Friday, July 15, 2005

A man I would have loved to have met

The Houston Chronicle is an awful paper. It does have a tolerable sports page. Actually, when I was living in Texas, the only thing I liked reading in it was the Obituaries section.

Lots of interesting Obituaries. I've read some that led the most fascinating lives. One that stands out is a guy I'll call Yngwie (pronounced Ing-vay).

Yngwie was a black guy who grew up during very racist times. His son
wrote the obituary and one of his earliest memories was from the time Yngwie, who made lots of money, took his family to a posh white restaurant.

Of course, all the white folk stared at Yngwie and his family, giving him a look like "what is those black people doing in this restaurant?" So Yngwie's son, being young and curious, asked his father, "why is everyone staring at us?"

With a big smile, Yngwie looked down at his son and replied, "because we're the best-looking black people they've ever seen."

The other thing that stood out from the story was that Yngwie was an alcoholic. Not a drunken rager, but a kind alcoholic who would get up to work, do his job, in fact do it well, go home, drink, and talk lots. I've known this type and actually like these people.

This is where my rant begins. The difference between alcoholics and drug

I'm not denying that alcoholism is a bad thing. It will eventually destroy your liver and take a decade or two off your life. It also brings out demons within you. I keep hearing people say things like "Bob's cool, but he's a major ***hole when he's drunk." No, Bob's a major ***hole but it takes being drunk for him to show his true side.

Some alcoholics can lead a double-life. Co-workers may not even know the guy's an alcoholic until after he retires. He could show up for work at nine, leave at five, do a wonderful job, then head home and get drunk for thirty-five years and retire. A few years later, you'd hear in the obituaries that he was an alcoholic and he died of his liver giving out.

Drug addicts on the other hand cannot live a double life for long. Usually
within a year, their double life would overlap. They'll lose their job, end up on the streets, and die by an early age, driving everyone they knew nuts in the meantime.

Once again, I'm not denying that alcoholism is a problem. I've known children of alcoholics that spend their whole lives trying to please losers because Dad was always drunk. On the other hand, I knew guys like Yngwie. He used alcohol to hide from the sorrows of racism. By the way, both of his children by reading the obituary turned out to be quite successful. Are they happy? I hope so.

For the record, alcoholism did kill Yngwie in the end. His liver gave out. But before he died, I would have loved to meet Yngwie. I bet I could have written a book about his life.


Anonymous Michele said...

You're right. Drugs are a worse addiction. They seem to affect the way the person looks and acts even when they're not high, whereas an alchoholic seems normal when sober.
I hate so much, though, being drunk and being around drunks. It's like the worst parts of the personality is ampliphied to the millionth degree. I'm naturally uninhibited, so I'm really obnoxious when I have a buzz on.
My dad was a functioning alchoholic most of his life. Owned a succesful Mexian restaurant, was loved by all his friends. Our private life was pretty miserable, though. He's been sober for over 5 years now. He only stays that way with the help of God. Without Him, we're powerless against the stuff that destroys us.

7/15/2005 11:01 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

My father has been a functioning alcoholic his whole life. Not many people know.

I've been down both roads. Drank for years and not many people knew. Then got addicted to heroin and dropped like a rock. It took me eight months to hit bottom. Bad, bad, bad. But I lived through. There's definitely a difference.

p.s. used to live in houston. love the obits. When hurricane "Alicia" came through Galveston in 1985, it blew my dad's beach house away...everything but the toilet. made the front page of the houston chronicle. just this lone toilit standing about 25 ft high, surrounded by devastation. bizarre.

YAYYY!!! Today's Harry Potter day.

7/15/2005 12:09 PM  
Blogger savage said...

It seems like, lately, I hear about these 'functioning alcoholics' more and more. Mrs. Savage (ha!)'s father may be one, but I don't know. Some people don't need alcohol to be heartless bastards that suck the life out of their loved ones.
For these people, alcohol is just ANOTHER problem.
For her father, his father was an alcoholic, a brutal abusive one, it sounds like, and also a poor farmer. It looks like M's father blamed the poverty and not the alcoholism for the terrible conditions and abuse.
So... Except for the poverty, the conditions and abuse continue and the vicious cycle continues.
PS: Lookin' forward to the BBQ. I'll call later and offer to bring turkey burgers, buns and/or hotdogs (and buns).

