What I Talk About When I Talk About Drinking

Duane Gundrum
6 min readMar 5, 2018
A boy and his case of beer

During the late 1980s, going into the 1990s, I was in the U.S. Army, and all things considered, I probably had somewhat of a drinking problem. This was the latter part of the era of drinking before people started getting serious about the ramifications of the problem, meaning that we started enforcing drunk driving laws (unlike the past where we swept things under the rug) and Alcohol Anonymous was no longer just a light at the end of tunnels that no one would ever travel through. To understand my perspective on the whole situation, let’s visit the late 1980s and let me share a bit of a story with you.

You see, back then I drank a lot. Every night. It was almost a ritual of service at that time. Work hard during the day and then get plastered at night. Wake up the next day, run PT (most likely throwing up alongside the other soldiers who were all suffering hangovers) and then by the time evening came along, we’d go out and do it again. THAT was pretty much a part of the military lifestyle back then.

I think the apex of this whole situation occurred when a colleague and I decided to take a trip to the Canary Islands. On the plane, we both got plastered, and then when we got to the hotel, we got smashed. And then for the next week, well, I know I had a really good time because I have pictures of me and a lot of very beautiful women cavorting together, but to be honest, I have figments of memories of what actually happened during that week long trip. All I remember was being greeted at the airport on the way back by my fellow GIs, and they had brought beer with them, so we got obliterated on the trip home, too.

A couple of weeks later, I was driving my car back to post (in Germany), and I was extremely inebriated. Some friends were in the car behind me, and they drove up behind me, hitting my bumper and then trying to push my car forward with their own acceleration. I was at an intersection, and as they pushed me forward, or tried to do so as I held down on the brakes, I suddenly sobered up. I was probably still quite drunk, but right at that moment, it suddenly dawned on me that there were other people on this street, that if I just gave in to the fun, who knows what damage (or lives) could have been affected.

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Duane Gundrum

Author of Innocent Until Proven Guilty and 15 other novels. Writer, college professor and computer game designer.