Press ‘Play’ for some appropriate tuneage: Black Label Society – 13 Years of Grief (from the killer album Skullage). Lyrics at the bottom of the post, yo.
Here’s the latest photo i’ve added to my Self Unemployed: Help Wanted page. i came across it on my way to work the other day and didn’t realize how brutal it truly was until i came back home and started playing with it. i’ve included a couple alternate versions as well.
Bar None Dregs
Just a little update on my sobriety. Since the Incident That Shall Not Be Named (the one where i got drunk, took massive amounts of pills to kill myself and spent 2 weeks in the hospital—but you didn’t hear it from me), i quit drinking and smoking. With cigarettes costing as much as they do now, i can’t afford to smoke and with drinking doing what it does to me, i can’t really afford to do that anymore either. May 11, 2011 was my 4 month sobriety day, s’what i’m saying.
In related news, i’ve changed the bio that pops up at the bottom of every post to reflect this new state of being me. i no longer refer to myself as “a functioning alcoholic (meaning i’ve held the same job for 17 years and have been living with Miss Demeanor for over a year now…)”, but have switched it to: “a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can’t do something well, it’s best to just give it up)”. Plus, it’ll be 3 years come June for Miss D and i.
Thanks for still coming by even if i’m not cool anymore ’cause i don’t drink.
Just kidding, you and i both know i’m cooler than ever and i’ve got the goods to prove it.
“13 Years of Grief” by The Black Label Society off Skullage
Looking at the words, i think i musta confused the lyrics and thought he was saying “13 Years of Drinking”. Oh well, i’ll keep it here anyway because it’s still pretty fitting.
You’re so fuckin’ tough, so motherfuckin’ bad.
13 Years Of Grief, is all your folks ever had.
Just and ignorant cunt, talking such shit.
Tryin’ to act act like a man,
You little fuckin’ punk kid.
Yeah! Son, look at you now!
Yeah! Son, look at you now!
Day of court, day of fear, in walks the judge.
Half a year, nothing less. No he wouldn’t budge.
Hand over your belongins, and your motherfuckin’ soul.
That’s the joy of life,
Six months in the hole.
Yeah! Son, look at you now!
Yeah! Son, look at you now!
You wrecked your mother, yeah you beat her down.
Teachers can’t protect you, when your friends are ’round.
What’s so tough, so motherfuckin’ bad.
13 Years Of Grief, is all your folks ever had.
Yeah! Son, look at you now!
Yeah! Son, look at you now
To begin with, i, Al K Hall, (Temporal) Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, am the author of the article. Wayne and Rodney, two regulars here in the Bar None, had nothing to do with that particular piece. Wayne is mentioned in that post because he led me to the pictures of kids “drunk on chocolate”. Rodney is mentioned in the post because he told me about the first article one the page: the Aussie who got drunk and petted the crocodile. Neither of them knew about your story or even read about your story until after i published it. So, please take your justifiable anger out on me and me alone.
Looking back on my article about you, i see clearly that i crossed a line. You are not the first person to contact me concerning my writing about them (Talitha Gorea did in the comments section of this post and my Booze Talkin’ Interviews started after an actress, Gabrielle Chapin, contacted me to complain about my comments concerning her movie Final Destination 4) but, rereading what i wrote about you was the first time i felt uncomfortable about something i’d written.
i try to walk a fine line between humor and respect in my articles and i clearly could not walk that line straight when i wrote what i did about your situation. i sincerely apologize for any embarrassment you may have suffered because of my words and look forward to making it up to you if you would care to explain how i might do that, either here in the comments section or in response to the private message i sent you. i would also love to tell my readers your side of the story if you would do me the honor of entrusting me with it. Please let me know.
From the juiced-box and dedicated to ITSB: Jason Brown – We’re All In The Same Boat
In my rush to flush out last night’s dregs i did the undoable and neglected to give a hearty shout out to In the Same Boat. A regular commenter here and on other non/drinking blogs, Boat is the go to god for all that concerns recovery. In addition, he also was the first ever to guest post in the Bar None when he wrote the original Manifestive.
Artist’s Hallucination of what this must’ve looked like
From the juiced-box and a testament to me…
For me, suicide was not a philosophical decision, it was an alcohological miscalculation.
Swallowing 8 prescription sleeping pills and more than 100 Nighttime Tylenol (i lied to every doctor who asked and told them i’d only taken around 25-30—fuck, i didn’t want to sound crazy) simply seemed like a good idea at the time.
The upside? Because you know there’s always an upside. The upside was that, in addition to the tatooed bruises, scrapes and cuts i don’t remember getting, i almost got to suffocate in my own vomit and die like Jimi Hendrix.
