I grew up around serious drinkers, responsible drinkers, but sincere ones. By all rights I should have grown up to become a drinker, but it wasn't to be. The first time I drank more than a few sips from my parents glass was during Coast Guard boot camp. It was 1973, I was 17 years old. Towards the end of boot camp, in late November, we were given weekend liberty. Boot camp was in Cape May, New Jersey. One of the guys was from New Jersey so knew something about the area. He said there was nothing going on in Cape May. There were two larger towns to the north: Wildwood and Atlantic City. Atlantic City was a decade away from having casino gambling, so it was as dead as everything else in the winter. Wildwood was also dead, but closer.
This guy had a sister a few years older. He'd arranged for her and a few of her friends to meet us in Wildwood. Four of us took a cab to Wildwood where the sister and five of her girlfriends had already rented several motel rooms. The girls brought liquor, something I'd never heard of: Southern Comfort. My memories of the two day of liberty are a little sketchy. I remember drinking Southern Comfort and nearly choking on it. I remember the girls laughing at me. I remember kissing a few of the girls. I remember waking up in the bath tub with vomit on my shirt. Everything else was a blur.
After being drunk for two days we returned to the base. Still drunk. The sister gave us a ride to the gate, where we attempted to hold each other up to walk through the gate. The SP's at the gate called our Drill Instructor who picked us up and delivered us to the barracks. Our Drill Instructor was less than sympathetic. The weekend had been pain and misery and a few kisses. The next few days were living hell without the kisses. I swore to myself then that I would never drink again.
Read more of Clayton's biography here.