Alcohol

I never was much of  a drinker–“was” being the operative word in that phrase. I did the usual high school-football-player-getting-drunk-bullshit on occasion, (highlighted by passing out my senior year at a party and getting dolls laid upon my limp body by the party goers…sure it was humiliating though that is price you pay for this American rite de passage); yet, overall, I never really drank all that much. So much so, that I doubt more than a drop of alcohol ever crossed my lips in my 20’s and damn near most of my 30’s.  I am not sure what really changed for me, perhaps it was children who were getting older (no more infants) and some additional added stress in my  religious job of yore – a nice cold one at the end of the day became increasingly enticing for me around this time.

alcohol-on-shelvesDuring my 40’s, particularly late 40’s, was when my drinking accelerated – for a variety of reasons -reasons I really do not need to get into in this blog. Let’s just say the last 5 years or so (damn you Jason Robert Brown…you are a hack…but that is a different blog for a different day-“I could shove an ice pick in my eye, I could eat some fish from last July, but it wouldn’t  be as awful as a summer listening to Jason Robert Brown’s shitty lyrics…in Ohio or elsewhere“) I have overindulged. No, I have no DUI’s -actually not even a speeding ticket in 10 years- my relationships are awesome and my work productivity is as strong as ever. Perhaps the most unfortunate consequence of my drinking the past 5 years has been my poor liver…yet even liver blood tests I received back not too long ago were all normal -better than normal, in fact.

Drinking was, and is, fun. It is a delightful way to wind down from a long and productive day. Other than a cognitive awareness of what it potentially can do to my body, I have no good reason to stop…even temporarily. Outside of a drunk Facebook post or two or three or four, drinking life is good.

Yet now I am reconsidering the role of alcohol in my life, just as I have reconsidered the role of caffeine in my life: I enjoy it though I want to be addicted to nothing but the air in my lungs and the ground under my feet.

I guess I just had that voice inside me saying, “Slow down big guy…it’s a marathon not a sprint.” So, a few weeks ago, I decided to slow the hell down. I cut way back (I heard cold turkey was not a great idea) and now have not had a drink in a couple of weeks. Foregoing the evening nightcap is the toughest part of it all. Why? Because my evening nightcap became the mid-evening nightcap, became the early evening nightcap, became the late afternoon daycap. For the time being, I am opting to be sans cap.

Am I planning on drinking again? Well, I have no formal “plans” to drink. It’s not like I’ve drafted a memo that I am going to take a shot of Vodka on September 17 at 5:36pm rain or shine and cc’d it to my superiors; yet, I do not have plans not to drink, either.  I want to treat alcohol the same way I treat Hostess Powdered Donettes, every once in a while it’s an amazing treat…just can’t overindulge.

Yes, I know you AA people (I love you guys BTW, you guys are awesome) claim that there is no such thing as moderation when it comes to alcohol and perhaps you are absolutely correct–in fact, you probably are correct–but, like the child that doesn’t believe the oven is nearly as hot as mama says, some things the individual must find out on her own.

Therefore, it was very strange last week when I was spending the night in Redlands and saddled up to my favorite bar, The Royal Falconer.  At this time, I did something I have NEVER done in my life…ordered a non-alcoholic beer, the infamous O’Douls -the beer I once thought was for losers meandering down the sober walk of shame. The fact of the matter is that I had no idea whether or not bars even serve drinks without alcohol and, though the selection is few and far between, I have come to find out that most do. Nice. I sat at the bar and nursed my children’s drink while eating some fish tacos (Thursday night is taco night…$1.75 per…not bad) when the bartender inquired as to why I was drinking a non-alcoholic beer. I told him I have not had a drink in a week or so and am just trying to slow down.

Then the irony went down. The provider of all things alcohol to a thirsty Redlands crowd became the pious pontiff of prudence and temperance.

The bartender literally sat down behind the bar and began preaching to me his alcohol “testimony” -he has been sober for nine years–no meetings, no AA- a sermon complete with dates, times and details.

