(For Laurie and Heather and of course Jon Hamm)
Every occasion in America is a drinking holiday. I don’t drink, six years now. So my response; “I’ll pass thank you. ” That is all I say. I do attend the party, yes. Often if you don’t drink, and they know, well you don’t get an invite- so first, don’t take it personally.
The other parties, unless I feel it’s a bad idea; PMS or my dog pooped in my shoe that day, or Grandma died, what have you- sometimes you just skip it. Office Happy Hours, birthdays, baptisims, so many occasions sometimes I pretend to toast at the wedding, but I don’t drink it-I use water. Yes there are a lot of Champagne occasions in American Culture, my Sicilian and Irish make my thirst especially great for wine or beer; cocktails meh, who cares but, I can do it so….SO can you.
How do you know? Oh trust me anyone who has a problem with alcohol- they know. They just have to stop denying that they know; meet face with the bottle. In fact, they knew long ago, and yes I suspected it long ago myself, at like 21.
How do you even enjoy a party, a holiday, a wedding? HOW!!!!
There is still music? Maybe dancing, there is the old fashioned art of the conversation? Observe like a reporter just drink in the occasion not the booze, that is how. If it isn’t fun sober, well then you leave!
What if you are tempted, ya know -to drink they ask. We just think of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and that woman who yells in conversation when she drinks and makes an ass of herself, or picture the YOU you aspire to be and go there. The final image, the Bugs Bunny episode where he drinks poison and freaks out.
If a party atmosphere is like stale bread-and you KNOW cause you are tuned in completely; you get to bow out. Cause not drinking is all about doing what is good for you, not others, yeah true. It demands Always having an exit plan. “I have to go feed my neighbor’s Schnauzer while she is Bali.” Or I am harvesting a new crop of crossed Daisy Poinsettia’s and they thrive when I sing to them-I gotta go.”
Quite frankly and we get to be frank now cause after all, we are sober, the cold nips at me too and begs for that vision of holiday cheer ,the hot toddy or the Mexican hot cocoa with schnapps but repeat this if you wane in your worth “should I drink something that makes me want to be here, or should I just leave?”
No quick warming concoction in a glass, catching the light, it’s cherry bobbing just so in the delicate birth of fine crystal that is martini ware is worth it. Yes-it is unarguably sexy to sip; but is it worth sleeping with THAT guy or not being able to to find your car the next day or having your mouth form the words “l NEVER would have but I was SO drunk.” Even with that sugared rim, tomorrow you will not feel so sparkly. When the thought comes to me, when I think of my wine research expertise and forget the ugly, I un-hunch my shoulders and I pause to listen to my heart beating and my blood coursing and I honor what is real for me. Another tray, another waiter….I’ll pass thank you, I say again with more confidence.
I hear it asked every year. I hear it asked all year. It’s even asked without words. Your faces say it all, like a bad deodorant commercial, “what is your secret?” I hear the silent pleading as the tray passes by my nose at the Artic Room, or the Cloud Room, Top of the Towers, backstage; wherever there is swanky, cuush, gently worn velvet furniture and a marble table with bowl of fruit next to it that begs to be painted.
Don Draper does motivate me too. In my daydream, as he saunters over from the blazing oversized fireplace and says, “what are you doing later? “ Or “mine is organic Gingerale with lime and spritzer, what’s yours?” “No bitters I say and NO non-alcoholic beer “–yes we laugh simultaneously, they are off the table, we nod. Then someone visibly slurring clomps with the grace of an Irish setter over to us “ HOUUW , how do we do it? I look at her “We have arrived at the mystery of faith” I tell her. HUH? She says. “faith is being content with the mystery.” Have you heard that this week, I have heard that quote three times this week. I turn to Don, “Who said that anyway? “
SO in review how does one stomach being an alcoholic at Christmas time? We practice acceptance of others impressions, we accept that our vision of us has to be better than theirs. We let go of the haunting scarlet letter A that goes along with it. We practice the word – in front of the mirror while smiling. At first we welcome the bountiful tears. Hi, I am (Insert Name) or Lisa, or Steve or Roman, and we say it aloud “I am an alcoholic. But dear god, that is just the agreement. The agreement not to fight ourselves and the horrors and first deaths and last loves. Then we inspect it like courtroom attorneys layer upon layer, detail upon detail, upside down, kitty corner, aerial view, from the eyes of others, we inspect it like a corpse in an autopsy and we find one good thing. It is just a beverage after all?