Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Few Observations on Alcohol

I got drunk a few weekends ago. It’s not how I would ordinarily spend a weekend, since I typically don’t drink a drop, but there were friends in town, I was recovering from a horrendous fever, and I had something of a “screw it” attitude at that point. So what if I had to work a double-shift at the calling floor the next day? Somehow or another, I’d make it on time, but “right here and now,” I was going to get good and schnockered.

Now, I have my reasons for not drinking (I’ve probably outlined them in some earlier blog entry, but for those who are just now arriving . . .). Most importantly, I know myself. I have an addictive personality, and if I find something I like, I find it very, very difficult to give it up. That weekend, I found out that I like the taste of whiskey quite a bit. Granted, we already know I likes me some Tennessee Long Island Iced Tea, but now we’re talking Old Crow, straight-out-of-a-plastic-bottle, “thish ish what’sh good fer what ails ya!” whiskey. I took 10 shots of that crap and promptly went downstairs and passed out on the guest bed. Oh, sure, I stumbled around for a bit first, had a scary moment where I thought I wouldn’t be able to change out of my jeans and into some shorts, and then felt compelled to play Sonic and Knuckles and Sonic Spinball whilst drunk as the proverbial skunk (I didn’t do very well, and blamed the alcohol. I tried again sober the next day, and fared just as poorly, so my blame was misplaced). Anyway, which proved to be a great idea. I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and surprisingly glorious, with all traces of my flu, save for the congestion, flushed out of my system on a chariot of flaming whiskey.

Now, as I said, when I got drunk, I fell asleep. It was nice. I didn’t get rowdy or sloppy or horny or any of the other things I was afraid I would become under the influence of alcohol. This leads us to another reason why I always avoided alcohol, which is self control. I have control issues. One of my greatest fears is losing control of myself and doing something violent or just plain stupid. I was afraid that getting drunk would push me over the edge toward becoming something I didn’t want to be, but that didn’t happen; I just got sleepy.

It turns out what my roommates once told me is true: alcohol doesn’t change who you are inside. Apparently what I am inside is lethargic. But even though I learned something new, I realized something else, too. I realized that the reason I had such a good time was that I was in a safe environment. I was among friends. I was in my own house, where I could get drunk and nobody would care or hold it over my head or judge me. I was at ease. So, I pounded back 10 shots of Old Crow and just hung out with my friends. The only thing that even remotely upset me was that one of my roommates was telling people on Twitter about it. He kept trying to take pictures of me being stupid, and I even got a text from his girlfriend saying that she was upset about missing my “shot night.” I know there was no malicious intent, but the whole point of the evening was that I was having a private moment with friends. I didn’t want to broadcast it to the whole world, and it upset me that someone was undermining that. Meh.

When you get drunk, you reenact scenes from The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise.
Don't reenact scenes from The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise.
This brings me to my next point, which is the same as my first point: I know myself. I know that I get angry about little things like that. I know how hard it is to keep myself from knocking certain people right out of their Toms loafers sometimes (don’t strain yourself trying to figure out who—there are plenty of people out there who wear Toms loafers), and that’s when I’m sober. For all my Flanders-esque ways, I’m very easily ticked off, and, therefore, that makes alcohol dangerous for me. True, I may have simply gotten drunk and passed out that weekend, but what if something had happened to legitimately make me mad? Would I have shrugged it off and made a half-hearted funny like I usually do, or would I fly off the handle like I usually want to? Would I hurt someone? The only other time I’ve ever actually been drunk, I got so mad I felt like beating someone senseless, and that was after I had sobered up a bit. What if I’d still had alcohol pumping through my veins?

So yeah, ultimately, I’m not going to make a habit of drinking. Maybe every time I get drunk, it will be a goofy, fun, safe experience, surrounded by friends I love and trust. But it only takes one emotional snap, or one dumb decision made under the influence, to completely ruin everything. Again, I know myself, and probably the worst part of it all is that I could easily use drunkenness as an excuse to do horrible things. Ten shots of Old Crow disoriented me, and it sure as heck made me sleepy, but I was still in the driver’s seat, despite being far from roadworthy. But nobody would ever know that; I had just taken 10 shots, right in front of everyone. For someone who doesn’t normally drink, that should be enough to render anyone senseless. I’m not exactly “normal,” though. If everyone thinks I’m wasted, I can pick fights, flirt with reckless abandon, say and do whatever I want—and they’ll think it’s the alcohol causing it. It’s ingenious, really, and it’s just the kind of thing I could do and get away with. A lot of people do it; they use alcohol to be absolute @$$clowns, and nobody says anything because they’re just drunk. Ha. I see through it, and I think it’s lousy, but at the same time I’m envious.

I really do appreciate the good alcohol can accomplish, don’t get me wrong. It sure cured me of my recent illness, which rocked. It really is a great social tool, which allows even the most uptight of individuals (re: this guy) to loosen up and socialize. I love my friends, and aside from the occasional slip-up in proper housebreaking (I’m talking couches getting peed, Holmes; it’s happened a few times), I’m glad to see they’re able to use alcohol to help build and maintain friendships. But it’s not for me. I don’t want to be sloppy. I don’t want to embarrass myself. I don’t want to drunkenly fall down the stairs and hurt myself. I don’t want to lose control of my temper and hurt someone emotionally or physically. And most of all, I don’t want to be a douchebag. It’s easy enough for me to be a jerk sometimes, and it would be a whole lot easier if I gave myself an excuse.

That’s my ramble. I’ll probably have a bit more alky-hall next time I get sick. I may even have a drink or two this weekend, in the safety and privacy of the house. But as a general rule, I’d rather avoid it if possible; it's just not for me. Look on the bright side: at least I haven’t given you my anti-marijuana rant yet. I promise, if you’re for pot legalization, I will make you mad.