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98 OUTLINE FOR CHANGE • Lift with your legs, not with your back. • On the count of three. One. Two. Three. Problem: I don’t know how to start this, how to get things moving. It’s all a bit out of focus. I need to outline an answer to a complicated question so I can solve it, but everything is a blur. A black blur. A blur of black pajamas, actually. Sweatpants and a sweatshirt, specifically. His uniform of sorts. The clothes he lived in even though he never felt like living. (How to tell the story about a man who no longer wanted one?) The dad-blur smeared down the hallway in a hasty desperation to go somewhere specific. I sat on the couch, five years shy of being able to buy my own booze, and glanced up Outline for Change | 99 as the rushed image of an alcoholic father tried to look cool, look casual, look as if he wasn’t blitzing. Briefcase in hand. Excuse flung over his shoulder. “Gotta go pick some papers up from the office, Chels!” Let’s pause here for just a second and look at 20 key specifics of this situation. 1. Dad’s a salesman for Dell. 2. His hours are the predictable businessman-appointed work hours. 3. M–F. 4. 9–5. 5. Today is Sunday. 6. Point #5 points to the fact that the office is closed. 7. Locked. 8. Unmistakably. 9. Though if, by chance, the building was unlocked, there’s still that pesky detail of Dad’s sloppy uniform that looks even more shit-faced than he is about to be. 10. Because of course this little pajama-outfitted escapade , this lie-filled field trip to a locked office really, truly has nothing to do with the liquor store stationed two miles away from the alcoholic’s current location. 11. Briefcase in hand. 12.Note: Dad was sober for 13 years, but decided against that way of living when his ego got bruised in 1999 from not getting a promotion he never 100 | Chelsey Clammer thought he might not get. So, post-no-promo, Dad decided to re-say hello to liquor. From that first reunion with vodka in 1999, to that November morning in 2004 when he died from too much vodka, like any outstanding alcoholic my dad didn’t timidly return to drinking. He got drunk. A lot. Though swore he would only drink on the weekends, which is a promise he kept if you believe that there are seven weekend days in one week. This is another way of saying that all of Dad’s “relapses” between that first relapse in 1999 and that final one in 2004 that led to his death, technically weren’t relapses at all. One must quit drinking before one can commit a relapse. You can’t fall off a wagon you were never on to begin with. Dad’s actions for those five years didn’t consist of periods of sobriety punctuated by occasional relapses, rather his behavior could be considered what healthcare professionals refer to as “using.” 13.Wearing black sweatpants and a black sweatshirt to the office (even if no one’s there and all the doors are locked) does not reflect the expected impeccable appearance of Dell employees as can be seen by their snappy business-casual attire. This violation could result in a written warning, specified as not being compliant with Dell’s dress code policy as detailed in the employee handbook (page 84). 14. I know these things. 14½. Except for the page number. I made that up. Outline for Change | 101 15. I, too, worked at Dell. 15½. In the coffee shop. But still. 16. It was mandatory to wear business-casual attire the first four days of each week with the reward of . . . 17. Casual Fridays! 18.Which meant jeans! 19. Not pajamas, though. 20.Fail. Un-pause scene. As he blurred by me in the hallway, I could see his ashy ankles and the socklessness of his feet. Getting some papers? Seriously? Here’s my surprised face. Twelve minutes later he re-blurred by me in the opposite direction , beelining to his bedroom with a bulge in the briefcase. Another note: the distance between the end of our driveway and the Dell parking lot took at least 15 minutes to traverse via car, but only if you hit every green stoplight between here and there—all nine of them. Fascinating...


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MARC Record
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