Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,
Steven
unzeugmatic

If This is Sobriety, Pour Me a Stiff One

I'm on day 9 of an alcohol sabbatical, which will probably be two weeks long. Of late, I've been drinking pretty much every day -- almost entirely wine and beer, and sometimes a good deal over the course of a long evening. I like this. I like the flavors in my mouth, particularly with food. I like the buzz. I like the fidgeting with a glass in my hand. As a friend told me decades ago, I'm a "happy drunk". But I thought it would be a good thing to stop drinking entirely for a couple of weeks, to see what this felt like and whether this would be hard. I decided on two weeks because that would take me through a variety of situations where drinking is part of the setting: Going out to the brewpub after a Morris practice, showtunes and beer bust at the Bolt, Friday 3-for-1s at the Eagle, a Bear Bar Night.

It turns out that none of this is hard at all, although Bear Bar Night turns out to be incredibly boring sober. The only time I actually craved a drink was one evening, after a long day, when I came home to make myself a simple dinner of something like ravioli. I so wanted a nice glass of red wine to go with it. That was a strong desire, indeed. But it didn't feel like an addictive thing. There's plenty of wine in my apartment, but I was perfectly able to leave the bottles corked. (I'm not always so successful at denying myself if, for example, there's a really nice pumpkin pie in the refrigerator.)

What I've concluded is that the drinking, for me, is like anything else I enjoy: I want more and more of it all the time. It's more about obsession than alcoholism, I think. Oh, and I really really really hate to admit this, but I do feel a little bit brigher and more energetic when I'm not drinking at all. Alcohol is, after all, something of a sedative. There's only one more test of resolve: The annual Scotch tasting after the Halloween Morris danceout. That's fun, and sociable, and a wonderful display of fine and expensive bottles of Scotch. We'll see if refraining from the sampling feels as if I'm denying myself.

But there was one truly bizarre moment of sobriety last night, at Showtunes at the Bolt. The fourth world series game started, and I walked over to the Eagle half of the establishment to check it out on the television. It was crowded and noisy and there was no comfortable place to stand near the television and besides: closed-captioning is really annoying for a sports event -- sports announcer talk does not translate into a written format. I realized that I did not want to stay and sing show tunes and hang out with some friends, periodically checking the score of the game. Nope, I wanted to go right home and watch the game full focus. And so I did.

I mean, come on: This looked as if it might actually be the winning world series game for the Red Sox (which it turned out to be). I had to go watch it. But, but -- I don't follow baseball. I barely even knew there was a team in Colorado, much less that they were coming off an amazing winning streak that put them in the Series. I hardly recognize a name on the Red Sox roster. But I had been so stone cold sober for so long that I wanted to watch the game. As they say on the Internets: WTF? Is this what sober people do for fun?

I got home and turned on the game and remembered all the many reasons I don't watch baseball. The Red Sox were up by three games already, and there was never a point in the game when they were behind, but even so I pulled myself into knots every time the other team (um, the Tetons? the Appalachians? whatever) got a man on base. I sat in my chair and willed the Red Sox to victory. I was, oh, obsessed?

Imagine what an obsessive can do with baseball. There is literally no limit to the degree of obsession one can have. Every time somebody gets up to bat, he is standing before a million statistics: His personal history, the history of the fifth world series games, the history of every time somebody has come to bat with this configuration of runners on base with a left-handed pitcher in this inning. If I dove in to that muck, I would never emerge. I know this. EVEN THOUGH I DON'T CARE ABOUT BASEBALL EVEN A SMIDGEN.

Thank goodness I can't hold numbers or, more accurately, perform calculations in my head very well when I've been drinking.
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