My First Date with Valerie D.
My first date with Valerie, my girlfriend at the time that I finally hit bottom, was a typical example of how badly my addiction had progressed. Valerie had been my best friend Jim’s girlfriend prior to my hooking up with her, but Jim had broken up with her and was dating her cousin, Alice. Jim had also left Zimbabwe for South Africa to pursue a possible movie career, or to escape pinks (Wellconal).
I had miraculously escaped the Interpol authorities and the Vice Squad by becoming a safari guide in the Hwange National Park, also escaping pinks myself. The week prior to my getting the safari guide job, my friend Eddie left town completely after a chemist at a pharmacy took down our license plate, the number off Eddie’s green Renault Four. I had handed the chemist a Wellconal prescription that had been photocopied. The paper was about twice as thick as an original script, and Eddie used the name of a doctor whom the chemist phoned and who had no knowledge of writing the prescription, or even of the drug being prescribed. Eddie had borrowed the name of the doctor from the sick excuse of an employee at the coffee factory where he worked. We truly thought we were clever.
However, I was a skinny American with a black eye, limping with a cane from a poisonous spider bite, wearing a psychedelic t-shirt. The chemist feels the script with his fingers; looking puzzled, he then calls the unsuspecting doctor. Without hesitation I flee out of the pharmacy in the Borrowdale Shopping Center and into Eddie’s car that’s waiting in a gas line. At the time we could purchase only $10 worth of petrol at a time. Eddie is also on his lunch break. The chemist with great nerve comes out of the pharmacy to see me hobbling into Eddie’s car. Our high is blown and paranoia sets in.
The drug squad paid a visit to Eddie’s house to get a writing sample from him, to compare it with the hundreds of scripts we had previously forged. Eddie’s hands were trembling as he attempted to disguise his handwriting. Eddie claimed he was ambidextrous and could write with both hands. Being the good criminal that he was, he never wrote a script with his best hand. We would joke at how horrible these doctors’ handwriting was, and that a scribble would do. The Zimbabwe police also found some Marijuana in Eddie’s fiancé’s purse at his house. Out of good smarts and fear, Eddie fled his lucrative job at the coffee factory to go to Pretoria, South Africa. He did not want to do any time in a scummy Zimbabwean jail for forging Wellconal prescriptions. Eddie left town for good, overnight, without telling me what he had told the police and what information they had on my criminal friendship with Eddie.
I was offered a Safari Guide job by the veteran Safari Guide and Rhodesian photographer, Alan, who managed a company called Touch the Wild. He said if I cut my hair, which was not really long by any standards, and if I passed the exam for a Safari Guides license, he would hire me. I could start the following week. This was my opportunity for a geographical cure and an escape from the authorities in Harare who may have been looking for me now that Eddie had fled town.
I go into the National Parks office to take the exam to become a licensed courier safari guide without any knowledge of biology, the history of Zimbabwe, geography, zoology, or of the flora of this magnificent country. Being the clever and sneaky person that I was, I managed to leave the testing room and go down to the first level National Parks gift store. At the store I stole a National Parks guidebook that contained all the information that I needed to pass the licensing exam. I was also half drunk and took a handful of ephedrine tablets to increase my concentration, because I was suffering terribly from a hangover from drinking too much the night before from worrying about being arrested because of my escapades with Eddie. I did manage to bring the book into the exam room with me and to copy the information I needed to pass the exam to become a safari guide. I was the only person in the exam room taking the test and no one was supervising me. At any time someone could have walked in and found me with an encyclopedia sized guidebook boldly cheating on the test.
I got the dream job of a lifetime as a safari guide and I escaped to the wilds of the Kalahari sands to ease my troubles. However, the problem was me, not the location of my troubles.
When I received my first furlough pass of about a week, after being in the bush for about three months, the first thing I did when I got back to the city was to call the most attractive woman I knew, Valerie. Valerie says she is going to bring a sexy friend over and we can play tennis on my parents’ court. We also had a small swimming pool that I rarely swam in. My parents’ house was great because there were many facilities for entertaining people. We also had a ping-pong table. Valerie comes over with this gorgeous friend and I have trouble picking between the two of them. Which one am I going to focus on, as I only have a week in town?
The next day I have a date with Valerie to go to a lake for a picnic. Now I don’t recall the name of the lake but I believe it was about an hour out of town. Valerie arrives in her Mini Moke, a little jeep without doors. The cook packs us an incredible lunch, and I fill a cooler with about six bottles of wine and some beers for two. This was my first date with Valerie and she fell in love with me. I broke her heart about three times and she eventually married James, after I got clean. She did move to Washington with me but I had to change my entire life. She also didn’t stop drinking wine or smoking Marijuana. When I started my recovery from addiction it was too dangerous for my recovery to be intimately involved with someone who was indulging in the very vices I was abstaining from.
Our trip to the lake was fun but on the way back home I fell out of the Mini Moke about three times while Valerie was driving. Zimbabweans at the side of the road had to help Valerie get me back into the car. She drove slowly but I was a mess. I eventually passed out and Valerie deposited me at the steps in the foyer of my parents’ house. The houseboy carried me to my bedroom. When I awoke my only recollection was of falling out of the Mini Moke. Valerie thought my condition was humorous and laughed it off. I was pathetic. Her little Mini Moke was like a toy. My Alcoholism was so bad by this time that I was in a constant state of intoxication, blackout, shakes, and suicidal ideation. I would take Valiums and painkillers to cure my hangovers. I would start the day with the coldest beer I could find.
Valerie joined me at my safari guide job and I was in paradise. The second day on the job my boss’s wife, Scotty, asked me if I was an Alcoholic as she could see the signs right away because her previous husband was an Alcoholic. I was shocked at her boldness since she had only witnessed me drinking in the Safari Park’s pub the night before. I believe what tipped her off were signs of my tolerance and the amount that I consumed over a short period.
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