I had to call my best friend's ex-wife today to tell her not to let their 3-1/2 year old daughter get in a car with him because he is an alcoholic (not news) and has fallen off the wagon in a serious way. He loves that little girl more than anything, and I have seen with my own eyes how good a father he is - when he is sober. This will do a real number on him, and I understand that he will not want to have anything to do with me for the foreseeable future, at least not unless and until he gets serious help, and maybe not even then. There is not a doubt in my mind that I did the right thing. Not only was it pretty clear to me as soon as I thought of his daughter, I also had very serious conversations with several people whom I respect and whose judgment I trust, and they confirmed that I was on the right track, although I tweeked some details based on some good insights they had. Lordy Lordy, I do feel horrible about having to do this, and more than a little angry about having been put in this position, but havoing been oput there, I am confident that I did what I had to do.
Okay, now for some details, for those who like a good train wreck. Over the weekend, my friend showed up at his girlfriend's place drunk. So drunk that he blacked out in his car for 15 or 20 minutes, and then could not walk without literally bouncing off the walls. His girlfriend hid his keys. She also found a mostly-consumed bottle of cranberry juice that, upon inspection, proved to be almost all vodka or gin and just enough juice to give it some color. (I still have the bottle - the stuff is rocket fuel.)
I showed up shortly thereafter, as we were all going to have dinner together. After a really unpleasant evening - the sordid details would take up way too much space - in which I ended holding his keys and refusing to give them back, I drove him to my place, where he crashed for the night. The next morning when he was sober, or at least within spitting distance of it, I drove him back to his girlfriend's, and he drove off. He has called a few times since, and all he can talk about is how wrong his girlfriend and I were not to give him back his keys (believe me, he demanded them back, and used every trick his booze-addled brain could come up with - and it was pretty pathetic). Well, actually he did repeat one other thing several times: he is not a threat on the road, because even after drinking he is a better driver than everyone else on the road. My last conversation with him ended with him telling me to perform an anatomically impossible act and that he never wanted to talk to me again.
Yesterday (Monday), it occured to me that he would be picking up his daughter this evening (Tuesday) at his ex-wife's for a several hour visitation, and would pick her up again this Friday for the weekend, driving her 50 miles to his house. Oh, did I mention that he recently started refusing to strap his little girl into her car seat because he doesn't like it and he's so good a driver he will avoid any and all incidents? (You should have heard that conversation I had with him.)
Anyway, I called his ex-wife, told her what I've now told you plus additional details. Then I left my friend a voice mail message and an e-mail message telling him I had done so - I felt I should at least try to let him hear about this from me first. Since then, her lawyer called me for details - before I called the ex-wife, I had realized that not only had to do this, but had to ride this wave all the way into shore. It looks like I will be signing a sworn declaration, and may have to testify in court about this. Crap.
Man, this sucks. But I know that a beautiful little girl will not be getting into a car with a drunk driver this evening or this weekend, and ultimately that trumped all other considerations.
I'm not sure what I wanted here other than a chance to vent and decompress. Thanks for reading this. Any comments are welcome, be they pro, con, indifferent or irreverent. Especially irreverent.