One day when I was about four years old, I was “working” alongside my father in his vegetable garden. The Arizona sun shone relentlessly, and we were dripping with exertion. Of course I was working. It was rather taxing to sit and watch him hoe those weeds.

My mother brought Father a cold beer, and nothing had ever looked so refreshing. It was ice cold, slushy, and golden, and I promptly asked for a taste. Father handed over his jug and watched me with an expectant grin. I took a giant gulp and rewarded my audience with the most exuberant sputtering and spewing act since Shamu hit Sea World. It was the nastiest thing I’d ever tasted in my long life, and I never forgot it

When I finally grew up, I still couldn’t stand the stuff. When I went out to gourmet dinners with family and friends, I tried my dangdest to like that fancy wine that tasted like alum powder mixed with pickle juice, but I just couldn’t seem to appreciate it. It’s a good thing I didn’t enjoy liquor because I think I must have been allergic to it. Every time I tried a sip, my head caught fire and everything was way funnier than usual.

A few decades later I found myself a truck driver of all things. I still liked the taste of water much better than anything else. I never saw a good enough reason to imbibe in the fizzy stuff. Dun dun…dun dun. Here comes the shark music. One night it happened, and I went over the edge.

Before I was a truck driver, I sewed fancy drapes for a living. I made a good friend in an awesome high-class attorney named Wendy. She was a few years older than me, and we had become acquainted when I had designed and sewed draperies for her decadent home in Colorado.

Wendy had been after me for months to come to her house for dinner. Finally, I got a load that took me along I-25, so I swung into Loveland and parked. Wendy drove two miles to meet me since there was no parking available for big rigs near her home. We had a marvelous dinner which she made herself, homemade soup with Panera bread.

And then…wait for it…wait for it. My good friend Wendy presented me with Pandora’s Box in the form of a large bottle of wine.

As I previously claimed and explained, I have never been an imbiber. But for the sake of old friendship, and at Wendy’s insistence, I relented. I hesitated at least six times since I had to drive and I never risked my CDL license. But like all the potential drunks of creation, I thought, “Well, half a glass won’t hurt.”

Famous last words. Trouble was, Wendy’s wine glasses were quart size, and half a glass meant a pint. Next problem was that her Cabernet Kool Aid was most delicious, and I enjoyed it way too much, hic, thank you very much. The half glass turned into three-quarters, followed by the full glass, and eventually the whole dang barrel, since my solicitous friend not only had one bottle of lethal ambrosia, but a full case.

Wendy said it was “girlie wine” because it was sweet and didn’t have much punch to it. But to a wine fledgling like me who had never drunk more than a few teaspoons, the stuff had the power of the brew that is true with a generous additive of opium.

After awhile, things got way funnier than I ever recall, and the giggles increased exponentially. Finally, my face burst into flames, and I could do little else but find the nearest horizontal surface to collapse which turned out to be the front door welcome mat. Had I been alert, I doubt it would have felt very welcoming.

I slept dead to the world for several hours and woke up around 4 AM and remembered I had a name and a life. I also had a truck and a job that might go away if I didn’t get on the road pronto!

I tried to wake Wendy, but she too, had succumbed to the persuasive charms of a rose-colored elixir and was knocked into the middle of next week. Since she was out cold, I figured she must have found several more cases of the addictive grog to add to her “just one” quart size glass.

I had no choice but to take off walking. It was the middle of January, and the weather was freezing. I had neglected to bring my coat since I had expected to ride back with Wendy. Good thing I had no ride and no coat because I needed a two mile run in freezing temperature to slap my senses into fully awake and processing mode.

I can only imagine how I must have looked to passersby as I hurried along in my prairie dress with my hair flying. I felt like an errant teen who had spent the night at the bar with the girlfriends and was running away from a crime scene. I could see the headlines: “Trucker Caught Driving Drunk on Girlie Wine”.

That thought sobered me up right quick. I jumped into my semi truck and drove on to Laramie with only a slight wobble as I hit the rumble strip.

“How do people live this way perpetually?” I thought. “No wonder some folks get into so much trouble. Their brain takes a leave of absence and they don’t realize how stupid funny is.”

But then I remembered the seductive taste of that luscious brew as it trickled down my untried isthmus. I knew I was in danger of becoming the first girlie wine alcoholic.

AA, here I come.

 

Okay, I’m joking folks.

Yes, this is a true story.

Am I exaggerating? Not much.

 

From TRAVELING THE HIGHROAD