About a hundred years ago, a fine ole Mississippi couple had themselves a boy whom they brought into this world under the name of Thomas Lanier Williams III. Well, once this boy was growed up and started writing plays he decided to change his name to Tennessee—has a nicer ring to it than Tom does. Anyhow, Tennessee Williams took his new name and became one of the best damn playwrights the world has ever known. In one of his plays, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, he wrote this character by the name of Brick, as the man took a shine to not-so-usual names. Brick was named Brick because he was just about as dense as one and even harder to move one way or the other. At least, that’s why I thought his name was Brick. I don’t put much stock in those critics who spend their whole lives picking apart other folks’ work, so I never read their damn books.

Anyways, Brick was quite the drinker, much like Tennessee himself, and he spent most of his days drinking bourbon like it was goin’ outta style. You see, like most alcoholics, Brick drank to stop thinking so damn much about everything—life in particular. He was always talkin’ ’bout this “click” in his head. The way Brick explained it, he had to keep on drinkin’ ’til he felt this little click in his noggin that let him squash the fire burnin’ up in his head and have a little relaxation.

It’s sad, but since most of people’s art is based on their own lives, Tennessee had a fire in his head too, and goddamn if he didn’t douse that fire in booze all his life tryin’ to put it out. Now, ask any sensible man or woman what happens if your pour liquor on a fire and they’ll tell you it flares up like a 4th of July fireworks display. Tennessee wasn’t capable of thinking that way though and he ended up dyin’ alone in some New York hotel. Poor boy choked to death on a bottle cap, but it didn’t matter much as he was fixin’ to die soon anyway. At that point, his liver was like a grape that’s been left in the sun too long, but ain’t quite a raisin yet.

Tennessee knew all too well what that click felt like and so do I. Anybody who’s gotten royally pissed or stoned to high hell knows what that click feels like. It’s that one moment when you just stop—and then you’re fine. When you get that click the hamster spinning around that wheel in your head goes all slack-jawed and falls flat on his face while his little rodent body keeps the wheel turnin’ as he’s passed out. Now, the more you drink or smoke, the harder it is to feel that click. The real son-of-a-bitch of the situation is the harder the click is to get, the more you need it and before you know it you’re downing half a bottle of Dewar’s and you still feel stone sober. You need that click so bad because it feels like little kids are shooting roman candles at the back of your eyes, so you drink again or light up another bowl. Fuck it if it’s Tuesday afternoon, you need the flames to leave you the hell alone.

But the thing is, that searing feelin’ you get in your head is what makes life great. People need that pain because without it we wouldn’t know what pleasure is. Great art comes more from despair than it does euphoria or some damn hackneyed idea of happiness. Tennessee Williams didn’t become one of this country’s best writers by livin’ some wonderfully charmed existence. His life was filled with sorrow, heartache and loneliness, all of which were fueled by the booze he drank like rain water.

My grandmother died at 56 on account of alcoholism because she drank a bottle of vodka most nights…and on other nights it was two. The floor of her bedroom was lined with empty liquor bottles—dead soldiers my mama calls ’em. She stopped drinkin’ and joined AA, but the damage was done. Now, I certainly ain’t no teetotaler and I sure as hell love goin’ out and having a good substance filled time, but with that being said, I know you gotta keep a tab on that click in your head. ‘Cause as soon as you start drinkin’ to get the click instead of finding it by accident, then you’re as dense as a fuckin’ brick and before you know it you’ll be as motionless as one too.