I had locked myself out again. There was only one solution, to put on a sap glove and punch out the glass. Cheaper than a locksmith. Besides, it was only a small pane. Except it was not. It was a singular big pane disguised as individual small ones by the faux frames in the door. A cloud burst of double-paned weather-rated safety glass came raining down on me. What a surprise. What a clever decorating device.
Well okay, now you know…don’t ever forget your keys, and that what looks like little individual panes of glass, thanks to some bullshit phony frames, could be connected to a motherload of glass, and that punching it out is not cheaper than a locksmith. You can conclude that and learn from it. Can’t you? I found out ten years later that I couldn’t.
One of the best things about being sober is not having to fix as much stuff. I don’t just mean abstract stuff like relationships and credit ratings, but actual stuff, like car doors, furniture, windows, televisions, bathroom fixtures, and heirloom china. Stuff that costs beer money to replace. And it always needs to be replaced. Always.
Tough shit for someone who’s been the proverbial bovine male in the china shop his whole life. Never fully at ease in this material dimension, I was perhaps, I’m saying perhaps, self-medicating. Any natural clumsiness was now aggravated by the constant ingestion of central nervous system neurotoxic zombie juice. Even sober, anything less durable than an AK-47 or lead ingot doesn’t stand much of a chance under my sustained proximity. Just dig me after a few forties of malt liquor and shot or three of whiskey. Hey, hey, hey! I can find a way to break sand.
While drinking, I was a one-man wreckage machine. Just add priceless family keepsakes and I’d churn them out into a stream of broken junk, swirling in a wake of pissed-off people.
Things were worse around my friends. Those miscreants had a blatant disregard for property and unhealthy ideas as to what constituted fun, and of course applied coercive peer pressure for me to participate . Honest. I never wanted to run wild, destroying stuff. Except for always. While other kids had posters of sports heroes on their walls, I had ones of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. I remember moping around grade school all grumpy because I wasn’t allowed to sack or pillage. I made up for this in later life, in spades, of wall putty.
My friends and I liked to drink beer and rough house. Pushing a friend’s head into a door jamb was one of the few ways we knew how to comfortably express our affection. The more love in the room, the more collateral damage. You never knew when a karate kick would miss a groin and land on a trophy case or computer monitor. Shopping for sliding glass doors on a Saturday became almost a tradition. “Hey Manny, let me have the single plate, and some new runners.”
Then, as you all know by now, there was the gunplay. More Spackle. More airline tickets.
That shit added up. The cost of operating an alcoholic was not cheap. There was always somebody to pay for something. It was either that or try to fix it myself, and that was always problematic since I’ve never been much of a handy man. Anything with more moving parts than a bottle of beer baffled me. If it couldn’t be fixed by repeated chops from a tennis racket, it was time to throw it away, and do without. Being drunk doesn’t lend itself to any painstaking problem solving.
I preferred a more action-oriented approach. The idea was to reduce what was originally only slightly damaged, back to its molecular components, in the hope that it would somehow rebuild itself, perfectly. You know, in response to the tantrum I just threw. Cup handle won’t stay glued? Throw it against the fridge. See if that works.
“So if it belonged to your great-grandmother, that means it was really old, huh? Like some kind of antique type of thing? “
Whether through accident or anarchy, the physical world crumbled at my touch. Especially cars. I could disintegrate your car interior just by sitting in it. I’d be trying to roll down the window and notice I’m twirling a useless handle in the air. I don’t know how I pulled that ashtray out so that there is no human way possible to re-insert it. Radio knobs? Please. I might as well have just pulled them off as soon as I got in. Cigarette lighter? Throw it out with the knobs. Ignition broke off, but now I don’t have to look for your keys to start it. Rearview just snapped loose. “Here, save it for somebody who does coke.”
What’s wrong with all this shit? Why can’t anybody build a car for a modern drunk Neanderthal?
Car doors never failed to fail me. I was always having to climb in and out, NASCAR style, because the fucking things wouldn’t open anymore. I don’t know of many ways you can close a car door wrong, but apparently I knew a good one. Opening one, too.
I went to visit some friends in Northern California. They picked me up from the airport. I was drunk, of course, because I was traveling–through space and time. They drove up to the white zone for loading and unloading of passengers only, no parking. I opened their car door and superfuckingfantastic, broke it. A very Herman Munster Moment.
“Really sorry about that. Hey, this is going to be a wild weekend, huh?”
Later on they let me borrow one of their cars (I know, crazy) to make an appointment. As I was getting on the freeway I saw a bum dude hitchhiking. Always willing to help out a fellow traveler through space and time, I pulled over. He ran up, opened the door, sat down, and couldn’t shut it. Who’s this? A kindred soul plagued with the poison touch? I got out of the car and we tried to close it. No way.
I finally had to drive with the passenger door sticking out a right angle. I dropped off my long-lost brother at the next on ramp.
“Sorry about your door, bro!”
“Yeah, it happens…to me…always.”
“Me too,” he said, then held up his cardboard sign.
We looked at each other and nodded. Yeah, he knows. That was kind of a neat moment, but now what the fuck?! How am I going to drive all the way home with this door sticking out? I’ve been pulled over for less. Fortunately, I wasn’t drunk. The morning maintenance shot I drank had ceased to smooth the edges of this harsh reality. But, now it wouldn’t spike a breathalyzer either. It was one of those bad thing/good thing things.
Still, I’d rather not have any discourse with armed lawmen, especially while driving someone else’s car.
“I can’t seem to find their papers, Officer.” Fumbling around the glove box, finding a hash pipe and a chunk. “What’s this? Holding out on me, were they? Oh, you saw that too.”
“Please put your hands on the dash.”
Yeah, always better not to even get started. I chose speed over stealth and just burned it home, hoping that the wind would shut it closed. Every time I took a left turn people behind me would start braking for the body they expected to roll out. They’d drive up next to me, honking.
“Your door is open!”
Really? Which one? Oh, this one next to me, bending like an airplane wing? Got it. Smile and give them a thumbs up and hope it satisfies them.
It was a nerve-wracking drive home, but I knew a more awesome time awaited me when I returned the car dog-eared. “I didn’t do this one, guys. It was my spiritual twin. I gave him a ride.” They looked at me and shook their heads. What sort of vendetta does this guy have with the doors of our vehicles?
I hate them, for one thing. Flimsy fickle bitch doors. So how many beers will a new one cost me?
I was perplexed. What is this with the doors? Always some broken door. What is the Universe trying to tell me? There must be some metaphysical meaning, something symbolic going on, but it’s beyond me. Jim Morrison? Am I to learn something from Jim Morrison? Do I need to be more groovy? More Lizard Kingy?
Yes, that’s it. There could be no other conclusion.
It’s fitting that my last good piece of physical wreckage before getting sober was a broken door. I came home to an apartment I shared with my buddy, Spike. I was wavering in and out of a black out. I forgot my keys and didn’t want to wake him up, so very logically, I decided to punch out a small pane of glass in the door. Sound familiar? Not to me. This time I didn’t bother using a sap glove and just shot my fist through. The whole door shattered. Fucking faux frames. I never learn.
That was the final straw for Spike. He drove me to rehab the next morning, and you know the rest. My last drink was a Coors Silver Bullet I stole from him while he packed the car. I’ve been much better since. Stuff around me, too. As for fixing things, I’ve added sincere amends to my fix-it kit, along with the duct tape, Bondo and Spackle I still seem to need.
So I guess, the big lesson here is that sometimes the solution is punching out what you think is a small pane of glass. I can’t come up with any other conclusion.
And thanks, Spike.