“I have no trouble serving anyone and have no judgement,” he explained, “but if I can help just one person who wants to quit, quit, I feel like I have helped the planet.”

Weird. This was like being at a nudist camp and the head nude dude is telling you to put your clothes on (yes, JUST like that). Or the priest instructing you to sin. Or the nutritionist telling you to eat more Hostess Donettes. Or the evangelical pastor telling you NOT to give your money. Or, better yet, Timothy Leary telling you to put away your acid and have some milk and cookies.

Just weird. Ironic, don’t ya think?

After a rather lengthy message, which included his mother dying of cirrhosis of the liver at age 44, the very self-aware, charismatic man offered a firm handshake (and I do mean firm, as in I will break your hand) while offering me the best of luck.

I sat at the bar and looked up at the mugs of some deceased former Royal Falconer patrons who, according to Pastor P. Bartender, essentially drank themselves to death over a period of years: A continual, stark reminder of the poison that those lined up at the well are ready to ingest. Now, I have I heard of buzzkills and boner killers before, but this one took the freakin cake. It is like sitting down and crackin a cold one with both the grim reaper and Jack Kervorkian.

This whole thing reminded me of a Buddhist aphorism along the lines of, “When you are ready to learn, a teacher will appear.”

Of course I have no doubt I will engage in the devil’s brew again, perhaps later than sooner or vice-versa. Yet, I will never forget that evening at The Royal Falconer. It could, eventually, be a game changer.

Well done, Pastor P. Bartender. At least ya got me thinking.

 

 

 

 

jimmysintension

18 Comments

  1. Interesting post Jimmy. Kind of reminds of the South Park where Randy joins AA and that scene at the end where Stan says “You just rack-a disiprine”. I think there is a parellel with many other substances and habits that people have. I think the way you did it is much better than AA, because you learned on your own to be more responsible. Some alcoholics definitely need to completley quit, but many don’t. Because quitting can create more problems for the person.

    • Thank you for reply Dominick. I actually have a ton of respect for AA…it has helped a great many of my friends and perhaps may even help me one day. However, my personality tends to be much more “creature of habit” than addict….though I guess time will tell. Interestingly, I have heard some disparaging things about AA from psychologists that I respect a great deal. Since I do know both people who have permanently quit drinking with AA and without (my father quit cold turkey over 20 years ago completely on his own) I conclude, for the moment, that it works quite well for some and not so well for others…for a variety of reasons I assume. What do you mean quitting can create more problems for the person?? I am really curious.

  2. I always thought those who lived completely sober were an oddity .I didn’t understand how one could enjoy an evening out with friends without a drink. I’ve never abused alcohol, so why even consider quitting? I have not had caffeine for nearly 2 years now and I have not drank or had any substances for over 6 months .It’s been a huge life change for me .My body feels clean and this life process Iam experiencing is enlightening .I meditate and approach everything with a clear head. I have a great time with friends who are drinking amongst other things….. It’s become irrelevant to me. What I did uncover is that I didn’t know how to process a lot of my emotions without running in some way….shopping, eating, Fucking, using…..something! Making a commitment to myself to live this way has changed everything for me. But this is my story. To each his own …. I am impressed with your insight and self reflection. Assessing ourselves, evaluating our own behaviors like we would with any business is good. We keep the items in stock that are good for business and we get rid of the items that aren’t . Good for you friend!

    • Thank you Shanagolden…I figured you would have something to say about this one. Congrats on your 6 months of sobriety…I really respect that. I would love to here more about your process.

