stay sober (sometimes)
several years ago, I ran into an old friend in downtown Austin. It was a Thursday night, nothing out of the ordinary. It was not a holiday or a birthday, just your average Thursday night.
So I was kind of surprised to see this friend so sloppy drunk and shitfaced. He was slurring his words and trying to pay for my drink and halfway asking me how I had been and how I was doing. But he kept falling over a little bit and knocking things over and checking with the bartender on his next drink.
So he was having a tough time paying any kind of attention to me.
It was the same feeling I had when I attended a friend’s birthday dinner a couple of years ago. We were at a long table, with bottles of wine scattered across it. A friend of ours knew the chef, so there were plates and plates of food coming and there was a general sense of bonhomie and celebration and generosity.
I sat next to someone who kept drinking, glass after glass of red wine. This someone happens to be a beautiful woman. There is something about watching a beautiful woman get drunk that is disconcerting. And unseemly. One moment she is capable and controlled, and the next minute, she can’t focus her eyes, she appears tired.
She has lost her sparkle and shine.
I told you about my friend in Austin first, because he is a he and this is not a sexist thing. This is a human thing.
A drunk person is thoroughly unattractive, regardless of gender. Because they are not present.
What you offer to someone, when you are their friend, girlfriend, employee, whatever, is your presence. You - just showing up and being alert and attentive and directing your energy towards a person/a project/anything really – that is your presence.
If you are drunk, you cannot be present. A part of you is present, but not all of you.
So this beautiful woman, we tried to keep her from driving that night, but she insisted she was fine. I still feel bad that we were not more insistent, because this was not safe. She got home just fine, though. Nine times out of ten, driving home when you are sort of ok but sort of not, nothing happens.
I think we have all been there, at one time or another. You have a little bit too much to drink, but you are not exactly drunk. So you drive. If you are lucky, no one gets hurt or a DUI or a mangled car or face. But sometimes something does happen.
I saw Tracey Gold on Oprah a few years back. She had a DUI and a terrible accident, in which her kids were in the backseat. She is incredibly lucky that she survived, and her kids survived, all in one piece and without significant injury.
Before you judge her for driving drunk with her kids, and dismiss her as another f/ed up celebrity, which would be an easy judgment to make, these were the circumstances. Her and her husband packed the kids into the car and they all went to a barbecue at a friend’s house. When she arrives, her friend hands her a glass of wine.
On occasion, her glass is refilled, but she loses track - because the glass is half full, but then someone fills it up again. Then she sets her glass down and loses it and she’s trying to keep up with her kids, too, and talk to people, and then someone hands her another glass. By the end of the evening, her husband had had a lot to drink, too. It was decided that it was better that she drive home, as to her memory at the time, she had only had a couple of glasses of wine.
A friend asked if really, she should drive, and offered to drive her and her kids home. She declined, embarrassed to admit to having maybe, but not definitely, having had too much to drink to drive home.
Again, I think we have all been there.
But I think we also all know better.
At the end of the show, Tracey said that as it stands now, she will not even have one drink and drive. Because as you drink, you start to lose your judgment. You think, oh I will have one more. And by the time you have that second drink, you think of course I can drive home! And run a marathon and cook a five course meal and do any number of things that you wouldn’t feel capable of if you were sober.
I don’t drink very much. I go through periods where I don’t drink for weeks at a time. I don’t have a glass of wine for dinner every night, only every once in a while. When I do drink, my volume rises, I get maybe a little silly, maybe a little inappropriate. Though not too much so, and I am so glad that I am not a mean drunk.
Those people are the worst.
I am just more likely to let the running commentary in my brain, which is not unlike the CNN ticker, become verbalized. This ranges from the direct (are we going to make out later tonight?) to the observational (oh you can tell she totally wants to f him or, wow…why is his toe so big?) This is embarrassing in its own regard, but also mostly harmless.
I couldn’t even tell you the last time I got the spins or threw up or anything like that, from drinking.
