The Drinking Game (So Far):
1. I agree with something Doug says
2. Doug tells an outrageous story that sounds incredibly unrealistic
3. When the timeline jumps around in ways that don’t make sense
4. Doug runs away from home
5. Doug gets dragged back or comes back of his own accord
6. Doug (thinks he’s) messing with the occult.
7. Doug shoehorns in paragraphs of theological stuff
New Mexico and Back
Take my bottle away and you’re dead.
I spent two days at the Palm Springs jail with only donuts and coffee for food before someone came to transport me to the Riverside county youth center (Junior jail.) It took me two days to stop seeing things. I finally realized I’d just had a bad “trip.”
They only feed their prisoners coffee and donuts? Seriously? Well, at least Doug finally gets his precious dessert.
I actually kind of sympathize with Doug here. I do not do well on hallucinogens and I would have DIED if I’d had this kind of experience. In any case, Doug’s lucky he didn’t somehow damage himself enough after his wild dash down the mountainside to wind up in the hospital. In this scenario, jail really was the best outcome. At least there he can’t hurt himself… too badly…
I thought of the mess I had made of things living with dad. I couldn’t blame him if he never wanted to see me again. Little did I realize that even while I sat in jail, he was working on my behalf, trying to find a solution to this problem. Going back to mom was out of the question. I could think of only one alternative: escape and head for my cave
So, Doug’s father is doing his best to help him. I’m not sure if Doug thinks going to live with his mom isn’t an option, or if it really isn’t. I didn’t edit anything out, these sentences really are right next to each other in the same paragraph.
Doug and his jail buddy, also Doug, begin an escape plan. Before they can make good on it, however, Doug gets released into the custody of his uncle Harry.
Doug is determined to try and make this work. At first. He and his cousin hit it off, and he describes his uncle as someone who may not have considered himself a Christian, but who lived like one in many ways.
Because Christians totally have a monopoly on good behavior. Fuck you, Doug, fuck you.
At any rate, Harry runs a store on the Navajo reservation, and works closely with the Navajo, helping out wherever he can. We’re left to guess at exactly what kind of help Harry provides.
Doug makes a friend called Ken, who is Navajo. Doug talks about how he admires Ken’s intelligence (he’s going to school on a scholarship) and how Ken admired Doug’s good looks. Then we get this paragraph, seemingly out of nowhere:
I didn’t realize what a desperate problem alcohol is among the Indians.Due to something in their physical makeup, they become alcoholics more easily than most people. My uncle told me that in all his years at the reservation he had never met an Indian who could take a drink, put the lid back on the bottle, and put it away. “They drink until they are out of money, out of drink, or passed out,” he said.
Notice, first off, that Doug just admitted something: they become alcoholics more easily than most people. This is an indication that Doug knows that moderate drinking is possible.
Notice also that Doug’s uncle is talking about Indians, not just Navajo Indians. Every single tribe of Indians out there, apparently, has the alcoholic gene.
I want to draw a distinction, here, between alcoholism, and heavy drinking. They are not the same thing. Not every heavy drinker is an alcoholic. I could believe that a lot of Indians, particularly those living on reservations, are heavy drinkers. Reservations tend to be full of poverty. Poverty breeds stress, and people deal with stress by drinking heavily. So, on a superficial level, I could believe there’s a lot of heavy drinking on reservations.
And too, if everyone around you is coping with their problems by drinking heavily, you’re not really having anyone around who can model responsible drinking for you. So you just kind of think that everyone drinks that heavily, and so should you if you drink at all.
A quick google search shows that experts are divided on the subject of whether or not alcoholism in native Americans is genetic, or whether alcoholism is genetic at all.
This was probably the prevailing wisdom in the 1970s, and I’m wondering whether they really didn’t know better by the early 1990s when this book was written. I’m willing to let this slide a little bit, but if Doug still thinks this today, I’m going to call it out as racist. This issue is way more complicated than simple genetics.
In any case, Doug puts pressure on Ken to become his drinking buddy. Ken tells Doug that “Everybody who drinks has trouble.”
I’m willing to give this a slight pass, because from Ken’s perspective, this is probably true. If alcoholism is that rampant on the reservation, he probably would see the world that way.
In any case, Doug wears Ken down, and they go drinking. Ken falls in love with alcohol, and Doug even teaches him to make his own beer.
Yanno, in a parallel universe, I bet Doug went on to make a hobby or career out of beer making, and owns a big beer company that makes expensive, high quality beer. He goes to festivals every so often as a judge, and when he finds someone promising, he helps them market their product.
Doug says he and Ken used yeast and malt syrup to make their beer, and that poor Ken never made it back to college.
Later, we will see Doug feel remorse at getting Ken into alcohol in the first place. But that’s not till a few chapters from now. Now, we are getting a paragraph about Doug starting to get into trouble a lot. Uncle Harry eventually tells Doug he has to either shape up or ship out. Doug ships out, hitchhiking back to California and his cave.