  3. I believe AA is for those with a chemical addiction to alcohol, whereas those without that addiction do not necessarily need the discipline it calls for. I used to have a drink or two in the evenings until I realized that it made me argumentative when my son would stop by to visit (he was a drinker also). Although the visits were not unpleasant they could become uncomfortable at times. Once I stopped drinking our visits become more pleasant. At the same time, my wife was a heavy wine drinker, more so than I was willing to admit at the time. It was not until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia did I begin to suspect something in the wine caused the distress. She was extremely intelligent and could remember data and details, worked crossword puzzles and did all of the stuff they say “prevents” Alzheimer’s. Did not work for her! Anyway, just wanted to mention this. I doubt that anyone is, or ever will, study the link between drinking cheap wine and Alzheimer’s but I am convinced there is one. I have no thoughts about other types of alcohol drinks. My son is a heavy beer drinker and I have suggested that I will not take care of him should he develop Alz or dementia from it. I think you have made a good decision to quit, or at least slow down. Good luck.

    • Thank you for your comments Don. That is just tragic about your wife…I am really sorry. At some point you just have to ask yourself if the buzz is really worth it. Not sure about your observation concerning cheap wine and dementia, though there are enough other ailments, chronic and tragic ailments, that should be enough to give one pause. I come from a long history of heavy drinkers so I have a feeling my liver is made out of unbreakable stone or something….I am sure it is thanking me for the nice break. Thank you for the encouragement.

  4. I still don’t drink myself, but wow. That’s gonna be tickling your brain for a awhile.

    What I’m curious about the most is the bartender and what he thinks about when he serves to alcohol booze hounds. Does he preach to them or let sleeping dogs lie?

    • Well, I think if he gave paying patrons any shit he would not have a job there. So, no, he lets the sleeping, passed out dogs lie. How have you been Albert? Are you at a University now?

  5. So, drinks tonight at 5:36 then? HAHA Man I feel you on this post. I’m not much of a liquor drinker but I have a weakness for beer. Not too cold, not too heavy, plain ol stanky ol beer. I went from being a weekend drinker to a everyday drinker. But in 2012 I ended up in the ER at a community hospital in Compton due to the pains I was having in my pancreas. Haha Turns out I’ve already done some pretty nasty damage in my young life. Too much fast food and too much alcohol for sucha little girl I guess. I continued to drink beers everyday until the beginning of this year. I was back at urgent care. You don’t get another pancreas. 🙁 Only way to fix myself is a life style change. I love drinking beer soooo much! Really, really love. I’m not talking about getting drunk, I’m just talking about drinking a few beers. But, the pains are too much at times and it scares me thinking about destroying myself and not being able to be here for my children. I stopped drinking as much. It actually was about a whole month that I hadn’t had one, but I ended up drinking one on my birthday last week and felt like total shit the next day. I hope I’m done. I’m sure I’ll start feeling better and start going at it again. blah. But I wish you the best of luck, no matter what your dissension is.

    Oh am I supposed to argue with you?

    DTR SUCKS!

    Have a nice night!

    • Nothing like knowing you could die for a little motivation! Have you tried some of the non-alcoholic beers? O’Douls is not bad 🙂

  6. “alcohol cant be used in moderation” i don’t agree with this. I have no problem using alcohol in moderation. I think that some people don’t understand this concept but you can’t put everyone under this umbrella. I don’t drink alcohol for the simple fact of “getting drunk”. I find myself beer and wine tasting to enjoy the taste and understand the pallet people have for the different types that are crafted or brewed.

  7. I wasn’t sure if I would even like anything on these blog pages, and this is the first blog I have ever followed. I enjoyed reading this. I love that the bartender is real and not some greedy ass that just wants to make an extra buck. I recently left a job that I worked at for the last 6 years. It was a great job (flexible hours/days, loyal customers, good money [$250 in tips on a weeknight shift, $400 on a weekend] and the comfort of familiarity.) and some days I am sad that I will never be back there but I needed to walk away to preserve my sanity and faith in good people. I was a bartender, a bartender that did not drink by choice. My patrons were my visual repellant. I watched for years, married/committed men have too much to drink and say vulgar perverted things to women in the vicinity, as well as try to pick me up. They would indulge in lowered inhibitions and say and do things that their sober selves would frown upon. I worked at a bar within an adult softball park where players would bring their families. I watched as parents would deny their kids food (after they dragged the child to the park from 6PM-10PM) because it was “too expensive” and then turn to me and pay a $45 tab for alcohol…. and then drive their kid home in an unsafe manner. I’ve seen infidelities, sloppiness and irresponsible choices from people who consume the drink. It was hard to walk away from the money but now my conscience is clear, the weight is off of my shoulders, and I am able to take more classes to finish up my AA prereqs for Respiratory Therapy… where I can actually help people, not just help them self-medicate/participate in self-destruction. I have wine occasionally to relax (maybe once every 2 weeks… I do have 4 kids!) but, I don’t enjoy hanging out with people who like to over-indulge in alcohol. Only you know what is best for yourself and slowing down might just save your life, or at least the years you would have lost if you drank too much. Good luck!

