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Four Henrys

Today, I’m 40.

Although I will continue to read posts on 30pov, this will be my last blog. I do not have the wicked writing skills that many of the other contributors have, but I appreciate the opportunity this site has given me to explore and share my thoughts on a variety of issues.

My grandfather, John Henry McGill, was a mad drinker in his 20s and 30s. He would always tell me how they built the North Little Rock jail for him. The crazy shit he used to tell me would make you quiver.  But this isn’t a post about him.

My dad, George Henry McGill, was the biggest influence in my life. That does not mean my proclivity for drinking came from him because he hardly ever drank. He gave me my first sip of beer when I was three. He put a lot of salt in the glass and it tasted horrible. That was his way of making me not want to drink. My dad was killed in an automobile accident on December 26, 1996, and that was the worst day of my life. I miss him every day. I think about him every day (along with my mom), but I could never say that either one of them had an influence on me and drinking.  But this isn’t a post about him either.

This post is about me, Brian Henry McGill.  I started drinking on a regular basis when I was 15 years old. For about 3 years, I drank every weekend.   In December of 1988, I joined the Navy and “drinkapaloosa” was on. I spent quite a bit of the first two years in training school or stateside ports, and I couldn’t legally drink because I was still underage. But I remember drinking at my first port of call (Jamaica) very well. Three of us had a shot of every liquor at 3 different bars. The other two guys went on to two more bars but I could not participate because I was out of money. I spent $380.00 that night. This was the first and best experience of drinking in 25 different countries with the best drinkers in the world. I’m considered a “lightweight” today – tipsy after two beers or one mixed drink — but my tolerance seemed much higher back then. I would put down a 12 pack of beer and keep on going. (My wife believes that my tolerance was not any higher then. I probably was drunk after two beers but there was no one around to tell me that I was drunk or no one around that really cared if I was drunk.) At any rate, I drank almost every single day for at least two years, and I could drink (without passing out).

When I got out of the Navy, I quickly discovered how different drinking on the “outside” could be. At least 70 times in the Navy, I ended up in {nonsexual} handcuffs, and was taken back to my ship. Someone always took the handcuffs off and sent me to bed.   Not three months after I had been honorably discharged, I got a DUI (blew a 1.0). I got caught, and it sucked. I just stopped driving for about 5 years because it seemed like a better option than stopping drinking.  (I’m not an idiot, and I was not going to be responsible for getting someone killed.)

One night I decided to go to the Mississippi casinos and BOOM, I won $12,000. I bought a red Firebird and took several of my friends to a Joe Walsh and Glen Frey concert. They sold beer tickets, and I started drinking well before I got into the show. After the concert, I ended up on the top of an old rusted out railroad bridge about 180 feet directly over the Arkansas River. I was trying to find my car which I believed was on the other side of said river. I remember at one point wondering about jumping in for a swim. Of course, if I had jumped, you would not be reading anything written by me today. Miraculously I actually crawled the full length of the bridge. I went into the first Quik-E-Mart I saw and called the police. I told them that someone had jumped off the bridge. I ended up face down in gravel in front of a nightclub. When I woke up, I wiped the gravel off my face and started walking to North Little Rock. I was picked up by the police about a mile from the NLR jail (the one built for my grandfather). I spent 4 or 5 hours in the jail, and then they let me go. Weird – surely I had broken some laws?

Beginning with my Navy days and through my early 30s, drinking was all about getting laid. In fact, everything I did was about getting laid. My second day in boot camp, the company commander asked me why I enlisted. I said, “Money.” He said, “Money for what?” I should have said, “Get your money for nothing and your chicks for free.” But I said I wanted money to buy a corvette. Then with a gleam in his eye, he asked why I wanted a corvette. Of course, I wanted the car because I thought it would help me get laid and I said so – in R rated language. He announced to the other 89 guys that we were probably all there for the same reason. You see, it is universally understood.