Earlier that evening i’d been to a grown up cocktail party with Miss Demeanor. You could tell it was a grown up party because it was in an artist’s apartment, all the furniture was white and there were tons of gay men there. Oh yeah and we drank only wine. Personally, i drank loads of it…exactly how much no one can be sure but my consumption was measured not in glasses but bottles.
i don’t remember getting home just like i don’t remember getting the idea to overdose. Knowing me as i do, i suspect the main reason erupted from a dread of going to work the next day with a hangover. Add to that some financial troubles that have been piling up like bills and peaked when i received an expulsion notice upon returning from my Christmas vacation.
Another big inducement was that i wanted to see what would happen next. Either i’d die or end up in a hospital and i was kinda curious to see which one it would be.
After the decision, i remember taking the pills from my nightstand and telling Miss D that i loved my kids, my parents, my sister, my ex and that i loved her. i insisted that she remember this message.
Next thing, i was sitting at the desk with a fistful of capsules in my sweaty hand and, even as drunk as i was, i knew that i was on the edge of something and i had to decide to look or to leap. i reprimanded myself for being a wuss, commanded myself to man up and swallowed the tablets. Then i went to the medicine cabinet for the second bottle of Nighttime Tylenol and emptied the contents of that one as well.
Hiding the various pill containers at the bottom of the trash, i commended myself on my foresight through double vision.
After that, my evening went downhill. i sat down at the computer, posted a message to this blog, then to another blog (“No one loved life as much as me”, or something of that ilk), and then i started posted posting to my 3rd blog and this is what came out:
Never meant for some one as beu(ètttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttyyyyhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggguuuuuuuuuuuuuuyuu s= asyymh
Knowing me as i do, i’m guessing this is a reference to Don McLean’s “Vincent”. (“And when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night, you took your life as lovers often do.”)
i woke up on my back in ICU with my wrists strapped to the bars of my hospital bed. Ironically, the biggest danger came not from the sleeping pills but the Tylenols. i quickly made my way out of the woods concerning the sedatives but Miss Demeanor, myself and the rest would have to wait another 24 hours to discover if i’d recover or die from liver failure. And i did. Just joshing. Here i am.
To conclude, allow me to reiterate what i stated at the beginning of this horrifically boring and sexless post. i did not want to kill myself because of any profound sadness or psychic surrender. i had not been walking around contemplating suicide days before the incident. i was feeling a little pressured by life, but i would not have done what i did if i hadn’t been drunk. Alcohillogical.
Stop Reading Here
A quick disclaimer. While i attempted to pen this post with a certain degree of levity, i do want to acknowledge very clearly that for those in my entourage, there was nothing at all even remotely amusing in all of this. This is especially true for Miss D and my 16-year old son who found me the next morning and had to call the EMTs. My son (and i would not have taken the pills if i’d remembered he was staying with us that night) refused to talk to me for 3 weeks after the event, while Miss D and i are still battling the ramifications.
You know how you resign from a job, and all your work colleagues want to take you to the pub and get you hammered? Ply you with booze, perhaps engage in a few physical challenges midway through the evening and hopefully find you hooking up with a young nubile hottie out with her friends? Maybe even a little out-of-tune karaoke? Or a lot? You know how you look forward to that impending drink-fest with only the merest hint of fear that you could find yourself bondaged to a train carriage on your way to Christ knows where, with no wallet and no phone? Or waking up naked tied to a light pole on a major intersection with an entire used roll of clingfoil nearby? Actually, that last one sounds like a standard Sunday morning at my place…!
To find out why this picture is here, keep reading.
The classic scene of the final-day-at-work-booze-up ended up happening to yours truly at the end of last year, when I resigned from my job at a transport company, a position I’d held for about 6 years. My work image was one of relative abstinence from alcohol, an image I’d tried hard to subvert with conversations about a bottle of wine I’d drunk the weekend before, or how I used to party a lot in my younger days – stuff I’d make up to sound cooler than I actually way. The day I announced my resignation to the office, was the day at least three people came up to me and proclaimed that on my last day, they were going to get me absolutely smashed and make me make a fool of myself. I could only utter one single phrase: bring it on.
From The Juiced Box – Jimmy Barnes: Cheap Wine :
I’ve mentioned before here at the Bar None that I’m not the worlds biggest drinker – I like the casual wine or Rum+Coke, but I very rarely drink to excess. Al’s made a living regaling us all with his stories of drunken excess (much of which can be attributed to his recent lack of visibility here at the Bar None) and while it would make me feel better to say that I can drink along with the best of them, I’m afraid to say, I can’t.