It’s interesting to me that I probably drink more on dates than with my friends. This is in part because what else are you going to do on the first couple of dates (I don’t usually get past those first few dates, ok) but then also I am a little nervous. I don’t know.
I had a date once to get thai food, at a BYOB place. For some reason, I started getting really nervous before this date. I was at best, halfway interested in this person so I am not sure why I started sweating profusely before he was supposed to pick me up. But I did.
Actually now that I think about it, it’s because he was one of these guys in his midthirties who was clearly ready to settle down and dating with that intention. I could sense that, without him saying anything.
That made me really uncomfortable, like it was an encroachment on my space.
I have got to work on this space issue. But there are these guys, who hit a certain age when all their buddies have gotten married, and they are one of the last ones standing. Their approach is clear and calculated. It begins to feel like what they want is an abstract (a wife) instead of a person.
It freaks me out.
Anyways, so we show up at the thai place and he thought for a minute that he had forgotten the wine. So I started sweating even more. It’s possible I went into the restroom and put more deodorant on in the middle of the date.
Even though I do not seem that way, I am a little shy but even more importantly, I am intensely aware of what someone wants or expects of me. I can feel that on dates.
Drinking makes it easier.
The thing is, I’m not exactly a big girl (with the exception of my bottom) so I am a total lightweight. I am also a pretty terrible driver, so I think I would be wise to commit to Tracey Gold’s philosophy. This is not even a situation I face very often, but still. This is like the (not) doing the business decision.
You need to make a decision before the situation arises (no pun intended) and then stick to it.
Seems so radical, though, doesn’t it?
on a separate note: one reason (among many) that my dad is a good dad: in high school, he sat me down once and said that if I were ever in a situation where I was out and I didn’t feel like I could drive home (or that my friends or boyfriend couldn’t drive) I could call home and ask him to come pick me up. and he would come and get me.
no questions asked, no getting into trouble.
the thing is I am not in high school anymore. I’m responsible for taking care of myself. And let’s be honest. I am not coordinated to begin with. I am not sure I could touch my finger to my nose and walk a straight line, even when I am stone cold sober. In part because I have a hard time paying attention and listening to directions. But I also for some reason can’t focus on something when I know someone is watching me. I feel put on the spot…observed.
I don’t even want to tell you how many times I have been unable to open a door because I can sense the person behind me watching me. It is in those moments that I am so grateful for my master’s degree.
The moral of the story, yall, is to try to stay sober in situations in which your presence is required. Driving is one of those situations. You know for yourself what your limits are. Either way,
I know you’ll do the right thing.
I’m going to try to, too.
Today for Halloween, I had to pass out candy to the little kids. When I looked to my neighbor’s yard, he just left a bucket full of candy with a sign saying “Please take two” and there was a garbage can right next to it. I saw a little kid laugh and try to take a handful, until my neighbor popped out of the trash can in a mask yelling ” I SAID TAKE TWO!” The kid ran away crying. This happened about 18 more times. MLIA
Today, my brother came charging into my room asking me to help him get ready. He was a pirate and I realised the costume didn’t have a parrot to go with it. So I gave him my cuddly toy of Melman from Madagascar and tied it to his shoulder. An hour later I got a text saying, “Everybody loves Melman, and all the girls think I’m cute cause I watch Madagascar. Thanks!” He was at a college party. You’re welcome big brother, you’re welcome. MLIA
Today, I was in the toilet at school, lamenting the fact that all the cool MLIA-worthy stuff happens in America, and in England, we’re boring. At that moment, I opened the cubicle door to see a 6ft cardboard cut-out of Professor Severus Snape standing a few feet away. I screamed. They filmed it. Not only has my faith in England’s youth been restored, I got Snaped. MLIA
I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere
and this is my reaction to everything I fear
cause I’ve been going crazy I don’t want to waste another minute here” — all time low ♥ (via lolofosho)