Underaged drinking is tolerated in Muskegon more than one might think because it is not uncommon for young people to get drunk with their parents. People in their teens and twenties get stuck paying huge fines for too many DUIs along with having their driver's licenses revoked, making getting to work difficult, the paycheck used to pay off the fines. The parents end up helping, only making the situation worse. The fines are then paid, with the parents taking their almost-grown and grown children to work and school, but the kid starts drinking again. Most teens don't drink to savor the taste of a good wine or fine liquor; they want to get drunk. I won't bring other substances into it, but alcohol is the ultimate gateway drug. The social acceptance alone is enough to make an alcoholic of anyone. How many of us grew up watching our parents get drunk at home or anywhere else? My dad would get angry at my brothers for so much as bringing one joint into the house, but the refrigerator was stocked with beer. I thought nothing of it when I was growing up, but now I realize the hypocrisy. Alcohol was so ingrained into the fabric of my family, especially with my dad, that drinking was the only lifestyle worth having; to think of being dry forever was not only depressing, but deceitful. Sober people are pompous and annoying. A good buzz is okay, right? A buzz is achieved with two or three drinks, but a few is not enough for the alcoholic. They don't know when to stop, even if they get sick and end up in the hospital. Alcohol poisoning is only a bump in the road for some. Staying dry is hard in hot weather(that lemonade needs...something). Alcohol poisoning is harmless compared to drunk driving. It's not a Saturday night in Muskegon without someone going to the emergency room after being pulled out of a vehicle with help from the Jaws of Life. Death-nothing more sobering. Holidays are just as worse. Or weddings.
Domestic violence competes with unemployment in terms of statistics in Muskegon. I've heard enough stories of men beating their wives when they're drunk, friends and relatives alike. My dad never hit my mom, but heavy drinking didn't exactly bring out his charm. I remember only seeing my mother drunk a few times; she quit drinking by the time I was six years old. She would go out to the bars so she and Dad would have something in common. When she quit, the divide became wider between them. Growing up, it seemed to me like everyone's dad was an alcoholic; as long as the fathers worked, the mothers tolerated the drinking, because Dad's paycheck is sacred. If he loses his job because of the drinking, then he has a problem. My dad never went to work drunk, I guess he knew better, but what use is a father who is wasted everywhere else? My father, during his heavy drinking days, wasn't home much. He knew my mother was disgusted with him, and this led to him leaving us for about three weeks. When he came back, nothing much changed, he gave off the impression he had been dragged home. His moods were nasty. The alcohol was drowning his brain, just like his mother, who had died around that time. Grandma died at the age of fifty-two in a nursing home, the alcohol slowly destroying her. She had dragged my dad, his siblings, and Grandpa through the mud. I learned to equate drinking with madness and death at a young age. Getting wasted is amusing for a while when you're not even twenty-one years old yet, and I went through that stage. But that behavior is sad after thirty. You're getting older, but your drinking buddies are getting younger. You distance yourself from family, you have few goals or interests. Alcoholics, like any other addicts, are boring people. It can make depressed slobs out of the most brilliant individuals. The list of those people are endless, but I worry the most about the boozers I love. The hard part is realizing that the addict/alcoholic is only responsible for themselves, and loved ones have to stop caring for the sake of their own mental health, and tough love is hard. Meanwhile, the circle of disease goes around and around, like some demented amusement park ride, only stopping long enough to throw out a body.