The Kids Are Alright is a 1979 rockumentary about The Who. It is a film that attempted to portray the band as the rocking group The Who was and the personalities that made up the band. One of the best scenes is when Keith Moon allows himself to be whipped by a female dominatrix in an L.A. S&M club. The film is not linear, but instead a historical rampage of footage that combines concert footage, interaction with television interviewers, and discarded footage. The Kids Are Alright was an attempt by The Who to show what they were, what they had done, and how they viewed themselves. Laying down your acquired wisdom from the rock-n-roll life seems like rollicking good time. Unfortunately, I have no life stories or wisdom gleamed from playing before tens of thousands of fans, or even a single trip to an S&M club… being whipped doesn’t sound that interesting to me, but I’m willing to beat your ass for your pleasure.
My life’s wisdom has been more simply learned. Trial and error, like most people, is how I have navigated life. No matter what your parents tell you, you learn about life by living it and making mistakes. Sometimes that trial and error was erroneously learned like the saying of “liquor before beer, no fear”… or maybe it is the other way around. Regardless, the real saying should be “consume a lot of alcohol and you will get sick.” Doesn’t matter if it is 8 bottles of Boone Farm or a case of Victoria Bitter… you drink a lot of it and you will be emptying your stomach violently. After 41 years, I have garnered some inconsequential truths and wisdom that I use to guide my daily travails. If I had kids I would inform them of the following:
– Being in a position of authority doesn’t give you a right to be an asshole: My 8th grade English teacher chucked a roll of toilet paper at me. I have no idea why she kept a roll of toilet paper on her desk, maybe she had a runny nose, maybe the school’s bathrooms didn’t keep a big enough supply… who knows, but I know she had a roll and she liked to chuck it at students. I was talking in class… when was I not talking in class? She had issue with this and full-arm threw it at my head. It was quick, but poorly aimed. I wasn’t quick enough to duck, but fortunately she was a shitty shot and the roll sailed over my head… with a long white trail fluttering behind it. I’m not sure, but this may have quieted me for a bit. If and when you are put in a position of authority, don’t assume that gives you the right to be an asshole. The mantel of leadership is heavy and can result in a stressful life… just be sure not to abuse that position. Chucking toilet paper at your charges is an abuse… and damn funny.
– Learn science because it is real: In college I kept pints of vodka in the freezer. I am not sure what was the purpose of this, it wasn’t like I was buying expensive vodka or drinking it straight. This was nasty cheap vodka that would be cut with some citrus beverage… which was probably something like SunDrop or Mountain Dew. Actually making Screwdrivers with real orange juice wasn’t part of my drinking repertoire. One gloriously hot summer evening I was headed to a fraternity party. On the way out the door I grabbed a glass pint bottle of SchittyTast vodka out of the freezer. The only other freezer contents would have been an overflowing ice maker and frost covered meat patties (of unknown origin). Time from apartment to Escort (’84 diesel) would have been about a minute. Escort interior was probably 90something degrees. This was the sort of interior heat that makes you immediately pop sweat as soon as you sit down. ’84 diesel Escorts are not known for the quickly cooling air conditioning abilities. I lowered the windows, cranked the AC, and tossed the freezer cold vodka pint onto the passenger seat and pulled out of the apartment complex. Within the time it took me to realize that it wasn’t shower moistness collecting in my groin, I heard a loud pop. I ignored the pop sound, I had a party to attend and ladies to woo. Upon arrival to the Beta House, I reached across and the vodka bottle crumbled in my hands. The rapid temperature change from freezer to Sahara heat of the Escort had shattered the pint bottle, cool clear vodka had immediately soaked the passenger seat. Unfortunately, vodka doesn’t have a major alcohol smell so the Escort still reeked of farts and stale beer. Nothing masks a liquor smell like stale beer and farts. If I had paid attention in high school science (I can’t remember any science class I have ever taken) I would have known the danger of rapid heating of glass and avoided this mishap. Later this Escort caught fire and burned when my aunt was driving it… she escaped unscathed but to this day I wonder if the vodka soaked passenger seat assisted in this conflagration. Pay attention in science class and avoid alcohol spills… that may lead to car fires.
