A Gentleman Drunk journals the extended ballad of one man’s true battle with alcohol and how he conquered it. This distinguished achievement of real-life drama is combined with wit and brutal honesty as the sobering events of Jeffrey’s life leave him at rock bottom before he discovers the source of his decline.
For more information on A Gentleman Drunk, please call Jeffrey at 602-708-4981.
A Gentleman Drunk
by Jeffrey Taylor
My name is Jeffrey Taylor and I authored A Gentleman Drunk, a story about my recovery from alcoholism. You may ask yourself, “So what? Millions of people have alcoholism and recovered. What makes your story unique and worth telling?”
I drank for 40 years and never showed any outward signs of alcoholism; never got a DUI, never went to jail, never killed anyone (at least no one that I can remember). In a short 3-month period, I went downhill very fast and almost died on the streets of New York. What is amazing is that I was an upper crust Wall Street executive consulting to major financial institutions all over the world making big bucks. All of a sudden, I was confronted with a terrible proposition, deal with it or die.
As part of my recovery, I kept a diary. At the end of my first year, my sponsor told me it was good enough to become a book. I self-published the book and sold it on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. It soon became a story that everyone, young and old, could relate to. As it turns out, “Everyone knows an alcoholic.”
As a book critic once said, “Jeffrey guides us through his alcohol-consumed life while we watch helplessly as his addiction destroys his marriage, business, and financial security, leaving him broken hearted and clinging onto what little he had left. His story journals one man’s true battle with alcohol and how he conquered it. This distinguished achievement of real-life drama is combined with wit and brutal honesty as the sobering events of Jeffrey’s life leave him at rock bottom before he discovers the source of his decline.”
This is my story.
A GENTLEMAN DRUNK
We open with Jeffrey (52), a once-distinguished Wall Street executive, now disheveled and disoriented talking to his therapist.
Where do I begin? It’s hard to remember. I know I’ve blocked out a lot. It hurts too much.
As he revisits his youth, Jeffrey brings us back to the early 60s when he was a young boy of 12. Amidst the loneliness, he sees his parents lead an exciting life in which he cannot participate. He recalls his lonely life growing up in New Jersey, winning piano competitions at the young age of nine and beaten up repeatedly by neighborhood bullies. He introduces us to the powerful world of Wall Street where deals are made at his parents’ weekly dinner parties.
HOWARD (JEFFREY’S FATHER TO A GUEST)
Glad you could make it. Always enjoy seeing you and Sheila. Glad the Forrester Oil Deal turned out well.
Yeah. Who would have thought there was money to be made in Wyoming?
He learns to hold in all emotions, yet expresses himself skillfully at the piano. Unable to eat dinner until he has performed in front of the company, he learns more about life from the “family help”.
WILAMENA (TO JEFFREY)
You’re good, little man. You could be famous one day, if you keep up the practice. I do love the way you, play. You good at it! I know if my momma heard me play like that, the whole neighborhood be over. She loves braggin' and showin' us off. You Momma and Daddy love to show you off. That’s all.
Confused about life, Jeffrey turns to alcohol for solace, frequently breaking into his parent’s liquor cabinet and doctoring bottles to hide his ways.
That's it. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me. Right? They all seem to be happy with a drink. Why can't I? They'll never know. I'll fill the bottles with water. It's perfect. They'll blame it on Wilamena. Ah, yes. Vodka…clear.. can mix it with water.
As he quivers in his therapist office, he brings us through snippets of his life recalling the life of a well-to-do prep student at an all-boys school, leaving NJ for the first time after 18 years and running liquor parties at the fraternity.
Come on and get it. Free for the taking. Don’t be shy. We have two tubs of Purple Passion. One with alcohol and the other without.
(whispering to Jeffrey)
That true ?
Nuh. Say that so the tee-totallers can get plastered. Funny looking at them when they don’t know what’s happening to their brains. Greatest sideshow in town. And, it costs hardly anything. Gallons of grape juice and tons of Everclear alcohol. 190 proof. Can’t drink it straight! Need to mix it with something. Grape juice works. Nice color. Got the idea from the Physics majors. That’s why they call it Purple Passion. Brings out the passion in everyone.
Frustrated with the Vietnam War and the deterioration of America, he heads over to France for advanced piano studies, returning to the States to get his MBA from a major MidwesternUniversity. Finally, after 5 years of prep school, 4 years of college and 2 years of graduate school, he ends up at a prestigious NYC bank, programming struggling “blue collars” workers out of their livelihoods.
Making a lot of money as a newly minted MBA, Jeffrey works hard during the day and parties at night. Frequently, he plays the piano at a local bar, composing songs to women in order to get them in bed.
Good to see you again. Forgot your name. I know it’s one syllable.
Good to see you again, Shoe.
You're back on.
(Leaves Bar to go over to Piano for his set)
Sue, Listen carefully to my first number.
