When I decided to write a book, just after deactivating my Facebook account in a fit of pique, I also decided I would act like a professional writer, even though I wasn’t one yet. To me this entails reading everything I can get my hands on, writing every free minute of the day, and drinking heavily. I decided I wouldn’t curb my alcohol intake at all, at least until the book was finished.
Because this shit is harder than you would think. I love doing it, but sometimes I feel like I have a million problems to work out and I will never, ever get to them all. As Hunter S. Thompson said, writing is like chopping wood; a taxing and seemingly endless chore.
Well, the book is almost finished and I’ve been on a bender so long I can’t even remember when or how it started. I’m starting to feel like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Not physically, physically I feel great, which worries me. Surely I’m not super human. What are the odds that I have the physiology of a Lemmy von Motorhead or a Keith Richards? I’m probably more like a David Crosby, which means in a few years I’ll be shaking down doctors for a new set of organs.
The writers I admire were (or still are) all drunks; Thompson, whom I’ve already mentioned, Christopher Hitchens, Ernest Hemingway. Hem was such a drunk towards the end of his life you could actually see the outline of his bloated liver through his skin. Hitch wears his chronic inebriation proudly even now, though he’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer, which may or may not have been the result of his lifestyle. He faces this possibility with the utmost dignity, accepting the outcome and acknowledging that a life hard lived might meet its end sooner rather than later.
Another person I admire greatly, and who was a writer of sorts, was William Melvin Hicks. He was a comedian first and foremost, but I like to think of him as a philosopher because the term comedian doesn’t do him justice. He liked to belittle those hell bent on the pursuit of physical health, using a semi-famous fitness guru from 80s by the name of Jim Fixx as a prime example. Fixx was a talk show staple who touted the benefits of clean living. He dropped dead of a heart attack while out on a jog. Hicks was fond of imaging Fixx in heaven, trading stories with celebrities who lived their lives to excess, while Fixx would meekly add (and I’m paraphrasing), “I went wild one night and had an extra carrot stick.”
Back to Lemmy, who is not a writer but happens to be one of the world’s greatest living drunkards. He claims to have drunk a bottle of Jack Daniels every day for the last 30 years, and I’m inclined to believe him. This is a man who was bounced from the druggiest band in England for doing too many drugs. (Though, as he put it, he was really guilty of doing the wrong kind of drugs; the rest of Hawkwind were into mind expanding hallucinogens, while Lemmy preferred uppers, like speed.) A band mate said Lemmy was once so inebriated that he not only forgot how to play bass, he actually forgot what a bass was, and the rest of the band had to reacquaint him with it right before a show. Of course, Lemmy pulled through because he is the consummate professional, unlike his contemporary Ozzy Osbourne, who can barely form a sentence and must be wheeled into performances by his macro cephalic daughter.
Obviously you trade off. Maybe all this hard living will knock a few years off my life (Although, I read somewhere that drunks tend to live longer. I can’t remember when or where I read that, because I was probably drunk at the time). But would these be the years spent in a nursing home, fending off necrophiliac orderlies and other sadists? Would my loved ones be long gone and forgotten, along with all my cherished memories? Would these years be filled with day time TV and pointless conversations and absolutely nothing to look forward to? Well, who needs that shit? I’d rather live it up now and deal with the consequences. I mean, something’s going to kill me. I could get cancer, I could be run over by a bus, a disgruntled employee could come into my office right now and fill me full of lead. So I’m taking the high road. So to speak.
The title of this essay comes from something Ernest Hemingway once said, lest anyone erroneously believes me to be so clever.