I've sucked down a lot of booze in my 42 years. A hell of a lot. In fact, some would go so far as to call me a wino. But I've got no time for that kind of negativity. I'm not a wino... I'm a "why-yes"!

I didn't always have such a positive, can-drink attitude. In 1994, I was evicted from my apartment for overdue rent. Three days later, I woke up in a dumpster with a splitting headache and 12 cents to my name. And what did I do? I cursed the landlord who threw me out, the boss who fired me, and God Himself for allowing me to sink so low. "You're nothing now," I thought to myself. "You're a worthless, stinking wino."

I guess, in retrospect, it's hardly surprising that I felt that way. All the other winos in the neighborhood seemed to have a similarly defeatist attitude. All I would hear is, I hate this, I don't care about that, I need some money to get shitfaced. I mean, sure, they'd be happy some of the time, usually after getting plastered on a fifth of Fleischmann's. But just as often, they'd be loudly complaining about something. (Between you and me, I think some of them may have had a manic-depressive condition.)

Anyway, some of that negativity must've rubbed off on me, because before long, I started saying the same things: Life sucks! It's so cold! The lady at McDonald's is trying to telepathically interfere with my brainwaves to make me kill squirrels! I hated my pathetic, miserable, vodka-soaked life.

Then, one morning, I took a good, long look in the hubcap and said to myself, "Hey, instead of complaining, why not make the best of your situation? If you're going to be a drunk, focus on being the best damn drunk you can be!"

From then on, I pursued my alcohol hobby with renewed vigor. From the moment I woke up to the moment I laid my head down on my cardboard pillow each night, getting hammered was my A-1 top priority. That meant redoubling my panhandling efforts. And checking the Dumpsters outside bars. And never drinking 30 proof if 40 proof was available. In this life, you gotta dive into the gutter headfirst.

And you know what? It worked! I've never been as liquored up as I have this past year. Christ, I've drunk a fuckload of booze!

Oh, sure, I have my bad days. When I've been without alcohol for five hours and am falling short of my panhandling goals, I can get so wound up, I feel like pounding the living crap out of somebody. But at the end of the day, I always pat myself on the back. Both to scratch the scab that's covered my left shoulder ever since those teenagers poured hot coffee on me and to say, "Hey, you did your best to get drunk today." It's that kind of positive attitude that gets me up in the morning, before 2 a.m., when all the liquor stores close.

So, if you see me on the corner of Wilmot and 11th, give a nod and some spare change to help a guy get smashed. My next Night Train toast will be to you!

Be good to each other.