On Day One, very hungover, I did not drink at a party. This past week-end was my first dry party with my inner circle of supports and a real sense of clarity. I felt both strong and that I was in a sociological experiment.
My little posse got there on the earlier side, snacking and watching the last preparations of dinner. People were sipping some stuff, nothing out of the ordinary. Then the second wave came in and beers were out, Pimm punch poured, wines popped. Party on. Then the third wave came in hammered-the birthday boy and golfing gang were lit. Squinty eyes, red faced, blurry smiles and ready to bring the party up a notch.
One lady "disappeared" and was taken home suddenly with an drunk induced asthma attack, the golf gang kept up the pace even with gentle reminders from partners to drink some water now and then.
I heard someone say, "I love drunk [friend's name]!" I used to hear people say that about me. I was amusing and obnoxious when drunk. I had egos that got drunk themselves. I usually took it as a compliment, felt popular. I wondered if this praise fueled this guy's drunken ego too.
If I was drinking, and the more drunk came in, I would have hung out with them and done my best to join their level of fun as quickly as possible. I would have been oblivious to the conversations of amusement and concerns. I never considered that others would watch and assess my intoxication through my walk, face color, eye shape, slurs and topics of conversations. I wouldn't realize there was a population that did not find drunk me fun to be around. I always thought everyone was as drunk as me. When drunk my world was what was right in front of me, the rest of it faded away. I would have stayed until I was the last one there, slept like shit, been hungover all the next day, cancel the desert hike and ordered pizza.
Being on the outside of the drunk and looking in was a revelation; a theory turning to practice. I didn't miss out on anything by being dry. I could see the facade a little easier-surface level bonding, shallow conversations that looped or didn't make real sense. They were having fun, they really were, but I bet they paid for it the next day and had blurry memories of what made it fun in the first place.
Another thing I noticed was that the drunks didn't notice that I wasn't drinking. I bet they assumed I was as drunk as them. I know that was an assumption while I was drinking, and the next day it was a hope: for forgiveness or forgetfulness of whatever I might have said or done the night before. How often did I make a fool of myself around sober people when I didn't know they were around? I cringe thinking about it.
A good learning and self-reflection experience. I needed too. All of this is needed to remember why I need to keep on keeping on with my not drinking.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp