April 13, 2005

Life with an Asterisk

He did everything right. He studied hard and graduated with honors, married his teenage sweetheart and got a job in the biggest company in his hometown. Two kids later he was regional manager. He bought life insurance and a few conservative stocks, retired with a good pension, and moved to a place where it was always sunny and mild. He doted on his grandchildren when he saw them: tousled their hair, taught them to fish. Volunteered at the public television fundraiser and the library book sale.

There was just one thing. Every evening for five decades, beginning about six o’clock, he drank himself to a place where none of it could reach him. He hardly knew where he was or what people were saying.

He has to go into the record books with an asterisk.