Melon-flavored Vodka

This story is based on an actual case.
Picture is for illustration purposes only.
Page created 6/10/09
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It wasn't the worst thing in the world, but when you're 15 these things can be pretty confusing and lead to something really bad.

It happened two days earlier when Rick and his classmates went out to a party in the community center. The huge sports hall was
decorated with balloons and colorful discoteque lights flickered on the dancing kids.

The bass was roaring and the immense clatter which was the music sent him spinning. Rick wanted to go wild with the music like some
guys from the higher classes but he was too shy. He stood apart, a little detached, when Jerry signaled to him to follow him.  
He went out with Jerry, glad to take a lungful of fresh autumn air. Jerry didn't lose a moment: “Listen buddy, Mickey has brought something
incredible in his bag - melon-flavored vodka! Have you had it?”

“No. I've never tried any kind of vodka. I think that my parents are against alcohol, everything at home is natural, organic, you know."

”Leave the parents out of it.  Do you want to get high? You don't have to be that ‘square' all the time.” Jerry added.
“Ok, I'm coming with you,” said Rick.

The grove was a few minutes' walk from there; it wasn't too hard to locate Mickey and his vodka.

Mickey was surrounded by ten other boys from their class, who were fighting for their places: “No! It's my turn, I'm before you, you jerk… go
ahead, pour it.”

Mickey gave Jerry and Rick a white plastic cup and said “a portion costs 5 dollars, and I'm not sure that there's enough for you.”
There were a few boys there, who had already had a number of drinks and behaved a little strangely. One of them was sprawled on the
rocks, another one was laughing loudly after every stupid thing his friend said, and another one was pushing everybody.
When Rick's turn came, only about a centimeter of drink was left at the bottom of the bottle. “Ok, this one's on me – you don't need to pay,”
said Mickey and let him drink the last of it.

Rick was a bit relieved that not much was left, as this way he wouldn't really hurt his parents, who would probably oppose his drinking, but
on the other hand, the bittersweet melon-flavored gulp excited him. Too bad there wasn't enough to get high and lose his head as he saw
others do in the grove. His short-lived fantasy was broken by Mickey's yell: “That's it, leave me alone!!! I didn't force you to buy from me.”

One of the boys suddenly saw that the empty bottle bore a price label of 12 dollars. This meant that Mickey, selling cups for 5 dollars each,
made a tremendous profit. The drunken boy was boiling with anger and shouted that he wouldn't be taken for a fool and he'll kill this thief,
Mickey! Jerry and some more kids came in to put themselves between the two, who started a wild brawl.
The spell was broken. An air of violence took its place. The boys were all nervous; angry shouts and swear words were heard everywhere.
A menacing, abnormal sensation hung in the grove.

Rick was disappointed with Mickey and the gang and wanted to get away as fast as possible. “What kind of a friend is this Mickey? And
the other kids too.  Look how they behave like animals all of a sudden!” He felt cheated and betrayed; something looked exaggerated to
him with all of this fuss about the vodka. Jerry and the other kids also looked a little bit psycho to him now.  What was that?

“Listen Jerry, I'm going home” said Rick after he saw that the fight was over. For him the party had ended.  
On the way home he walked alone through the small town and made a solemn decision not to tell his parents anything about the incident.  
All he had done was take a little sip, it didn't count.
And here his mother is now, asking him questions in the kitchen and he doesn't feel like lying. “I took a sip of vodka at the party. No big
deal.”

Mary looked at his hangdog bearing and knew that something needed to be thoroughly handled; but how was she going to help him without
becoming a preaching, self-righteous parent? She couldn't stand it when her parents did it and how hard it was to stay away from that right
now.
“I have an idea!” Mary said, “Before we go on talking there is something I want to read to you.”

She headed to her desk, to get The Way to Happiness® booklet – a common sense guide for better living. She used this book quite a lot
and it seemed that this time it could help again to get the message through to her son. Mary opened at the second precept, “Be
Temperate”. By now her husband Peter had also taken a chair and joined them at the kitchen table.