When he gets there, he meets one of the friends he did Jimsen weed with. Apparently, his friends all thought he was dead. They even spent a few days looking around for his body.
Guiltily, Doug asks how the other people at that particular shindig made out.
“Not too well,” Jim said. “Mark walked through some hot coals and burned his feet so badly he had to go to the hospital, but he’s out now……. No one really knows [what happened to Brad.] Steve told me that after you guys passed out, he stretched out on the cave floor and went to sleep. When he woke up the next morning, everyone was gone. Brad may very well be at the bottom of a canyon somewhere.”
Doug thinks about how lucky he was to have survived his wild flight down the mountain, and feels guilty about Brad.
Did my foolishness cost Brad his life?
As he hikes toward his cave, Doug meets a guy named Glen. Glen is a man of few words, but eventually Doug finds out Glen’s story. (Spoiler alert: Glen is an Ex SDA.)
Later, I learned that his parents had been medical missionaries in India. The people and the schools in India were so different that when the family moved back to America it took some adjusting. He felt uncomfortable around American kids and kept largely to himself. In spite of his great intellect and talents, he had never married. Now he seemed to be running away from life.
This sounds like the stories I’ve heard from so many other missionary kids. I’ve heard that some churches won’t hire missionaries with children, and I think that this is a good policy.
Also, Doug, marriage isn’t for everyone. It’s not particularly sad that Glen never married.
Doug gets back to his cave, to find everything but his Bible has been taken. Which, if his friends thought he was dead, isn’t really stealing, is it?
Doug is surprised that the Bible is still there, and so am I. The pages of the bible are perfect for rolling joints. Also, the pages could be used for starting fires.
A voice said, “pick it up and read it, Doug.” But I stifled the voice and decided to read it later.
I’m not clear, here, on whether or not this is Doug’s inner voice speaking, or if Doug is actually hearing voices in his head.
A random house cat decides to adopt Doug, and Doug names him Stranger. Doug gets cookie points for liking the cat. The cat provides company and keeps his cave clear of vermin. How a house cat got up into the mountains is a mystery to me and to Doug, but truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.
One day, Doug and Glen find a man who has fallen on the trail. He is in desperate need of medical assistance, and Doug and Glen help him out. After this, Doug tells us he often cooperated with Search and Rescue teams looking for missing hikers. Sometimes when they were searching for someone, they’d drive a helicopter by Doug’s cave and shout at him with a bullhorn. Doug would answer by waving a red towel.
Although I was a trespasser–for this was a reservation for the Agua Caliente Indians–no one bothered me because of my cooperation with the search and rescue team.
And because nobody cares about land for the Indians, because the government is just going to try and take it all away from them anyway.
Also, the Hot Water Indians? I have never heard of them. But google says Doug’s right, so, whatever.
Doug tells us:
Most of the people who fell were drinking and using drugs. Not all the victims had happy endings.
Drink, because I just agreed with Doug: Drinking and drugs and mountain climbing do not mix.
Doug describes some of the ways the hikers died, and it makes me cringe. I’m going to skip over it.
Doug then talks about going through the dumpsters for food. At first he is repulsed by the idea, but then he finds out that the stores throw away a lot of good stuff. We do, and it annoys me we can’t just donate all of it to the homeless shelter.
Soon, Doug is digging in the garbage with the rest of the homeless population.
Later, when I became a Christian, I thought, “sin is like digging through the garbage! At first it seems odious and distasteful, but as you become more accustomed to it, it seems less so, and finally you’re in it all the way!
Ummm I don’t think they’re quite comparable. See, Doug, as the son of a millionaire, had a choice. Most of these other people don’t. Hungry people will eat just about anything, because they’re hungry dammit. They dig through the trash to survive. Most sin its something you can survive without.
Doug talks about some of his street friends, then tells us about how his brother sent him a flute for Christmas. I have to wonder how he did it? Did he mail it to:
The cave behind the big rock
Palm Springs, CA, insert zip code here
I do realize that PO boxes are a thing, but they’re a thing that costs money. And isn’t Doug still underage? Why hasn’t some authority tried to drag him back home again?
In any case, Doug plays the flute on the street and people throw money into a can, and he uses this to buy items he can’t get from the dumpster. And, presumably, to pay for his PO box.
Also, he has communication with his parents and brother. They know where he is, and nobody’s tried to drag him back yet. Did his parents just give up? Did the stop caring? Is nobody going to get their son real help? As a parent, what would you do if you had a son like Doug?
In any case, Tune in next time, for Doug’s Big Conversion Scene. It’s… well, the book is still going to be terrible, but at least this is the last chapter where we will see Doug run away and get dragged back. Thank goodness that part of the book, by the end of next chapter, is going to be over.