Mezmerized at the Edge

On a stifling hot day in the summer of 1998 I tried to kill myself.

It wasn't a cry for help. Or maybe it was. Looking back now I'm not really sure. On a stifling hot day in the summer of 1998 I tried to kill myself. The reasons why were all the usual: unhappy at work, my girlfriend was cheating on me. Nothing particularly noteworthy.

I left work for the day and drove home. On the way I stopped at a liquor store, where I purchased a fifth of Everclear and a 32oz bottle of Gatorade. Then I went to a pharmacy where I bought a package of over-the-counter sleeping pills. My plan was to take a few hefty slugs of the Gatorade, top it off with the grain alcohol, and wash down the whole pack of sleeping pills.

I entered my apartment, then paused at the door. My roommates and I had planned a get-together that evening for a group of our friends. I unlocked the door so that if anyone arrived before my roommates got home they'd be able to get in. There was no conscious thought behind this decision. At least, I can't recall there being any.

I sat down on my bed and opened the Gatorade. This particular variety was called Glacier Freeze. It was light blue in color and had a tart taste I can't compare to anything. I took three long pulls of the Gatorade. I opened the Everclear and poured it into the Gatorade bottle and watched its level rise back up to the top. I put the cap on the Everclear bottle and set it aside, now three-quarters full. I put the cap on the Gatorade bottle and shook it up. Then I opened it back up and tasted it. Perfect! The flavor of the Gatorade completely masked the taste of the 190 proof alcohol.

I opened the box of sleeping pills and began to pop them out of the bubble packs one by one. I lined the pills up on my night stand until they were all out. The sixteen pills made two neat rows of 8. I put two in my mouth and washed them down with the Gatorade. I repeated this scenario seven more times. Then I downed the rest of the Gatorade. Then I waited.

Gradually I began to feel drowzy. I went into the bathroom and urinated, out of some vague notion that being found dead after pissing myself would be too embarassing. I stumbled back to my bedroom, took off my workboots, and let myself drift off. My last thought before losing consciousness was, "Should I have left a note?"

I was shaken awake. Someone was calling my name. It was Emily. She was a friend, the girlfriend of my buddy Mike. "Joe," she said. "Joe! Wake up!"

She grabbed my arms and yanked me into a sitting position. She slapped my cheek lightly. "Joe! What's wrong?"

I don't remember exactly what I said, but I mumbled some kind of explanation. "Come on," she said. She put my shoes on my feet and laced them up. She jerked me to my feet and put an arm around my shoulder. "We're going for a walk."

She guided me out of my bedroom into the living room, where Mike sat. He stared at the TV, showing no sign of curiosity about my clearly debilitated condition. We passed him by and went outside. She walked me back and forth on the sidewalk out in front of my apartment building and talked to me. She coaxed answers from me about why I was doing what I was doing. Gradually I began to emerge from my stupor. We went back inside.

By then the apartment was full of people. They saw me stumble and slur and they laughed. "You got started early," someone said.

Emily took my girlfriend aside. "You need to see to your boyfriend," she told her. "He just tried to kill himself. He needs help." My girlfriend, Kelly, shrugged. Clearly she didn't feel my disintegration was her problem or her concern.

I took Emily aside. "You saved my life," I told her. "Thank you."

It was an act of concern, and act of love. But maybe it was a mistake.

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