It strikes me that there are classes of booze and even classes of hangover – although there’s no good reason why there should be. At the end of the day, what you’ve done to the inside of your body and mind is all the same, isn’t it? But for some reason, I feel like there are different perceptions out there.
Getting scuppered with “the girls” on a few bottles of prosseco and wine is jolly old cheer and fun. The resultant hangover is all part of the bonding process. Jokes about killing brain cells and “ow my liver” are used to mask the truth of the statements. But the damage done is just as severe, the alcohol seeping from pores is just as potent, the anxiety creeping through brain is just as insidious as the results from night chugging cans of strong larger in grotty side bars, or on a cold park bench.
Whiskey, brandy, chartreuse and gin – all have taken on tragic romantic status in dark foreign bars; sitting on high stools, or resting back into deep leather chairs with my little-girl legs stretching out of designer dresses, or playful skirts, hobbled by fashionable high-heels, hobbled further (before too long) by the “grown up” alcohol that was an essential part of the scene. The chemical processes in my body weren’t any different for the cost and the setting, the slow death I poured into my self wasn’t slowed by the soft tones of the jazz music, the escape I sought was – at the root – not a centimetre away from that of the drunk man at the train station, sitting on cardboard, blackened toes breaking through his battered shoes, body curled around his salvation and death in the form of a bottle.
I woke this morning and did my habitual Facebook check to find an acquaintance talking about their birthday celebration and the resulting hangover. They spoke about not having planned to do shots and calling out names like tequila and jagermeister – things that no-one drinks for any reason other than to get drunk. Sure, I’ve heard of tequila connoisseurs (though never actually met any) who speak of sipping it and tasting it. It’s just window dressing. The point is to get drunk.
But even wine is just window dressing. Oh, but people just have a glass or two with dinner, right? “What about France?” and all of that. What happens? Why do people drink wine and not water? Is it really for the taste? I think there might have been a time when water was not so clean and trustworthy, and wine was added to the water to kill off bacteria, right? Maybe not, my history knowledge is not strong and while I may have impressions of truths I’ve not actually investigated the truth of it. And maybe I’m biased by my own intentions and experiences when it comes to alcohol – maybe some people aren’t drinking for the reasons I’m ascribing to them.
But why then? I mean, it’s an addictive, mind and mood-altering drug. I can’t think of anyone who smokes for the taste. I mean, sure, after enough years of it, you start to think the taste is part of it. There are definite preferences for one brand over another. But isn’t it about the look and the image and the nicotine effects and cravings?
Hmm. I sound judgemental, don’t I? I’m not intending to be judgemental. But the images in my mind that I used to have around alcohol have shifted so very much in the last 9 months. I feel like scales have fallen from my eyes. I feel like I’m seeing with the fever clarity of the newly evangelical.
I don’t really want to be that person either.
Things have changed for me, and that’s good – for me. I feel the need to write about my perception shifts here. Because I want to solidify it. I’m happy with me as a non-drinker. I want to stay that way. But sometimes I still hear the call of the wild, the call of the old lie, of the romantic vision, of the promise of meaning, of being part of a story-version of a life worth telling about.
Nowadays I guess my life isn’t anything much worth telling about. It’s a pretty boring list of domestic and work activities – and that’s actually not any different than it was when I was drinking alcohol pretty regularly, it’s just that I’m actually living it now.
I still can get bored and crave my story though.