Still battling to post but nothing to drink over, as we like to say out in the boondocks.
My unsober friend Karin and I went to help out a gardener trying to get greenery to grow on the shores of a nearby dam, a landscape clotted with acacia thorn trees and wild kikuyu grass and some kind of gorse. I chatted to the gardener about putting in tough indigenous bushes which can thrive in the poor soil and heat-glazed winds coming off the dam. Karin stood some distance away at the water’s edge in painful reverie and smoked. She had a ‘migraine’. Not a real medically certified blockbuster of a migraine, but one of those migraines that come in useful because you can’t pronounce the word ‘hangover’.
The gardener Dawid and myself talked about strelitzias and euryops daisies and plumbago, and gestured and waved our hands about and planned what might go where and what would be nibbled by buck. Karin, who had in fact set up the meeting with Dawid, stood swaying in the breeze a few metres away.
We said goodbye to Dawid and started back along the dam shore in Karin’s dented BMW. Suddenly she braked sharply and swung off the dirt road.
‘Look,’ she cried out, in a happy trembly voice like a faithful prophet granted his vision of the Promised Land. ‘There is the clubhouse and they sell ice at the clubhouse from 11am onwards. I must have some ice.’
‘Ice’ like ‘migraine’ is a euphemism for the hair of the dog. I felt very irritable but figured that if I was there she wouldn’t have more than a couple of drinks and I could get her back into the car and homeward bound.
But the bar of the clubhouse was closed. I was very thankful. Karin came back to the car and began to weep, dabbing at her eyes behind the dark glasses. I said to her very gently that it would not take us long to get back to the village and she could have a drink at home. She glared at me.
This is not about needing to have a drink at all,’ she said with hauteur. ‘How little you know me! My life is a bottomless pit and I barely survive from day to day. Drinking just helps me to put a brave face on things, that is what people like you fail to understand. I am not like you Mary, I was born without a protective hide. I am much too sensitive for this world.’
The querelous, defensive and endlessly aggrieved voice of active alcoholism! That exceptional rare sensitivity scraped raw by the brutal facts of life and needing to be doused in strong spirits for ever after! I know it as well as I know the back of my hand. Alcoholic, c’est moi!