Hello. My name is Neil and I am an alcoholic.

I took my first drink when I was four years old. My young brain thought it was fruit juice but in truth it was this really sweet sherry that I haven’t been able to find since then.

It was after dinner and I was playing with a nephew in their living room. Every once in a while I would walk up to the kitchen table and take a swig from a glass unnoticed. After about five or six sips someone noticed the quiet from the living room. They went to see what was up and there I was sleeping soundly on the couch. I don’t remember a hangover the next day. Actually I don’t remember anything from the next day. It’s not even a blur. Oh to be young and drunk again.

I quit drinking after that and didn’t take a drink again until I was about six. My first taste of Labatt 50 was at a party. I’d run up to my father, snatch the can out of his hands, take a swig, grimace and take off running. After a few tastes of 50 I discovered I didn’t like the taste so I quit drinking again.

Years passed until my next drink. It was at a wedding reception in Matagami when I was 14. I didn’t have the courage to go up the bar and order for myself so my brother went to fetch one for me. I felt so grown up sitting there by the pool table sipping, and still grimacing, after every shot, whiskey and seven up. I ran out of money after that first glass so I quit for several months.

Two years later a cousin borrowed a bottle of red wine from his father’s closet and we took off running deep into the bush then surrounding Waskaganish. Some older boys caught up to us and suggested we hide the bottle and come back for a party later. We all agreed on a good hiding spot and we walked off. We immediately suspected foul play from them so me and my friends walked back as soon as we ditched them and polished off the entire bottle in about 15 minutes and left a “gift” for them, recorked the bottle and put it back. Sure enough, we saw them later and they confessed that they had gone back after we did, but the wine had, in their words, “gone bad” so they had to throw the whole bottle away.

Which reminds me of the time I was at a party with some older people. I found an empty vodka bottle sitting on a counter in the kitchen. I filled it up with water and took it to one of the guys sitting around the table. I whispered that I had found a full bottle and placed it quietly on the table in front of him thinking he would share it with the rest of the party. Instead he took the bottle of rain water and very sneakily stuck it in his coat sleeve and made like he was getting up to leave. I wish I could say he took off with the bottle but I stupidly told him it was just water. He gave me a dirty look and I laughed at him. He got saved not long after and he quit drinking. Thanks to me I like to think.

So then, the moral, if any, of these vile tales you young whippersnappers you, is don’t drink. Even if it can be quite fun sometimes. And if you and your peers insist on pouring it down your throat, ask them to do it, as Seagrams suggests, in moderation.