So when the date of my impending a-drink-alypse was set, so was the date for my liver to potentially collapse. Warn the ER, I may be comin’ in. The final day, of course, was pretty easy for me, with my feet up on the desk shrugging my shoulders at all and sundry who thought I’d still be doing some work. Idiots! As a going away present, they gave me an inflatable sex toy in the form of a sheep, as well as a voucher to spend on my other favourite thing: BluRays.
Rodney with his ex-work colleagues at the Bar None...
But the main event was to come. Around 6.30, a number of us arrived for our session at a local drinking establishment (no, I’m not proud to admit that it wasn’t The Bar None!), and I proceeded to start on my first drink. It was a well mixed Rum & Coke, my drink of choice for writing myself off. My wife had decided to drop me off at the bar, and return home to baby-sit my daughter, which was nice of her – especially considering I’d done the same for her the weekend before! Essentially, I was a man out on the town without a leash: a combination of freedom and alcohol makes for a very tipsy Rodney before the night is out.
Since I arrived first (to my own going-away party… what’s with that?) I had to buy my own drink first, which I did, but as I sat down to enjoy it and listen to the godawful dance beats pumping over the speaker system, several of my now-former work colleagues arrived as well. The most common question I was asked that night, as far as I can recall amidst the blur of wonky floorboards and puking in the bushes out the back of the bar, was “how many have you had?”, referring to the quantity of drinks, of course. After about the fifth drink, I couldn’t remember how many I’d had. Not to mention that my drinks were coming with such alacrity that I couldn’t even finish one before I had another in my hand, and you can imagine that had I been in any condition to allow my brain to function properly, I still would’ve had no idea.
Getting ready to start drinking...
After a while, I started to feel very sleepy: it’s a well established fact that instead of getting even funnier and more verbose than I already am, when I have a bit to drink I start to get tired. So there I am, slumped on one of the seats at this bar, a couple of people propping me up and asking me if I needed another drink, when all I wanted was to lie down and go to sleep. But I pushed through. For a while. Funny how you get to the stage where you suddenly realise that you no longer have control over your body, and can recall that moment with absolute clarity later on.
A while later – it could have been and hour or five minutes, I wouldn’t know – I started to get that feeling in my gut that things weren’t right. I’d had a little bit for tea, but probably not enough to stop the vomit-instinct I knew would kick in soon. Sure enough: heave… a bit of a swaying stomach made me reach for one of my mates and ask him to carry me to the lavatory. He and another of my friends do so, with my feet dragging along the floor as I feel them go out from under me. Propped up in the dank, squalid cubicle, smelling a bunch of piss and poo around me, I tried to keep whatever monster was in my guts from breaching the surface. Fuck you man, my gut responded. But I swallowed hard, and forbade a vomit event.
The drinking begins...
I was dragged outside by my now-concerned mates, and as I stood there against a railing, overlooking a nicely hedged sunken garden, I unloaded. All that rum and coke came back up, a creamy stream of projectile chunder looking more like chicken soup than stomach contents. At the same time as it sickened me, I was quite impressed: I don’t think I’ve ever thrown up so hard or so much apart from having a stomach upset. My mates patted me on the back… well, one of them did. At the same time as I was having a conversation with the bushes below and emptying my tea into them, a quite attractive woman came up and started chatting to one of my mates: ostensibly seeing if I was okay, but secretly I think she was trying to pick up. The mate who was being chatted up suddenly seemed to forget I was there.
Immediately after my spewgasm, I began to feel better. I didn’t know it at the time, but this feeling would pass. In the moment, though, I decided to get back to the bar, and my other friends, and keep drinking. My legs still wouldn’t work right, so I was half-carried, half-staggered back to the bar, propped up on a stool, and made to drink more. I say “made” when I really mean “self inflict”. A few Jager Bombs later (a mixture of Jagermeister and Red Bull), and I was completely, utterly, irrevocably fucked. And by fucked I mean totally smashed. I didn’t even know which way was up. I think it was to the left, but I wasn’t sure.
The drinks are taking effect.
After a few drinks (I think), I began to feel horrific again, and once more asked to be taken outside where I could safely release my stomach again into the bushes. I did so. But at that point, somewhere in the fog my brain called “thought”, I realised I’d had enough. I was beyond fucked, and I had a wife and child back home to get to – if I thought a taxi would stop and pick me up, I might have fumbled my way through the process. But the wife of a good mate came out, I grabbed her arm and asked her to take me home, in the most forceful manner I could. Not because I hated her or anything, but because I wanted to impart just how fucked I was, and how important it was for me not to be offered any more drinks.
