Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mocktails and Mars Bars

The British love to drink and I have always striven to remain true to my national identity and ingest at least the British Heart Association's recommended 1-2 drinks per day. Unfortunately, my freakishly low alcohol tolerance is a disgrace to my native land (three drinks and I get the spins). The nadir occurred one January evening in the Lower Haight, when a mere two (OK, four) G & Ts sent me reeling out of a bar and into a shop doorway. There Jordan up-ended a recycling crate so I could sit down on it and throw up. A homeless person who had stopped to watch said to Jordan sympathetically, “My wife’s an alcoholic too.” But even this experience did not make me give up drinking (although I did give up the vintage leather trench I wore at the time, realizing it was maybe a little too vintage).

Last Sunday, suffering from a particularly bad hangover, I swore to Jordan I was never going to drink again (or eat a deep-fried Mars Bar, but that’s another story). Then that afternoon it rained so hard that it did not seem like a good day to give up drinking.

Obviously, I needed a pep talk. I phoned my friend Bob. He never touches alcohol during the month of January, a regime he has stuck to for the past twenty-five years. Bob raved: “In January, I feel stronger and stronger every day and have so much more energy for sports and jump out of bed with a spring in my step.” But he admitted that his stint of sobriety depresses other people: “They freak out and project their own insecurities onto you.”

This is the fundamental problem with abstinence. It may energize you, but it will aggravate your friends. This is partly because it makes them feel guilty for indulging. But there’s another reason too. Since alcohol makes you feel better in the short-term and worse in the long-term, when you choose to drink with someone, you’re saying that the present matters more than the future, and that this particular evening, right here, right now, matters more than getting up in the morning. Thus, when you order a Shirley Temple, it’s a clear statement of your priorities.

Fortunately, although I have yet to finesse the details, I have hit on a solution. I will become a closet teetotaler, slugging back soda water and acting as if it were a vodka tonic. That way, maybe I can have my cocktail and not drink it too.


Anonymous Mark said...

Deep fried Mars Bar? I bet you don't wake up with a spring in your step the day after eating one of those. I bet you wake up wishing that you were dead. But then, maybe you would wake up wishing you were dead anyway, so why not have a deep fried Mars Bar?

The deep fried Mars Bar is definitely something invented by someone in the midst of a hopeless, swirling, disorienting storm of intoxication. Once when I was in college, we made deep fried onion rings from scratch, and of course we were drinking heavily at the time, and it spiralled out of control into a drunken frying party. We fried chocolate, apples, frozen waffles, made potato chips, chicken nuggets, and "doughnuts" out of fried Pillsbury dough. One of the "doughnuts" hung on our wall in a plastic ziplock bag from a nail for over a year. Needless to say, we never drank and fried ever again after that.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

This post makes me want to stop drinking! I did once for nine days when I was on medication, then I didn't crave it anymore and teetotaled for another couple of weeks and yes, I did get those funny looks and "Are you SURE you don't want a glass of wine? You're SURE?" Those were the days.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Jeffrey said...

I was a teetotaler my entire life until age 30. Some tips:

1. Drink ginger ale, cranberry and seltzer, etc. To most people, these will look like "real" drinks.

2. If someone asks what you're drinking, tell them.

3. If they protest and ask why you're not drinking alcohol, just tell them, "I'm not drinking TONIGHT." Such an answer generally goes unquestioned, as most people will just assume you're driving or have an early morning the next day.

4. Alternatively, just act really belligerent and obnoxious, and people will assume you're wasted.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

I've noticed, too, that people often assume that someone who doesn't drink is a recovered alcholic. Ironic, isn't it?

11:45 PM  

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