Friday, July 6, 2007

The Sobriety Dividend

I come from a family with a long proud historical commitment to the beer, wine and liquor industries. My grandfather on my mother’s side was reported to have told my grandmother, as she commented on his increasing intake of liquor, that in fact his alcohol intake had accelerated because he was now able to afford it. Thus he was able to crow at his fiscal prowess while simultaneously shutting down any dissent.

Many others; siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and even nieces and nephews; have tried valiantly to match my grandfather’s bravado. But none so successfully as myself. I mastered the art and honed it to a fine edge over nearly thirty-five years of alcoholic excellence. I even learned in the past decade to assert my ability to pay as I went (as my grandfather had done two generations before me) as an unchallengeable proof of my right to imbibe. And then when, despite my unimpeachable right to be sloshed, I was called a drunk, I copped to it. Yes, I said, I am a drunk, and I know it and I’m not going to hide it. So there. Stick that in your highball glass and drink it!

I was unassailable.

So why did I finally decide to kibosh the whole perfect scheme? Why, two and a half weeks ago, did I say “no more?” I have a laundry list of reasons; blood pressure, weight control, temper control, liver longevity; the list goes on. I made the decision the morning after a tiff that was not really pleasant. Honestly, it was pretty damn tame compared to what I used to get into, but as I age I find I’d rather not get into them at all. And Bonnie is always sore for a few days after even the smallest of these arguments and I want my baby’s love. That’s why (having scoured the house for any remaining booze and finding – and dispatching – just a half sip of gin and nothing more), I finally said “I guess it’s finally time.”

Of course staying off the sauce is the long-term challenge. I quit smoking nine months ago and that was really tough to do. That was a thirty-four year habit. And really, smoking is not a habit. It’s a nasty dirty shitty addiction. But I really quit this time. So I know I have the moral fiber or visceral wherewithal, or whatever it is, needed to succeed. So I’m just gonna do it. Plain and simple. No. More. Booze. For. Yar. Period.

The payoffs are all the things I listed above (you know – blood pressure, weight control, etc). But the payoff I hadn’t even considered when I made my fateful decision is the best of all. A rough estimate of the money I spent on getting shit-faced is $2,500 a year. When I mentioned this to Bonnie, she and I both had the same idea simultaneously. This is my sobriety dividend. This is money in the bank. This is a nice little vacation, or part of a great vacation. And since we both benefit from my quitting, it seems only fair that we both contribute equally to the little cash cache. Now that’s $5,000 a year and now we’re talking trips to Europe.

And now I just have to figure out how to order tonic water and ice in an English pub without crying.


Mary said...

Add some lime to the tonic water and it'll make it wonderful!

I salute you, and I'm proud of you. Maybe your gray matter isn't so departed as you think!

Mary :-)

Anonymous said...

Best of luck to you, I remember that same story about Dad from Gerry, but I am not sure you were the largest consumer of Alcohol in the family. Tony and David are and were heavy drinkers. None the less, less is best just as long as you keep it in the family.
Love, Tim