The counselor at my first drunk-driving school said the word "sometimes" with a space between the two words: "some...times." His shaved pate showed the marks of a raucous youth. The length of his salt-and-pepper beard was a tip to his strung-out days when shaving seemed impossible. His stories told of addiction, conflict, and pain, but his demeanor held the aura of peace.
"Some...times," he'd say when faced with the basest of questions and wildest of accusations. His holy eyes had no contempt in them, only empathy and understanding.
We'd assemble in our chairs and wait for him to lock the door. He'd walk up and down the aisle, looking to throw drunks out. We'd all say our names and how we got arrested.
"My name is Charles," he'd start. "I've had several DUIs. Everyone in my family is addicted to something. Even my newest niece. She was born just months ago to her 'bag whore' mother, my sister, and she's in an incubator, addicted to heroin."
I always arrived early and sat nearest the wall so he couldn't smell the vodka I'd drunk in the parking lot. He'd tell a story of depraved desperation and look to us to fill in the blanks. The drunks never disappointed.
"Hell, yes, I've done that," always preceded a story of going to work drunk or stoned.
I leaned against the wall and waited, waited. I breathed into the textured paint, sometimes getting a quick laugh from thinking how the paint might peel from toxic duress.
Charles would then start the TV, shut off the lights, and leave the room. I could exhale freely and watch a film from the '70s on the effects of alcohol on the system. One time we watched a "documentary" with the flimsiest of plots and wooden, stilted actors. "I'd get stoned before school," a young, blond man said, "but I just kept forgetting everything." He looked to his left and out a sunny window in mock embarrassment. "Sometimes, I'd even fall asleep in class," and he hung his head in his hands.
I could hear labored breathing from other drunks who also leaned against the wall. The people closest to the aisle watched attentively or took notes.
When the movie was over, Charles would come back in, and the drunks would have the stupidest shit on their minds. Never mind that the film was a complete farce, or that the facts were outdated. The drunks wanted to bitch about getting caught.
"Did you know," a drunk would start, "that sometimes the alcohol in your blood isn't high enough to be arrested until you're already in jail?"
"Yes," Charles would say, looking at the poor soul, unblinking, "some times."
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, January 27
Angels in the Endzone (1997)
WGN 26, 5:00 p.m.
Taking the popular assumption that celestial beings are in control of sports matches, Disney jumps on this moped and rides it for all it's worth. To round out the "Angels in the blah blah blah" series I suggest Angels in the Backstage Area, where seraphim sway judges' votes on the Grammys. The final scene would show Janet Jackson thanking God for her plastic statuette and then pan to goofy Jim from Taxi, smiling and nodding knowingly.
Friday, January 28
FOX 6, 9:00 p.m.
The writers at FOX phone another one in. With creativity accounts completely bankrupt, they've come up with Jonny Zero. Jonny-freakin'-Zero. A man with a "checkered past" helps people in need. How on God's green earth can you justify collecting a paycheck if your main character has a "checkered past" and helps people. "Shit, Mark! You gotta help me," a young FOX writer screams into the phone. "I have to pitch a new show to the execs and I spent the whole month in a coke haze. What do we have if we yank the mullet off of Renegade?"
CBS 8, 10:00 p.m.
I know I'm going to have to watch this. Everyone is going to say, "You know what show you should write about?" To complement my inbox filled with Spam, the cracked windshield in my truck, and a nasty case of jock itch, CBS has introduced Numb3rs. What happens if you mix the movie Pi with the hit television series CSI? You get rubber dog shit in a waffle cone.
Blue Collar TV
WB 5, 9:30 p.m.
With simulated testicles already dangling from the rear bumper of his Nissan pickup, Eddie wonders what else he can add to his pickup to give him that "well-rounded, Renaissance man" look. He scours the swap meets, but Calvin pissing on things has already been done to death. Finally, after searching tirelessly on the Internet, he finds a die-cut sticker website that'll ship out a "Git 'Er Done" full-window decal. He can hardly sleep the night before it's supposed to arrive by UPS.
Saturday, January 29
Henry's Film Corner
IFC, 3:30 a.m.
Hi, I'm Henry Rollins. You may remember me from such timeless, big-screen classics as Jack Frost, The New Guy, and Mace Griffin, Bounty Hunter. Welcome to my "corner" where I complain about bad movies. Be sure to tune in next month for my new series, where I bitch about aging rock-star film critics. I mean, c'mon. Who do these people think they are? I AM HENRY ROLLINS! OBEY ME! OBEY!
Snow Dogs (2002)
ABC 10, 8:00 p.m.
Michael Bolton, Sisqo, and Cuba Gooding Jr. are in a movie about sledding through Alaska. Are you shitting me? Are producers just pulling random names and scenarios out of a hat? I don't remember seeing this in theaters or the movie store; it must've been released directly to Beta.
Sunday, January 30
America's Ugliest Bathroom
TLC 36. 8:00 p.m.
With all the shit going on in the world I feel dirty watching shows like this. Little Klai-Klai from Bangkok has to piss in an alley behind the shed where she lives, and her job at the Ralph Lauren factory doesn't pay enough for drinking water, so she drinks out of a puddle. Here I am, some kind of toilet gazer, watching how a family in East Jesus, Nevada, has the "ugliest" heated indoor bathroom. Oh, those poor fuckin' people and their ugly bathroom.