She and her husband slid me into their car, and while my guts probably had no more contents to eject anywhere, I wasn’t about to take a chance. I grabbed an old McDonald’s bag stashed in the back seat and held it to my face like an aircraft sick-bag, and we began the journey back to my place. A journey which seemed to go on forever, with all the lights, motion and sounds of a city in party mode (it was a Friday night, after all) scrambling rational thought and creating a discombobulating discordance that made me even more disoriented. They dropped me out the front of my place, where I staggered down the back to where the garage door opened as I fumbled with my keys. I was going to go in the back door, since I didn’t want to wake the good wife, and with our bedroom quite close to the front door, thought the sound of me struggling with something as complicated as a fucking door lock might cause a reaction I didn’t need. The fact that she’d left the front door unlocked, and had told me she would before I even left, had been forgotten.
Really starting to feel it now....
I couldn’t open the back door. The exterior light had blown, and blown good, which meant the moonlight dampened by a think band of cumulonimbus had to be enough. It wasn’t, and I think I stood at the back door for about fifteen minutes convinced I’d be able to pull an Ocean’s 11 out my ass and get inside. I staggered back, and slumped against the car parked there behind me. God I was tired. I don’t recall ever being so tired in my life, at least, not this week anyway. I decided to rest my head on the back of the car, just for a moment. Moment. Moment. Several moments. Waking with a start, and wondering just how long I’d stood sleeping on the car like an idiot, I made the decision to go in the front door, my memory suddenly recalling the open-door policy we’d instigated that night.
Stumbling through the front door with the subtlety of a hamstrung elephant, I slid down the hallway to the lounge, where I was going to sober up a little. On my way, I grabbed a bucket from the laundry to catch any future vomit (one can never be too sure) and slid, sighing with gratitude, into the soft, cushiony embrace of our modular lounge. By this stage, I’d started to think about what had happened during the night: I had gaps, and that wasn’t a good sign. But I don’t think I did anything untoward, except the bit with the vomit…. and that was to be expected.
Been here? Let us know!!!
My evening ended with me waking up at about 6am, a carpet-mouth and slightly fuzzy head, getting a drink of water (the first of many that day…) and going to bed. My wife woke up a while later, and left me there (so she said) to sleep it off. To this day, the best recollection I have of the night is a gallery of photos on Facebook, the contents of which I’ve shared through this article. Considering a photo of the tits of the “Hottest Girl At Work” was taken (see photo below) and I don’t even remember it, I consider the evening to be the highlight of my life thus far.
So why recount this story? I know it’s not that alarming, nor is it the wildest night many of you have ever seen, heard or participated in. I didn’t wake up tied to a pole with clingwrap, nor did I find myself naked on a train bound for somewhere I didn’t know; for a casual drinker such as myself, though, I thought I managed to scrape through a potential disaster like getting hammered into oblivion with a great deal of fortitude. I didn’t embarrass myself (any more than normal), nor did I injure myself or anybody else in my efforts.
However, the following day, when I went to pull my keys from the pocket of my jeans, I pulled out a condom. I don’t carry condoms as a matter of course, because I have a wife and always know I’m faithful to her, but it did surprise me. My investigations revealed that one of my friends had decided it’d be a good larf to put a condom in my pocket for the wife to find when she washed my clothes… yeah guys, a great larf!
So I ask you, dear reader: tell us your best drunken story. We want details, and the gorier and more insane, the better. Drinking stories make me laugh hard, I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because in order to achieve them we must make ourselves truly inebriated, a consequence of too much drink, but it’s a choice we make, and the consequences can often be hilarious [Ed: They can also be downright dangerous, but we aren't here to pass judgement on those who drink to excess!]. The comments section below awaits your tale of drunk. Get to writin’.
Here’s the official press release. Dry as a heave it may be, but there you go:
Just to let you know, after a stay of 10 days, i’m out of the hospital and doing well. Unfortunately, the computer died while i was there (right now i’m on the expresso‘s laptop) so i won’t be able to give you all the dirt for the moment.
Please know i’ve read all your comments, even if i don’t have the time for the moment to respond, and your support in this trying time is very much appreciated. i’ll be keeping you ‘posted’.
Just like one of those slow claps in the movies, others have joined the groundswell that was In The Same Boat’s Manifestive. The latest addition to the team is Rodney from Fernby Films, as regular as anyone else here at the Bar None. i’d like to thank him for taking the time to write all this stuff down, and if you’re half as decent as i know you are, you’ll thank him too in the comments down under.
