Bee in the Bonnet: Circle the Wagons

By B.H. Bates

‘Was I ever drunk, this one time, when I …’ – We’ve all heard stories that have started this way. And I’ll bet you, a soft beaver pelt, that you, yourself have began a yarn with those exact same words. Well, am I right? If not, write to this publication for your well-deserved beaver.

Was I ever drunk, this one time- I don’t exactly remember what happened, but, I was sure that I must’ve had a good time, because the next morning everyone was looking at me with these big silly grins on their faces.

‘I must have been the life of the party,’ I happily thought to myself, that is until a kind young lady, took pity on yours truly, she told me to take a look in the mirror.

As I looked in the mirror I saw why everyone was smiling at me. The night before, while I was passed-out, some jerk had penned another expletive for the word ‘fornicate’ across my forehead.

As I looked in that mirror I also seen a fool, a drunken fool and then I felt the sinking feeling of shame, in the pit of my stomach. The next day I hopped on the ‘wagon’ for a little ride!

That was my first attempt at seeing straight. It didn’t take though – given my native lineage! I guess that I was more prone to circling wagons than being on one. Now before you go and get holier than thou, about my last sentence, let me explain.

I feel that natives, by nature, are an ‘all or nothing’ kind of people. We didn’t choose this trait, Mother Nature did it for us.

Long, long ago, natives gobbled sushi when the salmon made their annual swim up the rivers. Natives stuffed their faces with ripe berries in the fall and we put the run on migrating meat, as they hoofed their way past our encampments.

And why did ol’ Chief Runs With Deer and his merry band make such gluttons of themselves? Simple: back in the days of bow and arrow, there was no such thing as a refrigerator. Today’s ‘catch of the day,’ was tomorrow’s salmonella sandwich.

So it’s no wonder that when something as intoxicating as firewater came along, we took to it like there was no tomorrow. And, unfortunately, for some, there wasn’t.

I remember another time (well sort of), when I smashed up my boss’ car. “Wow, was that a good time!” I’m just kidding of course- that stunt cost me one of the best jobs I ever had! Again, I hitched a ride on the red nose express.

This time, I was doing pretty good, work was going well. Well, to tell the truth, I traded one addiction for another. I threw myself into my work and to cope with the ups and downs, I turned to uppers and downers.

I had little red helpers to get me going in the morning and little black beauties to keep me going until it was time to sleep, then I’d slap back the ‘whities’ for ‘nighties!’ Then the next morning… well, you know.

This went on for days and days, then months and months. Then, one day I came home from work and my lady love was gone, along with the furniture, the dishes and most of the towels. I sat there on the floor, asking myself, ‘what the hell is her problem?’

By now, you’d think I would’ve wised up, right? But, sadly, I didn’t.

Instead, I thought to myself, I’ll show her, I’ll destroy the one thing she really loved- ‘ME!’ So I promptly crawled back into the bottle and attempted to drown my sorrows. But, no matter how much I drank, I couldn’t wash away my yesterdays. Inevitable as the next mornings hangover- there it would be… ‘that stupid mirror!’

Wasted days and wasted nights, time flew by faster than I’d care to remember, or should I say, ‘If I could remember.’

Next, I took to the road, in an attempt to out run the past. And you can take it from me, Bro and/or Sis, you can’t run far enough to escape from your own emotions. You shouldn’t even try, they’re the one thing that will always tell you the bare faced truth!

Oh, yuck, enough of that! There’s nothing worse than a ‘boring again’ alcoholic. Hey, if you can handle the bottle, all the more power to you, kiddo! I wish the hell I could. I really, really, really mean that!

It’s been years and years since I had my last delicious, mind numbing, yummie, mouth-watering intoxicant. “Oh, my, my!” … I think I’d better stop this article right here, because, this ol’ wagon I’m on is dammed slippery!