My Sober Buddy

Today’s a real important day for one of the guys on our softball team. Adam, the “old guy” who’s our catcher. While it’s true that a weak player can do the least damage at catcher in softball, it still requires skill to do it right. Adam’s been playing softball for like 20 years. He’s gotten good at catching. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a passed ball from him.

So he’s the “old guy” on the team. He’s probably around 50 and losing his hair, but he’s still in good enough shape to score from 2nd…and who cares if it takes him a few minutes to catch his breath afterwards.

What’s important about August 23 is that it’s Adam’s sobriety anniversary. He makes a big deal about it, so we make a big deal about it. We played last night, and we got him this hugeass birthday card. He said he hadn’t “earned” the card yet (it was 9:30, so he had 2½ hours to go), but that he’d open it at midnight. He wants it to be exactly 23 years before he celebrates.

23 years of anything is pretty awesome: that’s almost as long as I’ve been alive lol. I’d have had to get sober when I was 2 to make it 23 years today. So it’s like my whole life…which feels like a really, really long time. For anything. Let alone something as hard as keeping sober.

I know it’s hard because I’ve played with guys who had big problems with alcohol. I don’t mean just Jackson (the dude behind my 30 chicks in 30 days bet). He cleaned up his act when he went back to pitching. I mean like this dude who had bottles stashed in his locker and thought none of us knew. We all knew. And you can tell when someone’s playing all tore up. We’d cover up for him as best we could…but management eventually figured out what was going on…and that was the end of the dude. That was a dang shame: he had talent, and he was a good guy when he was sober. I don’t know what’s happened to him since; I hope he’s cleaned up his act.

There was a guy on our college team who did the same thing…bottle in the locker and thought nobody knew about it. It’s not hard to know when someone’s putting vodka in his Gatorade. (Gross, I know.) He got his ass kicked off the team, too. And then got it kicked out of college for some other shit he pulled when he was tore up. I don’t know the end of his story. I hope he cleaned up his act too.

So now I know this dude who’s been sober for 23 years. Adam doesn’t talk much what it was about when he was drinking. I reckon he didn’t enjoy it very much. Sometimes we head to Rocco’s or the bar where Keaton works after the game to get a beer or two. He doesn’t come with us, but he asked a real interesting question one night. He asked if we thought going out drinking was fun. We (that’s Keaton, Josh, Sloppy Joe and me) all thought about it, and while we all answered yes, none of us said “fuck yeah!”. Going out drinking isn’t the most fun thing in the world. That’s playing ball. And Disneyland.

Probably the best part of going to Rocco’s is hanging out with my buddies. I don’t need to get all tore up to have fun with them…which is one of the reasons why I don’t usually get totally fucked up when I go out. Not getting in trouble driving is another (remember: both Dad and Keaton would kill me dead if I got a DUI), and the other is that – I’m gonna admit it – I turn into an asshole when I’ve had too much to drink.

Beer, even like six or seven, doesn’t do that to me. (Y’all know what I’m like when I get all tore up on beer: remember when Joyce got me drunk on nine bottles of Stone?) It usually just gets me all relaxed…and puts me to sleep. If you’re looking for someone who gets drunk and is the life of the party, you’ve come to the wrong dude. And I’ve figured out that 3 is the exact number of beers I need to get myself laid lol.

On the other hand, if you start pouring shots into me, you’re gonna have a problem. I know y’all are probably expecting a Southern boy to be able to drink half a bottle of Jack and still stand up, but that ain’t me.

So what’s Hunter like when he’s had three or four shots? A total jerkoff. I think I told you: the kind of asshole Keaton gets paid to take care of. The one who picks a fight with the bouncer. (I’m 1 and 1 on those. Just cause a dude is a bouncer and can look threatening doesn’t mean he knows how to fight. And sometimes it does lol.) Or if the bouncer looks like an offensive lineman, with some other drunkass dude who’s also looking for a fight. A good fight is one thing. But two drunkass jerkoffs don’t make for a good fight.

But y’all probably do realize that I really like to drink beer. Papaw gave me my first taste of it, but I didn’t learn to really like it until I went away to college. I like the taste (even the shit they sell in the Reserve at Dodger Stadium tastes good when you’re watching a ballgame), and I like how it makes me feel. If I had to give it up, I reckon I’d miss it a lot.

Which makes the fact that Adam’s been sober for 23 years dang amazing. I mean…for 23 years he’s never had a drink. Not even a beer when he comes home from a tough day at work and it’s 100 degrees outside and the a/c is busted in your car. The way I understand it, that’s what he’s got to do. I don’t reckon that going out with his buddies and having a rowdy time on Saturday night was how he used to drink back when he was drinking. He probably drank at home alone. And he probably got totally drunk all the time, not just one or two nights a week. I’ve seen people like that…I reckon we all have. And my buddy and teammate Adam made the decision 23 years ago to clean up his act and get sober…and become the all-around cool guy and teammate I’ve gotten to know in my time playing with the Parrots.

He made up his mind and he stuck to it. That’s awesome. Not just because he’s stuck to something he said he would do, but because he stopped himself from doing something it’s very hard not to do. Since the world is full of jerkoffs, we all have shitty days. (Remember my now ex-girlfriend lol.) And nothing is better at the end of a shitty day than a beer. It must be so tempting for Adam to want whatever it was he was drinking when things get fucked up or when he gets pissed off. But he’s gotta get through the shitty parts of life without any help stronger than some gayass soothing herbal tea lol. Man, that’s gotta be hard. But I reckon Adam knows that, for him, one beer can really quickly turn into being permanently drunk again.

I reckon I’m dang lucky not to be an alcoholic, because I’ve seen what being one can do to a person’s life. I reckon we all know an alcoholic or two who is drowning…but our catcher Adam got himself to dry land. (I’m not good with metaphors unless they’re from Meemaw’s sayings lol.) And has kept himself there.

I’m glad we got him that bigass birthday card. Those 23 years are a dang big achievement. I hope he’s proud of himself. His teammates on the Parrots sure are.

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