks.. I wouldn't drink it if I were you." After a brief pause, she began drinking this new scavenged concoction of other people's drinks. I feared she may get alcohol poisoning as she continued to slip deeper into this far away place. Yet when I tried talking to her, she assured me she was a grown person. "I am a grown ass woman!" were her exact words.
Her eyes were drooping and her lips could not stay tight enough against the glass as liquor dripped onto the table when she drank. She tried to say some kind words about how nice I was to allow her to share my table and she spoke with great difficulty. All I could think of was, why would you do this to yourself. An exceptionally beautiful young woman, who had become so vulnerable as I watched her for what seemed like an hour. She was continuing to drink, continuing to go downhill while waiting for her friend to pick her up.
I feel certain that Jessa is a good member of society and works well with others during the day. What she chooses to do with herself is absolutely none of my business, I am concerned only for her health and safety, yet I understand that I have little or no control over those things.
I remember her words, “I don’t usually get this drunk, but it is my birthday!” I smiled and said, “Well Happy Birthday to you.” I have heard these strange reasons over the years as young adults get so wasted and risk their own lives in the name of “Its my birthday, or “its our anniversary”, or “my grandmother died so I had to get wasted!”
I have had many birthdays, and family deaths but never felt it was my obligation to get drunk as a result. I understand celebrating joyous events in life and mourning tragedy and loss; it just escapes me as I try to understand the need to get to the point where you are absolutely unable to stand without assistance or unable to talk with clarity. If a person chooses to do that, it is their choice, but I recommend they have a sober partner to look after them. I especially feel that females can be more vulnerable to predators and therefore need someone who will have their back at all times.
A couple of weeks later I was at a show where my son was performing in Daphne, Alabama. I looked up to see Jessa and it appeared that she was intoxicated. About an hour after I first saw her, she walked over to the booth where I was sitting with a couple of girlfriends. She said, through her foggy haze, “Hi, Ms. Juanita, I went to the beach today and there is something about the sunshine and drinking that makes a person get drunk much faster.” She explained to me that it is a known fact that the sun rays beaming down on you, as you drink, makes the alcohol go to your head quicker.
I do not know if that is a scientific fact but she did not need to explain herself to me, it is her life and her choice. I absolutely have no problem with anyone who enjoys a few drinks; even if they drink to oblivion, it is not my business. I just worry for their safety... I am not judging just expressing concern.
Several nights later I was at a music festival. My son’s band was performing and it was a huge crowd. There were so many people there that I began to feel claustrophobic at times. Still, the music was so good and the crowd was so appreciative. Late in the evening around 10pm, as the final band was playing, I found myself standing at the edge of the stage in this massive crowd and someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was Jessa, the young woman who had given me cause for alarm as I observed her on previous occasions.
She said, “Hey, do you remember me?” I smiled and assured her that I did. Then we both turned our attention back to the stage and the wonderful music that was taking place. I caught myself glancing at her as I was certain she was very drunk.
As the song ended and the applause exploded, she leaned over, and whispered to me, “I know I am drunk but I couldn’t help it, its my birthday”. I said, “I thought those only came once a year”. She replied, “Thank you”. I smiled and patted her on the back.
She is so beautiful and does not realize the risk she is taking with her health and the risk of leaving herself vulnerable to any depraved monster who may be lurking in the crowd, just looking for someone like her. In addition to that, she is hastening the aging process that will jump right up and steal that beauty from her sooner than it should.
Often the activity in the audience can be equally as intriguing as the stage performance, yet I smiled and turned back to the stage.
I find myself wondering what responsibility I have to protect and watch over these young people in the crowd. My motherly instincts are screaming for me to help, yet I know they are adults, free to make their own choices. I can offer my advice, ...ie..."Always have someone with you who is sober and will see that you are ok." Yet, I must admit that I am powerless to stop or control what they do. I have learned to turn off the screaming in my head to help those who have become helpless.
I do want to say that this young woman, Jessa, has never acted vulgar or dressed vulgar or been anything but sweet and kind to me. She has a loving, kind spirit.
I am by no means trying to disparage anyone. I am just an observer and sometimes a concerned observer. I only wish the best for my young, currently beautiful, friend, Jessa.
Its your birthday ...again? I know there is more to her story and I sure wish I was close enough to her to help.