They come reeling in the door at around 2:30. That’s right! Two-thirty, maybe three, because the bars close at two and it only takes fifteen to ten minutes, no, five minutes to drive the three and a half blocks from downtown to our house, but that doesn’t count for how the bartender has to chase and kick their asses off the barstool and out the door after closing time. Then the two of them have to drive home slowly.
Dad has a method. He puts his two index fingers on the steering wheel so his drunkenness won’t disturb the wheel alignment. Let’s hope the wheels on the car are aligned in the first place. Nope! He lets the car drive itself the three blocks home. Luckily the streets in our town are all laid out in straight lines. When he has to turn the corner to the alleyway, he turns it very carefully. The neighbors’ grass has a nice little divot right there on the corner of the alley. Divot is a word I like to use right now. If Dad gets stopped by the cops, he refuses to take the test because there may always be a way to beat the test once it goes to court. Whenever he’s in jail, he has a long time to think about whether his method may be flawed.
My oldest sister who’s in high school has an ex-boyfriend Johnny, he’s a cop in town now and he tells my sister, “I don’t see your dad using his method on the street anymore. I do see him walking, though. One night along the highway. I patrolled your dad all the way home, to make sure he didn’t fall into the traffic.”
That’s Dad’s new method—to stay on the grass.
“And,” Johnny says, “I did see him once in the park in the morning.” The park is halfway between downtown and our house. “He was sleeping, but I blurped the siren and he woke up and walked the rest of the way home. I don’t even think he knew what woke him.”
But Dad knew, he was joking about it on Easter Sunday when he walked in the door. He said, “Ho, ho. I’ll have to thank Johnny Cop for getting me home on time for the Easter Bunny.”
After jail Dad says, “No more drinking for me.” He hits AA for a year. That was an okay year. A year when Dad was Dad. On Sundays, he played checkers and Monopoly with us and he bought some new head of cattle and some milk cows for his and grandma’s farm and we had us a working year.