Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Foray into Beltramos

Last year for Christmas, I didn't purchase booze for anyone as a gift because it would've involved going into a liquor store. I wasn't too sure that would be a good idea, being only a little over three months sober at that point. Well, yesterday I took the plunge. I've now been sober for 15 months, so I decided to go into Beltramos to pick up a very special bottle for Chelle, who, God love her, still religiously hides her bottle of Makers Mark in the kitchen in the trash compactor (that we never use,) lest I be tempted to take a snort. (That has now turned into a joke between us since she knows that I know full well that the bottle is there.)

As it is, I actually do go into a small liquor store twice a week to buy my replacement addiction, Camel Snus. I like the Frost and Mellow flavors. I know; you're thinking this is a disgusting habit. Actually, not so much: there's no spitting or chewing; you just pop it into your mouth and hold it there for about a half hour, but as every one inevitably splits open at some point, I just remove it and toss it. Chelle calls them my "poo sacks." They are much lower in nicotine than regular tobacco, so it seems a minor thing when compared to binge drinking.

But I digress. The little liquor store selling the Snus is more like a corner convenience store (selling snacks, cigarettes, soda, lottery tickets, and coffee drinks as well as booze), so going in there never bothers me.

Beltramos is different. That place is a booze warehouse (the photo above just shows the entrance, going into the first room). It stocks everything from expensive single malt scotches to jug wine. It is a vast building with free wine tastings in the back room. When I was drinking, I'd typically go there once, maybe twice, a month and buy about $350 worth of liquor all at once. I didn't feel complete unless I had about a case of assorted wines at home, along with bourbon for Chelle, and makings for mai tais, margaritas, and martinis for me. I didn't drink the cheap shit, either. Light rum and dark rum (typically Meyers or Pyrat), Patron tequila, Grey Goose or Belvedere vodka. Half the pleasure of drinking was derived from the ritual of crushing the ice and measuring carefully, then either pouring and stirring or shaking, then adding the garnish. I made very pretty drinks, if I do say so myself.

And then I drank them.

And then I drank some more.

By the end of the night, I didn't care so much how pretty my drink was: I would be chugging bourbon straight out of Chelle's bottle if my stock was all gone.

So it was a weird feeling, wandering the aisles at Beltramos yesterday, knowing that anything I bought was not for me. I experienced a little bit of a sense of loss for something that I once thought had brought me so much pleasure (when, in reality, it didn't.) I remembered the rush I would get on my shopping jaunts here, not unlike Nick Cage at the beginning of Leaving Las Vegas, when he's filling up his cart with booze at the liquor store, looking forward to the upcoming bender that winds up his downfall. I experienced a bit of wistfulness, too, that for whatever freaky trick of nature, unlike most people, I'm unable to have any of this stuff anymore. They can have one drink and stop. I can't. I'm just not wired with the proper stopping mechanism. We alcoholics weren't born with a STOP button.

I left with Chelle's present and another I spied for her brother, and a couple of stocking stuffers from a gourmet candy display. Went home, wrapped the bottle, stuck it under the tree. There's nothing else to report.


FROG'S new PAD said...

AM i the only one who liked this one?? I ventured into one of these superstores about a week ago. Very weird. For me, a rare/'s a whole diff. culture!
thanx for writing about it

Joyce said...

Naw, most folks respond to these on Facebook.

The funny thing about a place like Beltramo's is that is reminded me of all the rituals associated with drinking that I used to enjoy. Every year for Christmas I would get new gadgets: wine charms, a shaker, stirrers, etc etc. When I got home from rehab, Chelle had removed every last bottle and all the accoutrements from the house. And the wine rack was filled with bottles of flavored sparkling water, LOL