Friday, November 04, 2011


Alcohol and I go way back.

I can't remember the first time I ever tried booze, though I assume it was a tiny sip of champagne on New Year's Eve or something like that. But I do remember my friend R and I visiting the house of the hot Mexican boy she had a crush on. We made screwdrivers with vodka from his parents' liquor cabinet and listened to the Cure and talked about stupid things and laughed longer and louder than necessary.

And in the fall of 1997, I went clubbing with my friend T almost every weekend because alcohol helped me numb the pain of losing my mom far too young to a horrific disease. We usually went to the now-defunct Gators at the Mall of America. I'd drink too many Midori sours and wind up dirty dancing with some nameless bro on the dance floor. I left the seduction behind on the dance floor, but I remember passing out in her backseat once while she furtively blew a guy in the parking garage.

I never drove drunk, but I'm sure I was in a car at some point being driven by someone who was drunk, and that absolutely horrifies me. Working where I do, I know all too well the devastation that a drunk driver can cause. I've seen photographs of a bicyclist killed by a drunk teenager in his daddy's Escalade; he wasn't even identifiable as human anymore. And I'll always remember sitting in the call center listening to a man whose daughter had been broadsided by a drunk driver and killed instantly. She was taking her children (both of whom escaped with minor injuries) to see Santa Claus. He sobbed, "How do I tell them what happened to their mom? What kind of God lets this happen? They're only 2 and 5! They're never going to really know their mom!"

It was Christmas Eve.

I didn't drink for months after that.

Then I moved to California, and although I still enjoyed the occasional pub crawl or bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade, I didn't get completely schnockered either...

...until the Great Van Nuys Drunkening of '04, when I drank countless amaretto sours in a dive bar and woke up in a grungy motel room with no recollection of how I even got there and a hangover that lasted for literally two days.

That scared the ever-loving fuck out of me.

Fortunately I was with friends who wouldn't have let anything happen to me, but that feeling I had when I opened my eyes and had no idea where I was or how I got there? I never wanted to be in that position again. So I quit alcohol for good.

How long did that vow last? I think for about one month, because I know I had a mai tai on my first date with G.

See, I like alcohol, and I don't want to give it up entirely. I can share an exquisite bottle of Cristal with G and his family on New Year's Eve, or happily toast to a Vegas birthday weekend with a cheap frozen daiquiri in a plastic cup. And next month when I'm in London, I can have a pint in a pub and not worry about falling onto the subway tracks.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing anymore.