I’m not exactly sure how many people on this Earth owe their existence to beer – all I know is that I’m one of them. Green beer, in fact.
On St. Patrick’s day of 1978, just outside of the Northern Michigan University campus in Marquette, my father and a college buddy strolled into the local grocery store, Mike’s Supermarket. They were on a quest for some cheap beer to ring in the Irish holiday with. A pretty brunette clerk smiled flirtatiously as she rang up his 12-pack, and as he made his way toward the exit she yelled, “Is that green beer?” To which he suavely responded with, “I’ll have to let you know.”
Later that night, egged on by his buddy and emboldened by the 12-pack, he returned to Mike’s… to find that the girl, had gone home. He asked another store clerk for her name, and learned that it was Kathy Weston.
It was now midnight, but armed with this new information, he returned to his dorm room, grabbed a phone book, and spent the next hour waking up every Weston household in the county.
Eventually, he reached someone who was related to my mother and asked them to pass on his phone number, along with the following message: Tell her the beer wasn’t green.
5 months later, they were married. My dad – the shy, dirt-poor, aspiring young Engineer, and my mom – the former head cheerleader and charismatic social butterfly.
Two Rivers, Wisconsin
My mother sat patiently in the cold doctor’s office as she awaited the unnecessary test results. Unnecessary, of course, because the constant puking, headaches, and lack of period were more than enough evidence to confirm her greatest fears. But pregnancy tests didn’t exist back then, and one couldn’t just go around telling people they were pregnant if they didn’t know for certain.
None of that stopped her from bursting into tears when the doctor relayed the news. He patted her arm, gently, and cheerily assured that, “Everything will be okay.” Easy for him to say. He wasn’t the one living in a cramped, two-bedroom apartment as a family of 4. Soon to be 5.
Things could have been worse. At least she was happily married. And although they struggled with money, her husband’s career as a young Engineer for Hamilton Industries was beginning to show promise. But a 2-bedroom apartment with a family of 5? How on Earth was that going to work?
In the months that followed, my early presence wreaked havoc on her body – much more than my 2 older sisters had. In fact, somewhere between the endless vomiting and migraines, my father was sent off for a vasectomy – to which he willingly obliged.
Finally, on a cold night in November the misery came to an end, as I very narrowly escaped being born in a warm bathtub.
Apparently it’s rather difficult to ascertain that your water has broken when you’re… well…. immersed in water. Nevertheless, my mom did indeed make it to the hospital just in time for me to make my dazzling entrance into the world. I came out with a full head of thick brown hair, my mother’s eyes, and a special knack for the occasional sarcastic quip.
Well maybe the sarcasm came later, but I’d like to think that it’s a superpower I was born with, rather than a byproduct of environmental conditioning.
My story isn’t terribly unique, especially not my early years. But interspersed between the happy, normal, and often embarrassing childhood memories are hints of something darker, growing just beneath the surface. Precursors to the eventual explosion of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and major depression that would invade every aspect of my teenage and early-adult life.
Writing, is my favorite form of therapy. Mainly, because it’s free.
And so I write. About the past. About the present. About the obstacles. About the losses. About the wins. And by doing so I will, hopefully, begin to heal.
I don’t expect that many will be interested in my tale, but for the select few that are… I welcome you on this journey. So strap on your seat-belt and hop in this DeLorean because where we’re going… we don’t need roads.
Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. Many of these events occur on or near major highways. I just can’t resist the opportunity to reference one of my favorite movies. Sorry about that.
Anyways, welcome, and thanks for coming along.