    • Wow….thank you Becky for that extremely well-crafted response. Damn. It has me thinking. What an interesting perspective from a place I have never been.

  8. Hey Jimmy nice post. At first I thought that I don’t have time to read blog, but after reading your blog I feel that it’s worth it to know different perspective. I have never drink in my life and nobody drink in my family as well. I don’t know how it feel after getting drunk, but I certainly know why take a risk of your life just to have some fun. I have seen many people dying because of alcohol abuse, and their family tearing apart after their death. My husband owns a motel and I see many drunken people everyday and they don’t even know what they’re talking about. They come to the motel with their children and I feel sad for their kids because I can clearly see that they don’t have any future because of their parents. In your post you said that, “I have no good reason to stop… even temporarily.” I personally think that you don’t need good reason to do something good for youself and for your loved ones.

    Reasons why you shouldn’t drink.

    1. Long term drinking can cause liver, mouth, and throat cancer

    2. It is a slow poison.

    3. Loose self control and create problems in relationship.

    4. Affect emotional well being.

    5. It affect you’re ability to make decision.

    6. It also affects the people around them because they have to look after people who are sick, out of control, and unable to take care of themselves.

    There are many more reasons. If you think that the reasons that I gave above doesn’t affect you then I just have one thing to say that why you want to pay for hangovers. Why not pay for concert tickets or have nice dinner with family and spend quality time. Many people say that you can’t have fun if you don’t drink, but trust me I have fun even if I don’t drink.

  9. I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t even consider myself a social drinker. I self identify with the Beer Culture although I am not a craft beer snob. Humanity has been drinking beer for as long as we’ve had civilization. Check out this interesting article online (http://www.ancient.eu/article/223/). I especially like the book “A History of the World in 6 glasses” by Tom Standage. I fully embraced drinking alcoholic beverages as a part of my life when I enlisted into the service, despite the fact that my family raised me as both non-drinking (alcohol) and pacifist conscientious objector (to killing another human being for any reason). I have no problem with people who drink or the drinking culture. But just like your bartender I realize that drinking is very bad for many people. I “preach” self-control and moderation but for those who desire to become or stay “dry” I say more power to them and back them 100% on their decision and lifestyle. I could consider myself “quit” for the most part because I drink so infrequently. Yet, I don’t turn down a beverage when offered and I become a full participant if the group I’m with decides to drink. I don’t consider myself a social drinker because I can drink all by my lonesome if I am so inclined, like on most Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day holidays. If history has a lesson for us regarding drinking alcohol then its that the only thing worse than “too much of a good thing” is for the government to enforce the prohibition of alcohol. As our country struggles with the question of what to do with Marijuana we should take heed as the lessons from Prohibition is very pertinent. I think your bartender is a genius because what better way to encounter someone who is struggling with drinking than serving them at a bar? Brilliant! Maybe to help those with a Marijuana addiction I should open a dispensary. Maybe in Las Vegas they should open up a Casino that will help you cope with your gambling addiction when you’ve finally made the decision to. I don’t think it’s weird or ironic, rather that man knows a great truth: when hunting for success you must put yourself in a target rich environment. Bravo Pastor P. Bartender! Bravo!

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