– Pressure and volume affect the transfer of liquid: Brandon and I were poor college students, Mac-n-Cheese was a cheap, but delicious college meal. Southern Comfort was a cheap and nasty drink, whether you are in college or not. Combine the two and you have a deadly combination. After consuming the Mac-n-Cheese… and then consuming a fifth of Southern Comfort, Brandon and I didn’t feel so great. While sitting in my apartment (and having a bathroom 12 feet away) Brandon started not looking so well. Quickly, Brandon figured the Southern Comfort and Mac-n-Cheese needed to be released from his stomach. Now, since he was a quick thinker, Brandon figured that vomiting while remaining seated was a better idea than rushing to the bathroom, which is the usual place people go to vomit… unless you are outside on your parent’s farm which allows you to use pasture land and woods as your personal throw-up place. So in a stellar moment of crystal clear thinking, Brandon grabbed the now empty fifth of Southern Comfort and attempted to deposit 325 ml (his half of the fifth) of whiskey and two bowls (standard American soup bowl sized) of Mac-n-Cheese back into the bottle. It is needless to ponder the results… it is physically impossible to reinsert whiskey into a whiskey bottle from your mouth unless you are able to control the flow. When vomiting, no one is able to control the flow. Large volume at a high pressure is not the preferred method of inserting liquid into a small neck of a bottle.
– Guns and ammo hurt: Seems having shit thrown at my head is the preferred method my superiors like to use when getting my attention. As a young Army field artillery battery (company) commander, I was beckoned to my battalion commander’s humvee for a meeting while we were deployed on a training mission. I had just days before taken command of my artillery battery (6 Paladin howitzers and 100 soldiers) and was on my first training deployment as the commander. It also had a been a day when a radio had gone missing in the battalion, so the battalion commander called all his battery commanders (there are 4 batteries in a field artillery battalion) together to discuss this supposed missing radio (it was later found in a vehicle). While standing around the hood of his humvee he began cursing us. The military is the only job I have ever had where your boss can get away with calling you a “stupid motherfucker” without the ability to complain to human resources… in the Army you just suck up the verbal beat downs. However, before the radio was found and with his young captains assembled around him, the battalion commander ( a lieutenant colonel) got more and more agitated. Being the newest commander and not knowing the level of crazy the battalion commander could reach, I made the suggestion that we conduct another search of vehicles before we got all draconian. The battalion commander did not like my suggestion and berated me as being a “too new of son of a bitch (my parents are married) to know my asshole from my elbow” and then pulled a M9 Beretta ammo clip from his belt and chucked it at my head. My Kevlar helmet was tucked under my arm, thus I was not protected from the metal pistol magazine headed for my head… but I learned my lesson from 8th grade and ducked… the magazine flew harmlessly right of my head and landed hard on the Fort Hood, Texas dirt. Upon realizing his poor aim, the battalion commander proceeded to remove his M9 Beretta pistol from his holster and then wrist flipped it at me… unable to duck a second time… I reach forth with Jerry Rice reflexes and caught the pistol in mid-flight before it cracked my melon. All of us “young” captains were amazed at this display of crazy anger. I had no idea on how to react… so I calmly walked over to the ammo magazine on the ground, picked it up, and handed it and the pistol back with my typical smartass smile. The battalion commander, having released his anger at our piss poor ability to account for radios, turned on his heel and walked away. No matter how pissed you get… never throw shit at people… it not only makes you an asshole, but if you throw big heavy shit that can hurt… it makes you crazy.
I could go on and on about shit I have learned in life… they would all be related to alcohol or stupid Army stories. Basically, I follow the simple advice my Dad told me which was “take responsibility for your actions” and hold the Crash Davis truth about dads for people in general: “he’s just your father, man – he’s as full of shit as anybody.” Take responsibility for your actions, realize people are full of shit, and you will make it okay through life.