7/15/2005 12:34 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

In general, I think you're right. I'll have to mull over the why's on that one. I have a friend who does addiction research (like the recent explosion of Meth & Heroin in the Midwest) maybe she's got some ideas.

I also have to point out, however, that alcohol and cigarrettes are drugs. The only reason we call drug addicts who are addicted to alcohol is because alcohol is a socially acceptable high.

Sadly, I think that's also why it's more difficult to get functioning alcholics like Yngwie into treatment - because the line between recreational use and abuse is often blurred.

7/15/2005 1:42 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Michele - true. when they're not on drugs, they're definitely thinking about their next high. Wonderful that you're father's now sober. That's good news.

Melanie - So you know first hand then. I only know 2nd hand, never been either. Wife and I got a laugh out of the toilet story. I hope he had insurance.

Savage - we have very little alcohol so if Mrs. Savage wants to drink, you might have to bring some.

As for her father, that's sad. Didn't know that.

Laura - no argument from me here.

7/15/2005 3:13 PM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

What a wonderful story. I totally agree with you on all counts. My best pal almost died from liver failure from alcohol. Thank God he made it. I didn't know that he had that problem until an angel told me about it (and we acted damn fast let me tell ya).

You're right on about drugs. They change people, rob them of so much..physically and mentally and spiritually. Alcohol does that too but it isn't as fast/drastic.

But both suck.

I'm sorry the man in the obit didn't make it. But I bet he's happy where he is now...

7/15/2005 3:14 PM  
Blogger Kunaxa said...

Someone very dear to me (actually TWO people) were 'functional alcoholics'. They were brilliant people during daylight hours.

Their Rent:

One eventually took his own life on Christmas, and the other is still paying dearly, dodging heart attacks and grinding through with just one remaining leg.

I sort of agree with Laura, alcohol and cigarettes are more dangerous because of how accessible they are.

If you ever write a book about Yngwie, and then go on to make a movie, hit up Morgan Freeman... the man is a genius.

7/15/2005 4:17 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

I think an addiction is bad when it interrupts a person's functioning AND when it hurts the people who are closest to them. Even when people can function in daily life and be an alcoholic, it doesn't make it any less real or less painful for those who have to sit by and watch and feel helpless....

7/15/2005 7:24 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Is it strange that I love that you read the obits? I think it probably says more about you in one statement than you could reveal in an even longer entry. I just loved that.

7/16/2005 9:30 AM  
Blogger Queenie said...

Great post. I do think that drugs are far worse than alcohol and smokes but I agree they are both horrible. You know I almost married the most amazing, intelligent, funny and loving guy in the whole world, he was my very best friend. I say almost because he loved heroin and meth a little more than me!

Drugs not only rob the addicted but they rob the family and friends of them. I can honestly say that I am a very different person now having battled his addiction for 3.5 years. I think I lost a piece of my heart and soul in each of those needles.

7/16/2005 10:55 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Great post!!

You are riding in my taxi on the whole obits thing.

I was also thinking of profiling some obits from the DMN, but I was afraid of it being too proved me wrong!

7/16/2005 4:15 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

yep sounds like an interesting guy, a guy you could have a conversation with even if he was drunk.

7/16/2005 6:08 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Bridget - yeah, I'm sure Yngwie's doing fine now. :)

Cultureshocked - I have yet to see Morgan Freeman do a bad job as an actor. Now, there have been movies I didn't like with him in them, but not because of him. He's always been good.

Jen - agreed. I'm just saying the downward spiral for a drug addict occurs much faster than an alcoholic. And although I've had more alcoholic acquaintances, I've been in more bad situations with drug addicts.

Kris - I know I'm weird. ;)

Queenie - So glad that didn't go through. That would have made your life horrible.

Heather - Nah, not too dorkie at all. Some obits are really well-written and have excellent stories to them.

Ben - I truly believe this guy would have been a cool drunk. He reminds me of a few guys (only difference is they're white) I know.

7/17/2005 3:29 PM  

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