I did not consume any alcoholic beverages from January 1 until March 22 … just about! There was one night when, with visiting relatives, I had a small martini and a bit of white wine, and one other night when, with an out-of-town guest, I had a few sips from a glass of white wine at dinner, to be sociable. Otherwise, dry! Or, I suppose, the King of Cranberry Juice Combos!!!
I have been mulling over a valedictory, and I think I’m ready. A bit of background first, though.
I decided on a 90-day break—from January 1 through March 31—late last year. I have always enjoyed some liquid refreshment at the end of the day. Never during the day, and not enough to get me in trouble, but when one of my partners said, “Do you, like, have a drink every day,” I responded, “Well, ya!” Frankly, I was consuming more than I wanted to, and I wanted to know I could stop for a sustained period of time.
My plan involved being very public about the matter. I thought I would need help, and I wanted to have my friends on my side, watching out for me. So I told lots of people. I told my Monday night crew, the Emperor Penguins trivia team, with whom I drink, eat pizza, and play trivia every Monday night. I told my “later in the week” buds, with whom I can be found at Kingfisher or the Arizona Inn at least once or twice a week. I told my nonprofit friends, who I would see here and there, whether for the express purpose of having a drink, or because alcohol is on the menu. (One couple—they know who they are—got the message at every turn!)
I also told Ms. J, for I would usually have a touch of gin if I was coming home directly from work, along with wine with dinner. I told my “therapist” law partner, to whom I tell most everything. And many others!
Observant readers will, by now, have gone back to the first and third paragraphs—you did, didn’t you?—to note the March 22/March 31 discrepancy. And that difference explains a big part of what I’m writing about.
I did not go the full 90, even if I don’t count the two “tweeners.” I did not stop early because I had to have a drink. Not at all! Instead, I failed to go the distance because I had travel plans on the morning of April 1, I had to leave on that date, and if I stuck by March 31 I would not be able to join my local pals for the first drink. The ones who watched me suck down the cranberry this-or-that, missing that “ahhh” moment that comes with the first sip of the Grover at Kingfisher or the fine martini at the Arizona Inn. The ones who told me I could not claim the check because “you only had juice.” The ones who were counting the days! I needed to share the moment with them.
No doubt, I enjoy alcohol. Like almost everyone who drinks, I’m much sharper, funnier, and better looking with a bit of C2H6O in my system. Really! But, and this is the big thing, for me it’s really about companionship. I like being with people, and in my milieu alcohol comes with the territory.
Being dry was easier than I expected it to be. I never once wandered over to the bar in the living room, was never tempted to have a sip, and while I counted the days when I was with friends, I did not find myself craving alcohol at all. In fact, I felt pretty good when I was off the sauce. I’m sure I slept better. As for my weight—alcohol consumers know about empty calories—we don’t keep a scale at home, but a couple of suits are baggier than they were, and one missed dinner and I’ll be wearing some suits I was ready to give away.
I don’t buy all of the “it’s good for you” claims. Everything I have ever read identifies a correlative relationship between moderate consumption of red wine and good health. That means many healthy people drink red wine, and they may be healthy for many reasons that relate to choices that correlate with drinking, but it does not mean red wine makes them healthy. Yes, what I read does tell me Resveratrol (a compound from grape skins) and antioxidants in red wine do have a positive effect on our health. But, Resveratrol can be consumed from a capsule and antioxidants can be found in many foods. And no, I’m unaware of any causative relationship between consuming alcohol and good health. Pray, enlighten me if you have such information!
So, I don’t buy the health claims. Except … I know this: I do like my socializing, my socializing works best with some ethyl alcohol, and I’m enjoying my end of day socializing again. (Why the cranberry juice didn’t cut it I don’t know.) And if I’m happy, I’m surely healthier than I would otherwise be.
So if you see me with a cocktail or a glass of wine, please smile and laugh at my jokes. (It’ll be easy, I promise!) And if you mention this post, your drink will be on me, as I really did miss picking up those checks.