Monday, June 11, 2012

Booze: That Pain in the Ass

I thought I'd pass along a strategy that has worked beautifully for me this vacation. An alcoholic like me thinks "Hawaii" and the next thought that pops into my head is "mai tai" or "tropical itch" or "Kona Brewing Longboard Lager." It's also true that whenever you're seated at a restaurant in the islands, the first thing you're offered is a mai tai, inevitably the house's specialty. It just so happens that the mai tai and the margarita used to be my favorite drinks--I spent the better part of my drinking life always in search of perfected versions of these two, and my opinion is that the best mai tai can be had on Oahu at the Mai Tai bar at the Royal Hawaiian.

In any case, I'm not about to blow almost three years of sobriety just because I happen to be on vacation. But white-knuckling it is no fun, either.

So here is what works for me.

The server delivers drinks to the next table, or to Chelle, and I go ahead and look. I mean, I take a good look. I remember how the first drink of the day would always be so good, so refreshing, the thing that capped off the picture perfect moment, and how quickly it would go down and how phenomenal it felt to get the initial rush of the impending happy buzz. I acknowledge all of that.

And then I let my mind click forward to what happens when the glass is empty.

I want another one. I do NOT want the buzz to leave. I do NOT want that sticky, miserable, headachy feeling of the happy buzz wearing off. So I order another one. And then another one, if I can get away with it. If I can't, I feel the anger and anxiety of having to stop, and the fidgety sensation of trying to concoct ways to get back to another bar--suggesting, "hey, let's take a walk down the beach," looking, looking, looking around, and "hey, that place has a Happy Hour right now, let's look in"--and so it would continue, me irritable and worthless for the remainder of the day and night, drinking more and more in a futile quest to reexperience that initial rush of the first drink, until eventually I fall into bed and pass out.

Because the truth is, once I have one, I can't stop, and the truth is, once I start drinking, I spend more time feeling miserable than I do feeling happy.

And that is enough to make any fleeting craving go away.  Drinking is too much of a pain in the ass.


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