By the way, if anyone else out there lurking in the shadows of the Bar None feels inspired to write a treaties of your own, you’re more than welcome to fertilize this grass roots movement with your own shit. The more the drunker, as i always say.
With that, i turn you over to Rodney and his “Non-drinker’s Manifestive”.
From the Juiced-box and dedicated to Rodney, i give you AC/DC – Have a Drink On Me.
[Press 'Play' for real men at work]
I write this homily somewhat in response to In The Same Boat’s article from earlier this month, in which he captures the essence of the struggling alcoholic perfectly. It’s also a kind of manifesto of my own – on why I don’t get plastered every weekend alongside some of my work collegues and friends.
I’ve hung about the Bar None for a while now, at least I think long enough to be justified in some comments on what I’ve noticed around the place. Al’s been kind enough to spot me a drink on the odd occasion, and the stool at the end of the bar, down there near that fella with the biker beard and knuckle-dusters, that’s my usual haunt. I’m far enough away from the general patronage to not be one of them, and close enough to hear what the hell goes on down there. Some of the behaviour among patrons of the Bar None, while certainly amusing at times, occasionally is quite disturbing – the drunken actions of the folks by the dart board, the near misses in the mens urinal, and the rather sloppy egress via the front door notwithstanding, generally people keep themselves upright and shipshape on most occasions. But not all. Sometimes, it’s not pretty.
I write as somebody who isn’t a shambolic drunkard, a rambling slurperson (great wordplay Al, if I may say so) imbibing far more alcohol than is sensible for a person of my particular body weight; instead, I write as an observer, a casual drinker with little experience at gutter-waking or toilet-barfing. Which, considering where I live, is pretty weird. Weird in what way, Rodney? Glad you asked, valiant reader.
Australia, which most people know as a former English penal colony, has become a modern semi-utopian drinkers paradise, with some of the most lax drinking laws anywhere in the alcoholic world. Although the legal drinking age is 18, most school age kids plaster themselves across side-walks and recreational reserves across the country just about every weekend, such is the ease with which substance abuse can be obtained. Our claim to fame isn’t just the best ever Olympic Games ever held anywhere in the known cosmos, but for the hard-drinking, Kangaroo riding, sheep herding cattle rustling Ned Kelly shooting ball-sack flicking manly man image presented in various films and TV shows we export across the globe: an image not entirely unwarranted, but far from the actual truth. Paul Hogan fucked us forever with his Crocodile Dundee character, the release of which caused a seismic shift in perceptions of Australia from a baby-eating-dingo one to a “THAT’S-a-knife” knockabout larrakin one – an image which has gradually caused more embarrassment than pride in recent years. It’s like saying the entire population of Tennessee is representative of the population of America. Steve “Shove my finger up a snakes ass and see what it does” Irwin didn’t help matters either, and for his entire life was something of an embarrassment as well; the ocker drawl mixed with the insane bravado of a man with no fear portrayed all over the Discovery Channel. As much as the world now loves Irwin since his death, in life he was once considered a national embarrassment.
But our drinking, the national pastime outside of riding roos and rooting Koalas, is the one thing we can all agree on. Hell, we even stake a claim at having invented the stuff, thanks to Yahoo Serious and his eternally stupid film Young Einstein. Australians claim to be the world best drinkers; a reputation built on our love of sport – drinking at the various venues around the country has increased in recent years as our standards, and our love of the fine drop, has increased as well.
Adelaide, sitting comfortably on the coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia (look it up on a map if you don’t know!) is situated between two major wine regions of our state, and just to the left of another wine-region of growing potential. We have two major beer producing brewery’s in the city, West End and Coopers, which supplies not only our entire state, but pretty much the entire country with their amber ale. To the south, the McLaren Vale wine region looms large, a veritable panoply of vineyards and small pubs in which to intoxicate oneself – perhaps known as the lesser of the states three main wine producing regions, outside of the Barossa and the Coonawarra down towards Victoria. The Barossa, which produces enough wine annually to cover the surface of the Earth twenty times, is your choice of locale for inebriation anywhere in the state; it’s a wine free-for-all, if you’re so inclined, and wine tours of the area are your best bet to get slammed.
