Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teetotal Recall

So, I'm thinking about quitting drinking. Yes, you heard me right - after more than a quarter century of imbibing with reckless abandon, America's favorite lush is considering getting sober.

I had my first drink when I was 11. Of course, it was Manischewitz. I grabbed a discarded bottle from the trash after Rosh Hashana. It tasted like grape juice, except it made me feel better than anything Ocean Spray could ever serve up. I wanted more.

In Junior High, I raided the liquor cabinets of the single mothers of the friends who were dumb enough to let me sleep over. In High School, I convinced the panhandling bums who hung out in front of Circle K to buy me Mad Dog and Mickey's Big Mouth for a slight surcharge. In college, I used the ID of a light-skinned 48 year-old black man to drink more alcohol than every character in Mad Men. Sure, I smoked pot and took pills and did psychedelics, but none of them stuck. It was booze that treated me right. My liquor love affair was cemented.

Until I turned 25, booze and I had a great relationship. We'd spend our days and nights together. We'd enjoy every moment we had, alone and with friends. It was a match made in heaven. In the morning, I never regretted a thing (after a little Gatorade and a few Tylenols). Yeah, there were some hook-ups with unsavory ladies. Yeah, there were the occasional brawls where I was left bloody and broken. Yeah, there were the times I'd pass out and get magic markered by my friends. Still, the hooch and I got along just fine.

After 25 though, things things started to change.

First, I got a DUI. You know the worst thing about a DUI? It's not the fines or the alcohol classes or the community service or the prison time. No, it's the fact that you can't drink and drive. Oh, how I used to love drunk driving. Nothing was better than being ripped, rolling down the highway, and following those squiggly little lines in the middle of the road. Well, that's over and done with. Now, anytime I want to drink and drive, I have to think twice. If I go out, I have to convince someone to drive me or, even worse, I have to find a cab. Not fun.

Next, they made it illegal to smoke in bars. Shit, that's what bars are about - drinking and smoking. They go together like liver cirrhosis and lung cancer. Bars minus smoking equals a horrible time. Plus, without the savory scent of smoke, every bar smells like farts and body odor. Again, not fun.

Then, my body fell apart.

At about 30, my bowels got irritable and my liver got sensitive. It became a chore just to put down a liter of whiskey or two. Acid reflux reared its ugly head with every sip I took. Heartburn became my new chaser. Nausea became my new euphoria. And the hangovers...

They say there's this gene that causes some Jewish people to have worse hangovers than goyim. I thought I didn't have that gene, but I realized I was wrong, very wrong. My hangovers are wicked. Fatigue and migraines and depression and gas and sharting. When I'm hungover, I'm like a mental patient that just ate Mexican food. I'm angry, I'm irrational, and I defecate everywhere. Worse, It takes me days and days to recover from my hangovers. Then, as soon as I'm recovered, I'm back to drinking, which causes my next marathon hangover.

Recently, I created rules to lessen the pain of partaking. I don't drink before sundown and I don't drink on school nights. Sounds smart, huh? Well, following the rules, I get drunker on weekends and I stay out later than ever. No help. Plus, I haven't seen a non-hungover weekend day in years. Is drinking becoming more work than it's worth?

What would life be like as a teetotaler? Well, I assume it would be a lot easier. My mornings would be glorious, birds chirping and sun shining. No more leaning over the toilet for an hour followed by sitting on the toilet for another hour. No more wishing I was dead. No more cravings for KFC and Alka-Seltzer.

I wouldn't have to apologize to anybody for being an asshole. I wouldn't have to resolve ridiculous fights with my wife. I wouldn't have random scrapes or bruises or burns on my body. I'd open my wallet and there'd actually be money in there from the night before. I could give that money to charity, or at least spend it on porn. My mind would be clear. I could read the classics. I could finish my novel. I could learn guitar. I could contribute to society, or at least watch more porn. Man, it sounds great, huh?

Hold on there, bub! There's another side to this story, though.

If I didn't drink, I'd never be drunk. I'd never have that sweet sense of sweetness that only a buzz can provide. I'd never have those warm moments where nothing matters other than peeing and ordering another drink. I'd never have those drawn out conversations that only make sense when you're under the influence (zen and the art of bukakke, Small Wonder vs. Robocop, etc.). I'd never have those uncontrollable urges to act on really ridiculous ideas like vandalizing a cop car or throwing ice at a gang member or joining The National Guard.

I'd have to go to places I hate without alcohol to make them better. I'd have to talk to people I hate without alcohol to make them more bearable. There's nothing worse than drunk people when you're sober, so I'd probably never go out. Then, I'd never have stories of senseless fights or of being overly surly or of sharting. I wouldn't be able to write this blog.

Fuck, just thinking about life without alcohol makes me want to have a drink. Who am I kidding? I can't quit drinking. There's too much to love about it. Sure, it's tough on your body and it makes you act like an idiot and and it's expensive. And sure it hurts the next day and it makes you tired all week and it causes numerous problems with your close relationships. That's not as much of a problem as being a loser who has no fun. Life hands us choices and I choose booze. Long live you, my old friend liquor!!!