That was my life – lots of drinking and lots of sex. Probably more drinking than sex, but there was a lot of both and it was fun. On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1999, I was very drunk, and I prayed. What? You don’t think drunks pray? Those prayers were answered in August of 2000 when I met a goddess at TGI Fridays. I was and still am amazed by His work of perfecting this Angel that is now my wife. I cannot imagine going through my 30’s without PK. My new fam damily calmed the self destructive beast that was “macho man.” Instead of putting an end to my drinking, they encouraged me to become a great bartender. In my late 30s, I learned to make over 1,000 drinks, and—as everyone will tell you—I make really good drinks.

The final “Henry” in this story is Henri Owen Lee, my grandson. I want to be a good Papi and teach Henri everything I know about baseball, football, and fishing. I want to teach him how to drive a golf ball and how to drive a car. I want to teach him the names of birds and flowers and stars. I want to try to help him understand why it is really important to Nani for him to pick up his toys and clothes (although his motivation for that will have to be different than mine which is SURPRISE SURPRISE – to get laid). Since I am lucky enough to have Henri in my life, I know that he will also learn a few things about drinking from me. Here’s what I want him to learn (by example or osmosis):

1.Never drink too much and then try to drive. You can always call Papi – any time of the day or night – and he will come and get you. If you don’t believe me, ask Melissa or LaKay or K-Frayz or lee lee.
2.Never drink too much to escape your problems. Drink to enhance the pleasure of being with good friends or attending a ballgame on a warm afternoon. Drink to enhance the palate of an exquisitely prepared meal. And of course, drink to get laid.
3.When you drink too much, always dance to entertain. I don’t mean a slow romantic dance with the girl you love; I mean a 100% crazy completely out of control, over the top dance that will clear the dance floor of everyone else and will be the highlight of everyone’s night.
4.Never drink too much and use that as an excuse to be mean. Drink and tell funny stories. Drink and give hugs to your friends and family.  Tell everyone, “I love you man” and mean it.

I dedicate this post to my dad – a good father taken too soon.

p.s. To my daughter, lee lee, my drinking buddy since that fateful day in August, 2000, whose friendship and love were also an answer to prayer, I dedicate my thirties. I know she will take good care of them.

9 responses to “Four Henrys”

  1. What a great frakin piece, Papi! Your contributions to this site are very much appreciated – and always will be. I wouldn't have expected your final piece to be any less wonderful than this; great job.
    In 6 years and 8 months, I promise that you can write for my blog at http://www.40+POV.com.
    Here's to hoping that the fish are always biting! 😉

  2. Kail Kail says:

    Outstanding and heart-felt piece. And now I want a death by sex…

  3. Avatar llxt says:

    well, papi. i think i'm more sad to see you leave 30POV than i was when you guys moved to florida. actually, it might be the combination of the 2 that has me so choked up. i will protect {the legend of} your 30's with my life, and i'll also make sure to ship henri to you as soon as he starts drinking so you can get started with those "rules."

  4. Jason Jason says:

    Yay for Papi Brian McGill. It's about time 30pov had a patriarch. I can't imagine a better oracle, guide, and muse. Enjoy being the youngest, coolest member of your new decade, sir.

  5. Jesse Star Jesse Star says:

    It's a shame to see you go, but a delight to read your thoughts on liquoring up. Stirring, but not shaky.

  6. Avatar KFrayz says:

    sniff sniff sniff…omg Papi…we miss you! And Henri, Papi is a GREAT "late night phone call: please pick me up I'm too wasted to drive" driver

  7. Avatar Mary Ann says:

    OMG, this made me cry…and you are so right about telling your family and friends you love them every chance you get…, drinking or not. I love you kiddo, you are the best son a mom could ask for and a great writer. You tell the funniest stories and you do steal the dance floor!

  8. Avatar The Tailor says:

    Brian, great piece and a fitting way to go out. Best of luck with your 40's.

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papimcgill About papimcgill

Brian "Papi" McGill has never met a liquor or a sport he doesn't like. He can give you any sport stat or make any drink you desire on request. If you're ever in St. Augustine, FL, stop by the Caddy Shack and he'll entertain you with stories of his crazy days (last week), challenge you to a ridiculous bet based on obscure sports knowledge, and/or dance you off the dance floor.

Read more by this author on 30POV .


December 2010
November 2010
On My Honor
October 2010
Witch Hunt
September 2010
If, Then.
May 2010
Small Crimes
April 2010
February 2010
"It's Complicated"
January 2010