(stumbles as he walks over to the piano – sits down – picks up the mike)
Ladies and Gentleman, welcome back to the Starbridge Bar on 3rd Ave. My name is Jeffrey and I am your entertainment for the evening. First, let me show you a special talent that I’ve had from birth. I’m going to mark Middle C 1, D 2 and so forth until E over C, which is zero. I am then going to ask someone in the audience for the last four digits of their telephone number and compose a song around a 4-digit motif.
Meanwhile, during the day, Jeffrey discovers his employer’s illegal parking of Foreign Exchange profits in an offshore subsidiary. He goes to his boss, Lou, and tells him what he found.
You know, something, Lou. I reprogrammed the end-of-day F/X profit trading report and there’s too much profit going to Nassau. I think the Bank is transferring profits to minimize tax. I have to tell someone.
Jeffrey. That would not be wise.
Lou, if I’m correct our trading desk is parking profits down in Nassau. I know we have a branch there. But, when I checked the official trading desk officers list, there aren’t any in Nassau. The trades are fake.
Jeffrey. Chill. I’ll run it up the flagpole.
Rather than informing the authorities of his discovery, the Bank negotiates an all-expense relocation package to San Francisco for Jeffrey and his most recent girlfriend, Lizzann, in order to win his silence. After several years of hot tub parties and all-night drinking in MarinCounty, a rich suburb of San Francisco, Lizzann convinces him to marry and start a family. As Jeffrey’s drinking accelerates, his business fails. Lizzann, fed up with Jeffrey’s increasing irresponsibility, hands him his walking papers as he returns from one of his out-of-town trips.
You son of a bitch. You said you were going to be here for the birthday party and when I called you in Seattle at the hotel, you weren’t there. Are you sleeping with someone?
With his marriage in disrepair, Jeffrey moves back to NYC leaving two young children behind with their mother. His father reluctantly offers to put Jeffrey up in one his New York business apartments. Rather than listening to his father, he pulls out his credit card and calls Richie, a travel agent.
I need to get out of town.
You running away from something?
Yeah. Me. Gotta get out of here. Heard you were a travel agent.
Part-time. I became an agent to save commission on my own travel.
I need your help. I don’t know a lot of people outside of work.
What about Club Med?
Yeah. They just opened a new one in Turk & Caicos. They call it Club Med Turquoise. The women are hot there. Everyone drinks, gets naked and runs around on private secluded beaches for hours—nothing but pure pleasure.
On his travel agent’s advice, Jeffrey flies down to Club Med where he meets Toby, a former Broadway actor, dancer and divorced mother of two. They return to New York and marry 18 months later on the roof of a NYC apartment house overlooking the East River. Two years later, they move to Utah so that Jeffrey can work for a professor at the University.
As the years progress, Jeffrey experiments with all forms of liquor; constantly making up new drinks to knock himself out. Toby, dealing with he own back surgeries from her dancing years, shrugs off Jeffrey’s chaos. Naturally funny, everyone tolerates Jeffrey’s behavior.
JEFFREY (TO A PARTY GUEST)
I can tell you your birthday by just looking at your eyes.
It’s coming to me. Sometime in March. No, April. No, March. That’s it. March?
Wait. There’s more. 15th? 16th? Let me see your eyes. Need a sip. O.K. 18th. Got it. March 18th?
That’s absolutely, incredible. How do you do it?
Talent. Is March 18th your birthday.
No. December 21.
Throughout their up-and-down marriage, Toby endures Jeffrey’s painful sojourns into the dark side of the bar world. He often calls her on the phone slurring his words.
I have to drink with clients. Leave me alone.
Driving drunk down a mountain in DeerValley, Jeffrey loses control of his car on the snowy road, slams on the brakes, skids through the intersection and is cross-sided by a speeding car coming over a hill. As his car flips three times, we wonder how Jeffrey will survive the devastating crash.
Denying his deteriorating condition, Jeffrey is arrested in Las Vegas for refusing to leave the Blackjack table and escorted to his room in Orlando for insulting strangers in the hotel lobby. No one, including his friends, wife, and business colleagues realizes that he is slowly being poisoned by alcohol. They all assume he is simply overworked, suffering from jet lag, and succumbing to business pressure.
Finally, after 40 years of drinking and a long night of partying in NYC on a business trip, he begins to faint and catches himself falling in a gutter on 3rd Avenue. Trying to break his fall against a cab, he passes out in his own vomit, robbed of clothes, credit cards and dignity. People pass by and Jeffrey is left to die until a young man realizes what happens and calls the police.
Jeffrey awakens in a NYC emergency room and is unable to remember his name. As he comes in and out of his alcoholic insanity, he cannot tell reality from fantasy. Faced with his near death experience, he knows he has to change his lifestyle. But how?
Do you know where you are?
Am I dead?
Could have died, if that young man had not called 9-1-1. Do you know your name?
Je – jef- no.
Do you know what year it is?
(looking around the room for a clue only seeing white)
No. I need to sleep.
