Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bay City Boozer


I mentioned the original boy band the Bay City Rollers earlier this week. Turns out the lead singer had a secret. Like many hard-living, mad, tortured super-geniuses before him (yeah, I'm a 70s bitch!), he got hooked on hooch.

Les McKeown left the Rollers in '78 to work on his solo career - and, apparently, his addictions to booze and cocaine. By 2002, he was polishing off a bottle of whiskey a day. Luckily, he didn’t end up in a gutter wrapped in tattered tartan and gagging on sparkly autograph books. 

No – the lead singer got sober instead. He says rehab was the best thing that ever happened to him. He's even taking a BCR revival band on a world tour (more info and dates here).

I have a Bay City Rollers story, btw. 

I was 12 when I saw them perform at the Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta. I was visiting my aunt and uncle there that summer when my uncle became the coolest-dude-ever by scoring tickets to the BCR concert.  Uncle Mike worked in radio and TV and was introducing the band onstage, so I sat (danced/squirmed) in the audience with my Aunt Linda and younger cousin Marla.

There they were! At the height of their fame! Tiny and plaid-clad! Spotlights glinting on their flyaway fuzz! It was thrilling!

My aunt and uncle figured quite heavily into my drinking and cleansing careers, too. They took me to my first bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I was 16. Don't judge! It was a really classy place - and if anyone knew I was no angel back then, it was those two.

Linda and Mike also happened to be the last people I partied with before I started my first long cleanse in July 2003. The hubs and I were in Halifax for a wedding and we stayed with them for a night. We drank a lot of great wine. Ate a lot of great food. Talked over a lot of good times. 

I had just read the book that started this whole journey, Drinking: A Love Story. I had learned about the link between dopamine, drinking and depression and had already decided on my "experiment." That I would abstain from drinking for six months in an attempt to reverse my growing alcoholism. Of course, I didn't tell my uncle and aunt that! Or anyone. The hubs was the only person who knew about my plan back then.

I finished my last drink for six months that night in July. The next one-hundred-and-eighty days would take me through one of the rockiest times of my life. I'm sure I'll write about it later, but for now, let's just say ... I really could've used a drink. 

*Academic aside: When I talked about Les being "hooked on hooch" - I couldn't help but think, "Do people still say hooch?" Of course they don't! They haven't for 150 years! (Unless they're bloggers who can't resist alliterationhooked/hooch.) But the word's a short-form for "Hoochinoo" - a liquor distilled by the Tlingit tribe of Alaska who cleaned up selling it to miners during the gold rush of the 1800s. And now we can put the word 'hooch' back in its grave. RIP, hooch. Sniff.