I promised some students I'd write about the first time I got drunk:
I was down at Coach Moore's gym, which was on the main drag in Powder Springs. He and Coach Kidd had talked me into body building, teaching me how to work out with free weights, filling my head with trophy dreams. I had great muscle memory, they said. I was a natural.
I'd already gained about ten pounds of muscle, most of it in my thighs from doing squats. I could beat my boyfriend at arm wrestling. I'd gone from a B cup to a C, the only part of my body that looked more womanly. I had a Dorothy Hamill haircut, and from behind, I looked like a football player. I knew that, because an older couple jogging behind me on the trails at Cheatham Hill one day asked me if I played for McEachern. I was wearing the team colors.
The coaches loved to fuck with me. I was a man-pleaser. I laughed at their jokes, let them try to make an athlete of me. If I excelled at something, my father would notice. I was an A student and the marching band drum major, but if he could watch me win a race or a match... I'd tried tennis, basketball, softball, settling finally on track. What I lacked in hand-eye coordination and speed I made up with sheer will. I ran the two-mile when no one else could finish it. I racked up points for the team and lettered.
Bodybuilding was another sheer-will sport. Coach Moore knew it, and he liked having me around. So there I was, sixteen on a Friday night, sweating deadlifts and presses, my friend Ann watching me, whining about being bored, waiting for a ride home. Tracy showed up, wearing the fake fur jacket that matched her hair, all that angelic white, standing in the doorway. My parents are out of town, she said. Let's go to my house and get drunk.
Her sister's boyfriend bought the booze. Vodka we mixed with orange juice. Ann was wearing a Muppets sweatshirt.
We drank until it was fun. We danced and considered cutting each other's hair. We drank until my lips felt numb and the things my uncle did to me in the basement seemed far away in a different lifetime. We drank until I felt righteous spite at my father the drunk. Take that, I thought, taking a swig. That's for passing out before my Homecoming dance. That's for being a liar and a cheat. We drank until Ann sat in the middle of the floor, a cooking pot between her legs, brushing her teeth with Tracy's toothbrush, puking and brushing, Oscar the Grouch peeking out of his trash can.
We drank until we passed out and forgot everything we'd ever wanted or wished for or failed at.
I drank for the next 25 years.