U is for Undertow

At least at the beach you knew where the undertow might be lurking. It was generally isolated to that narrow strip of the sea where waves expended themselves on the sand. If you didn’t go in the water the undertow couldn’t get you.

My undertow was more ingrained than that. It wasn’t limited to any geographical location. No, the undertow I dreaded was the one inside my head. I could feel it flirting on the frayed outer edges of my consciousness. It was there, an omnipresent black cloud, probing for ways to get inside and drag me under.

The waves and the primal roar of the ocean gave me no solace, so I stumbled back to the parking lot and drove away. The cloud temporarily pulled back.

Driving aimlessly, I saw a young woman up ahead on the sidewalk and pushing a baby stroller. A white cloud of smoke floated from her, above and to the left. For a moment it hovered there comically like a speech bubble.

Closer now, I could see in one hand a cigarette. In the other a clutched cell phone she was staring at fixedly. She appeared to be texting. Walking while texting, I fumed. I always so relished feeling indignant. With both hands occupied, she was using her pinkies to push and steer the stroller.

Oh yes. Here we see a fine example of a modern motherhood. Where do assholes come from? Well, there’s certainly no mystery about that. It takes an asshole to raise an asshole. I chuckled at my vulgar bastardization of the infamous Hillaryism.

Bile and distaste welled up within me unbidden as I observed the disgusting young mother. What life was in store for the innocent babe in her care? I wondered about the child’s future. Smoking around a child is form of abuse, but that wasn’t enough for this mom. As a bonus she added a highly pronounced spirit of self-absorption. Yeah, the kid was most likely doomed.

I was aware the undertow had drawn near as mother grew smaller in my rear-view mirror. The undertow was smiling and drawing strength from my random thoughts. I had allowed it to draw near, grab hold and it was urgently tugging me down. Dammit. I bloody well need to be more careful.

Mindlessly, I was putting the car in park. Somehow I had stopped and was now in a grocery store parking lot. My body knew what I needed even if my brain didn’t. I made my way inside.

UndertowGrocery stores. Another miracle of our modern and advanced civilization, I sneered to myself. Inside you could find 50,000 different products to satisfy more than most of us could ever possibly need or want. There were even 10 different varieties of Wheat Thins snack crackers. It was a veritable plethora of delight to those of us lucky enough to live in this “enlightened” era. I chuckled again weakly as I visualized the air quotes.

What is it that a typical grocery store says about us? It seemed as if healthy and natural foods were relegated to tiny unnoticed corners while inane harmful products were given lavish amounts of space and attention. Processed foods. Frozen foods. There was a large section of the store devoted to the slaughter and butchery of animals. The employee in that department was even called a butcher. Too much sugar, too much salt. Sweetened syrupy drinks. Disposable and non-reusable products. Cigarettes.

Jared's Grocery Store TheoryAnd, of course, last but not least: alcohol. There was over an entire aisle devoted to nothing but alcohol. In addition to the refrigerated section devoted to beer and wine was an aisle containing the hard stuff. Which was exactly where I found myself standing.

Weakened, the undertow had tightened its grip and was pressing in, but I only gave it a moment’s thought. Before me was the dizzying array of vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, liqueurs and more. Never underestimate the human desire to intoxicate. I was feeling detached and operating on something like autopilot. My brain was now a disinterested observer.

A bottle of tequila was selected. I recalled with no small amount of amusement my lifelong dream of importing blue agave plants from Mexico and scientifically developing methods to grow them in the United States. The dream was to duplicate and then improve on the distilling process and create an all new (and better) juggernaut in the alcohol industry that I planned to call techylila. Yeah, Mexico dubiously claimed to own the world rights to the word tequila.

That dam undertow, gets you every time.Dreams are always meant to die, I reminded myself, giving the undertow a fresh surge of energy as I swigged directly from the bottle. As I wiped my arm with my mouth, I realized I could no longer remember why I was drinking.

The undertow was emboldened. It was now laughing at me and I knew I didn’t care. I allowed myself to relax and the undertow engulfed me.

The undertow had won.

This is my “U” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”

6 responses

  1. Drift, don’t panic.


    1. Good advice but could have been more useful a little earlier. 🙂


  2. America’s new slogan: resistance is futile.


    1. Resistance has never been my strong suit. “Mindless Self Indulgence” would be fitting, methinks. The Borg would like me.


  3. Aw, I’m sorry. After I talked to drunk-arsed Brother when Fri/ Sat? I ran over and made myself a Defensive Kamikaze (pun not intended, exactly, but it was a kamikaze…that’s my new thing). I call this type of behavior Defensive Drinking.

    Done Well, it’s getting so drunk that you don’t care when your aunt punches you in the face cos she feels like it and everybody (parents, brother, her husband, grown kids and grandkids) watches. Done Amateurishly, it’s got one reflex-shot. I went someplace in between and had 4 shots, then took a nap. It wasn’t a good choice but as I’m a happy drunk, I got happier for a couple of hours before naptime.

    I don’t like doing that, though. It feels like “undertow.”


    1. Somehow I missed this comment the first time around. I like the idea of “defensive drinking.”


      Aw, who am I kidding? I’m offensive all the way.


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