Friday, March 7, 2008

Not Drinking...The Rules.

I've been reading back through my own posts...smelling my own shit as it were... and I realize now that a blog about life stories, witty bon mots, philosophy and drinking where the author is temporarily (and it's only temporary for real) not drinking has turned this into a series in which I am apparently wallowing in perceived personal failure. Oh woe is me, boo hoo hoo. One might ask as I lay my cards out on the table, why not just speak to her. But there is no need for two to be miserable...or in an even a worse possibility, at the end of that talk there still only be one of us not feeling good. That would be very bad.

I would say I need a drink to clear my head, but in reality I need to drink to blur my vision. I am amazingly self aware and self conscious.

I used to drink a lot. A whole whole lot.

One morning drinking in the shower I realized that I might have an issue. Okay, this story starts when I was still in college, where pizza is a breakfast food and prices a usually quoted in six pack denominations of your favorite inebriant, but I recognized that maybe waking up and having a drink might indicate a growing dependency. Or that I needed to keep juice in the mini-fridge. Either way, I decided what I needed were some rules. Fairly basic rules.

The first rule was "No drinking before noon."

This was easily doable, or so I thought. It wasn't too long before I was on vacation...okay, I was still in college, we were on a "road trip", which to the uninitiated is like a vacation but costs way way way less, sometimes as little as $25 round trip if you can find a dollar menu and drink whatever is offered...but anyway, I was on "vacation" and realized that since I wasn't doing anything why not have a drink. Well it was only 9:30ish, so I had a problem.

So the first rule was amended to read "No drinking before noon, unless you're on vacation."

Which worked out pretty smooth. Until I attended one of those "All University Study Sessions", er, bring your own cup, which allow students of diverse backgrounds, majors and relative flexible morality to associate in the time honored tradition of educational institutions everywhere. Sometimes we'd break off and "study" in a more private setting with other like minded students, or wander out and end up "studying" with like minded coeds if we were lucky.

So final adjustment read "No drinking before noon, unless you're on vacation OR it is a continuation of the night before."

Now, as your average college male with roommates, drinking implements were kept at the apartment at all times, and thus after a grueling three or four hour day of classes and hanging out talking about classes, it had become habit to wander into my abode and help myself to a nice cold one. My apartment was also reminiscent of Grand Central Station, three people paid rent, only god knew how many slept there. But still I would occasionally find the spot empty and still get that beer. Which felt creepy. And by the time the inevitable other people showed up and you were already tipsy...and by looked even worse.

So the second rule became "No drinking alone."

In my humble opinion, I now view drinking alone for guy as kinda pathetic. For a woman it's okay, don't ask me why it just is. A young lady at home sipping on Cosmos or Martini's watching Sex and the City or chatting on the phone with a girlfriend seems saucy and sexy. A man drinking by himself at home indicates he had no friends and may have a drinkie drink problem. Maybe one drink is okay if you've had a hard day at work, but if that's the case James Bond and Jason Bourne better be your office buddies, cause your day better have pretty damned hard. Saving the world, blowing up shit kinda hard. Or raising a kid, same thing. It's a gender thing. And yes, in a pinch, the bartender counts.

That settled I thought about it and I realized that drinking has never been the way to solve a problem. Any problem. Unless the problem was that you were sober, in which case drinking would in fact be the only fix...and this has happened a number of times so I'm not crazy, but in the grand scheme of things, the reality is drinking doesn't fix anything. Except the aforementioned being sober. It especially does not help feeling sad, which is when you're mostly likely in want of drink. And if you've ever been a sad drunk...well...I'm a fairly talkative, er, ...inbrientee and ones I do remember...ouch.

And so the third rule is "No drinking when depressed."

If you thought you were unhappy before, trust me there is a whole lot you've repressed that you can be much more sad about after five or ten drinks. And with luck everybody else will be too drunk to remember any of this, but that's now how it works. Somebody will remember. There will will pictures. Your peoples will never let you live it down. Now I've found that I'm a horrible sad drunk. And as a sad drunk is sad sad person indeed, well, you kinda see where this is going. So that's like a double rule with cheese.

The fourth rule is "Drink because you WANT to drink, not because of peer pressure."

Why is it the day you're not drinking, everybody is buying? Or that's the one day they pouring top shelf at half price because the manager is feeling good for the first time in 15 years? Or your friends are drinking so you figure how much harm can one do? Looking back I didn't want to drink anyway and it sure would have been cool if the officer had at least one sober person to reassure him that we weren't all gonna die of alcohol poisoning. Why drink on a Tuesday when you know you've got that big meeting on Wednesday at eight am? Trust me, not a good idea. I wouldn't do it. Again.

I came up one last rule, primarily because more than five is hard to remember - which makes you wonder which of the Ten commandments you're breaking now, don't it?

The last rule is "if you don't know what's in it, don't drink it."

This is much more an operational rule than the others, most of which come into play as you're considering that first drink and not four or five drinks in. It's a handy rule to have, and probably would have saved me and Chuck that night we accidentally drank that rubbing alcohol...which doesn't burn as much going down as one would think - this being after we had already pre-burned them earlier that evening. This rule is one you should pass on to Bungee Drinkers...those folks who want to "try" that new drink at the club. I do all my drink experimenting at home, so I can tell the barkeep what to put in the glass. In the bar is not the place to discover that tequila thinks you're great dancer, or that gin thinks you're a great comedian. Trust me, gin is lying.

So those are the rules. I've lived by them since 310 Westwood (a way way inside joke) and with luck someone else can use them. And if I'm really lucky...this chapter of my life will be a scant few pages that get stuck together when I read back through years from now.

Barkeep...Grape Koolaid please.

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