"I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." - Winston Churchill
Those of you on the fence about attending tomorrow night's Bastille Bash might want to give it some serious thought, because it's probably going to be my last hurrah. I've decided to give up the sauce, which is a minor blasphemy for an Irishman like me. But it's time.
A lot of you are probably wondering what the impetus for this decision is. Did Eddie drive drunk into a school bus full of kids? Did his doc discover that his liver's as hard as an olive pit? Did the missus threaten to leave his drunk ass and take all his money?
Well, I'm happy to report that it was none of those things, nor anything equally dramatic. I haven't hit "rock bottom" (that happened a long time ago anyway). I haven't been told to get my affairs in order. My relationship with alcohol (and it is ABSOLUTELY a relationship in every sense of the word) has simply run its course.
I started drinking when I was 15 (like many of you, I suspect). I didn't get really good at it until a couple years later when I went to work as a forklift driver for Price Club (now CostCo). I was the youngest lift driver on the crew, and my fellow derelicts were more than happy to buy for me. After that I joined the Marines and went pro.
From that point on, booze has been the only constant in my life. With the exception of seven miserable months spent in a shithole dry country (Saudi Arabia), my medecine has never been far from reach. All of my best memories revolve around booze (I met all three of my wives in bars, for example) and, conversely, booze has helped me through my darkest hours (and probably saved my life a couple times).
Over the past nearly 30 years I've consumed vast Nordic lakes of grain alcohol. I say this not to brag, but to put things in perspective. I've developed a tolerance to alcohol that could only be described as heroic, and to take that to the next level from here would be both wasteful and senseless. Plus it's no secret that I've been driving with my CHECK LIVER light on for many years, so that's reason enough to quit in itself.
But the simple fact is that I'm bored with drinking. I never thought I'd live to say those words, but there you have it. At my age and in my social circle, there isn't anyone worth drinking with anymore. Everyone my age has a wife and kids at home, and after about an hour at the bar the wife starts psycho-dialing them and nagging them to come home, and that's if they even get permission to go out in the first place. The only notable exception to this rule is my buddy Dan, and he's in a class by himself. His job entails entertaining clients four or five nights a week and that usually means drinking until the wee hours. I simply can't keep up with him.
So for the past couple years I've been relegated to drinking alone. This isn't the depressing prospect for me that it is for many people (I prefer my own company to most people anyway), but it's not an optimal situation. Most nights it means waiting until the kids go to bed at 8 before I get started (because I have no interest in my kids seeing me wasted), and then I'm basically sipping until 11 when the wife goes to bed because I don't want to listen to a lecture about getting drunk again. 11 pm to 1 am is normally my time to shine, and that's when I put it away in earnest until I crash and get four or five hours sleep. So on average I'm crushing a half-liter of scotch or rum, say, five nights a week.
The thing is, I'm not enjoying it anymore and I haven't for some time. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I don't even get drunk most nights anymore, and that's saying something after a half-liter of 80-proof liquor. So my choices appear to be:
- Kick it up a notch to Wild Turkey 101 or similar proofs, or
- Give it up altogether.
For me, it's an easy choice. I'm done with the booze.
Now, I'm not saying anything crazy like I'll never drink again or I'll never have a glass of wine with dinner or a bottle of champagne to celebrate something (hell, I'll probably kill a Nebuchadnezzar by myself when my kids move out), but I'm definitely ending my regular relationship with the bottle. It's just not doing anything for me anymore, and I'm tired of feeling like crap every morning. I'll probably take all the money I save and use it to keep my ass off of EasyJet.
Middle age is a bitch, guys. Make sure you're having all the fun you can possibly have while you're young.