"As our thoughts are centered on the men who fought for and defended our country this week, write a post with the focus on War."Both of my siblings have posted their pieces. Silver Valley Girl's is here and InlandEmpireGirl's is here.
I'm a little late with this post and I lost my Veteran's Day vibe. But, Silver Valley Girl's prompt triggered a memory.
Being drunk for days on end transformed how I saw the world.
I always had a slight headache, a headache I learned to long for. The pain circled around the most exurban fringe of my nerve centers and didn't debilitate me. The slight ache sharpened my senses, making my world more vibrant and memorable.
I had this slight headache most days in the late winter and spring of 1973 during my freshman year at North Idaho College.
I spent most of my time at Baco and Robert's apartment on the Fort Grounds of Coeur d'Alene, at place we accurately, especially when we left out dirty dishes at night, called Cockroach Castle.
It was the best of times. Baco, Robert, and I were in an American Literature course together and on late afternoons we filled the icebox with Lucky Lager beer and Marl-bater cigarettes and listened to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and drank beer and read passages aloud from T.S. Eliot and the National Lampoon and Playboy interviews and from the Walla Walla College course catalogue (Baco and Robert were Walla Walla College dropouts) and listened to Cream and Led Zeppelin and Free and Jethro Tull and KHQ-FM and went to the Topper for Double Whammies when hungry. And smoked Marl-baters.
I had the greatest girlfriend. I wish I hadn't squandered Liz's affections. Liz loved bringing Cat Stevens to the Castle and teaching us Catholic catechism and drilling me for my U.S. History exams when I read five chapters the night before the test and she encouraged me, telling me she couldn't believe I could keep details of Lend-Lease and the Marshall Plan clear while trying to finish reading "Deliverance" while maintaining my rigorous beer drinking schedule.
I remember one day in particular, not for what Liz and Bocco and Robert and I did, but for the day itself. It must have been an April day. I remember the relief. The sky was sapphire. The temperature climbed into the low seventies after a long gray North Idaho stretch of days in the thirties, forties, and fifties.
I'd been drunk or hungover for several days in a row and Liz and I drove down east Sherman in her Ford Fairlane to the Sherman IGA to buy a case of beer and cash checks for cash.
The dull ache in my head from too much drink craved the warmth and clear light of this April afternoon. Liz radiated with good humor and enthsuiasm to get back to drinking. We ecstatically cussed the day, peppering our praises for Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Ponderosa pines with our own liturgy, repeating our single cry of praise: "I can't believe how fucking beautiful it is!"
We held hands, bought our beer at Sherman's IGA, got back in the car, and romanced the parking lot. We held each other, shared long kisses, held each other's faces with our eyes and in our hands, and kept saying, "I can't believe how fucking beautiful it is."
Liz fired up the Fairlane.
We had the radio on.
At that moment, God intervened. The waves of the Holy Spirit joined with the radio waves and filled Liz's car with joy and rhythm and the reckless pleasure of being nineteen years old on an endless April afternoon by gracing us with "The Cisco Kid".
If you'd like, watch and listen to War perform. Light up a Marl-bater, snap open a cheap lager, and join Liz and me in the parking lot of the Sherman IGA; get your War funk on, lift your eyes to the sky, cry out, "I can't believe how fucking beautiful it is!", and let your spirit (and maybe your body!) dance.