Thinking About Drinking

As I head to a weekend reunion with great, old friends, I can’t help but think about how much drinking we’ll be doing. I should mention that it’s someone’s bachelorette party. Still, it seems that every stage of life and every group of friends I’ve had, booze has always been there.

I grew up with one Italian parent and one Irish parent. So it may go without saying that I grew up with alcohol being a normal part of life. I will forever associate the sound of a martini shaker with my dad. I will always see him in he kitchen, shaking up his daily after-work drink.

Do your parents influence your relationship with alcohol? I would imagine so. Treating it like something bad or forbidden, as a fun diversion, or anywhere in between surely has an impact on a developing mind.

But the more time you spend beyond the reach of your parents, the more time you have to really experience alcohol and understand your own relationship with it. Why do you drink? Do you like drinking? If you had to stop today, would you miss it?

If alcohol were a person, it would be that clingy friend who always wants a night out to be just a little bit bigger. The friend who thrives on action and drama. “Let’s ditch this bar and go dance!” “Let’s go pick a fight with someone!” “Now is the perfect time to tell him/her how you really feel!”

Drinking is hard to take a critical look at (for those who are not alcoholics) because it’s often woven into a larger, frequently positive experiences: birthdays, weddings, holidays, reunions. I am almost always laughing, talking, and dancing with people I love when I drink. What could be bad about that?

Well, what’s bad is when you go overboard. I don’t remember the end of my bachelorette party, and the next morning between heaves I decided I wouldn’t drink at my wedding (which was a few weeks away) because I didn’t trust myself to maintain control. That might not be so good.

I think the problem I have with my current drinking habits is that it is impossible to imagine never drinking again. Taking a night or a few weeks off isn’t hard, but I don’t know if I could completely give it up. Is that the definition of a drinking problem?

As with so many other vices, I think with alcohol I just strive for a kind of balance. No more blacking out. Booze-free weekends so I know I can do it. Mixing a fun drink with no alcohol in it. These are some of the things I practice to make sure I haven’t gone over the edge. For now, it’s working.

This weekend the girls and I will drink a lot of wine, in a whirlwind of laughter and music and cheesy matching shirts, we’ll have mimosas with brunch the next day, and on the bus ride home what I’ll notice is the quiet. What I’ll miss as I head back to my new city are my friends, not the booze. As long as that’s true I think I’m doing OK.

2 replies on “Thinking About Drinking”

I stopped drinking about two years ago. And I don’t miss it at all. My friends are all musicians or artists so I spend every weekend inside clubs and at art openings with cash bars but I’ve never been tempted. Once I decided that drinking wasn’t doing me any favours, that was it, I was done. It was odd at first being so alert to what’s going on at a bar (like a ninja!) but now it’s not a big deal at all. I still manage to laugh & talk­ & dance without feeling the least bit self-conscious (everyone else is blind drunk, after all). The only downside, for me, of being straight is having all the drunks at the shows constantly make a point of it. “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t drink!” “You must think we’re being sooo stupid!” It’s like the night can never get going because they have to keep stopping the fun to make sure I’m okay. If I wasn’t okay, I would go home, so let’s get on with it!

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