BURNSVILLE, MN—Recovering alcoholic Tim Schwann, 33, still clearly takes a certain pride in his hard-drinking days, sources reported Monday.
"Man, did I used to put it away," said Schwann, nursing a soda at a recent party. "Look at me. I weigh, like, 160. You'd never guess a guy my size could pound a case of Miller Genuine Draft, a fifth of schnapps, and a bottle of Mad Dog over the course of six hours. I was a machine."
Despite renouncing alcohol following a 2001 stint in rehab, Schwann seems to romanticize his years of heavy drinking, frequently waxing nostalgic about the days when his life was dedicated to the consumption of beer and liquor.
"One time, Rob [Reilly] came over on a Sunday afternoon, and we plowed through two cases like it was nothing," Schwann said. "Around 6:30, we realized we were out of beer and had to make a run for more, but the stupid liquor stores were closed. We ended up driving all the way to Wisconsin to find a store that still sold beer on Sunday. We didn't care: We were hell-bent on partying, and when we finally got back, that's exactly what we did. Big time."
Even though Schwann hasn't gone into Sullivan's Wake, the site of many of his ugliest drinking bouts, in nearly two years, he said he still holds a special place in his heart for the bar.
"Sullivan's was the best," Schwann said. "All the guys from the machine shop used to drink there after work. In the morning, you'd see guys from the third shift waiting for the bar to open at 8 a.m., and I was usually right there with them. Mike, the owner, told me he had to order an extra keg of MGD per week after I started showing up. He used to say I was putting his kids through college—which was kind of ironic considering I got kicked out of high school for sneaking vodka into class."
One of Schwann's favorite binge-drinking stories involves stealing a keg of beer from a University of Minnesota fraternity house.
"This is about nine years ago," Schwann said. "My roommate Andy [Stavokakis] and I swiped this full keg that was being delivered to the Fiji house for a party that night. We ended up drinking the whole thing in two days. We were so drunk, we forgot to add ice, so the beer was warm most of the second day. We didn't care. We were crazy back then, and warm beer wasn't going to stop us."
According to friends, Schwann rarely tells stories of events that occurred during his past 20 months of sobriety.
"If I ask him about some rock show he went to over the weekend, he'll have nothing to say," coworker Henry Blount said. "But if the subject of beer comes up, he suddenly springs to life. It's pretty clear that he considers his drinking days the best of his life, even though the stories always end up with him in jail or vomiting in a Stop-N-Go."
Schwann finally decided to check himself into the Helping Hand Detox Center in June 2001 after being fired from his machinist job and going on "a bender to end all benders." Over the course of three days, Schwann demolished his 1984 Chevette, accidentally set fire to his apartment, and passed out on the porch of an old girlfriend's house.
"Dude, you should have seen me, I was so fucked up," Schwann said. "I knew I needed help, but you can't keep a party guy like me down, so right after waking up on the porch, I went off on another pub crawl. I wound up curled up on Melissa's front door again. After she got done yelling at me for being an asshole, she drove me to the rehab center. She never did forgive me for taking a shit on her lawn."
Since going sober, Schwann has dramatically turned his life around, earning his GED and enrolling in night classes at a St. Paul community college. He has also renewed his interest in woodworking, a hobby he abandoned after smashing all his projects in a 1998 whiskey-induced rage.
"I've been sober for almost two years now, and I finally feel like I'm in control of my life," Schwann said. "Sure, drinking Shirley Temples and going to AA meetings isn't as exciting as waking up in a ditch with a splitting headache and no clue how you got there. But even though I miss all those fun times, I don't miss the actual drinking that much. Besides, I know in my heart that if I wanted to, I could still out-drink anyone out there."