Raise Your Glass
“Don’t drink the hard stuff. Not the liquor. Whiskey, vodka? These things are bad. If you drink wine and beer, that’s better. But otherwise, you are an alcoholic.” – *Anonymous.
Ok, *Anonymous is my papa.
I drink the hard stuff. And the soft stuff, I guess. I kind of like it all. I am an equal opportunity booze drinker.
I’m not a big drinker. I mean, I DO drink. But never, out of control. Well. Hmm. Maybe, sometimes. I mean, I am certainly not really including my college years in that statement. Or my twenties.
Definitely not any of my twenties.
I drank during both of those phases of my life. If I took one of those tests asking me to evaluate if I was “the A word” (No, not “asshole” – “alcoholic”), I may have tested with flying colors in the affirmative. Actually, depending on which part of my twenties we are talking about, I might have passed positive for both things.
It wasn’t the most mature phase of my life.
College? Well, I really have no excuse. Here I was, this young Indian girl from New Jersey who wasn’t so much as allowed to date, much less down Zimas with some of the classier folk from my town in a pickup truck somewhere in a field.
I was so fucking deprived.
But college? Hell, yeah. Not only was I a quiet Indian girl with little to no experience with the opposite sex thrown in a pool of oh so many people whose lineage seemed to be directly linked to Robert E. Lee in some way or another, I was an introvert. I would rise to any social occasion, but at this point, I realized I needed some help from my friends. Though most of my friends were named normal things like Susan, Larissa or Shannon, I also became really close to Bud, Miller and Robert. (Mondavi, the cheap kind).
And so I drank. And I had my moments. Lots of them, from what I think I can remember.
In my twenties, I drank because that’s just what you did. Yes, I brought into the entire social culture of the Northern Virgina/Arlington scene and I was a particularly, highly “celebratory” person. In the absence of alcohol, things just didn’t seem festive. Where was the color? Where was the fizz? Where was the too loud conversation? How was I supposed to move past my natural discomfort in crowds (which I didn’t understand then as introversion, I just thought I felt a little gassy inside) and actually help liven up this party and talk to that cute guy in the corner or find the courage to talk to the bassist in the band or to not be intimidated by the group of bitchy girls in the corner giving me and my friends dirty looks.
The only clear solution in these cases was shooters. Since the bartenders knew us all too well, it was a rare night that we actually had to pay in full for any of it, if some guy hadn’t already bothered to buy them for us.
Life was good and I spent 3 – 4 nights of my week with some level of a buzz.
And then things started to settle down. John and I got married. And planning a marriage is stressful, especially when you are losing people in your life you love. The year we got married, we lost my uncle, John’s grandmother and John’s cousin all within 5 months of each other to the C word. In this case, “Cancer”, not “Cointreau.”
So that was stressful.
And then, marriage was stressful.
God, work kicked my ass for a few years.
And then the kids came.
And marriage and work were still kicking my ass.
So the consistent theme seems to be that life is stressful and alcohol is always there if and when I need it.
Over the years, I have slowed down. But there is a feeling I get sometime between when the workday ends and as soon as the kids start screaming about their latest burning issue of the day ( I hate these socks!!!) that I pour myself that glass of wine. It may be my only glass. It might be one of two. It’s usually not one of many more, but I can’t say that those days don’t come.
Still, on visits to the Doctor, I put down “Socially” when asked how much I really drink. I don’t say, “it depends on how good I feel about paying the bills this month.” Or “depends on how challenged I feel by my kids.” Nope. I put socially and or 1/night. Which is mostly true.
I spoke to a friend recently who drinks a bit (a tad) more than me and I asked her what she said on those forms. “Are you kidding me?! I lie. I don’t need that judgement!” And while I want her to get the best medical treatment she can, which usually means being honest to your doctors, I understand not wanting judgment. Who does? Shit, that’s enough to make you want to drink even more so fuck that.
I love the saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” As if that instant transition of the minute and hour hand on a clock somewhere else in the world makes it okay for us to find our escape, to find our comfort, to numb whatever it is we are trying to numb, to feed a potential addiction because someone else out there is bound to be doing it at the same time as us.
I love it, except it makes me sad. Because I know that while on a tough day, when it’s 4:30 and I think “Hey, it’s almost legal and semi-acceptable”, someone else might be thinking that same thought as soon as they wake up in the morning.
And that has to be really, really hard, I would imagine.
I think the saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” really means, “Somewhere in this world, someone else is a little lost and confused. Maybe like you. Maybe they need an escape and God, wouldn’t it be great if you could get one too? A break, a reprieve, even a short little jolt from reality? For the lost and confused, time is irrelevant. Cheers.”
I am not going to label what I am but I do know that the day I can walk into a party and not have that glass of wine or toast with champagne at a wedding, I am going to feel a whole lot less merry. Call that what it is, I’m sure I fall on some sort of spectrum, but if lost and confused and needing a little liquid comfort falls on there, well count me in.
I know the holidays are here and some of you will be around alcohol. A lot. And it’s a hard time of year if you are trying to stop. I just wanted to let you know that people understand – even if they are the ones drinking. If I was around friends who needed to step away from alcohol, I would gladly put down my glass to support them. Yes, even me. And I don’t care if it’s a little less Festivus for the rest of us. Maybe we can do some Wii Dance together and I can show you my Tina Turner moves and that’s like doing ten shots right there. It may worsen your cause and scare you, but by God we will try.
Everyone’s a little lost and broken. Everyone has crutches, whether they realize them or not, whether society deems those crutches acceptable. Know yours and know that you are not the only one who might be feeling a little lost and confused.
No matter if it’s 5 o’clock or not. You’re never alone.