Love Me, Love My Violent Alcoholic RagesCommentary • Opinion • relationships • alcohol • violence • ISSUE 39•09 • Mar 12, 2003 By Billy Putnam Billy Putnam Hey, I know I can get a bit out of hand sometimes, but nobody's perfect. Sure, every now and again, I'll have a beer or twelve down at the bar, then head over to Sheila's place and smack her around some before the cops drag me kicking and screaming to the drunk tank. Maybe it's not the greatest habit in the world, but everybody's got their good and bad qualities, right? Love me, love my violent alcoholic rages. It's like my sister Donna and those three terriers of hers. You go to visit her, and those mutts are slobbering all over your lap in 10 seconds flat. There's dog hair and squeak toys everywhere, but she couldn't give a damn. She says any man who wants to marry her will have to accept those critters. And I respect that. Sometimes, I sleep on Donna's couch when I'm too wrecked to get the key in the car door. She lives close to Tilly's Tap, so I stagger over to her house and pound on the door, screaming that she'd better open up or I'll kick her fucking head in. But once I'm inside, hell, I never say shit about those animals. Okay, so I'm a drunk prone to violent outbursts. Have been for years, ever since I turned the corner into hardcore alcoholism back in '92. Guilty as charged! Just ask the other guys down at the plant. There ain't a one of them that hasn't gotten a face full of my boot at one time or another. That's just me. But, hey, what am I supposed to do, stop drinking? I love my friends and family and Sheila, but I love my liquor, too. Everyone knows that. There's Billy, and then there's the bottle in his hand. That's just part of the package. If you want to enjoy all the wonderful things about a person, you have to be willing to accept their faults, too. As they say, every rose has its thorn. I admit, I have this bad habit of getting angry when I'm drinking. Kinda weird, but it's my little quirk. After a sixer, I'll call Sheila up but accidentally dial the wrong number, and a man will answer, so I'll be convinced she's cheating on me. I'll go to her house and throw things around for a bit, call her a no-good cunt and a fucking whore. Well, she just locks herself in her bedroom and lets me scream until I pass out on the floor. No harm done. The next day, Sheila and I always patch things up. I say I'm sorry and make it up to her by painting her fence or something, and all is right with the world. Hey, we've all got our foibles and frailties: You have a weakness for chocolate, I get loaded and hit women. Sometimes, people make fun of my drinking. They laugh at the way I stumble out of the bar at the end of the night, zigzagging across the parking lot. Yup, that's me, Big Ol' Screaming Lush Billy. Well, laugh all you want, because everybody has their imperfections. We're all human, and we need to all be tolerant of each other. So if I respect the fact that you can't parallel-park to save your life, you should respect the fact that I drink too much and end up picking fights and hitting people. It's like when Sheila's on the phone with that blabbermouth sister of hers. Do I tell her what to do? Well, after a few shots of tequila, I guess I do say, "Get off that goddamn phone right this minute or I'll pull it through the fucking wall," but she won't listen. Sheila says, "Love me, love my family." That's her thing. My thing is getting plastered and driving my pickup through the window of convenience stores that won't sell me beer after 11. Different strokes for different folks. Sure, some people still try to get me to quit drinking. They slip pamphlets under my door, recommend AA counselors, give me lectures when they drive me home from the emergency room after I spend three hours getting glass shards picked out of my fist. As if that's going to do any good. Sorry, but I've never been one for the straight and narrow. Nope, I'm more the strip-down-to-my-pit-stained-T-shirt-in-the-middle-of-winter, lurch-around-unsteadily-on-the-front-lawn, throw-things-at-passing-cars type of guy. What can I say? I gotta be me.