What I’m saying is that here in Adelaide, of anywhere in Australia, we have the most opportunity to drink ourselves stupid. Myself, I’m not that big a drinker, although external influences would seem to suggest that perhaps I’m the exception rather than the rule. As a kid, my father would offer me the token sip of beer (which I detest to this day – the beer, not the offer!) as well as a selection of adult drinks including various wines, champagnes and liqueurs. I have to admit that as a youngster, and even now that I’ve matured a little, I’m not fond of the hard stuff as much as I enjoy a tipple of red or white fermented grape. Not because I didn’t have the funds to imbibe as I do these days, but because I didn’t enjoy the taste of the stuff. Alcoholic beverages took a long while to slide their slippery fingers around my palette; but once they did, I found myself open to an entire new world of taste and sensation. However, the lack of practice at drinking to excess has resulted in a deficiency in my body that I’m working to overcome: I have a very small tolerance to alcohol. I’m unable to sustain an upright pose much past three standard drinks. Which means I’m a cheap drunk (a positive?) and an easy lay, should some hot chick decide to jump my bones after a night around the Bar None. That may be the beer goggles talking, but hey, no doubt Al will set me straight if I hook up with a basher, right Al?
So I sit here, propped up at the Bar None main bar with glass of vino in front of me, peering stuperously at the mirror behind Al’s hard liquor, trying to check out just how red my eyes are and if it’s possible to work from “home” today. Not sure how the Bar None goes with a wireless internet connection, or even if Al’s hooked up the telephony machine yet (he is a little lax in that department, I’m told) but I’m damned if I’m gonna go to work smashed. I look on in amazed disbelief at the crazy antics of those who drink to excess, the stumbling alcoholics whose livers would surely require immediate surgery for replacement were they to be inspected then and there.
There’s a few times in my life where I wish I could get myself totally written off to forget my troubles – especially that one time on the farm where I woke up next to the family goat, tied to a stake in the middle of the lawn. Sometimes you wish you could blot out the horror of life, but then, in the clear and un-drunken clarity of regulation life, you find yourself basking in the glory that it presents; the laughter of children, the roar of a hot car, and the post-coital afterglow as you snuggle with the missus.
I’ve never had a problem with alcohol where, like ITSB, it’s taken over my life to the detriment of my social ability and family relationships. I’ve never had to attend an AA meeting, take a 12 step programme to reclaim my life, or apologise to family for variety of drunken escapades to which the only conversation I can remember is the one ending in “… yes officer.” Personally, I find those who pride themselves on this kind of weekly escapade have a deeper issue than just drinking. There’s no reason alcohol can’t be enjoyed responsibly, like many of the patrons of the Bar None do already – but the muddy grasp of deep alcoholism, whereby your life functions include retching in the toilet and trying to maintain an upright stance during the day is one I don’t understand fully. I’m starting to understand it due to the work of many of the fine folks here at the Bar, but never having experienced it, either for myself or through somebody I know personally, leaves me a little less able to appreciate Same Boats recent exposition on the subject. The thought of having hours, weeks and months of hazy memories, induced by consumption of alcohol, is a little terrifying, to be honest. While I’m a fairly outgoing person in my non-drunken state, when I get a little tipsy I tend towards the outright zany – I truly think I’m funnier than Robin Williams and Billy Connelly put together. Which I doubt is true. I have a major problem with spending so much on drink that I end up waking up some days later with gaps in my memory, and a large hole in my bank balance - I find it hard to understand how some people think this is a good thing!
I read the exploits of ITSB around the place (I’ve checked out his blog, among other things, and can recommend anybody looking to quit drinkin’ to have a look at it!) and while I don’t entirely understand what people like him are going through, I can empathise with it, if not offer some tacit sympathy. I’m not sure about America, but here in Australia the image of hard drinkin’ cowboys is one to be proud of, not ashamed of. This makes it hard to work against the image of the drunken pub crawl and the bravery of those who attempt it – an image we’ve accepted socially through movies and music to think that this is actually okay. To say I’m not a big drinker in conversation is like saying you once fucked a dachshund. Do it sober, you’re ostracised forever. Do it drunk, you’re a legend. That’s the mentality going round here.
It’s somewhat hypocritical to sit here, in the comfortable confines of the Bar None and state that drinkin’ isn’t fun or acceptable, but folks, drinkin’ in moderation is where it’s at. Obliterating yourself every day/week/hour isn’t the way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as ITSB has attested to. The perils of social alcoholism, while initially a bit of a laugh, eventually overtake the common-sense part of your brain and become your actual life.
So I congratulate ITSB for his efforts, for his ability to recognise and then overcome his drinking problem – I extend that same congratulatory plaudit to anybody else reading this now who is… well…. in the same boat, for want of a better phrase. To accomplish this, to turn a weakness into a personal strength, is valiant and not entirely ignoble. We’ve all read about Al’s problems with the drink, which is part of the reason why he set up the Bar None in the first place, but he’s currently on the wagon and keeping it under control. Again, a valiant effort. I say this not in that mocking, “I’ve only read about this” kind of way that non-drinkers might offer, looking down their nose at you, but in a sincere manner befitting the personal triumph you’ve all accomplished.
