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Wednesday, May 18, 2005  

Commentary: Avoiding 'the bottle' still current

Coming from a cultural background in which heavy drinking is not uncommon, I've sometimes wondered why I have never been attracted to alcohol or drugs. Just call me conservative in that regard. After a single vodka binge in college, I've haven't been drunk. I never wanted to be so close to a toilet bowl I was hugging it again. My drug experimentation stopped with marijuana more than a decade ago. No cocaine. No heroin. No meth. Ever.

However, I do have memories of the drunken antics of relatives, an uncle in particular. There are the times Uncle Frank would pass out in my mother's garden. Being helpful children, we would water him right along with the corn, tomatoes and okra. I recall watching him in a fight with another inebriate when I was quite young. They were so soused their blows and kicks did not connect. I was bewildered by the difference between that fight and the ones I saw on television. Not all the memories are amusing, though. Ne'er-do-well Uncle Frank once set our house on fire. He lost consciousness while in the bottle. His cigarette -- hand-rolled with Prince Albert tobacco -- did the rest.

If someone had asked me why I did not think drinking excessively is a good idea when I was 10 years old, I would have said: Because it makes people do stupid things.

I thought about my long deceased uncle while reading an article in the Spokane Spokesman-Review. (A paid subscription is required.)

A missing Spokane Valley woman was found in her car Monday morning, alive and cold, about 24 hours after she got it stuck in a ditch on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

She was unable to exit the driver’s side of the car, because it was lodged against a tree. And the car’s broken windows did nothing to keep the rain out all night. But rescuers freed her by simply opening the passenger door, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.

Inside the car, rescuers also found a nearly empty two-liter bottle of Potters vodka.

Christine K. Arbogast, 44, was reported missing Sunday after her husband got a cell phone call from her around 4 a.m. saying she was lost. She’s been asked to leave the Wild Boar Inn Bed and Breakfast in Harrison, Idaho, for “unruly behavior” and was reportedly drunk when she left, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

You read that right. Ms. Arbogast could have exited the damaged vehicle through the passenger side door. All that was required was a small application of common sense. Instead, thousands of taxpayer dollars were spent on a search for her.

I still have a reason why I don't think drinking heavily is a good idea: Because it makes people do stupid things.

11:00 PM