Friday, August 23, 2013

Alcohol

I'm not a puritan (I couldn't give up sex and I don't like Cornflakes) but I drink so little I could be a teetotaller.

It has to be a special occasion indeed for alcohol to pass my lips.

Most of the time when I choose to drink it is not from a desire to take oral pleasure from the grape or the hop. There will undoubtedly be an element of peer pressure or the occasion itself will demand I allow my temple to be profaned with the bitter poison. A special occasion. Visiting friends and not wanting to reject their eagerly offered hospitality. A concession to "have just one" for the sake of appearances.

Secretly (though less secretly now) I would be quite happy if alcohol never entered my inner sanctum ever again.

It depresses me.

Alcohol literally depresses me.

It hit me earlier this week when I visited some very dear friends and shared a couple of pints of beer with them. At the time it felt fine. The taste was "ok". I would rather have had water or even a Coke but, you know, the occasion was one of those listed above and I accepted the offer of beer.

The trouble for me occurs the next day.

I felt depressed as all hell. Not hungover. Not ill. Depressed.

And it gave me a flashback to my twenties when I used to go out fairly regularly to pubs with friends and sink a few beers on a Friday night because that was what Friday nights were for.

I secretly loathed it. Not the going out. I could see that socializing was essential. It was the alcohol. The slavish adherence to "getting out of it" because that was what you were meant to do.

I rarely got drunk. Not out of a capacity to absorb huge quantities of alcohol and still walk a straight line but out of an internal mechanism whereby I find it very hard to let go and lose control.

But next day, Christ, next day the feeling of depression would incapacitate me every single time. So much so I would have to write off the entire day. I couldn't write. I couldn't trust myself to make any kind of decision. I'd just have to ride it through until the pall eventually left my system.

It got to the point whereby a simple equation (3 hours at the pub = an entire day written off) meant that I'd start to decline invitations to go out or find excuses to be elsewhere. For a couple of glorious years I'd just take myself off on my bike in the summer and spend my evenings cycling for miles and miles. I loved it. Sure it was solitary but being out and about in the British countryside was a real balm and, best of all, it gave me inspiration for the next day and I felt clean, hopeful and refreshed.

Alcohol could not compete.

For a while I tried to attach a moral payload to my choice not to drink but that was just dishonest. In truth if other people get genuine pleasure from drinking alcohol, good luck to them. For me it takes more than it gives and I'd rather not enter into the contract in the first place.

Does that make me a wuss? Maybe.

Personally, I like to think that it proves my hedonistic credentials. I like my pleasures to be unalloyed. A pleasure that you have to pay for later isn't that great a pleasure in my book. I want to have my cake and eat it.

Just spare me the accompanying glass of wine.





30 comments:

vegemitevix said...

wow this takes considerable self-knowledge. Respect Steve! x

Steve said...

Vix: undercut by the fact it's taken me 20 years to work it out!

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

I would hope that any friends would simply accept a "I don't drink thanks, but you fill ya boots" when offering you any alcoholic beverage. Personally, I would just think "more for me" and get on with catching up.

Horses for courses and all that.

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: we need to go to social occasions together. We'd be like Jack Spratt and his wife. Both happy and nothing wasted. Except maybe you.
;-)

Gorilla Bananas said...

Alcohol is a depressant, so the only surprising thing is that it stays in your system for so long. Maybe your liver hasn't worked out how to take one for the team. You never looked like a drinker to me, so why not take snuff instead? Just imagine the entertainment you'd give people by taking a pinch and sneezing the powder into your beard. That would cheer up all the boozers.

Trish Burgess said...

I'm not much of a drinker, having hated being very sick at a party when I was 18. Since then, I find I enjoy a glass or two of wine, or a G&T, but am quite happy with that. But you're right, some people think it a bit odd and try to force another glass on you. Whenever we go out for a meal/drink with friends, I always drive and never drink. People say, oh have a drink, you can always get a taxi. No thanks, I'll save my money and have an orange juice.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: alas, my coke habit has left me with a deviated septum the size of the Hadron Collider. If I took snuff I fear the entire tin would disappear up my nose at the speed of light and destroy every Higgs boson between here and Switzerland.

Steve said...

Trish: a woman after my own heart. I always prefer to have a Vimto smile on my face than a beard full of carroty chunks.

Not From Lapland said...

I love people that don't drink - it means there's more for me ;) But it really doesn't make any difference to me whether my friends drink or not - it's the being social and seeing them that counts.

