{18/03/2012}   Alcohol, how funny and intelligent you make me feel

Believe it or not, I am not writing this because I have a hangover! Whenever I have a hangover, I wish I hadn’t drunk the night before. Obviously. Yet still I drink, and sometimes too much. I guess it’s because, referring to more extreme situations, I perceive the good (the night of drinking) to outweigh the bad (the ruined next day), which is annoying as that’s one night versus one day. Ignoring any bad experiences, and while not condoning the excessive consumption of alcohol, I have had some of my most bizarre, fun, crazy, soul-searching and memorable experiences while somewhat tipsy.

I have of course had a lot of memorable evenings when completely sober but that’s not what this is about, it’s not a comparison. I know someone who’s never drunk alcohol beyond merely trying it and I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to translate that into my drinking years, particularly as a student and when living and working abroad. My experiences would have been different is all I can conclude. I feel that there are friends with whom I’ve bonded because of mad drinking nights out. There have been confessionals, tears, mischief, arguments, experiments and lots of annoying-to-anyone-sober raucous conversations which to me at that time were full of impressive wit and intelligence.

Do you think the drunk you is a reflection of the real you? Alcohol breaks down inhibitions. An awkward or difficult evening can be made easier by a splash (ahem) of wine, say. After a challenging day, a wine or beer (or whatever your drink of choice) can give you that “ah, that’s better” feeling. As I write this and think about it, I can see how stressful times can lead to dabbling in alcoholism, but again that’s not what I’m trying to focus on.

I wish there were something good for you that you could take to make you feel drunk without any side effects, like a nibble of carrot or a stick of celery. But it wouldn’t be the same sitting in a bar with a jar of celery sticks in the middle of the table as sitting there nursing a beer or knocking back a wine. Maybe alcohol is an easy option. We think relaxation and fun come from alcohol and that’s been an impression fed into us since we first started on the bottle, as it were.

Sometimes I want to meet a friend after work but not go out for dinner. There are not many places in the UK where you can meet for a quick catch up without alcohol being served. Not many cafes are open in the evening, and anyway I don’t drink caffeine in the evening. I also don’t particularly want to pay a few pounds for a teabag of herbal/fruit tea. Plus, cafes don’t usually have the dark atmosphere that I associate with pubs and bars and that general air of bon viveur … which takes me round to associating uber cheeriness and pub buzz with alcohol.

I have always wanted to set up a video recorder and sit around drinking alcohol with a group of friends. I want to know what I’d think of me, of the conversation, looking at from a sober point of view. There are occasions I expect I would be horrified and embarrassed but I really do wonder whether the truth serum that is alcohol, albeit sometimes (usually?) an exaggerated truth, reveals/makes vulnerable your real self.


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