Author Escapes Arctic Chill, Flees to Florida
“ I have never set foot in the state of Florida, it is a matter of personal pride.” Candace Bergen, “Murphy Brown”
For various reasons, some of which I explained in my blogs on South Carolina, I am going to Florida today. I am not overly fond of the state of Florida, I suppose it began on my honeymoon where it rained every day we were in the state. As a great author once said, “Florida is the place Americans go when they need to reinvent themselves”. Rayda and I are going to see an old friend who reinvented himself.
Eric (not his real name) was an old drinking buddy of mine. I say “was” because Eric does not drink anymore and has not for over a decade. Since my personal belief is that alcoholism is a strong genetic disposition, I have great admiration for recovering alcoholics. I think that it is similar to deciding that after 40 years of being right handed, you are going to live your life left handed. it is a very, very difficult thing to start and much more difficult to maintain. Eric has done it with aplomb (he had to use aplomb because he does not drink anymore and aplomb was all that was left).I have no friend of whom I am more proud.
For several years I was Eric’s boon companion, and probable enabler, for many a happy hour. Eric was a colorful drinker. The stories I could tell would fill many blogs but might embarrass him should anyone figure out who Eric is. I will tell one though.
As stated above, Eric liked to drink a lot, in both senses of that phrase. He was pretty O.K. when he was at Speedy’s on Sixth Street with friends (Speedy’s had a “three for one” happy hour before such gimmicks were outlawed by the state, often Eric and I would often go in for “six for two”. It was when he was out on his own that he got into trouble. One night I got the inevitable “one telephone call” from Eric, who had been invited by an Austin Policeman to be a guest of the City’s for the evening, pending bail and arraignment. I quickly put on some clothes and headed downtown to try to help out. I walked into the station and asked to see the police report.
From a tactical defense point of view, Eric had done himself no favors. The report said that when he was asked by the cop if he had been drinking, and was that why he was driving n excess of 110 mph, Eric is said to have replied, “yeah. I’ve got a pretty good buzz on.” Hmmm, that might hurt in front of a jury. I was taken back to that cool little room where you get to talk to your client on a phone and there is a glass wall between you, just like n the movies.
Wade(doing Bogart imitation)- ” How are the “screws? treating you in there ?”
Eric (laughing)-“they have got me on bread and water.”
Wade- “where the hell are your shoes ?”
I managed to get Eric out and as we walked, well, I walked, toward the front door of the police station, he looked at the desk cop and then me and said, “Here, give me the keys, I’ll drive.” That was the first time I found out that the Police did not think Eric was all that funny. There was another (another misunderstanding) about a year later.
At any rate, Eric and I had a Saturday law firm meeting the next morning, i.e. in about four hours. Now, in those days, to try to cut down on vehicular homicide, the Austin American Statesman newspaper used to print the name and address of every DWI from the previous evening. They eventually stopped this hilarious practice, but it was going strong at the time. Anyway, Eric and I walk into the conference room and see one of the partners reading a section of the newspaper. On the back of the section he is reading, we see the list of DWI arrests from the night before , Eric’s name, prominent among them. A meeting goes awfully slowly when, for the entire time, there is newspaper on the table that has got your name in it as having committed a serious crime.. But no one said a word. For all I know, no one but Eric and I ever saw it.
That was a long time ago, Eric is sober and a family man now with a wife and two beautiful children, all of whom I will get to meet tomorrow. I could not be more excited, even if it means that I have to go to Florida to do it.