Something About a Wagon

When people ask me why I've never drank, I go to superhuman lengths trying to lay out a logical and philosophically bulletproof treatise against alcohol. Truth is, I think it's stupid and the people who do it are lame. It is what I should have said since I was thirteen. But I didn't. Cause I'm a coward. As I trudged through my teen years without the lubricating aid of alcohol, I alienated friends and retreated further into my cavernous hole of books and punk records. I was a real catch. Limping out the other side, I had found a way to deal with social anxiety and enter myself into the regular world like regular people do without alcohol. Was it worth it? Probably not. But I did it.

It got to the point where it felt like there was an invisible barrier between alcohol and I. Gone was the time where I could casually decide to start drinking. The first would be a big deal. But why?

I was afraid of it. Deep, penetrating fear. An obsessive and addictive (which my friends have illustrated to me is somehow different from "addicting" and I defer to their judgment) personality lurks within me. Plus, I hated drunk people. All sober people hate drunk people. It is just that most people decide to join in at some point. Instead of sitting on the sidelines looking at their watches, wondering when they can leave the party, most normal kids have a drink and are done with it. It's easier to be a drunk than to be the annoying sober kid for a decade. But it is hardly rewarding.

I didn't for 28 years. Not a drop. Not a beer after work nor champagne at your wedding. None... then I fell in love with a bartender.

So I drink now.
It's been about a year since I hopped on the wagon? Or am I off the wagon now? Either way, booze goes into my body sometimes.

And I've learned a few things about alcohol.

  1. I was right. Alcohol doesn't take over your body like a military coup. You are completely in control. It is a voluntary decision to drink too much. There is a very real point, before gravity turns into an adventure, when your body says, "It's cool, Buddy. I'm good." But many of us refuse to yield. We must take the hill! This actually upset me quite a bit. Every time someone told me that they got drunk it sounded liked something that happened to them. Drunkenness doesn't happen to you. You happen to you.  
  2. I am a lightweight. An embarrassing half-a-beer-and-I'm-singing lightweight. My body is not built for this kind of endeavor. It is a frail and delicate ecosystem that can functionally discern instant oatmeal from steel cut. Needless to say, I have a one drink maximum for myself.
  3. I'm a better performer afterward. This one I am loathe to admit. But it is true. Maybe not for everyone, but for me and those types who let their brain get in the way of their own success. We overthinkers benefit from the dulling of anxiety -laden synapse abuse. Having discovered this on stage, in character, I vowed to never let it happen again. If I was to be successful on stage and in life, it would not be with a beer by my side. Booze is for closers, winners,  job-getters, promotion receivers, and while in my stead will be a tool of Dionysian revelry and not an escape, avoidance, or coping strategy. I drink to celebrate a good show, not so I can have one. 
  4. Wine with food is a big deal. It matters. This was how the first hook buried itself in my back. It makes steak taste better than water. Who knew?
  5. It still cripples me to watch a friend, family member or fellow human be drunk. It makes my stomach turn watching the person I knew turn into someone I don't recognize. 
  6. Cocktails are silly; bourbon is not. Ice cubes make your bourbon taste less like bourbon and more like water. 
  7. It's pretty boring. And even after a single serving makes me not want to go to the gym the next morning. This alone is enough to make me pass most nights. It doesn't make me feel great: during or after. My rock bottom is feeling sluggish the next day. I've never been drunk or thrown up. I've never done anything wild nor do I have any crazy stories. But it is one less thing I fear and that feels like a win for me. 

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