Cranberry: (n) a red, acid fruit or berry of certain plants used in making sauce, jelly or juice
I have gotten in more trouble in my life by pretending to be cool or passing myself off as something I am not than I ever did by just being bumbling or incompetent.
That’s the truth.
I don’t know whether I’ve ever actually allowed that realization to sink into my soul and find a home there and build a warm fire of awareness. I may still be susceptible to wanting to blow my trumpet, even though I actually have no horn.
But this was certainly true when I was in my twenties and I was trying to get well-known in the music industry. I immediately found that I was surrounded by drugs—mainly cocaine and marijuana—but for those who were not willing to pursue a narcotic, alcohol was the name of the game.
I hated alcohol. I still do.
I don’t hate it because I think people who drink it are evil. It just smells like a hospital to me. And the idea of drinking something that isn’t pleasant to swallow to gain an effect after it’s consumed just totally escaped my reasoning.
So whenever I went out to a party, in order to appear hip, I would always order a cranberry juice and tonic. It wasn’t an unusual request, but it was a signal.
Usually my order of the cranberry and tonic would cause those at the party to look at me with sympathetic eyes and assume that I was a recovering alcoholic.
Now, here’s the damnable part of it.
There were nights that I was so immature, so foolish, so tentative, that I would allow them to believe that I was two hundred and thirty days sober.
I liked it. It gave me power. It made them believe I had a problem, but also had lived a life they didn’t understand, and in some ways, I sat there as a cautionary tale.
It all came to a head one night when a friend of mine who was fairly well known in the music business turned to another gentleman nearby and said, “This is Jonathan.”
Then he leaned in and whispered to his friend, “He’s a recovering alcoholic, too.”
Now I was down for the count.
Not only was it assumed that I was “working the twelve steps,” but everyone at the table was waiting for my back story.
And God forgive me…
I sat there, on the fly, and made up one that would have torn at the heart of any grizzled sinner.