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Drunken Turkey

We got along and loved each other the way people do who share an interest in drugs and alcohol and sex. We loved each other in an animal way.

We never got married but were together a total of 7 years until it finally fizzled (I had moved out to pursue the bottle more seriously, bottomed out, got sober and moved to L.A. to chase screenwriting – a further psycho-spiritual bottom beyond the scope of this tale).

Ingrid Ripeflesh is of course a pseudonym but she did actually have a very similar name that had been anglicized from German and she was a nurse, Nurse Ripeflesh! – so in 1980 in San Francisco there was someone with a Bond girl name in my life and I had a New Wave band. Cocaine (when I could afford it) assured me stardom was inevitable. In fact it would take nearly 40 years to achieve the relative obscurity in which I now luxuriate..

So for a while I had a common-law wife & common in-laws. The mother and the aunt were amazing wild women, looking back they must have been in their mid-forties which seems young now. They were both astounding alcoholics.

Drunken Turkey Marc Olmsted

Ingrid’s mother Mel was kind of prone to Reno and cowboys while her aunt Kaye was the really interesting one, a Scorpio with trendy hair and an elegant black boyfriend Danny that I really knew little about even though he was very friendly and cool-hip smart. He seemed like someone who had been in so many different worlds that he could adapt to the situation. Kaye was the one who held the Thanksgiving Day in her two bedroom flat, a collection of skulls on the coffee table, one a human one with a bullet hole in it. These women could drink, snort and smoke with the best of us. Kaye had a barely teenage daughter from her dead husband. The girl looked like a slightly older Tatum O’Neal from Paper Moon and in fact went on to do a little modeling.. The father had been a doctor addicted to cocaine. Kaye would describe how the good doctor would shoot himself up through his pant leg in restaurants without missing a beat. She was certain it would eventually kill him and one day she heard a crash in the house and she didn’t have to even look to know he o.d.’ed. When the police came, they wound up taking away a basement full of used needles, more than they had ever encountered before, one cop said.

This 1982 Thanksgiving was so drunken and stoned even the turkey was drunk. Buh-da-bum. I leaned against the refrigerator with folded arms and somehow slid off to wind up horizontal of the floor. The party conversation stopped briefly to make sure I could get up and then went on as if nothing had happened. Now that’s a good time!

Ingrid, for all her partying ways, did not share her mother’s side of the alcoholic gene. Nor did her father, whom I’d meet later, an Air Force colonel with a flattop and blue ice-chip eyes like Max Von Sydow. Like his daughter, he could drink but he could also stop, especially with his new wife who made sure of it and who pegged me for an alcoholic almost immediately. So Ingrid wasn’t thrilled by my falling on the floor. She harassed me about my drinking quite a bit until I stopped and fucked the whole dynamic up. Then she once showed up at my new place drunk and never stopped asking when I was going to be able to smoke pot again. Nevermore was not the answer she sought.

Still, since I alone drank with a vampiric thrust that went past reason, even though we drank together she had her resentments that percolated away. We would sometimes drink these margarita schooners at Le Disque during the day which were obscenely cheap and deadly strong. They were literally the size of one of Aunt Kaye’s human skulls. Their terrible curse was that one almost always led to a second – and a second would lead to passing out. The solution, since we barely could afford cocaine, was to take a quarter hit of acid when we got home and that generally powered us through. However, sometimes I passed out anyway and would wake blazing on a small dose of acid that was still strong enough to make a ’40s horror movie on TV seem like it extended into the bedroom. Then I couldn’t sleep. Once Ingrid told me after I came to that I had forced acid down her throat – didn’t I remember? I was horrified beyond even the creepy dry ice moors that seemed to be seeping out of The Wolfman on TV. He he he, it was just a joke! she told me. I’m still not laughing.

Ah but all good things must come to an end. First Aunt Kaye’s boyfriend got AIDS. He said it was from sharing a needle in NYC, I suspect Danny had done some sexual experimenting as I had done, but his dice came up snake eyes. He wouldn’t let us visit him in the hospital and then he died. Kaye also got sick with AIDS and died. Momma Mel got sober like me. Ingrid married a Jewish doctor and converted to Judaism. We’re friends on Facebook. Her daughters look so much like her they could be photos from the past.

My cats don’t resemble me at all. Other than me, only my niece remains from my own nuclear family. Thanksgiving, like most drunken holidays through New Year. I spend with my clean and sober wife, hunkered down like the Omega Man waiting for it all to be over, This year, when it’s finished, please send up a flare.

–Marc Olmsted


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