Dé Sathairn, Aibreán 25, 2009
R.I.P. Tracy Chips
Tracy and I had been friends since middle school. He was always a good one for getting me into trouble. His favorite drink was Sailor Jerry. I'll never forget that.
Tracy and I were playing beer pong one day when he asked me if I was getting bored with it. I told him that I was, and that in fact I never really liked this game at all.
"Me neither man." He said. "Every drinking game I can think of is a bunch of dumb bullshit. We ought to come up with something new."
"What would you suggest Tracy?"
Ideas were batted around and rejected for awhile until finally Tracy said, "You know Al Gore man?" I said that I had heard of him.
"Well check this out, how about you and I carry a bottle of Sailor Jerry everywhere we go and take a shot every time somebody cites their personal dislike for Al Gore as proof that global warming doesn't exist."
"I don't know Tracy. Sounds like a bridge too far to me."
"A bridge too far? Shit man that's the only way to ride!"
"Well, We really shouldn't. But all right."
The first night was great. We put the radio on Neal Boortz and the two of us went through a liter of Jerry in twenty minutes. Before I knew it we had the swingingist place in town. Our midweek Fox News parties became legendary. Local bars started copying our style. A popular favorite at Brother's was the "Al Gore drives a car bomb" which consisted of having half a bottle of rum poured down ones' throat while watching random Glenn Beck clips.
But it was only a matter of time before things got out of control, just as I had worried. I lost my job at the bank after making the mistake of reading the letters to the editor over breakfast and having to down ten shots. No need to describe the fool I made of myself when I stumbled into work. "Al Gore drives a car bombs" inspired so many downtown street fights that the city council had them banned, and after somebody invited a couple truck drivers to one of the ragers that Tracy and I threw the game spread among their colleagues and drunk driving deaths soared nationwide.
But it was Tracy who really fell hard. At started to let himself go, not showering for days at a time and letting his side of the house turn into a pigstye. Than came the incidents. Tracy Chips had never done a violent thing in his life until his girlfriend found him passed out on the bathroom floor one day and tried to switch the radio to the FM. The poor girl was in intensive care for a week. To this very day, whenever her little boy asks her who his daddy is or where his headaches come from, all she can do is send him to his room and weep bitterly.
The police got to know Tracy very well. He would get arrested for things like stealing back copies of "National Review" from the library, or driving to a small-town bar and grill, striking up a conversation with the chain-smoking eighty-year-old in the corner, and then running off without paying for the fifty dollars worth of Sailor Jerry's he had drank. Then came the day he told me I would have to find a new roommate.
"I gotta get out of here man. My life is out of control. I mean don't even recognize myself. I mean every time Hannity starts railing about Bill Ayers or Rosie O'Donall for five minutes it feels like these hot little bugs are crawling all over my body, and eventually I'll just start shaking and sweating all over until I start screaming at him to go back to demonizing Al Gore. I can't take it anymore man. I gotta get out of this scene before it kills me."
So far so good. But the words he said next gave me the sort of chill that you pray never comes again.
" I'm moving to Oklahoma man. I'm going to work for an uncle I got who runs an oil rig down there."
I knew then that this was the last time I would see my friend alive.
Things went back to routine. Over the next few months we all got used to Tracy's absence. Every now and again I would get a three a.m. voicemail from a strange area code consisting of incoherent weeping, and I had a pretty good idea who it was. But eventually these stopped coming and the only remaining trace of the was his learning-disabled bastard child. Everything I know about Tracy's last days is what I've been told by his mother Vicki. Vicki and I have grown very close since our mutual loss, she's a warm and lithe brunette of fifty five who doesn't look a day over forty and whose breasts have maintained a perfect round shape and firm texture without artificial enhancement. She tells me that I'm like her son now and it excites me in ways that can't be described.
Tracy came to his parents house in Council Bluffs three years after leaving Oklahoma looking tired and gaunt. He told his mother that he had stage 3 cirrhosis and was unlikely to live long enough to make it to the top of a transplant list. The noble and immaculate Vicki Chips was heartbroken but accepted her boy back into her bosom all the same. They settled into a sort of routine and for awhile it was like being a young family again. But of course the treatment regimen was severe and medical bills were sky-high.
Vicki could see how much Tracy hated being a burden on the family every time she looked into his eyes. It was clear that he wanted to let go, and the day she came home to hear "Rush Limbaugh" emenating from his room was no surprise. That Tracy was dead when the medics opened his door was a foregone conclusion. The doctors had told him, over and over again, that his next drink would be his last. He knew exactly what he was doing. He simply couldn't tolerate being twenty nine with an old man's body anymore.
In order to make sure that no experienced, exquisitely smelling mother ever again has to suffer what Vicki Chips did, she and I founded the Tracy Chips memorial foundation in June of 2008. Since then we have toured the country together, speaking at junior high assemblies and developing lesson plans warning children about the dangers of building drinking games around right-wing sloganeering. It is my fervent hope that tragic story might inspire some parent somewhere to teach their children that it might be all fun and games at first, but right-wing parrots have no shame, and they are never going to shut the hell up or embrace alternative boogeymen.
If you would like to know more about the Tracy Chips memorial foundation, or even make a small contribution, please call 1-800-la-la-la-I'm-not-listening. Again that's 1-800-la-la-la-I'm-not-listening. Be sure to hug your children tonight, and thank you for your support.