MILWAUKEE, WI–Turning his life around after years of aimlessness, Jay Krouse, 30, has alienated almost everyone around him with his recent upward spiral of self-constructive behavior.
"Jay used to be one of the greatest guys to hang with," longtime friend Sean McRoddy said. "He'd always be the first one out drinking at The Red Shed and the last one driving around looking for weed at 3 a.m. Now, all he wants to do is study for his LSATs so he can become an environmental lawyer. I don't mind that he wants to do something with his life, but ever since he's gotten his act together, it's just not the same."
According to McRoddy, Krouse now eschews many of the unproductive, time-killing activities he used to love.
"Jay, Teddy [Orr], and I used to go 'country cruising' all the time," McRoddy said. "When I called up Jay to do it a few weeks ago, he said he'd go but that we couldn't use his truck because he didn't want to get another DUI. This is the guy who, a few years ago, liked to say that DUIs are the small price you pay for having a good time. I'm not sure I even know Jay anymore."
Friends say Krouse's sobriety and level-headedness make him difficult to be around. One such example occurred nearly four months ago, when Krouse's friends wanted to jump Tony Hernandez's Geo Tracker over a mound of dirt. After a night of drinking only O'Doul's, Krouse refused to participate.
"If we were jumping Tony's car a year ago, Jay would have been right up front, cheering the loudest," Orr said. "But when the car got stuck, and we had to dig it out with a tire iron, Jay just stood there shaking his head. You could tell he was thinking we're idiots. Acting stupid isn't much fun when there's someone around who knows better."
Friends fear that Krause's self-constructive habits may worsen under the influence of his new girlfriend, third-grade schoolteacher Pamela Tellen.
"Most of the women Jay dated in the past could keep up with us when we hit the bars," McRoddy said. "I don't think Pam even drinks. We all went out last weekend, and she wouldn't even do a Jell-O shot. [Krouse's ex-girlfriend] Kathy used to pound shots of Wild Turkey and would've kicked my ass for even suggesting a Jell-O shot. That woman was so good for Jay."
Members of Krouse's family say they don't see him as much as they did when he was "less together."
"Jay used to call me all the time," said Caroline Krouse, Jay's 34-year-old sister. "He'd sweet-talk me for a while and then hit me up for a loan–he's quite a charmer. But I haven't heard from him in weeks. I thought he might have gone on another bender in New Orleans, so I called him. He said he'd just been really busy lately, what with trying to get back into school, getting in shape, and writing in his journal. He never even comes over to pass out on the basement sofa, lying in his own puke. Sad is what it is."
Now in his eighth month of productive, goal-oriented living, Krouse may soon be the target of an intervention. Over two-for-one Coors pitchers at Big Ed's last Wednesday, McRoddy and Orr discussed plans to kidnap Krouse, take him to a remote cabin, and rehabilitate him with a keg of beer, a carton of cigarettes, and a crate of illegal fireworks. The plans were scuttled two days later, however, when Krouse informed Orr that he and Tellen would be spending the next four weekends at a yoga/massage-therapy center in northern Minnesota.
Fearing the best, Krouse's friends cling to the hope that an act of divine intervention will bring their friend back into the fold.
"Maybe if Jay's new girlfriend got hit by a train or something, he might be so devastated, he'd start drinking and come back to us," Orr said. "But given the way he's been lately, he'd probably just find a way to turn his profound grief into a positive. Jay's got a serious appetite for construction."