Now, shut up and pour me a big tall glass of the strongest shit ya got, Al. After this, I need a drink, then I need a Koala to root**. [**"root" being an Aussie euphemism for sex.... in case nobody understands....]
A few words from your humble servitor just to remind you, Rodney, and you the rest of y’all that the Bar None is not reserved for those who drink to excess or in any other way have built a shrine to the cult of alcoholism. True to its name, the Bar None bars no one and all are welcome from the hard drinkers to the soft touches, from those who nurse their drinks to those who require medical attention, from prohibitionists to exhibitionists, from T-Totalers to the Totally Fucked.
Thanks again, Rodney, for this look at your life and life in Oz. i’m rooting for you, brother.
Al K Hall
Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, Founding Member of D.R.I.N.K.E.R. (Drunks Really Involved Now Known as Exiles Reunited), Member of the D-Generation (Drinking Generation) & Tender Bartender at the Bar None
Your Functional Alcoholic Sluperson here with a first in the Bar None: A Guest Post.
In The Same Boat is a regular commenter on many drinking blogs the net over and has been giving out great, non judgmental advice to drunks and drinkers, wannabes and wanna-not-bes anymore. As a non drinking alcoholic, his experiences help because of the perspective of where he’s been in the same boat.
i sent him an invitation a long time ago to write up his experience and how he was able to tame the monkey on his back and he finally responded with this well-thought, rich and universally useful treaties. Please be sure to leave ITSB a comment thanking him for his insights and if there’s anyone else out there who’d like to share their experiences, you’re more than welcome. This is, after all, the Bar None.
You know how you are drinking and reading an alcoholic’s blog? You start thinking to yourself, “Man, I thought I had a problem. I bet this guy gets 20% of his calories from alcohol or more every week! Why can’t he stop this madness?” Then you sober up, do some calculations, and realize that 20-33% of your diet consists of alcohol too? It gnaws into your psyche and you start to obsess: “If I am what I eat, alcohol comprises 1/3 of my being!” Looking in the mirror you take inventory: your bloated alcoholic neck, your sagging face, the bags around your eyes, and your decaying muscles, only to realize that alcohol is killing you. ”It has to stop!” you keep telling yourself. But how? AA is for whiny losers who call at all hours of the night and day only to parrot their platitudes, and blow your cover. And anyway, you can’t even take step 1. And you’d sooner die of cirrhosis than take Steps 2 and 3.
And so it went for me. I tried to “moderate.” I moved to an isolated part of Los Angeles, deep in the Santa Monica mountains, far enough away from any bar or liquor store that I’d have to drive a dangerous road to get to. And I made a rule that I would only bring to my house what I bought sober. That worked most of the time but it was painful. After the beer ran out, I was left craving more but forced myself to go to sleep. And soon, the old habits started sneaking back; I’d stop by the bar on the way home from work, have a couple beers with dinner, and then buy what I needed for home so the buzz would be more intense. And then there were people who would ask “Why are you living so far away from everything?” To which I would meekly reply “well, I like mountains.”
Also there were the rare times when I’d actually want to do something social instead of drinking by myself. Like the time I met this charming film director and she invited me to her party at her bungalow. I promised myself I wouldn’t drink but there was a table full of free booze and wine and I succumbed. I made such a fool of myself in front of all these cool people. The film director seemed to understand and suggested that perhaps I am not the type who should drink. ”But I don’t want to go to AA,” I drunkenly lamented. She gave me a knowing look and said “There are other options. There’s a group in Beverly Hills that approaches this problem rationally. As a scientist you should appreciate that.” So that planted the seed in my head; I don’t have to go to AA to fix this. I thought this over as I staggered down Lincoln Boulevard, looking for a cheap hotel to stay in Venice. Luckily, I found one. But I was sick for 3 days after that.
I was too embarrassed to ask the director exactly what she was talking about but the idea of finding an alternate group started to grow in my head. In retrospect, it seems obvious that AA is not the only answer and I am sure I knew that. Yet I postponed the idea of quitting: never drinking again was too painful a concept to grasp. I attempted to moderate some more but with little success. In fact, I was starting to become dangerous. I found myself in the habit of ditching work on Friday afternoons, hitting the gym, going to a bar, pounding down several drinks in solitude and then going to see a movie to sober up. Except I wasn’t exactly sober after the movie ended, driving home was dicey, and picking up some beer on the way home made it worse. I was very disgusted with myself.
