Alcohol, Stopping, Restarting, Rethinking.
Although a devoted drinker, I regularly take breaks from hooch, mostly to give my liver a break, but mostly to remind myself that I can. I know it sounds obvious, but if you're a 'good' drinker like I am ( an oxymoron if ever there was one) a week here, a month or two there of not imbibing can be most beneficial.
Alcohol is a drug, and like any drug it can be easily abused. I am a dab hand at abusing it with gusto. It's terrifically easy to get into the habit of having a glass or two of wine every evening( home measure, none of your 4 fluid ounces nonsense, i.e two John Rocha glasses= half bottle); to give yourself permission to down an entire bottle of French red on a Friday because you deserve it after a long week; to drink like a sailor on Saturday because you're out and about with pals and Yo* ho ho and a bottle of rum, it's right crack; to spend Sunday in your leather chair watching Come Dine with Me, wine by your elbow, papers on your lap. It is, it's a pleasure. And naturally as it is a pleasure you don't want to think about any ill effects. 'Shuush' you will tell that weird little voice, you know the one, the questioning voice that always seems to poke you when you're feeling most like something the cat dragged in.
Even if you can quiet the voice, nothing reminds the devoted drinker more about their alcohol consummation than the trip to the bottle bank to recycle. As you squeeze bottle after bottle into the green or brown bin you can see quite clearly your harmless pleasure is quite a full on habit. Oh yes. Unless you are adept at kidding yourself into oblivion a weekly recycling trip is quite the eye opener. No, you think, I didn't have a party of five over, that shit is all mine. EEK!
My father used to say a person should never drink at home. But back then there wasn't the proliferation of off licences, supermarket hooch stores and wine shops. We didn't really drink wine at all. A person might go for 'a few scoops' on a Saturday night, maybe for a pint of two on Sunday and that was really it. Of course there were those who came into the pub bright and breezy at 12 noon on a Sunday, went home for lunch and returned back at the dot of four and remained there until closing- upright normally and still coherent, but they were a select few and to be sure very few of them ever hit seventy years of age.
My point was it wasn't the done thing to be imbibing during the week or of an evening at home. It just wasn't ( apart for Gamma and her gin, but that's a whole other story).
Nowadays, with increasing pub prices, drink driving laws, family commitments and two income stresses and strains, people need a way to unwind, to metaphorically pat themselves on the back after a tough day and hooch is the cheap and ready to roll pal when in need. If it is there, chances are you'll drink it. And it will be there because you'll have bought it.
Next weekend will be my third successive weekend sans hooch. And as always whenever I give it up I feel terrific. I really do, and productive. I have worked an extra two hours every day, I have been busy, I have taken up disgusting swimming, I have slept through the night every night without even once having to get up to wee, I don't wake up on turning over. My mornings are bright and breezy. In effect I am operating at full capacity.
I know all this. I don't really have any trouble at all not drinking. I'll stay not drinking probably until March. But once March rolls around I will be hightailing it out the door to the nearest Smurfs. Yes, I will.
I will attempt however to start taking my father's advice. I think I will stop drinking at home. I think I might finally understand that making the effort to get dressed up and go out and then have a drink is what folk call 'social drinking'. Certainly I will try stick to only drinking on the weekends. And if I try to trick myself out of my good intentions-and no doubt I probably will- well there's always the walk of shame to the bottle bank.
* No Santas were harmed in the making of this statement.