October 5, 2011
My life in the 1970s was a time when I was prone to experiences that were reckless, self-centered, and on the edge.
We owned a small business that catered to college students and the resident hippie population. Our specialty was leather items, some handmade and others imported from all over the world. We also sold handcrafted jewelry and pottery as well as houseplants.
One afternoon three guys came into the store who I had never seen before. It was strange that they were all very tall, but after a few minutes of conversation the explanation was easy: They played basketball for the University of Alabama. We spoke about the stuff in the store; they admired the leather vests and coats. It was all too expensive for them. Basketball was big in Gainesville, although the Florida team was pretty average. That night a big turnout was expected for the game because the opponent was Alabama and they had a good team that was favored to beat the home team.
We were joking about the game, and then it happened. They asked if I could get them high. Of course! The long-haired hippie guy who made sandals and belts had some pot and would be willing to share it. My answer? No problem. “Come back in an hour and we’ll go outside behind the store a smoke a joint.”
It also should be noted that not only was I a hippie, leather smith, pot smoker, and womanizer, I also loved to gamble. Friends of mine had connections with a bookmaker and we placed bets regularly on all sporting events. My passion was the Florida Gators. Having been the Sports Editor while I was in college and drank my way through Steve Spurrier’s Heisman Trophy-winning season, I was in the stands the afternoon he kicked his one and only field goal of the season and beat Auburn University. Anyway, that is another story…
As soon as the players left, I rolled a joint and went to one of my betting buddies to share the good news. We had a sure thing. One of the players was a starter. Once I got high with them there was no way they could play a decent game that night. We bet 5 times our normal wager.
The Alabama guys returned about an hour later and I let them smoke most of the joint. They went back to join the team, completely stoned. They were carrying on about how good the shit was and they’d never been so high. I was on the phone as soon as the Bookmaker’s Office opened, made my bet and went to the game. It was insane; they couldn’t make a shot, missed passes and looked awful. The Gators won.
The Gators played in a small gym back then and we could mingle with the players after the game on the court. After the game they spotted me and asked if I had anymore of that shit. “Of course I do, it is on me. Anything for my new friends.”
Several factors were at play in my behavior: drug and gambling addiction as well the thrill of living on the edge and attention seeking. Self-centered attention seeking only rivaled my dishonesty. There was more than the youthful arrogance of immortality, there was an attitude of, “I don’t care about anyone but me and I’ll do whatever to get what I want.” It wasn’t really evil, but it was reckless and harmful to others and me.
I have discovered in Sobriety that life can be adventurous, fun, and fulfilling without being reckless. Watching and listening to my daughters prepare for an evening out as they choose clothes, laugh at each others’ sarcasm, and tell me they love me as they head out for an evening of fun. Life’s been very good to me.