Upon leaving the hospital in New York, Toby and Jeffrey head back to Salt Lake City. They frequently fight over little things and Jeffrey’s irritability continues to grow, only softened by a quick double. Weeks go by and Jeffrey’s excessive drinking continues. He is unable to get through a day without thinking about the drink.
On April 15th, 2003 while he is preparing his tax return at the computer with a bottle of 18 year Glenlivet at his side, the bottle starts to dance in a macabre –like fashion. Scared of the bottle, he tries to pick it up, but the bottle is too quick for him.
Got you now. You need me more than I need you. Can’t live without me.
(reaching for the dancing bottle but unable to grab it)
You have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re not real.
I am too. You think about me all the time. You’re in love with me. You need me more than you need Toby,
(reaching again for the bottle and missing)
I can stop anytime I want. I just elect not too.
That’s what they all say. And, they all die.
(finally grabs the bottle and throws it at the computer)
That evening, Jeffrey awakens in a cold sweat. He is unable to catch his breath. He fears that he cannot stop drinking although he has tried. He gets out of bed, goes to the computer and visits the AA website. He sees the following questions on the first page of the AA website, turns on the speaker and holds a conversation with the computer.
Have you had a drink or two at home before you go to a party where they will serve alcohol?
Have you ever had six or more drinks on one occasion?
Have you been able to stop drinking after you started?
Have you sworn off alcohol forever and started drinking again?
Top of Form
Do you forget what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
ALL THE TIME!
Realizing he may have a drinking problem, Jeffrey attends his first AA meetings. Many talk about their “near death” experiences and relate “horrible” stories about their friends who died from alcohol abuse. Determined to beat the demon, he decides to go cold turkey and stop drinking.Without liquor in his diet, Jeffrey turns to coffee, soda and “sweet” things to quench his craving for sugar.
Shortly thereafter, Jeffrey meets Don, an elderly 10-year AA veteran. Knowing that he needs a sponsor to survive, let alone get through the day without a drink, Don takes on the challenge of guiding Jeffrey, who increasingly becomes belligerent to those around him. Don’s patience is tested and we worry that Don could relapse and drink again due to Jeffrey’s childlike, inappropriate behavior.
You going to throw some shit at me today? Some AA crap?
I’m just here to help you through the steps. You will recover only if you follow the steps.
Easy for you to say. You have 10 years.
I have the same amount of time as you. I only have today.
As the weeks go by, we witness a slow transformation of the ego-oriented Jeffrey to a human being who cares about others. One of Jeffrey’s first turning moments centers around an older woman who asks him to chair a meeting. A week later, Jeffrey asks why she has been absent from meetings.
Where have you been?
I can only come to a meeting when I have extra cash. I’m living on a $1 a day and the bus fare is $1.60.
(exits room – heads out to parking lot – weeps uncontrollably)
After Jeffrey receives his 6-month chip, Toby goes back into the hospital for her third back surgery. Returning home from a business trip, Jeffrey finds Toby’s back pain worsening as her pain meds no longer work. She screams throughout the night and he fears that she may be addicted to narcotics.
In spite of her own medical condition, Toby reaches out to Jeffrey to love him. While in bed, she spontaneously whispers in his ear that she wants him. She gets on top and makes love with passion that he has never known before. Unable to accept her love, he throws Toby off his trembling body, lies still for minutes, and finally shares with her his most intimate thoughts. Sitting on the side of the bed, he tells her, for the first time, his secretive past.
Weeks later, on a business trip, Jeffrey learns that his mother, the once powerful wife of a Wall Street superstar, has had a stroke and given 10 days to live by the medical experts. At her funeral, Jeffrey peels off memories of his parents and shares with the guests that his life has changed since he committed himself to an alcoholic recovery program.
My life has changed since I found out that I was an alcoholic and voluntarily committed myself to an alcoholic recovery program. Because of the program, I no longer blame my parents. In Genesis God says, “Let Us Create Mankind in Our Own Image.” Ask yourself the following question, “Who was God talking to when He said this?” I believe that He was talking to angels and that we all have our own individual angels looking after us.
The next day, Toby and Jeffrey head over to the long-term care nursing home where his father has lived for 20 years. As they lean over Dad’s bed, Jeffrey grabs his father’s hand. For the first time in Jeffrey’s tortured life, Jeffrey sees his father as a weak person unlike the image he had held onto since he was a child.
Dad, Mom passed away. I’m so sorry.
Jeffrey, your father does not hear you.
He has to. I have to make amends. I do not want to hold onto my past.
Let him go. He is not there.
At his first year sobriety birthday party, his oldest daughter hands him a book, “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad”. He opens the book and sees the following inscription:
April 15, 2004
I am so proud of you! Congratulations on one amazing year.
I love you,
As the party slows down, he goes into the living room to spend time with his Steinway, frequently recalling how he has always loved playing the piano. As he watches his guests from afar, he smiles and composes a song, without a drink in his hand.