While I commonly discuss the angst of building a whisk(e)y collection, or the perils of finishing a really important bottle, I rarely if ever discuss the emotional hazards of drinking itself. While I was lucky enough to be born without the alcoholic gene, I still struggle with daily issues concerning how much to drink, the right time to let loose, and the effect all of this consumption is taking on my body. On top of that, there’s the drawback of behavior modification – namely, that my increased intake of alcohol has seemed to shorten my patience and raise my overall stress level. Much like the habit of smoking a cigarette becomes engrained into one’s daily rituals, the act of drinking after work or on a day off has become permanently ensconced into my schedule. Because of the frequency at which I drink, the potential for mayhem is high and needs to be controlled.
Today was a day of serious reflection for me. I think I’m still blowing bits of last night’s quinoa salad out of my nose after it came spewing out this morning – too much wine, followed by too much whisky. I rarely get hung over, but I was a complete wreck for the first half of the day. Sure, we all drink too much every now and again, but last night was about more than just decadence. I feel like the stresses that come from considering what to drink can sometimes lead to more drinking. Take last night’s situation for example – I opened a bottle of red wine that no one wanted to drink. I didn’t know that no one liked red until after I had opened it and it just happened to be a somewhat special bottle. Now that the cork had been pulled, I wasn’t about to just sit there and let it go to waste (plus, my pride had been hurt just a tad) so I proceeded to drink the whole thing myself, as if doing so would prove to the naysayers how they had really missed out. What a terrible move.
I’ve always had a loud voice and I’ve always had a rather brash sense of humor. The problem with having both of those questionable characteristics is that alcohol can act as an enhancer of your absolute worst qualities. Again, after completely going over my limit and moving on to whisky, I apparently walked around my apartment complex in my pajamas saying God knows what at an intolerable level. For someone who doesn’t get embarrassed easily, this was quite humiliating. Not that I was in my pajamas, or that I can sometimes have a filthy mouth (both are things that would never bother me, only others), but that I had let alcohol take personality traits that I struggle to control and let it completely undo all of my hard work. All of the attention seeking actions of a pompous young adolescent came pouring out of my mouth as fast as the booze did from the bottle. All of the embarrassing traits of my youth that I have tried to put behind me – the obnoxious jokes, the desire for people to like me at any cost – all of them on display, like a circus sideshow.
So, as I sit here solemnly at my desk and type this confessional for the blog, I’m hoping that everyone takes their appreciation of alcohol seriously. It’s not only alcoholics who have something to fear from over-consumption. Everyone who has any inkling of self-respect can be in danger when the booze begins to flow like water. I’m sure I’ll be back on the horse tomorrow evening, but every step back needs to be remembered. Alcohol is very, very fun – when enjoyed responsibly (and sometimes irresponsibly). However, it’s also a truth serum, a mood changer, and a possible key for unlocking some of your worst personal demons. Make sure that you enjoy your alcohol, but also make sure that you understand its power. It has the power to inspire, to motivate, to awe, and to enhance, but it also has the power to destroy. I try and be a better person everyday and sometimes I forget that one of my biggest pleasures in life can also hinder me from this path. Make sure you’re aware of alcohol’s serious potential before you get potentially serious about alcohol. This isn’t a public safety message, it’s an attempt to spare you all from making bad decisions about life in addition to all the attempts to spare you from bad whisky.
As someone who works in the industry I feel it's important to address the realities of booze every now and again - even the negative ones. The one positive about this experience is I realize the importance of my situation and that I get another chance to try and be better. Alcohol can be funny that way. Maybe that's why I keep coming back. Not to repeat the past indulgences, but to learn from them. As we learn about booze, hopefully we can learn about ourselves as well.