Keith said...

My sentiments EXACTLY !!! Are you sure you're not just me in a parallel universe ?

No no, hang on. I LOVE cornflakes, so....

Emma Kaufmann said...

oh yes and remember there's always Caliber the non alcoholic beer although I have never tasted it I
imagine it's pretty bad. Yeah I know what you mean i feel depressed sometimes the next day after drinking but the fun of drinking is worth it.....sometimes!!

London City (Mum) said...

Same as Trish - an odd drink, and a glass of wine with dinner, but hate the 'must drink at all costs' or (worse) 'drink 'til you fall over' mentality that still rules so many social occasions.
Thankfully less so as the years progress.

Upside is that I can dance like a loon and everyone around me remains blissfully unaware, thinking a) I *must* be sozzled just like them, and knowing b) noone will remember the following day.

Result!

LCM x

Steve said...

Not From Lapland: er. I'm pretty antisocial too. I'm better when I've had a drink though. Oh. Shit.

Keith: separated at birth, mate. That's what we are. P.S. I quite like Frosties.

Emma: the fun of watching other people drink is sometimes better. On the other positive note it's much harder to slip rohipnol into someone's mineral water.

LCM: there's nobody more dangerous at a party than a teetotaller with a phone camera...

Rol said...

As you may know, I gave up drinking around the turn of the millennium. At the time, a night of drinking left me with a hangover that would go on for two or three weeks. I eventually discovered the medical reason for this (Gilbert's Syndrome - though it depends which doctor you ask) but having given up, I came to realise how dependent I'd been on the drug...

I only very occasionally crave a Jack Daniels now. The rest of the time, I'm a happy sober. (Well, OK, you know me... "happy" is probably a slight exaggeration...)

Steve said...

Rol: I think you and I both know that, creatively speaking, happiness is very much over-rated.

Wanderlust said...

Oh Steve, I am the same way. I rarely drink and when I do, I generally regret it. I don't get depressed, just physically ill. My body just doesn't like alcohol. Also, it just never had much appeal for me. I like the taste of wine now, but have never liked beer or any hard liquor. Fine for the rest of the world to consume my portion (though a few chocolates thrown my way would compensate nicely).

I'm glad you have the self-awareness to make this connection. Many people wouldn't, you know. Kudos to you. I raise my glass (of water) to you.

Kellie @ Delightfully Ludicrous said...

I'm not much of a drinker either, not because it makes me feel bad like that, just because it's an awful lot of work and effort for what I consider to be minimal returns. After you've bought the alcohol, organised the designated driver, called the taxis if you couldn't get a designated driver, and sorted out all your "safety issues", you might as well have just had a diet coke and been done with it.

the fly in the web said...

Can't understand why people pressure others into having a drink they don't want....unless booze is cheaper than soft drinks when buying a round...

Steve said...

Wanderlust: I so agree. My drink of choice now is water and as for drugs the cocoa bean is my choice there too. The world can have our drinks but I'm afraid you've got competition for the chocolate.

Kellie: never mind the fact that technically alcohol is a poison!

The fly in the web: I honestly think it's getting that way.

Marginalia said...

Converting to Islam would not be a problem for you then?

Steve said...

Marginalia: aside from the universal bigotry and the constant trial by tabloid press.

Keith said...

Or should I have been less self centric and asked if I am just you in a parallel universe ?

Steve said...

Keith: either way is good for me / you.

K Ville said...

I rarely drink now. A g&t maybe once a month. It keeps me awake gives me startling hangovers and generally means I lose days 'getting over' anything that is more than 2 glasses. It's just not worth it. But I think it's easier for a woman to say that she doesn't drink. The waiters on holiday were always wanting me to have wine not water, sometimes it was such peer pressure I relented and felt dreadful afterwards.

Steve said...

K Ville: my recent experience has made me realize that it is just not worth relenting; I'm going to stick to my guns in future.

Nota Bene said...

I know loads of people that don't drink anymore for all sorts of reasons...mostly because they just don't like alcohol...I like them because it means a cheap round....

Steve said...

Nota Bene: plainly we need to go out more.

Fran said...

Soooooo, this'll help to explain why you just posted on my blog that the pudding was the best bit of going out!

Suburbia said...

Oh dear...I do love alcohol!

Steve said...

Fran: that and the fact I'm a chocoholic.

Suburbia: you can have mine with pleasure!