how to shave and live your life


My father never taught me how to shave. Or how to smoke a cigarette. He taught me how to drink, though. I remember him not being able to walk from the table to the car. I remember helping him walk. I remember Mother telling him that he is too drunk to drive. I remember him arguing that the car knows the way. I remember him driving us home and tumbling to the floor as soon as he got out of the car. I remember the acrid smell of alcohol mixed with garlic. I remember sitting in the backseat, anxious. I remember Mother telling Father that he was driving too fast. I remember shrieking break and approaching the stoplights of the truck. I remember the ‘thunk!’ and the hard yank.

We were lucky that day. Nobody got hurt, even though the car was wrecked. That day I promised myself that I would not be like him. But then forgot the promise.

I started drinking when I was attending middle grade. I thought drinking was cool. I was a loser in my mind, and my friends were cool, so I drank with them to be cooler. Then I would go out to a restaurant with Father. He would drink until he couldn’t walk, and every time, I would think that he was dumb to drink that much and believe I was cool because I could handle my drink and stop before I get drunk.

I believed that I understood alcoholism well, and I was sure I wasn’t one. Even though I almost drank every day, I didn’t blackout or caused a scene. Therefore, I must have been drinking responsibly, right? I would always joke that “I drink until my graphic card moves from the slot.” That was my way of saying I always stop drinking when my vision gets laggy.

I drank away countless days. Drinking was the only way to socialize. When I didn’t drink, I got so bored that I wanted to leave and be alone. And then I would go home and drink by myself. Over time, I started drinking so much that my friends had to make sure that I am fine at the end of the night. I started drinking so much that at the end of the night, my friends drove me home. I started drinking too much that I had to spend countless hours trying to remember what had happened the previous day. Unaware, I was turning into my father. I was becoming the same sorry man, drinking his life away.

I don’t remember my last drink. But the last memory of my drunk self is a girl handing me a bottle of tequila and inviting me into my friend’s house. Who knows what happened after that.  I came to myself strolling the streets the next morning, not knowing where I was or what I was doing. I trudged myself back home, slept until five p.m., and have never drunk again.

While I was teaching our cat, Thor, how to shave, I remembered the confusing pain and destruction my father brought wherever he went. Even though Thor was more interested in attacking my slippers than watching me shave, I felt contempt: I figured out that I kept my promise to that little guy sitting at the backseat watching the stoplights coming closer than they were supposed to be, with terror.

I didn’t turn out to be like my father. I am forever thankful to all the people who helped me along the way. If you struggle with alcoholism, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

A Sliver of Light


His shift was over. His body was aching all over. He checked his pockets to find his tobacco bag. While his fingers were patting over his pockets, his eyes were studying for a sidewalk to rest his colossal mass.

His thick but nimble fingers rolled the cigarette with accustomed ease. It had been three hours since he smoked his last cigarette. The new management… They calculated everything. You couldn’t be constipated because you were only allowed to have 15 minutes for a bathroom break.

He shook his head and raised the cigarette to his lips. He lighted his cigarette with the Zippo he stole when he was just a toddler. It was his secret treasure growing up. He smiled and looked at his reflection on the chrome-plated shiny lighter. His golden fang brought a feral feeling to his smile.

He took a long breath and got up. He had a long drive home, and his car was parked five blocks away. He started trudging and picked up his phone. He was scrolling Twitter when the thunder god started to sing. He looked up. Dark clouds surrounded him. A huge raindrop hit his forehead. He shrugged and stuffed his phone in his pocket.

A sliver of light hit his face. He thought of it as a good omen. He shouldn’t spend his time on his phone. He already spent most of the day at work. It was time to do something worthwhile. He looked around and saw the ruins of a building. Even though he walked around it every day, he didn’t recognize it before. It was surrounded by new apartments. He understood the ruins. His dyed hair didn’t show his age, but his aching body did. His young coworkers looked like the apartments, but he was still standing.

The sun followed him as he reached his car. It was an old green Buick. It was old, but it wasn’t rusty. Like his Zippo, he has been keeping it shiny. He ignited the engine, and his old friend roared in laughter. “Time to go home, buddy,” he said, and touched his fang hanging from the mirror for good luck.

Yigit Cakar