St. Patrick's day has come and gone. I don't have a hangover, I didn't plaster the bathroom with green beer vomit and I wasn't digging for some strange woman's pot of gold. All in all, I'd say sobriety fits me well.
I am an alcoholic. It's sort of a family tradition. My family tree looks like a distillery. My mother's older sister, Aunt Liz, only calls when she's drunk. When I was a kid, my mother would pay us to lie.
"Hi Aunt Liz!" I'd shout so my mom would know who was on the phone. She'd appear in the doorway waving a dollar bill.
"You know, I'm not sure if she's home, let me check." I'd look at my mom, she'd pull out another dollar out.
"I think she went to the store but she said she'd be back in FIVE minutes." My mom would nod her head. I got a cool fiver out of mom thanks to crazy Aunt Liz. A little extortion never hurt anybody.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a set of ten questions that test whether or not you've got a drinking problem. It's a good test but let's face it, if you're really boozing it up, you don't have much of an attention span. The chances of getting an answer other than "Ugh, I don't remember" are slim at best. So, I've got a simple test that is just as effective. The only catch is that it is totally interactive, meaning you have to talk to a drunk.
I discovered this test a year or so after I stopped drinking. I had to stop because I'd consumed enough alcohol for a few lifetimes. I figure that everyone has a certain number of gallons of alcohol assigned to them at birth. I drank so much, in such a short time, that there is a small town in Ohio that went dry because of me.
Anyway, back to the test: Whenever I tell people I don't drink, I get one of three responses:
1- "Why not?" These people are just curious. You may want to watch them anyway because they have a tendency to be nosy gossip mongers.
2- "Well then, would you like a soda?"
These people don't care about my personal chemistry, they just want to be a good host. I suspect this is the classic Martha Stewart answer. 3- "Wow, not at all? Well, then how about just a beer?" These are the most difficult to deal with. I've found that I am actually related to most of them.
The third answer is the most common among alcoholics. It's the first step to admitting you're an idiot with a bottle. The #3 person will then proceed to tell me about the last binge they had and their usual drinking menu for the week. Sometimes they will ask, "That's not too much, is it?" As if I am a good judge on the proper amount to imbibe in a evening or even a lifetime. After all, if I knew how much was enough, I'd be able to enjoy a glass of wine without the Vodka Martini chaser!
I look at AA the same way I look at Religion. It does a lot of people a lot of good but I it's not for me. I went to an AA meeting and found myself gnawing off my own arm . There was this one fruit-loop that kept insisting that life is so much more FUN without drinking. It's possible I stopped too soon, but I can tell you I had a great time while I was drunk. True, life is more interesting, more fulfilling, infinitely more memorable and best of all there is a lot less vomit involved but drinking was always fun. Temporary sobriety sucked.
In a strange way I don't think I could have kept sober that first year or two without AA. Oh, don't get me wrong: I never went to another meeting. By telling me I couldn't do it without them, they guaranteed that I'd stop drinking out of pure spite.
I'm looking thirty right in the eye and I must admit I'm surprised to be here. It took a few years, but I don't miss drinking every day anymore. I miss the taste of wine and the classic sight of a vodka tonic with a twist of lime but I can go to bars and parties without busting out in tears. Don't get me wrong, there are a few things that I owe to these years of sobriety. I haven't been in a fist fight, I haven't misplaced anything like a car or a bike or my house and I haven't come home from a party with someone else's underwear on. I am thankful for small miracles.
Copyright 1997 by Laura Jiménez.