Around my birthday, last year, I realized I had been drinking for 30 years. Since I was 18. Whew.
The broken bottle and the damage done, eh?
Since this realization, off and on, I’ve been trying to drink as little as possible.
Generally, this hasn’t worked well.
Started the less drinking project October-ish, then there was my birthday and Portland Cocktail Week. I was cut a break when Heaven’s Dog closed in Oct/Nov, and peer pressure was reduced to drink on a semi-weekly basis. Re-started the project, and then there were the holidays. In January, I finally got around to drying out for a few weeks, then I got invited to England to visit the Savoy Hotel. In February, to Boston for a cocktail event.
Then started working behind the bar regularly at South in the SF Jazz center.
Even leaving aside peer pressure from fellow bar staff, there is always an excuse to drink.
I was reading Roger Ebert’s memoir, not to put any spoilers out there, but in his 20s and 30s he drank to excess with the rest of the Chicago newspaper scene at The Goat and O’Rourke’s. Eventually, he decided he was an alcoholic and joined AA. When he joined AA, his sponsor gave him a drug that would make drinking very unpleasant, “If you are able to drink, it is only your will, and will always fails,” or words to that effect.
Without drink, he went on to live a fairly productive late life, with adopted children and a wonderful, supportive wife. Film festivals, TV show, etc.
For most of my life, I feel like, and this is my perception, that I’ve managed to keep drinking in its box. It has never cost me a job or a relationship. I’ve never lost a weekend, or a week, to a bender.
On the other hand, I’ve always been lucky to have friends or loved ones to bail me out from periodic lost nights. Shove me in a cab with some money, or help me get into my pajamas.
When you’re young, binge drinking seems fun. However, at some point, you just become a drunk old guy, instead of an enthusiastic, youthful, partier.
I was looking at a photos of older men, who still try to sport the stubble look. It’s like that. At some point, you just look like a rumpled old man who didn’t have time to shave, instead of a youthful bon vivant.
I feel like that now, I’m old enough I should have learned to drink well, like the quintessential Italian man. To drink enough to enjoy life, but not enough to be drunk in public.
But, I haven’t, and I still manage to occasionally get embarrassingly drunk.
Maybe 30 years of drinking is enough.