As sudden and unexpected as a bolt of lightning, a voice loudly pronounced somewhere in the two frontal lobes of my brain: I want to quit drinking. I know. I bet my gasp of shock and horror was louder than yours. Of course, right after the booming proclamation, this “small man in a box” voice said, “What the fuck? Why in the hell would you want to do that?” It might be for a week or two, a month or two, or forever, but I just felt the need to stop for a while. As an occasional drinker, maybe once a week, I do not come home every afternoon and have a cocktail or a glass of wine. However, every lovingly prepared meal is deeply enhanced by a cocktail or glass of wine, and while it is somewhat optional, it is also strongly suggested. Crawfish must be washed down with a cold beer. There is no wiggle room on this, and there are few people in south Louisiana who would disagree with me. This insanity would be over if someone invited me to a crawfish boil this weekend. No question about it. A good steak — and I cannot tell you the last time I had red meat — begs for a rich, velvety red. So the idea of me not imbibing, of total abstinence, feels very vulnerable to resistance. I ain’t gonna lie. I cannot imagine meeting someone at the local watering hole after work for “drinks” and not having “drinks.”
Now, it’s not like I’m initiating the 12 Steps or anything. I’ve been to a lot of Al-Anon meetings. There’s no problem here, but here’s what I know: The older I get, the less I can drink without some side effects. I can definitely feel two glasses of wine the next morning. And on those occasions when I have over-indulged (hardly ever!) or been over-served by those malevolent bartenders (mostly always!), I am good for nothing the next day but holding down my couch and being well versed magna cum laude in the TV schedule. I also know that the other night I went out and drank only sparkling water and spent a whopping $8 (only because I felt bad about not being charged for them, so I tipped $2 for each one), so the financial benefits of not drinking are inarguable. Coming home with money in my pocket was an exciting and strange feeling. When I checked my account online the next morning, there were no charges to establishments that made me question if the service was so extraordinary that it ranked a $10 tip for a $5 beer. And if any of you read my “If I Had a Million Dollars” post, you’ll now realize why I hemorrhage money.
Al-Anon was an invaluable experience for me. Some lessons learned had nothing to do with addiction, but rather were everyday life lessons that, for some reason, eluded me during my misspent youth. Those meetings opened up an awareness for which I am grateful. It put me in touch with the universe and the collective spirit of humanity and made me conscientious to be more accepting, humble and gracious. Now, don’t for one minute allow me to convince you that I am an accepting, humble and gracious person. On the rare [insert “bullshit” cough here] occasion, I can be a narrow-minded, haughty and selfish bitch. But I try … and I know I need to try.
So I don’t know how long this abstinence “binge” will last. Hell, talking about not drinking made me think of the two really nice bottles of wine in my wine rack. It’s rare that wine of this caliber graces my wine rack (usually the bottles never even make it to the wine rack, but go straight from the grocery bag, to the counter, to being opened, consumed, and then tossed in the trash), but they were gifts, and to think of them just laying there … well, like I said, I don’t know how long this will last. Another favorite is an Aperol spritzer — Aperol, champagne, orange peel. Ok. This is doing me no good.
There are a few events coming up where alcohol would normally be de rigueur — a friend’s birthday dinner, a road trip (not while driving … come on, people), a funeral (which also requires at least a Schedule IV drug taken p.r.n.) — and it will admittedly be very difficult not to partake. I just feel the need to at least make the effort. I don’t know why and I’m not going to question it. It’s like Lent — sacrificing something that is a part of my life and would be missed if it wasn’t there, but it’s not like I’m going to Hell if I fail. I could fall off the wagon … as sudden and unexpected as a bolt of lightning.