|Cook’s California Champagne: Keeping it Classy since 1859|
Update Monday March 12, 2012: “Group Conscience” at my non-Atheist AA Home Group has ruled my run-in with three glasses of flat Cook’s champagne to be a ‘slip’ rather than a ‘relapse.’ (My atheist group, predictably, was disinclined to judge me either way.) That means I have 90 days since my pre-Christmas relapse! YAAAAY! I have been sober for all but 5 days in the last 9 months!
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I relapsed on half a bottle of Cook’s champagne that someone else left in the fridge.
How very dignified, Miss Margo. I mean, really. If I had to mess it up again, the least I could have done was drink something top-shelf. Cook’s champagne is basically the “classy” alternative to Thunderbird or Arbor Mist. In addition, it had gone flat, which contributed to its charm.
Drinking the champagne (“champagne!” ha! ha!) was both stupid and pointless. It was stupid because alcohol kills alcoholics. It was pointless because I did not even get drunk. A part of me is tempted to run to the store, buy a bottle of whatever, and at least finish the job.
However, I have enough of my wits about me (Cook’s–your champagne is ineffective!) to realize that getting blasted would be moronic. Spectacularly ill-advised.
Behold, gentle reader, the truly bizarre thinking of the addict: “Since I already had three glasses of Cook’s, I might as well get blackout drunk by myself in my apartment with my neon tetras.”
“Thank God you did not get inebriated and disgrace or endanger yourself or anyone else. Wouldn’t it be more fun to read the new issue of Harper’s that just came in the mail? Or paint your toenails, or stand in traffic, or ANYTHING other than get drunk? By the way, you know this shit is going to destroy your life if you keep doing it, right? You can still pull out of this with your health, intellect, and reputation intact. You can still have a future.”
Why would I even want to get drunk if I know what it feels like and its attendant consequences? Really. This is an honest question. It’s not as if it feels fun anymore. They call it “happy hour” for a reason: you feel good for about an hour. Getting drunk on a regular basis becomes very boring, and very redundant, very quickly. I wish that was the worst I could say about alcohol. I quit because it was making me feel badly, and then it started to get scary. I’ve heard stories in A.A. meetings that would turn your hair white. Horror stories. Comparatively, I started drinking late in my life, and drank alcoholically for only a few years (I am not trying to minimize my behavior). I was mostly a quiet, at-home drinker (I think women tend to be), and for most of that time, I was functional. I was never raped (to my recollection, ha ha), robbed, beaten up, thrown in prison, or thrown out of a bar. None of my friends were hard drinkers. I didn’t drink at school, at work, or when I was writing professionally (I confess: I did drink wine sometimes while grading freshman essays at night. You would drink if you had to grade them too, gentle reader. I assure you. One immortal line, which I shall never forget, was: “The Odyssey is like the movie Pirates of the Carribean (sic), only without Johnny Depp.” Yes yes, pass me the wine, please.)
The gist of that imperfect paragraph is that, compared to many drinkers, I got off light. Very light. Nor did I have any family to harm, thank God, thank God. But I’ll tell you something else: it was still so terrible that by the time I knew that I had to give it up, I was so miserable that I wanted to die. That is not an exaggeration. It was truly wretched. Astonishingly, it never occurred to me that soaking my brain in whiskey most nights out of the week might be a contributing factor in my unhappiness. I thought to myself, “I’ll stop when things get better! I’ll stop when things get better!” But see, I had it backwards–circumstances did not (indeed, could not) get better until I stopped.
And, as I mentioned above, things were starting to get scary, and that’s saying a lot. (Miss Margo was imprinted wrong, and so things (and individuals) that other people find frightening do not necessarily disturb her. Instead, she is frightened of other things, such as spending the night in bed with a man and then eating breakfast with him. FREAKOUT!!!) A small constellation of frightening and utterly unnecessary alcohol-related experiences which occurred within a two-month period of time. Some alcoholics experience a catastrophic, life-changing event which constitutes their “bottom;” I had a handful of smaller ones.
But it was enough. It was enough. It had become intolerable.
So, I dragged myself in to see the drug and alcohol counselor at the Campus health clinic. She had me complete an extensive survey about my drinking. It took an hour to finish. I was honest about everything.
I went back to see her and get the survey results a few days later. She looked up from her computer screen and calmly told me that I consumed more alcohol than, like, 94% of the college population.
So, how are we going to fix this…? I wasn’t physically addicted (yet), so I didn’t need detox or inpatient rehab. I could probably quit on my own volition without being strapped to a table in a fucking psych ward. Fortunately, we got to skip those parts.
I’ll tell you what, friends and neighbors. The options on the recovery menu for addicts in this country are very limited. One might say that it is indeed frix prixe. That is being generous.
Would you like Alcoholics Anonymous, or would you like Alcoholics Anonymous?
You. Have Got. To be shitting me.
Is this really the best you can do for us, modern psychiatry? AA? Thanks for nothing! They should force every M.D. to read The Big Book in their residency.
As you might infer from my tone, I am not a fan. I will refrain from further criticism, but I assure you, the catalog would make for some serious reading. I mean, they should play audio tapes of this book to torture the terrorists with at Gitmo.
If I said this at a meeting, at least a few people there would want to chop my head off and they would not be shy of telling me so (if you are in AA, you know exactly what I’m talking about). Think of those crazy Arab dudes who went homicidal over the cartoons of Mohammad in that Dutch magazine.
I fear their wrath and their spam and hateful hatemail, so I’ll shut up now.
Fortunately, I live in New York City. There are AA meetings here for everyone. There is probably an AA meeting for tran-sexual turkeys somewhere.
I found a few meetings for people like myself. They help. My personal belief is that AA helps because it re-connects you to the human race. By the time you actually get there–you know, show up for the first time–you’ve pretty much dropped out of life. It’s the individuals and their stories that have helped me, rather than ‘The Program.’
I am so, so glad that I spent two hours writing this blog post instead of getting drunk. It is not the best blog post I have ever written, but I enjoyed writing it. Writing is definitely better for me than drinking. Must remember that.
Three glasses of Cook’s is not the end of the world. Boy, did I ever dodge that bullet. Believe me, if I was sitting here drunk right now (and I would be, watching nature vids on YouTube or some random thing), I would be feeling as if it was the end of the world. As every police officer, bouncer, and prosecutor will tell you, booze does not exactly enhance the accuracy of one’s, ahh, perspective.
Tell you what–every time I really want to drink, I am going to sit down here and type out a scene from my drunkalogue. Not to shame myself, but to keep the terror of what that was like fresh in my mind. That is accurate perspective.
P.S. I CANNOT WAIT until I’ve recovered enough that I don’t have to maintain it all the damn time. This is hard work. It’s also ANNOYING.