‘Who keeps this kind of calendar except a sad person who feels his best years are in high school?” asked a Facebook friend.
I did. Like Brett Kavanaugh’s calendars, mine detailed my social life. Around the same age as the Supreme Court nominee, I was private-schooled, too, in Michigan, not Maryland all-boys. In ninth grade, I started obsessively documenting events I attended, not unlike Kavanaugh’s notes: “Anne Doughty’s party” vs. “Go to Timmy’s for skis w/Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi.” I, too, partied, though not with the beer he called “skis” (abbreviating brewskis) but with rum and Tab and toking.
“I drank beer with my friends, almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers, sometimes others did . . . I liked beer, I still like beer . . . ,” Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, insisting he’d fall asleep but never blacked out.
I wrote down my plans because it helped me remember what happened after overdoing it. Part diary, before Filofax and iPhone Schedule, I jotted down fun and friendship, hiding the depression and anxiety I escaped by getting drunk or stoned, filling in the blanks of everything I’d forgotten, which was a lot.
My Facebook pal wrote, “Dear FBI, July 1,” pointing to the entry when Kavanaugh was with “PJ and Judge,” two people whom Christine Blasey Ford alleges were at the party where she said she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh buddy Mark Judge’s 1997 Hazelton book, “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk,” now $850 on eBay, reveals the partying behind Kavanagh’s yearbook boast “100 kegs or bust.” Judge chronicles alcohol-fueled sexual antics with his drunken male posse, hitting bottom, and his AA recovery.
My memoir, “Lighting Up: How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking and Everything Else I Loved In Life Except Sex,” credits one-on-one therapy for saving my life 16 years ago, when a doctor told me, “Underlying every substance problem I’ve ever seen is a deep depression that feels unbearable,” and, “Untreated addictions only get bigger, never smaller.”
When questioned whether he was the basis for Judge’s “Bart O’Kavanaugh” character who “puked in someone’s car” and “passed out on his way from a party,” Kavanaugh called it a “fictional account.” Memoirs are nonfiction and often use pseudonyms for legal reasons, as a lawyer like Kavanaugh would know.
Since the roadblock to recovery from addiction is denial, the best advice I received was “lead the least secretive life you can.” Kavanaugh has denied he ever had an alcohol dependency, blaming dirty politics for hurting his life, career and family. Yet his calendar, yearbook, classmates, and friend’s memoir offer a clearer picture of apparent substance abuse.
So do witnesses, including:
- Julie Swetnick, who said a drunken Kavanaugh mistreated women at parties where boys gang-raped teenage girls.
- Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her.
- Lynne Brookes, Ramirez’s roommate who claims he “grossly misrepresented and mischaracterized his drinking.”
- James Roche, a 1983 college roommate who said Kavanaugh was a “heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time,” who “became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.” That year, students reported Kavanaugh’s involvement in a New Haven bar fight where police were called.
I don’t advocate jail time or disbarment due to purported excessive alcohol use or the alleged assault on Ford decades ago. It’s possible Kavanaugh is not lying because he was so drunk he has no memory of it. Still, given what we know, letting him help decide sexual harassment, drinking and drug cases would make a punch line out of our highest court.
Susan Shapiro, who teaches writing at The New School, is the author of “The Byline Bible” and co-author of “Unhooked: How to Quit Anything.”