No, That Is Not The Booze Talking

Saturday, August 05, 2006 at 07:35 AM

I am somewhat amazed at the furor over a certain celebrity getting busted for DUI, and then, according to the stories, said certain things....

But then, I am a redneck, and trust me, I know alcohol. I really do.

In my teen years, I learned to play guitar, and after much, much practice, was in a band or two and we made some money playing gigs. It was not just an introduction to the insane world of entertainment, but a sharp education in the effects of alcohol.

I became good friends with this sharp-eyed Marine bouncer. (No such thing as an ex, he warned me, once corps, always corps...) We'd play the club he worked, and he and his associates did a remarkable job of keeping order, and keeping we pickers from, well, trust me, the stuff you see on the screen pales to real drunks, real fights and real violence.

The first set was always good, second set, we'd be warmed and having a good time. Folks would dance.

And then, by the third set, Edward Hyde would make well his arrival. No matter what bar, club, honky-tonk, it never failed. By the third set, some drunken fool would begin to crank my pal's ire no end.

Edward Hyde? I was always convinced, especially after this education of mine, that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was less science fiction/gothic horror than a clever satire on the effects of alcohol. I offer, as proof, my years playing these very bars, clubs, and too, the time or two I bounced myself.

I learned what my bouncer friend said was totally correct: Alcohol loosens away the veneer of a civilized man or woman, allowing the real Edward Hyde to emerge. It never failed, not ever.

I learned to see it coming. A face in the crowd without a smile, or a pretensive smile. A look of bitterness or distrust. You'd watch that person all night long. Eventually, enough liquor consumed, Henry would go home and Edward stayed.

Not all were like that, but, again, I learned well: The nice folks, well, they got silly, tipsy, one guy, when he was toasted, he was a riot. He was never a problem.

Not so his brutish comrades, and those were the ones to fear. Usually, male patrons come to drink, pick up a girl and depart. It doesn't always work like that. Some would end up in a confrontation, and that's when the tasers or pepper gas came out. Oh, yes, some were always carrying a knife, or like one guy, smash a beer bottle and demand satisfaction. He got it, all 75,000 volts, too. Like felling an oak.

And I asked, at one point, why this took place. My old bud grinned at me. Alcohol makes you do nothing, it just takes away the thin veneer of civility many carry. Then, the goon emerges, the fighting redneck, that's when he gets to really work. In his time in the corps, he was an MP, and well, his training in "Hyde recognition" came early. You just learn now, son.

It made sense. Years later, I'd hear Bill Cosby say the same about cocaine:

"Well, it makes you more of what you are!"
"Well, suppose you're an asshole?"

With alcohol, inhibitions fall away, such is why many men adore getting girlfriend tipsy, she won't say no. Minor detail, too much and she'll snore her way through it. So will most.

The Henry Jekyll kind? They only look civilized; it's all for show. Underneath a polite smile is a raging monster just waiting to come out and wreak havoc. Underneath the charm is a racist, a bigot, a wife-beater, whatever breed of darkness you could not wish for, but it's there, sir, madam, it is there.

The transformation is slow, until a raised voice tips off the crew: Yellow Alert. This person will then be asked to either settle down or take flight. Some fights start then and there, and are quickly taken care of. Worse will be those who grin, apologize and then add more alcohol to their diet. An hour later, Edward Hyde is tossing some poor soul into a wall.

Then, he is then either grabbed by someone who understands the martial arts, or has the taser aleady deployed, or in one case, gets a nice squirt right between the eyes and lies down on the floor screaming. And out into the night they are carried, hopefully, never to return.

But they do.

My point is, I don't buy apologies from any drunk. It is not "the booze talking". It is a mind already corrupted, you just a little alcohol and the volume knob goes up enough so we can all hear it. Racial epithets? I've heard things that would make Jesus slide the bolt back on an AK-47. Full clip, too. On full auto.

Apologies don't faze me. All my years of dealing with drunks have taught me well: The booze only sends Henry home, and his dark companion Edward comes out and we see the real person emerge, and they are far from pretty.

Alcohol is not a hallucinogen, it's a depressant. I can see a hallucination making you say and do stuff you'd never attempt, but a depressant, well, it lowers your shields just enough so that the crud in your stem can come out. You can go be sorry to someone else, I know better.

Happy folk, nice people? Drunk, they are pretty funny, silly at times, but even three-sheets, they're not racist or assholes.

But, there are, among us, those whose level of civility is microns thin, painted on by societal pressures, as some behavior isn't tolerated. They are secret Klingons, all, and all it takes is enough alcohol to loosen their brains and release the real monster within. They may attend church, work good jobs, but it's all for show, really, because, get them drunk and they are vicious, evil, callous, maniacal.

But then, they were always like that. What made you think otherwise? And I am sorry as I can be, but having dealt Edward Hyde a few taps of the taser myself, I know better.

Such a person isn't drunk, they're a loser to begin with, the booze...just proves so.