With a family tree littered with alcoholism and those cautionary tales dancing in my head, I had never even been anything like drunk, until recently.
Alcohol-light—as in one glass of Moscato or Reisling every few years on special occasions or with guests at local wine tours—getting wasted wasn’t in my wheelhouse. Until it was.
This is how it began. Was out at a jazz venue with daughter and friend. Nice atmosphere, beautiful décor, fun vibe. As a day person, the nuance of nightlife sometimes brings out an alter ego who adventurously says what the hell? So, in lieu of the fruity non-alcoholic concoctions I usually order, that girl suddenly felt like amping it up. Just like that.
Raised eyebrows met my I-want-a-drink declaration and I raised mine back to let them know I was grown and going in, only I didn’t know how to so they conferred and ordered a Moscow Mule for me, which came in a cute copper mug with a straw.
One of them should have told me to coat my stomach with a cheeseburger or pizza instead of the gentle dinner of cod, kale and quinoa which provided no buffer whatsoever from the assault of vodka.
It took a minute, though, due to the way the ginger ale deceitfully hid the taste of vodka and soon everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, in sync with the jazzy vocals that reminded me of Adele as I grew goofier and goofier.
I made a game out of eating all of the marcona almonds on the snack platter, after arranging them in fun shapes. My senses seemed heightened too. The notes from the silky, sultry music tickled my skin as I petted my soft leather purse as though it was a kitten and vowed to take it out more because I loved the way it smelled. At one point I claimed it felt like someone with magical hands was massaging my earlobes in tune with the guitar.
It was me.
For the next forty minutes, my fun little trip continued. Other than giggling and talking a little too loudly, most of the silliness happened in my head. How does this mug stay so cold—is it enchanted? Would anyone notice if I took off my clothes and danced? Do they know I’m drunk?
In addition, I laughed at my companions laughing at me with a few dial-it-back expressions. But I couldn’t because that is the power of alcohol. It takes you where it wants to.
Was starting to think I could do this once a month until sad-movie blues washed over me and my head started throbbing like something was trying to escape from it. I was almost more down than over news of a death or tragedy. This was one drink, mind you, and not a strong beer or tequila shots. Just a little vodka in some ginger ale.
Later, at home, I guzzled a fizzy Emergen-C mix and took a handful of detox supplements, giggled myself to sleep, and a few hours later zombie-waddled to the kitchen where I hit the Emergen-C again.
The next day, things weren’t as bad as I expected. For about two hours, although hazy and incapable of basic math, the headache and gloominess had left. Drinking two pitchers of lemon water helped get me normal enough to make it to brunch where I was back to green tea. Lesson learned.
Deconstructing the experience, I realized three things:
- I am wholly unwilling to feel crappy for a cheap thrill. Sure it was fun, but I spent more time recovering from that drink than I did enjoying its affects. And, I missed my workout.
- Might be my first-responder complex, but I like having a straight head so I can deal with whatever is going on around me and I couldn’t even drive myself home.
- Maybe I missed my window for careless, experimental drinking. It was supposed to happen in college, right? But I spent those years haunted by the idea that I could become an alcoholic too. Now, that I know it’s not me, drinking just seems silly.
- An active imagination is better than booze.