A couple of months ago, while shooting the reception of a wedding, I was getting a bit tired and thirsty. I was tired in the ‘my blood sugar is getting low’ kind of tired, so I figured I would get some juice or some pop from the bar. When I walked up to the bar, it was totally vacant–no guests, no barkeep. No worries, sez me to me self, I’ll just help myself. There was a pitcher of what looked like apple cider, so I poured myself a cup, and took a swig.
There was a funny taste to the cider, kinda like the perfume of an old friend, kinda like the the warmth of a departed and much loved pet. It was a taste I should have recognized immediately, but I didn’t. It was there, just on the tip of my tongue, waiting for the right synapses to fire in precisely the right order.
Just as these sensations were registering, the barkeep came from the kitchen and asked if she could help me. “What’s in this?” I asked, pointing to the pitcher that I had used to fill my cup. “Apple cider and rum” she said while holding up the bottle of rum.
Well shit. I don’t drink. I contemplated what I should do next. My face probably turned gray, and the barkeep asked if I wanted just plain apple cider. Yup, and I dumped the cup in the trash. I took the plain cider from her and took a few steps from the bar, and quenched my thirst.
I stood there for a long moment, and wondered how I should react. It was one of those moments where the way forward is actually pretty unclear. How I chose to react was completely within my control. Should I freak out about the 0.1 ounce of rum that had crossed my lips, and sit in the corner with my knees pulled up to my chest? Should I just say “fuck it” and get drunk, because clearly that must have been what I’d wanted by making such an obvious mistake? Or should I just take a deep breath, finish my rum-free cider, and go about doing my job? It really was an interesting few seconds as I contemplated my reaction.
Think about that for a moment–how often do you get to so clearly choose your own reactions?
OK, enough meta-gazing. I chose the last option. I took a deep breath, said nothing to anyone at the wedding, finished shooting the reception, and went home. The next day, I wondered if I would then have to reset some personal timer back to zero. If someone were to ask when was the last time I’d had a drink, would I report the last time I had chosen to have a drink, or would I report this mere technicality? I figured I would go with the former, because what’s important is my choice, not an honest mistake of no significance that was quickly remedied.
So that, my friends, is pretty much the only drama I’ve had with alcohol since I quit around 9 months ago. It continues to be pretty easy for me to not drink, though I do still think about it periodically. This time around, I’m actually expressing those thoughts to my wife. On those occasions where I miss having a few drinks, or if I’m in a situation where I’m hyper-aware of others’ drinking, I’ll confide in her. And that helps. In my ‘one-year-to-prove-to-the-world-I’m-ok’, I didn’t confide in her because I was worried that she would recognize that I wasn’t really going to be OK with starting again after a year. And I wanted to start again, after I proved my point.
I’ve also become worried for my friends who consistently post pictures of what they’re drinking on Facebook. I don’t want to get too analytical about it, but perhaps you’ve heard the phrase (or one similar) “Action expresses priorities.” (Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi) In essence, what you do is more important that what you say. What you do demonstrates more clearly your priorities than any ordered list you scribble down. I think that in the Facebook era you might translate that to “Posts express priorities”. What you post says a lot about you. And yes, I know our culture worships alcohol, but I worry about people who worship it fervently.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how to tell people that I’m worried about their alcohol identity without sounding condescending, or evangelizing. “Honey, you really should stop drinking. I did, and LOOK HOW GREAT I AM”. Yeah, no.
And maybe those folks can handle it in a way that I couldn’t. Sure, that’s a possibility (no sarcasm intended). It’s the outward projection of “look what I’m drinkin 2nite!” that worries me. So anyway, if that’s you and you wanna talk, let me know.
So that’s me. Still dry. Still sober. Still on the bandwagon. Even if I do occasionally miss the perfume of my old mistress.