Alcohol is one of the few requirements of a social life that is almost impossible to eliminate, no matter how much it may make sense or be beneficial to do so. To eliminate alcohol would be to shut off the most heavily travelled avenues of human fraternization. Alcohol is the ice-breaker, the fire around which we gather to meet new people and discuss our lives.
One of the fondest memories I have is of sitting on a porch and drinking three bottles of wine with Patrick. We talked, we laughed, we reminisced and looked ahead.
There is something about the give and take of talking and drinking. You speak, you make your point, you sip on your wine as your companion replies. As you drink the wine, you drink in the words, listening intently and enjoying intensely. In the silence, you both sit there and take in another drink, sitting and smiling in the quiet reprieve, the cottony red staining your lips and lingering in the back of your throat.
Alcohol is the adult ice-cream, the awaited and expected treat at the end of a long day. If there were booze-trucks that played music and moseyed around the cul-de-sac, there would be adults running down the street. I’m sure that’s a thing, somewhere.
Alcohol is a display of personality: order a scotch and that reveals insight into your character. Taste in beer reflects taste in general. Wine, even more so.
I drink often, especially lately, but I am beginning to do so reluctantly. I derive almost no joy from getting–as they say–“fucked up.” Yet to be a twenty-something trying to scale the seemingly insurmountable rock face that is socialization, alcohol is billed as the only tool. Get fucked up, get rowdy, get to know each other. Make memories you’re likely not to recall in the morning.
The activity of choice is always to “meet up for drinks.” If the plan isn’t to meet up at a bar, but rather, say, to just hang out at somebody’s apartment, the expected move is to bring some form of alcohol–a bottle of wine or a six pack of beer–and to fail to do so would be considered a faux pas. This I do not mind so much, but still find interesting. When did this tradition start?
Beyond the expectation that any and all plans will incorporate alcohol is the notion of “another.” Always another. I’ll have another, let’s get another, we’ll have another round. To stop at one is to be the weirdo. I am often the one who only gets one drink at the bar. It never goes unacknowledged. I can’t help but feel that at the end of the night, that extra $8.00 Bud Light isn’t going to add anything to the night except a loss of $8.00 and another trip to the bathroom to piss it out.
Maybe all of this just stems from my general frugality and my aversion to going out and meeting people at bars. I think I’m agoraphobic, thus crowded bars aren’t my happy place. I don’t want to go to a bar unless it’s to see people I know already, and if I’m going to see people I know already then we’ve got better things to do than go to the bar. I don’t like most people I see at bars. Trying to meet women at the bar seems like a waste to me, as I feel that any worthwhile woman isn’t going to be some chick I bought a drink at the bar.
Maybe I just go to the wrong bars.
I’m not hungover as I write this, so that isn’t a contributor to my current hostility towards alcohol, but as I write this I do know that I’ll probably go out to a bar again and drink within the next few days. Today, even, I might go to the bar down the street for Happy Hour, get a three dollar pint and sit there, trying to become a regular. Maybe I’ll bring a book. That sounds kind of nice. I understand that this contradicts everything I’ve already written, sort of.
Alcohol is so ingrained in almost every aspect of adult life that it cannot be outrun. To cut it out is to alienate yourself. It’s like religion. Whether or not you partake, religion contributes to your day-to-day life. We live in a world built by religion. Its fingerprints are on everything, as are the fingerprints of alcohol. It wouldn’t be hard to argue that we live in a world built by alcohol. What does that say about our world?
The more I try to write this, the more I find myself flip-flopping–and I think that’s almost the point. Every part of me wants to condemn drinking and bars, but I can’t. I think of all these situations in my life where alcohol isn’t necessarily necessary, but I’d include it either way.
If I were to plan a romantic evening with a woman (one I would not have met at a bar), it would undoubtedly incorporate alcohol. There would be red wine, or I would make an old-fashioned in a pathetic attempt to be impressive.
If I went on a tropical vacation and found myself sitting on the beach, I would probably want a piña colada.
If I endured some form of heartbreak or tragedy, I’d probably get black-out drunk and wake up next to an empty bottle of Wild Turkey.
When I next see my grandfather, I plan on having a glass of Port wine with him and my father from a bottle we’ve been saving since our trip to Portugal fifteen years ago. My father isn’t a drinker, but likes this notion as well. It was actually his idea. That’s how deep alcohol’s roots are.
The mythos of alcohol is impossible to tear down. I hate it. I love it. I love to say I hate it and I hate to say I love it. But I love it. And I anticipate that I’ll spend the rest of my life attempting to condemn it as I begrudgingly walk up to the bar for another round.