I am not exactly sure how I found it, but one day I started reading Sum Zero’s blog. I could identify with this guy: an academic type with a good job, living in a big city with a drinking problem. I spent a day just reading all of his entries and decided that I should try this SMART recovery program. Their website is very unappealing at first glance, but his entries made the methodology come alive for me. So, with some consternation, I forced myself to admit that alcohol is the biggest problem in my life, and if I can’t find 2 hours to attend a meeting that could fix it, then I’m truly pathetic. And off to my first SMART meeting I went.
The people there were very friendly and helpful. One challenged me to quit for 90 days and see how I felt. Another told me upon learning that I am a computer programmer by trade to “reprogram my life without alcohol.” If I had said I was a writer he undoubtedly would have said “cut alcohol from the story.” Or if I had said I was a mathematician he might have said “Take alcohol out of the equation.” So I made a plan to rebalance my life without alcohol. I would stay away from any triggers, driving a different way home to watch all 5 seasons of Lost on Netflix streaming at night, instead of going to my favorite restaurant/bar. I would count the days. And I would work the ABCs to cope with the urges. Further, I had to set goals and find replacements for alcohol. I decided to train for a marathon. And as the morning hangovers were replaced with morning runs on the beach in Malibu, I realized that life without alcohol is far more enjoyable. (The running also kept the post acute withdrawal syndrome under control.)
I kept going to meetings once a week for 6 months. And they helped keep me on track with certain issues. The biggest issue I had was that alcohol is a big part of my family life, unfortunately. My uncle has a sign in his kitchen that says “Never trust a man who doesn’t drink.” So when I went home, I was instructed by my SMART facilitator to behave like a objective observer when everyone else was drinking. And I found I could do that; nobody wanted to talk to me anyway; they were more into their wine. Luckily I had my two young nephews to distract me and I could entertain them when everyone else was drunk. I felt like a kid again around the drunk grownups. Nobody in my family said anything about my not drinking and that was quite a relief.
Another problem I have is is with airports. I love getting loaded in the airport bar and having a couple vodkas on the flight. Really, it’s the only way to fly. I still have to fight those urges intensely. I tend to schedule my flights early in the morning to avoid temptation. They also taught me to choreograph the trip in advance, and eat at an airport restaurant rather than stop at a bar.
Finally, the SMART meetings helped because I did not want to admit to the regulars in the group that I had slipped; so I didn’t slip.
In a few days, I will celebrate my one year of sobriety by running the Santa Barbara marathon. As much as I miss the buzz, I am much happier without it in my life. The risks and consequences far exceed any joys. My friends accept the new sober me and I find that I can relate to them better now that I can devote more brainpower to the conversation. They actually seek my advice rather than a partner to get loaded with. And they invite me to more events because they know they don’t have to put up with an obnoxious drunk. Honestly, quitting was the best decision I’ve made in quite a while. I’m not looking back.
My fellow alcoholics, your Functional Alcoholic Slurperson here, addressing members of the D-Generation (that’s ‘D’rinking-Generation for those of y’all new to Degeneration). Thanks for stopping by, nice to see all you D.R.I.N.K.E.R.s (Drunks Really Involved Now Known as Exiles Reunited) here.
A little update on my personal sitch before we get to the goodies and if you don’t give a shit about the personal sitch i’d just skip right ahead to the goodies if i was you. Really, i understand, no big deal. If you remember, my latest rule to control the drinking was to drink only outside the house, which means mostly business lunches, Open Bar Friday at the office and any art gallery events. Well, so far so good. The Fridays can be a bit of a challenge sometimes but i’ve stuck to my guns most of the time and haven’t gotten totally shit faced since i started the rule. Which explains why i haven’t been talking too much about my drinking lately. Nothing is more boring than a drinker who has his drinking under control for the moment, and i get that. Sorry babes. Hopefully i’ll fall off the wagon spectacularly really soon so i can provide you with some well deserved entertainment.
So to shake things up a little bit, here’s a Top 10 Lips for y’all. And by the way, if any mentioned celebrities are reading this, if you contact me in the comments below and pay for my drinks and any transportation required: i’m not kidding, i would love to party with you. Hell, Jim Morrison needed professional drinkers to hang with and watch out for him, you could do the same for me.
Plus, here’s a bonus round, Lily Allen singing an post-appropriate song from the juiced-box: Friday Night.
Anyways, my fellow alcoholics, i proudly present to you the