How High? Ten High!

Wide, open clear Texas night deer-chicken fry
High plains drifters, wild horses and Ten High
After my best friend Lord Seamus passed on and I learned to partake of the Western Hemisphere whiskey/bourbon milieu, I went a little (ok, very) hog wild.  Not that I was/am particularly discriminating, but even by my standards I kind of lost it.  I was working some road construction jobs that paid very well, working and hanging out with some real rowdy whiskey drinkers.  They drank Jack like it was going out of style, putting it in their coffee when our days started at day break and taking nips to keep the DTs off throughout the day and really pounding it down at night.  One of them was one of those second cousin-closer-than-a-brother-types with the foreman, who wasn’t exactly a teetotaler himself so he, his two degenerate friends and yours truly rapidly declining degenerate in training were given pretty much free rein to partake as much as we want so long as the work continued.  We were working a stretch out southwest of Lubbock, TX where there more jackrabbits then people.  It was in early fall so the weather was fine and the landscape was something else.  It took some getting used to, but I learned to love great distance and openness you feel way out in west Texas. 

However, Mr. Jack D was starting to preempt my finer sensibilities, nullifying my ability to appreciate or even care about anything more than the hooch before me.  As bad as we were during the work week, Saturday night found us going into black out mode, ending up with blackened eyes, cracked ribs and cold county lockup beds for dismal Sunday morning wake ups/bail outs.  The job was coming to the end and my fellows Jack-generates were planning to go down to Nuevo Laredo to really blow it up.  I won’t go into the incriminating details, but from all that they had planned, I figured at least half of us were a lead pipe cinch to end up dead/in Mexican prison in a couple of days across the river.   I had to make alternate plans post-haste in those few moments when my facilities weren’t completely impaired by Tennessee distilled mental retardant. 

Luckily, I had one other ally on the crew, Joseph Parker.  Joseph was a 3/4thAmerican Indian who was working his way through graduate school, getting his doctorate in history.  Once we agreed to never, ever discuss Andrew Jackson (or, as Joseph called him, White Devil Numero Uno), we got along quite well.  Joseph uncle had a ranch even further out in the west Texas expanse, where he went hunting for a couple of days every fall during deer season.  He’d been asking me to come there for awhile; though I had never been hunting before and didn’t particularly like guns, I figured I’d be much safer there then with the toxic triplets across the Rio Grande.  As long I didn’t mention Action Jackson around an armed Joseph.

I managed to slowly lower my intake of Jack to an only slightly superhuman rate as the job finished. I found a replacement for my Nuevo Laredo slot and set off with Joseph for the ranch when the job ended.  His uncle had a nice spread with plenty of deer, turkeys and even a few javelinas.  The hunting party drank pretty solidly, but they were the Mormon tabernacle choir compared to my ill-fated Nuevo Laredo bound road crew compatriots.  The drink of choice here was Ten High bourbon.  After long days on horseback hunting for any manner of beast or fowl, it went great with the chicken-fried venison Joseph’s uncle had trademarked over the years.  I had forgotten that liquor could be halfway smooth and not taste like a piece of dreamlessly dead charcoal.

Joseph was always careful to stop with a moderate buzz.  He was worried about his genetic predisposition towards booze-hounddom (and with his ¼ European genes coming from the Emerald Isle in addition his indigenous American blood I don’t blame him).  I probably drank at least double of him, but I found it much easier to go slowly with the Ten High.  Looking around for miles in the high plains near Nuevo Mexico, resting your tried bones while chewing on some valiant, recently slaughtered beast, I probably haven’t ever felt as at peace outdoors as I was on that trip with some good Ten High in me.

Joseph is now a history professor at a southwestern university.  We meet up every couple of years back at his uncle’s ranch for deer season.  His uncle is now older then the Rolling Stones but looks a hell of a lot better.  Maybe it’s the good O.G. American genes in him, maybe it the clean outdoor living.  Whatever accounts for his longevity, I know that Ten High by a camp fire with same Hank over a beat-up transistor has a lot to do with it.  I know I’m always welcome there and will come back rejuvenated, ready to deal with the fallen world of Man.  So long as I don’t screw up and drop the Jackson-bomb.  Is fear rith maith ná drochsheasamh.
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