THE VAULT

Twelve Steps in Time
July 31, 2006 by Julius Serpentine

Crazy Uncle Mel's been drinking again.

Every now and again the Slantmouth staff likes to dust off the old time machine and assemble a pantheon of historical figures capable of giving the world a unique perspective on the issues of today. This week we have gathered some of American history’s famous alcoholics to discuss Mel Gibson.

Slantmouth: Mel Gibson, a world famous actor in our time, was arrested this past weekend for driving under the influence. In a statement released by Gibson he admitted to struggling with the seductive delights of alcohol for years and openly announced his alcoholism. What are your initial reactions?

Edgar Allan Poe: I find it to be rather sad. When a man plunges into the depths of alcohol no good can come of it. The only prize at the end of that adventure is a premature death and pantaloons full of venereal diseases.

Truman Capote: I once had a rather special relationship with Mel, in the late 70’s. I used to call him Mellon. It was cute for a while, but it would have never worked out. It’s sad that, in the future, he’s turned to alcohol to soothe his woes. I blame myself. I’d go for the drink too if I couldn’t have me.

Franklin Pierce: If I were still President of the United States I’d have you strung up by your britches, Capote. There’s no room for those kinds of lies, certainly not in my presence.

Truman Capote: Jealous, are we?

Franklin Pierce: I ought to punch you in the damn face, boy! I killed men with three times as much chest hair as you in Mexico City!

Slantmouth: Gentlemen, as much as we enjoy drunken men fighting, let’s stay on topic.

Franklin Pierce: Right. Sorry. So this Mel Gibson fellow was driving drunk, yes?

Let me just say from experience, drinking and driving is a terrible combination. After a wild night of drinking and more drinking, I ran over an old woman in my carriage. She collapsed like the Roman Empire. The crunching sound was awful, but she didn’t die right away. In my altered state, it seemed merciful to end her misery by backing over her.

It brings a manly tear to my eye just thinking about it.

Edgar Allan Poe: What did the crunching sound like exactly? A story I’m working on features an old lady being run over by a carriage. It’s a love story. Could you talk about it in more detail? I’d love to take some notes.

Franklin Pierce: Maybe later. I think this future air is aggravating my allergies.

[Mr. Pierce sniffles and dabs his eyes with a handkerchief]

Slantmouth: He was reported to have made a series of anti-Semitic comments during his arrest, including statements that pointed the finger at Jews for all of the wars in the world. How do you think this will affect Gibson’s future in Hollywood?

Edgar Allan Poe: You’re talking about the moving pictures in this time, right? Back in my time short stories are not considered to be legitimate art. Can you believe it? Now we’re discussing the future of an insanely wealthy man having a future amongst a group of other insanely rich men producing moving pictures.

I suspect he will survive. I heard he made a movie, as you call them, which featured the spiritually uplifting tale of a man being beaten for two and a half hours, right? Funded the project from his own pocket, as I recall.

Truman Capote: Oh, right. The Passion. Doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea. I find it much more interesting that in the future they’re making movies about a drunken Southern homosexualist like me. Probably means I didn’t make it into the new century, if they’re making biographical movies about my life.

Anyway, I think that the Jews of Hollywood will be fine with Gibson. I mean, the main character of The Passion was supposed to be a positive Jewish role model. That has to count for something.

Franklin Pierce: I don’t know, Truman. I was rooting for the Confederacy during the Civil War. That didn’t help my reputation and it certainly didn’t keep me from the bottle.

I see this as the beginning of the end for Gibson. It was a fine ride while it lasted, but if you’re rooting for the wrong team the hammer will come down on your Australian balls sooner or later. Sorry Mel, by the power invested in me as a former President of the United States, I pronounce your Hollywood career castrated.

Edgar Allan Poe: Hammer-castration? I may use it in one of my murder mysteries.

Franklin Pierce: Not so fast, Poe. That’s my idea.

Truman Capote: And a truly charming idea at that.

Franklin Pierce: You sassing me, Capote? Because if you are, I’ll warm up the hammer just for you.

Truman Capote: You’re coming on a little too strong for my taste, Franklin, especially for a married man. Try something more romantic.

Edgar Allan Poe: A truly gruesome scene is about to unfold. I must confess the sight of blood makes me faint. If I leave the room can someone tell me about it later? I have an idea for a police procedural involving a fist fight between the President of the United States and a gay writer.

[The door opens]

Bacchus: Whoa, Edgar! How’s it going? Is this the Mel Gibson roundtable discussion? I thought I missed the whole thing. I got late trying to bring Jim Morrison along but he was lying in a bathtub in Paris. He didn’t look like he wanted to be disturbed.

Did I miss anything important?

Slantmouth: Uh…I was about to ask what advice everyone had for Mel Gibson.

Bacchus: Oh, that’s easy. Get drunk. It’s great. Trust me, I know; I’m the god of wine and general drunken revelry. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, Mel. If alcoholism is a disease, it’s the best disease you could wish for. It’s way better than hemorrhoids at least. Trust me on that, too.

Truman Capote: Any questions, Poe? I’m sure you have a hemorrhoid related murder mystery floating around in that large head of yours.

Edgar Allan Poe: No. I’m afraid not, but I do have some advice: Mr. Gibson, stop drinking. Many men have been wrecked by the Siren’s call of alcohol. Do not be lured in by it. Its sultry voice is only a trick, a vile trick that will be the end of you.

Franklin Pierce: Cram it, Poe! Don’t you have a scary poem to write?

Bacchus: Stop being so negative, Poe. No one really needs a liver and if they do I’m sure Mel can afford to buy a new one. He’s rich. Larry Hagman had something like five or six livers – possibly at the same time – before he kicked the bucket. Loosen up and have a drink.

Truman Capote: I’ll drink to that. Here’s to you, my succulent Mellon!

Franklin Pierce: Pass the Robitussin.

After each man was sent back to their own time we promptly destroyed the time machine, in hopes that nothing like this would ever be repeated. Gathering several alleged and confirmed alcoholics to constructively discuss anything seemed like a good idea at the time but, in retrospect, was ill-advised. They raided the Slantmouth office’s medicine cabinet for cough syrup, in absence of alcoholic beverages. Apparently, Tab was not enough to satisfy our famous visitors for the fifteen minutes they were in the year two thousand and six.

Thankfully, we did learn a valuable lesson; history is not worth learning from, unless you enjoy being groped by a drunken writer.

~Julius Serpentine