First Round's On Me
When I was young I wanted to be a writer. I wrote short stories, poems, even an unpublished novel (‘Ballet with the Moon’ – hands down best title for a first novel, ever). I remember at times having fifteen or twenty copies of my newest story stacked on the table in front of me, each with an accompanying cover letter and envelope addressed to various magazines knowing, in my heart that at least ONE would want to publish my work. I was always greatly disappointed by the returning letter that said, and I’m paraphrasing now, “You suck – don’t ever send me anything ever again and oh, by the way, I slept with your brother”. Maybe not those exact words, but you get the idea. Somewhere in my house there is a folder this thick (for those not sitting with me as I write, I am holding my thumb and index finger about eight inches apart) where all those letters of rejection still live and talk about me behind my back.
I tell my kids they are lucky to be living in a time where there are so many outlets available to them which allow people to read their stories or essays, or listen to their music. “Not like when I was a kid,” I lecture, one cliché away from telling them how I walked ten miles to school in the snow, or how we had to actually get up and change the channel on the TV by hand. Apparently I grew up during a technological Dust Bowl; if John Steinbeck were alive today he would most definitely blog about it.
I have three kids, each with their own creative voice. Although, my middle son, now home from college for the summer, communicates through an intricate series of shrugs and grunts, then moves about the house, Godzilla-like, squashing terrified Japanese people under foot in his perpetual search for food (How terrified Japanese people got into the house in the first place, I’ll never know – isn’t that why they got the cat?).
Then it finally dawned on me, I also live in this wondrous technological age where any failed writer can post his work, without hindrance of editor, good conscience, or talent. This brings us here.
I used to write fiction, telling stories about aliens or ghosts, or ghost-aliens but eventually progressed to more adult storylines (no, not those adult storylines). Stories where people worked, fell in love, got married, or committed murder (usually after they got married). These were stories that, for whatever reason, no one wanted to read. So if fiction wasn’t my strong suit then how about real life. Who wouldn’t want to read about a balding, over-weight, divorced father of three and his adventures? (that was a rhetorical question, please don’t leave).Over time you will get to know me, my kids, my family, my friends. Hopefully you’ll get to like us, and they won’t get mad at me if I give away too many of their secrets.
As for the name of this blog, that was a gift given to me years ago by a very good friend of mine. Phil, whose jazz name is ‘Blind Dog’, is the aforementioned Godzilla’s godfather. At some point after my separation years ago, during one of our too-numerous-to-count drunken nights of Phil listening to me commiserating about my life, he just shook his head and said, “My God, Al, your life is nothing but conflict and scotch.” Even in the drunken haze where I was currently residing, I knew these words were special. I vowed right then, fist raised to God a la Scarlett O’Hara, that I would ‘Use this somehow!’ Sure, not the greatest vow, I grant you that, it can’t compete with, ‘As God as my witness, I shall never go hungry again!’ but I was pretty drunk and surprised I even remembered it the next day.
So, here we are. Welcome to my life. Welcome to Conflict and Scotch. First round’s on me.