UPDATE: The Mick’s memoir is published. See madouttamehead.com.
The Mick and I have become friends. If you could tweak my personality wiring to emphasize alcoholism and drug abuse over education and ambition, The Mick would be a spitting image of me in 20 years.
The Mick’s adventures make Jack Kerouac’s On The Road look tame. He was born and raised in 1960s Dublin. After a stint in Irish prison, he moved to London as a full-time heroin addict. After a stint in British prison, he moved to Colombia to bring cocaine to Europe. After 4 years in La Modelo prison, he spent 20 alcoholic years in Bogota.
The Mick took his alcoholism to the edge. Not only did he experience delirium tremens, he learned to manage delirium tremens. He kept a box of aguardiente next to the bed to help him sleep. He talks of waking up in the street covered with blood, puke, piss, shit, or all of the above.
But The Mick always managed to keep wealthy English students. He worked among the highest Bogota estratos by day, and drank and drugged up with the underworld by night. The context of those twenty years makes his story even more interesting. When he left prison, Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel was challenging the Colombian state. Escobar bombed Bogota targets and assassinated government leaders, including presidential candidates. FARC rose in power to pose a serious threat to the Colombian government. Guerrillas stormed government buildings, kidnapped politicians, controlled much of the country, and carried out bombings. For-profit kidnappings thrived amid the chaos. This whole time, The Mick was a philandering, puking, pissing, stumbling drunk.
The Mick has four kids, none of whom he supports. He recently learned one had a child, making him a grandfather.
We’ve taken biking journeys through the city. Colombians shout greetings to Christopher often. He’s well known. Sometimes he’ll say, “This guy’s a killer,” if it were someone he knew from prison.
The Mick was on what AA members call “marijuana maintenance.” Marijuana is better than booze for guys like him. It helps him ween off. One day he made a joint before we went to an AA meeting. I protested, “We’re not really going to get stoned before an AA meeting?” Yes, we were. I didn’t want to stink up the meeting, but he didn’t care.
The Mick points out women in the street – usually underage girls. One time we were riding past a high school or junior high and he said, “There’s loads of dirty bitches around here.” We go to the corner to see pubescent girls in uniforms just getting out of Catholic school. When I mention they’re too young, he’ll say “When will you realize you’re in Latin America?” Once he pointed out a group of 14 and 15-year old boys and girls and said, “Look, you don’t think there’s any finger treatment going on there?”
The Mick never got into banging whores, but he “usually lived with chicks.” He’d live in his girlfriend’s house, but he’d be the only one with a job. So he’d be supporting her. I pointed out this is basically the same thing as paying for sex. He replied that alcoholics often get into arrangements like that with fellow alcoholics.
In The Mick’s neighborhood every dog barks ferociously. I was scared one would get past the shoddy fence. He said he’d “been attacked by dogs more than once,” and he’s “had to fight them.” He told me he carries his umbrella for Bogota’s high rainfall, but also for defending himself against dogs.
A quick guide to The Mick’s Dublin slang:
- “Bullocks” – balls – e.g., I got him by the bullocks.
- “Poxy” – whack, lame, stupid. This one’s so cool I’ve started using it (e.g., U2 and Queen is poxy fuckin’ music).
- “The nick” – prison. Also a verb – e.g. when asked why he never got cocaine into Europe he replied “I got nicked!”
- “A screw” – prison guard.
- “Bloodclot” – black people.
- “To have a pony” – to take a shit / poop / crap.
- “Charles” – cocaine. Similar to British slang “Charlie,” but more subtle.
- “Steamer” – a gay person.
- “The lieu” – the bathroom.
- “4B2’s” – Jews. On the east side of the pond, they refer to 2 x 4s (two-by-fours) backwards – 4 x 2s. If you want to refer to Jews without them realizing it, you say “4-by-2” or simply “4B2.”
- “Johnny Ross” – the boss.
(Irish slang often uses rhymes or the true words they use)
See all of The Mick’s stories.
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