HART: Dear departed Druncle Mac retrospective

Since my looming family reunion will be the first one without our beloved Druncle Mac, I thought it would be nice to remember him.

He died two years ago. It turns out that a lifetime of hard drinking, carousing and three packs of Marlboros a day isn’t good for you. Who knew?

He taught me many things, mostly that when there is a problem, alcohol is not always the answer. But it should be your first guess.

Mac was an unfiltered truth-teller. There are only three things that will tell you the truth: small children, tight jeans and drunks.

Everyone but my family wants me to talk about him. But in truth, all families are just a generation or two away from an aunt who smoked cigarettes on the toilet. So here are some of my favorite Mac observations over the years:

  • “I have two favorite songs. One is Elvis’ rendition of ‘Dixie,’ the other is not.”
  • Confronted about his “drinking problem,” he said, “When you think about it, my drinking problem is really the police’s problem.”
  • My Druncle Mac said of all the “MeToo” cases suddenly in the news: “I’m lucky to be too poor to have any accusers come forward to say I got grab-ass with them years ago.” He was so broke, he had to show an ID to pay cash for something. His point was that sexual harassment claims are a rich man’s problem. He said he might sue his employer, a construction company, to get some of that “MeToo” money. I asked him whom he was going to sue, and he said, “Anyone willing to settle.”
  • He told folks that during the Vietnam War, he was saved by a sweet Vietnamese girl when she hid him in her attic. He was in Birmingham, Alabama at the time.
  • Druncle Mac did not have the best relationships with women. I once asked him how he and his then-wife were doing. He said, “Ronnie, not so great. We took out large insurance policies on each other; now it’s just a waiting game.”
  • He drank only Pabst beer. I brought him Coors Light once and he said, “Son, that is not beer. Coors Light is the official beer of child custody hearings.”
  • During COVID, he got into an argument with a convenience store manager because he would not stand 6 feet from other customers on the “X” painted on the floor. He said he had seen too many “Roadrunner” episodes to fall for that.
  • In response to a Geico commercial during a ‘Bama game on TV that promised to save 20 percent on car insurance, Mac said that was nothing; he saved 100 percent on car insurance by leaving the scene of every accident he’d ever been in.
  • He would proudly say, “It only takes one drink to get me drunk. But I could never remember if it was the eleventh or twelfth drink.”
  • He hated Uber. He felt it allowed a whole generation of kids to let their drunk driving skills atrophy and pointed to the fact that he only had one wreck in his life while drinking. He said he had to swerve to avoid hitting a pine tree. It turned out it was the air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror.
  • His politics were what you might imagine. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on TV spewing her socialist rants, he blamed New Yorkers for electing her and went on to ask, “How big a drunk do you have to be to elect your bartender to Congress?”
  • When Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul got a DUI, Mac empathized and opined he had been married to Nancy 55 years; he ought to get off with time served.

Yet he was philosophical about his drinking. He said excessive drinking was like watching soccer or opera: It is its own punishment. To this day, he is the only person I have ever seen drinking beer from a bell pepper.

He would never watch any royal weddings or coronations on TV. He scoffed, “Son, I lost interest in the royals when they knighted Sir Mix-A-Lot.”

He said once a bartender yelled to the customers in a bar, “Does anyone know CPR?” Druncle Mac hollered back, “I know ALL the letters of the alphabet.” He said everyone there thought it was funny, except this one guy.

Good-bye, Uncle Mac. My only regret is that my grandkids did not get to know you.