When you’re too gone to care that you’re s@*tting in the street

Chocolate-box cemetery

One sunny Sunday morning. Rosie and I are on our way back from the local bagel place, scoffing rye and sesame bagels as we walk. We’re sharing – taking turns taking bites out of each other’s bagels. We round the corner and make the descent down the steep and picturesque hill that leads us back to our flat. 

The walk will take us through the oldest and most historic parts of our neighbourhood. There’s a church a few steps from where we are with a chocolate-box cemetery, overgrown with moss and wildflowers. Walk through it and you end up in acres of park – old land where sheep once safely grazed.

We’re still a few minutes away from there, just turning the corner. This is the corner where our dear friend lives – in an apartment block that’s home to a lot of quiet families and a few loud drunks.

Instinctively, I look over at the rows of windows, take in this building that is so incongruous with its surrounds (looking down the hill, that is), and feel comforted that she is in there, probably still in her pyjamas.

Then I look down, because something catches my eye. A young man, blue eyes dazed, bald head bobbing, is leaning against the parapet wall. He looks like he’s listening to music, but he doesn’t have any headphones on. He’s crouching there, like he’s waiting for someone. Like he’s tired and having a cigarette, except he isn’t smoking one.

Then I look further down. There’s the pavement and some fluid just beneath him. And then – what’s that? – is it? No – not here. Not now, on this sunny Sunday morning.

It is. A watery turd. Human waste. His waste… on the pavement.

I stop chewing my bagel – which is, rather unhelpfully, black rye – and pull Rosie away from him. He doesn’t even notice us.

The sun is still shining. Even on him. And now I’m fuming. I walk Rosie briskly down the hill, loudly decrying this stranger’s behaviour. “Disgusting,” I gasp repeatedly. I turn around and see him stand, pull up his trousers and saunter away. “He didn’t wipe himself,” says Rosie, still munching on her bagel. “Why is he doing poo in the street?”  I am too appalled to answer.

Instead, I think: I want to call the police. Too late, I realise I should have captured his indignity on my mobile phone and uploaded it to YouTube for all the world to see, with the title: DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN? I tell Rosie that the best punishment for him is to find him when he’s sober, hand him a bottle of bleach, and get him to clean up the mess he’s made. She nods.

And then I tell her that this is what happens. This is what happens when you drink too much alcohol and take other bad things.

“But Daddy didn’t do that,” she says.

I can’t remember now what I said then. I’d like to think that I didn’t say what I was thinking – that her dad had come home at least once having soiled himself. That he probably did do exactly this not once, but a few times.

Looking at him now, it’s hard to believe he sank that low. It’s easy to forget.

Small mercies then for those who remain in that dark place. Who have lost all dignity and squat on the pavement within my own neighbourhood, a stone’s throw from our 13th century church flanked by equally old and majestic trees. Small mercies because these wasted lives, this human waste – reminds me of what was and what must never be again.

10 thoughts on “When you’re too gone to care that you’re s@*tting in the street

    • Yes, very depressing. The realities of addiction. I told my friend about what Rosie and I had witnessed that day – my friend who lives on that corner. And we agreed it was a good lesson to teach our children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs…. : – )

  1. My stepson will be 13 next month and as odd as it may seem, I would have wanted him to witness that. To see how low, low really is. When a person had so little regard for themselves, they can deficate in public. I’ve talked about my stepson and his father before. My husband has remained sober since I made my ultimatium. He’s done more than that, last weekend we checked one of his oldest and longest friends into rehab. A man at 42 who had never been married yet a sweet man with a career (he was about to lose his job working for my husband because of his drinking) and his own home. My husband and he enabled each other but when my husband stopped the party was no longer fun for his friend. I wish him well. Hopefully the soberity will be real and lasting.
    We are deeply concerned about our soon to be teen. What happens in the next 12+ months will be crucial. My husband sees himself in his son and it terrifies him. While they share many great qualities they share some that are deep, dark and destructive. Intelligent, confident and sure he’s smarter than most of his teachers. He can also be demissive, angry and condescending. Soon he will be introduced to drugs and alcohol, there’s little we can do to stop that. We’ve talked with him openly and honestly yet we know he’s about to cross that bridge, all teens do…what is he going to do when he gets there? Yes, as vulgar and disgusting as it sounds, I would have wanted him to witness what you and your daughter saw. I want him to know what that dark place looks like so he never, ever goes there.

    • I am absolutely with you on that. I am equally terrified that my daughter will end up the same way as her dad, just by virtue of sharing the same genes. So, I speak to her openly about the dangers of alcohol so she has a healthy fear and suspicion of it. It’s great to hear that your husband is doing well. And that he has helped his friend, too – and is aware enough to fear for his son. There isn’t much you can do besides talk to him. And yes, to see where this stuff can take you… in such bald and pathetic detail – it remains with you forever. I hope your husband remains clean and that your stepson stays on a measured path.

  2. i just found your page today.thank you. im going on 17 years and understand the hurt and guilt and resentment.

  3. i guess the mature,adult answer would be by letting myself get dragged along and not saving myself by leaving. Also by really really enjoying the good sober days too much.

  4. Was laying here in bed and looked up Margie’s yo an alcoholic , and found your blog…someone else who totally understands what I feel , why I feel it , and how the loneliness is consuming , and the worry . Been married for 21 years . First time my hubby stopped drinking was sober for 3 years , then he stopped drinking again was sober for 8 years , he has now been drinking daily for 4 long years .., while we have a 13 yr old daughter with juvinile diabetes yo raise . I am literally almost yo the point of … Just going on with my /daughter life in a seperate home . It’s just too much .. All the prayers , the begging , the threats , the anger , the blaming . The saddness , the unhappiness , the drunkeness .. Is just too much to . Already raised 5 kids in this margiage , don’t think I can hold on any longer … Just want me / daughter to not have to live life dealing with this addiction egret single day especially worse the whole weekends :( sad situation thanks for letting me vent .. Thanks for sharing your story …

    • I am so sorry that you are dogged by his continuing relapses. I hope you have a place to go to share your thoughts and get some support. Drop in when you can here – there is a community of people always ready to help. I wish you strength in your struggle. You’re welcome to vent any time.

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