“Ricky, alcohol and drugs are actually poisons which influence body and consciousness alike. I'm going to read something to you.  Listen.”

“Ok, I'll listen. As if I have a choice…” he smiled at her wearily.

Mary read from the booklet about drugs and alcohol, until she reached the last phrase:
“… A little liquor goes a long way; don't let too much of it wind up in unhappiness or death. Deter people from excessive drinking.
Observing the points above, one becomes more physically able to enjoy life”.

As she finished reading Mary looked upwards at Rick and saw that the boy got it completely:
“Wow!” he told her, all excited, “now I understand everything! And I want you to explain this to my friends!”

As his mother read him the entire text from the “Be Temperate” precept, Rick suddenly understood the difference between drinking and
over-drinking. It's true that the radio keeps broadcasting “don't drink and drive” ads, but it was just a worn-out slogan which had nothing to
do with his life. Now he felt that it was clearer and he understood that the problem lay in excessive drinking. He saw with his own eyes how
alcohol made his friends violent, how it made them swear uncontrollably at each other. Rick saw that there was a limit that had to be
respected for him and others to be really able to enjoy life. Now he felt good about telling his parents that he did want to ‘get high' and follow
his impulse all the way through but it didn't work out. He told them about Mickey and the brawl which erupted in the grove. It all bothered him
much less now.

Peter, his father, who was formerly sitting quietly, couldn't restrain himself from saying, “Look here Rick, if you still want to ‘understand' what
it feels like to be ‘high' – do it here next to me. We'll get a bottle of vodka, you can get high next to me and tell me how it feels to get
uncontrollably drunk. It's all right with me if you go through this when you're at home, protected”.
“It's quite all right, dad. Let's skip it – it doesn't seem so exciting to me anymore,” he smiled at his father, “and Mom, can you explain all of it
to Jerry, Mickey and the other kids?”

On the following day, Mary talked with the class educator and on that same week, in a lesson which is usually dedicated to topical subjects,
she was invited to hold a workshop for the entire class, based on The Way to Happiness booklet, on this precise theme of drugs and
alcohol.  Now Rick's friends could also understand a few things about the fine line between pleasure and loss and more generally, where
the edges of the road are, which need to be observed if one is to be truly happy.

Maybe you have also encountered non-optimum situations around you in your day-to-day life.
People you know may be on pills, drugs, alcohol, getting lost.
Do you know what to do and how to help them?
Call Toll Free (800) 255-7906 to support our Campaigns for Youth
or to purchase The Way to Happiness Books.
Mary went pensively into the living room, holding a tray with coffee cups: “Tell me honey, did you
notice that Rick behaved a little bit strangely yesterday?”

“Actually I didn't,” said Peter, “the kid hardly comes out of his room lately so how can you tell
whether anything is unusual about him? If you ask me, sweetie, he's strange in general and we
are probably in for three more years of this ugly stage. You don't need to take any of it seriously…
” Peter added while enjoying a black coffee presented to him by Mary.

“Well, I haven't forgotten what teenage moods are like and I don't care very much for them but it seems to me that
something is bothering him - beyond regular moods. He came home a little bit strange from that party two days ago. I
wonder what happened there.”

About an hour later the front door opened and Rick came in. He meant to sneak to the computer in his room right away
but maybe he'd have a snack first:
”What's there to eat, Mom?”

Mary seized the moment. She sat him near a richly loaded plate and sat down facing him as he was eating.
“Now Ricky, I wanted to ask you how you're doing. I noticed that you're a little bit different than usual. I want you to tell me
if something's bothering you.”

The boy was silent. He stared down at his plate.
“You know that you can tell me anything, dear? I promise not to get angry no matter what you tell me.”

Rick was still hesitating. Not a word came out.
“Did anything happen at the party?”

Rick's head popped up instantly: “How did you know???”

“I've known you for 15 years. What happened there that seems so horrible to you?”
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