“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”
– What are you doing there?
– I’m drinking.
– Why are you drinking?
– To forget.
– To forget what?
– To forget that I’m ashamed.
– Ashamed of what?
– Ashamed of drinking!
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
I’m a drinker with a writing problem. I only drink on two occasions—when I’m thirsty and when I’m not.
After celebrating a bit too enthusiastically, a gentleman staggered out of a bar and began weaving down the street toward home. Ahead of him two nuns approached, and being solicitous of his impaired condition, discreetly parted to let him walk between them.
In a moment the fellow stopped, scratched his head, and said to himself, “Now how did she do that?”
AN ABERDEEN PROVERB.
“Dinna spend money on drink, but aye keep a corkscrew.”
A friend who’s in liquor production,
Has a still of astounding construction,
The alcohol boils,
Through old magnet coils,
He says that it’s proof by induction.
David Letterman’s Top Ten Least Popular Alcoholic Beverages
10. Really, Really, Really, Really Old Milwaukee
9. D Train Scotch
8. Amaretto Di Gotti
7. Orville Redenbacher’s Butter Flavored Vodka
5. Dinty Moore’s Pork N’ Booze
4. Ernest, Julio, Tom and Roseanne Gallo
3. Dr. Scholl’s Medicated Tequila
2. Seagrams 7, Mets 0
1. Chivas Regis
“There’a a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”
― Stephen King
I’ve been mostly teetotal all my life, and fully so since 1969. My Italian relatives would give me a little wine cut with water at dinner, because that’s what was done. When I got really sick at home, mother would make me a toddy with milk, honey, and a half-jigger of brandy. I feel just great, mommy! And one time – once only – in college, I got falling-down drunk at a party up the canyon, and the next morning had the mother of all five-alarm hangovers, one which made the following seem like a romp in the park on a spring day:
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.
From Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim.
It was at that point that I decided that alcohol was not my preferred vehicle for having a good time. Bill Cosby dealt with that particular subject expertly here:
Now in some ways, this is a pity. There are some lovely wines and liqueurs out there – I remember fondly some Lambruscos and Irish coffees and some of Uncle Carlo’s home-made wine and those aforementioned hot-toddies, to name a few. It’s a shame that synthehol isn’t a thing. On the other hand, there are some truly hellish concoctions out there as well.
History has shown how well prohibition worked – for good or ill, alcohol will always be a part of human society – but for all the humor and enjoyment humans can find in responsible drinking, the social costs of alcohol abuse are staggering. Despite unflagging efforts by organizations such as MADD, penalties for impaired driving in this country are a joke – killing while drunk behind the wheel is often punished with a slap on the wrist, while repeat offenders manage to avoid serious consequences again and again. This must stop; if we are to consider ourselves a civilized species, the social right to a “good time” ends where people and property are negatively impacted.
I got sober. I stopped killing myself with alcohol. I began to think: ‘Wait a minute – if I can stop doing this, what are the possibilities?’ And slowly it dawned on me that it was maybe worth the risk.
The Old Wolf has spoken.