A tale of two face plants and too many scars

The world is a piece of shit. Class divisions are widening, our politicians are useless tools of corruption, but what is it I think about on the way home? Face plants, of course.

Face plants are very important, and furthermore, quite memorable. Face plants and breaking your virginity are a lot alike: time does little to erase your recollection.

Tonight, I pondered the two face plants I’ve experienced in my life, and naturally, they both occurred at the hands of alcohol. Not much of a surprise there. However, both my face plants, while owing their pain and temporary disfigurement to booze, were essentially as dissimilar as Kamchatka and Grey Goose. Both my face plants were born of different maturity periods and different states of mental pathology. My face plants occurred decades apart, and in fact, can be named Face Plant Early and Face Plant Late. One happened as I was ambitiously embarking on my illustrious drinking career when I was in my early 20s, and the second took place in my 40s after 20 solid years of alcoholic abuse and dissolution, and in fact, after nearly dying at the hands of my boozing ways.

Face Plant Early happened when I was about 23 or 24 or 25, I can’t Goddamned remember. It happened on a Wednesday before Thanksgiving, maybe 1987 or 1986. Each Wednesday night, me and my buddies would bowl and drink and have a raucous wild time. This is when drinking was still “fun” and innocent. Drinking was something that happened, not something I did. There was little gravity about my drinking in those days. I was young. I would wake up, feel like complete crap, but come around soon enough. It was jolly and light and there was little to concern myself, or anyone else, about the crap I did. I was young, my body was still a fresh temple, and I could abuse it comfortably knowing that recovery was only a short, vigorous period of time away. On this particular Wednesday, I drank way too many Mickey’s big mouths and lost track of everything. My friend drove us home. I could barely stand. I leaned over to pick my bowling bag up, but instead I just lost my balance and simply tottered over, face first, into the sidewalk. I think it was my left cheek that took the brunt of the hit. The bloody skin burn lasted throughout the holiday and turned into a very conspicuous scar which I laughingly boasted of without shame or regret. I stumbled into my friend’s house and fell asleep on the floor, but I soon awoke and spent a few hours vomiting violently on his front lawn. I had no appetite for Thanksgiving dinner the next day.

Face Plant Late happened…well, late. It happened after the party had long been over. It happened after I should have known better. If you nearly perish in a drunken car accident, chances are you will stop drinking again. No? Not me. After my DUI accident in July, 2005, I was forced to take public transportation throughout 2006 and for half of 2007 because California took my driving privileges away. Spiteful bastards. I merely took this as a sign that I could drink a lot and not worry about driving now. Admittedly, my response to negative feedback was a bit peculiar. I bought a monthly LA County “EZ Pass” which allowed me to ride unlimited on the MTA rails and buses as well as a host of municipal bus lines. It was great. I made the most of the $58. One Saturday night, I tied one on in Pasadena. Got loaded. I got obliterated. I bought some books at Barnes & Noble and lost them in a bar, don’t know which one. I remember little. I caught a bus back home but fell asleep and missed my stop. It was late, damnit. It was dark. I was tired! Anyway, I was still passed out when the bus pulled into its final destination which was a rail station in Artesia. Apparently, the driver decided to take matters into his own hands and just hauled my unresponsive ass off the bus and laid me on the ground as evidenced by the bruises I had under both arms the next day. I awoke disoriented and confused. I somehow figured out where I was, I think. I struggled to get a taxi to pick me up, which was always my emergency fallback in those days. I think by now I had begun to sober up but not enough to prevent me from taking a facial dive into the sidewalk somewhere in front of that Artesia rail station. Bam! Another burning shiner on my left cheek. Another deep bloody abrasion that turned to a scar, but this time I told people it was an accident while attempting a serious face. It was not a fun or humorous charade any longer. Now it was shameful and something to be hidden from my dinner date the next day when we went to eat at a steak house in Pasadena. There was no frivolity about this Face Plant. Drinking was now serious, morose business, and temporarily disfiguring my face was something to slink away from shamefully. I felt like shit for the whole day, now. I would act as if I was really hungry and eat the steak, but there was little pleasure. Alcohol dulled everything, especially pleasure. A sense of gloom and darkness accompanied this Face Plant.

There was none of the bright disjointed levity from Face Plant Early, 20 years previous.