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Life’s a Beach By Shelley Murphy

By Shelley Murphy

The first Thursday of this month, I visited my local Starbucks. My coffee came in a red and green holiday cup, and as the barista handed it to me, he said, “Merry Christmas.”

Retailers regard Thanksgiving as a fruitless holiday wedged between a frightful October and a festive December.

Not me, I revere Thanksgiving; it’s long been my favorite holiday, and this November I have greater cause to give thanks.

There are three words a mom always wants to hear, at any time of day: I love you.

Then there are the three words a mom never wants to hear, especially at an odd hour of day: Don’t freak out.

I often opine about being a boy mom, and, as such, I’ve assembled a long list of worries.

My list is epic. Nonetheless, one caveat not cracking my top 10 is the likelihood my sons are slipped a “date rape” or “club drug” in a bar.

I’m not sexist; the concern made my list. It just didn’t climb to the top alongside fast cars and broken bones.

However, that was before my phobic fears were upended. Recently, on an early Saturday morning, my younger son called and said the words I dread, “Don’t freak out.”

The night before, my son drove to San Diego to visit friends and frequent a favorite bar.

At their hangout, my son enjoyed a draft beer with buddies, then ordered another. A few sips into the second beer, he felt an overpowering nausea.

Feeling he needed to exit immediately, he quickly closed his tab. Then, he found his friends and said he was going back to the house.

My son walked outside the bar, leaned against a tree, and “saw stars.” His next memory is of his buddies wiping the blood from his face and surrounding sidewalk.

My son’s ordeal occurred in San Diego County, but the same scourge strikes in Orange County. According to a local emergency room nurse I spoke with, she said, “You’d be surprised how often we see it” and added it doesn’t happen only in dive bars but also in the “ritziest” bars.

As she spoke, I recalled a few years ago when my girlfriend’s son suffered a similar tribulation. One night, her older son, a San Clemente native, visited a local downtown bar.

Later that night, my girlfriend got a call from her son, but she couldn’t understand his slurred speech. She asked where he was, but he said he didn’t know.

She spent the early morning hours in the dark (pun intended), frantically driving city streets searching for her son. Eventually, she found him; he’d passed out on a lawn blocks away from the bar. Her son has minimal memory of the incident.

My son would prefer to keep his predicament private, but I persuaded him to permit me to share his story with the hope of preventing another family from suffering a similar nightmare.

We don’t know the drug my son ingested, but the most common drugs (pills, liquids, or powders) are tasteless, odorless, colorless, and easily dissolved in liquid.

Several of the drugs’ side effects include dizziness, nausea, confusion, impaired speech, trouble breathing and losing consciousness.

Most preventative measures may seem obvious, but as the holidays approach and parties prevail, ’tis the season for a recap.

Precautionary actions include never drinking from a big-batch alcoholic beverage, never accepting drinks from other people, always opening your own bottles or cans, always keeping control of your drink, and never leaving it unattended.

Friends play a powerful part in prevention. Peers must stay alert and recognize if a pal suddenly acts out of character, appears overly intoxicated without cause, or abruptly changes demeanor.

Thanksgiving is next week, and this year, I’m especially thankful. I’m grateful for the buddies who bandaged my son and the emergency room heroes who healed him.

Thankfully, Thanksgiving remains my favorite family holiday.

For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.

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