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Wednesday, 16 December, 2009 5:07 PM

From Attorney to Alcoholic to "Adventure"

Former Addict Recounts Fall From Grace With Offbeat Humor

Cover photo: www.amazon.com

The Alcoholic's Guide to Adventure by William Rutger

By Tony Panaccio
News & Experts Syndicate

 

William Rutger doesn’t just dance to the beat of a different drum. He smacks the drummer in the head with the sticks.

In his autobiography, Rutger recounts events from his bizarre life such as buying a $6,000 billboard to memorialize his dog Clifford, blowing what he called a “Biblical Blood Alcohol Level” of a .316 (named for the famous verse John 3:16), and spending a week in jail thinking of it as a vacation. His portrayals are found in The Alcoholic’s Guide to Adventure from Booksurge (www.booksurge.com).

“I cannot even imagine a better vacation than jail, given my life situation at the time,” wrote Rutger, who was jailed for 7 days after his second DUI conviction.

His real life had been a downward spiral involving creditors, lack of work and a darkness that resulted in binge drinking until he’d pass out, so spending a week not having to deal with the real world was a relief for him. During that week in Pinellas County, Florida’s minimum security lockup, he made friends, played chess, watched many “Reba” sit-com episodes on the Country Music Channel, and talked to many of the regular inhabitants of the 49th Street Jail.

“It seems to me that if you are in a downward spiral like I was, you should be allowed to check yourself into jail in advance of driving drunk to get there,” he wrote. “Just like Otis in The Andy Griffith Show. The main difference between jails and college is that jails don’t have mascots. If I had to go back to jail, I would form a fraternity and we would call ourselves the 49th Street Filers, prepared to take on all comers.”

Rutger balances the humor of his unique journey with remembrances of his father and son, who both passed away at different times in Rutger’s life. In the book, Rutger writes letters to them that he cannot read to himself without breaking down into tears.

He also remembers his dog, Clifford, by reprinting a St. Petersburg Times article about the billboard Rutger bought to commemorate his dog’s passing at age 14 (98 in dog years). In the article, Rutger described how Clifford had become more of a fixture in Anclote Key bars than most of the patrons.

“Clear Channel wasn’t quite sure what to think of me when I made the request for the billboard,” he said. “And that’s just fine with me. It’s like the t-shirts I had printed and started selling recently that say ‘Your dog is an alcoholic.’ People who have always been sober don’t know what to think. For me, it’s a symbol – you know you’ve hit rock bottom when your dog hits rock bottom with you. Rabbits walk right by his nose and he just sighs and looks away. ‘Don’t bother me, you rabbits, unless you’ve got a beer.’”


About William Rutger

William Rutger is an attorney who battled alcoholism most of his adult life, and at age 52 achieved sobriety and began rebuilding his life. He lives with his wife in Clearwater, Florida.

 

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