Some youthful stupidity

There was one time, in my youth—before twenty-one, after eighteen (but maybe not after nineteen)—I drank a half bottle of gin and went swimming in Lake Michigan. I was with people but I’d left them to go swimming. It was a full moon. It was awesome. And it was really dumb. I remember setting my glasses down with the bottle of gin; I’d been reading a lot of Dashiell Hammett Continental Op—at least, I think it was Continental Op—regardless, Hammett had some line about just needing a fifth of gin to stay up all night. That practice didn’t work out well in some other misadventures, but in this one—at least for the swimming—it worked out fine. But it was really dumb. My vision was bad then too. It was dumb luck I found my glasses (and gin), it was dumb luck I was able to rejoin the group. And it never occurred to me it was stupid. Or dangerous. I mean, there wasn’t going to be a great white in Lake Michigan, but swimming hammered probably isn’t a good idea. Especially not all alone without anyone knowing where I was swimming. It was beautiful though. Even though I grew up on the other side of Lake Michigan, the lake never had that kind of calm. It was like a Nick Adams story. The thing I miss most about the midwest, besides friends and family, is the water. I never realized, growing up, how much Lake Michigan meant to me. Now, when I go back to visit, it awes me.

Scroll to Top