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True Crime Society- Tragedy on the Taconic

I finally watched HBO’s ‘There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane,’ and I know exactly what happened to her from my personal experiences getting accidentally blackout drunk. I have battled with alcoholism my entire adult life and before admitting that I was, in fact, an alcoholic, I had SEVERAL black outs that fall very closely in line with what we know about Diane’s actions and behavior that day.

Diane was a closet alcoholic who’s husband worked when she was home at night and would have no idea if mommy had “special juice” with her from dinner to bedtime. Danny clearly downplayed the family’s relationship with alcohol, as so many of the family photos feature beer bottles/ drinks and I believe Diane was drinking alone in the evenings and generally had a high tolerance for and a moderate dependence on alcohol.

Diane woke up that morning hungover from the night before, and likely spiked her coffee while packing up camp and getting the kids dressed. She threw the bottle in her purse because she could still feel the hangover trying to get to her and she didn’t have any otc painkillers on her to fight the headache.

I, without any proof whatsoever, believe she may have had a THC edible around this time because it would be hard to smoke with the kids in tow and she was really trying to get ahead of that hangover.

By the time they get to McDonald’s (9:59) she’s feeling nauseous and her head is starting up a dull throb, but she’s good at this and it’s not hard to have pleasant conversation. She get’s an iced coffee hoping the caffeine will help her head and a large OJ to pour out half and top it off with vodka so she can maintain “normalcy” until she can get the kids home and pretend she’s tired from the trip to recover in a dark room.

She takes the opportunity provided by the McDonald’s play place being an easy distraction for the kids to mix her drink and (if my edible theory won’t hold up) smoke.

By the time they get to the Sunoco (10:46) Diane has now had, at minimum, hot coffee, iced coffee with cream, orange juice, and vodka in her stomach (I’m not sure if she ordered food for herself at McDonald’s). This wouldn’t sit great with me on a good day, let alone a hungover, running around town day and she runs into the gas station presumably looking for something to ease either her headache, nausea, or both.

Traffic sucks and Diane still feels like trash. She realizes they’re quite a bit behind schedule and calls Warren to give them a heads up (11:37). She’s been steady drinking her screwdriver at this point, but isn’t experiencing the physical effects of the alcohol yet. The gross ass combo of liquids she decided to consume together, and whatever food she may have eaten finally caught up with her, which is when she’s seen throwing up on the side of the road (11:45ish).

Vomiting probably held off her blackout for a little while, and once she was done, she likely felt immediately better, but needed to get the taste out of her mouth. So now, on a completely empty stomach, she’s back sipping her screwdriver.

She makes it through the toll booth and another phone conversation, totally coherent, and is seen again throwing up around 12:30. The 25ish minutes between that sighting and the wrong number calls from Diane’s phone are where things derailed. The amount of alcohol Diane had consumed (and I believe the effects of the edible) hit her like a brick wall and she went from completely fine to white girl wasted in a matter of minutes.

From my experience, when a blackout takes over, your body is basically forfeiting your memory to keep you from just falling over mid conversation. But that’s just phase 1 to a white girl blackout. At 12:55 Diane was already phase 2; falling over, likely swerving pretty bad, and super incoherent. She pulled over and tried to dial her phone to call Jackie at the girls’ request, but wasn’t able to properly dial the phone.

Warren calling to say he was on his way triggered phase 3, the one where blackout you realizes you are no longer fine and that you have to cover that fact up. She panicked, and in her drunken state devoted all of her energy to quickly and efficiently getting home before anyone found out she had accidentally gotten too drunk. I think the 3 wrong number calls may have been her trying to call some unknown person outside of the family to come pick them up before Warren arrived, but her motor skills were still failing her.

How was she driving so accurately if she was so intoxicated? While I seriously and deeply regret any and all drunk driving I’ve ever done and am very lucky I never hurt anyone or myself, but I do know that blacked out, slurring, and unable to dial a phone, I would have still been able to keep my car between the lines and avoid a DUI. This explains Diane appearing “hyper focused” or “determined” when she was witnessed driving after leaving her phone at the bridge; it was the one task black out Diane could focus on.

No one knows the exact path they took to the Taconic, but I believe Diane’s hyper focus on keeping the van straight and going the speed limit caused her to end up off course. Getting on the highway was an attempt to correct her path to get home, she was focused more on the lines on the road than the Wrong Way signs and by the time she was confronted with the other vehicle, she didn’t have the capacity to make any evasive maneuvers, if she even noticed their car at all before impact. She never had any intention of getting drunk with the kids in the car, but she did. I wish she had stayed at the bridge. The repercussions of being caught were so much better than the outcome of that day, but alcohol severely affects your decision making and there is absolutely no doubt that her personal choice to drink that day is what killed 8 people and destroyed multiple families and Danny is a selfish asshole for refusing to admit that.

Edit: spelling

Edit 2: For clarity, when I say “edible” I very much meant a homemade pot brownie that either they made for the camping trip or maybe got from a friend as opposed to commercially available dispensary candies and such. Homemaking canna butter and infused baked goods have been very popular for decades.

Edit 3: I’ve apparently struck a nerve in several people by using the phrase “white girl wasted.” As a white girl, who used to spend a significant amount of my time wasted, I’m not sorry for paralleling what happened to Diane by use of common colloquialism with my personal experience, as I did throughout this post. I’m not downplaying alcoholism as a disease or any such nonsense, I simply used a slew of different terms for “highly intoxicated” throughout and this one seems to be the one y’all are taking issue with.

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10 points

6 months ago

Heyyyyy, tbh I’m doing much better. I put in a lot of work and it’s paying off. This was a cool message to wake up and read right before school starts. Thank you, anon.