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Alcohol was Involved
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Every February or March a big Marti Gras takes place in the county where I live, attracting people throughout the state. On Mondays following Marti Gras weekend, my morning newspaper tends to be more interesting than on a typical Monday. This year was no exception.

Some stories are funny. This year, one front page story told of 73-year-old man who led the police on a low-speed chase in the county. He never exceeded the speed limit, but refused to pull over when flagged by the police. The chase – with speeds as low as 20 miles per hour and as high as 40 – wound through several cities before the senior citizen wrecked his car crashing into a police car. Alcohol was involved.

How will this man explain his behavior to his children? What does he say to his grandchildren when they ask “Grandpa, what were you thinking?” As Oscar Wilde said about the death of Little Nell, you would have to have heart of stone not to laugh.

Other stories are tragic. There was another accident that day. A couple on a motorcycle driving down a major street of the town hosting the Marti Gras struck an automobile that suddenly pulled in front of them. Witnesses say the motorcycle could not avoid hitting the car. The husband, a retired and respected police officer, was killed. His wife, an active duty officer in the city her husband worked, was critically injured.

Why did the car veer into the motorcycle’s path? Alcohol was involved. The driver, an 18-year-old woman, was arrested, charged with intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault.

Three Lives Ruined

Three lives ruined in seconds. A man who serving his community for 25 years has his retirement years snatched from him. His wife may still die. If she survives, she faces a long recovery and life without her husband. A young woman has her future blighted through her bad judgment.

The young woman not only drank to excess, she was too young to drink legally in Texas. Then she got behind the wheel too drunk to drive safely. Even if she escapes legal consequences of her recklessness (unlikely in my state) she now carries at least one person’s death on her conscience. At 18 she will live with that for many years.

People want to have fun. Marti Gras offers live music, street entertainers, parades, and plenty of food. The city wants a family-friendly experience everyone can enjoy, advertising the experience as Family Gras, with kid-centered events.

Yes, alcohol is available. However, the very comically humiliating, or the heartbreakingly tragic newspaper article I read involving Marti Gras, seems to include the phrase “alcohol was involved.” Stories about people having fun experiences at Marti Gras rarely do.

Ask yourself a question: If alcohol is necessary to have fun, especially if you cannot have fun unless you get drunk, is it really fun?

Stay sober. Otherwise, the Marti Gras mask you don might be the mask of heartbreaking tragedy or humiliating comedy. It often is when alcohol is involved.

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By Mark Lardas. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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