Category Archives: Drinking

Lies About Cocktails

I got to the bar first, so I ordered a glass of tonic with a splash of grapefruit and a drop of bitters.  (Yes, I know bitters has alcohol in it.  I am not worried about a single drop once a month or so, and the bitterness keeps me from feeling depressed about drinking a too-sweet kid drink.)  The others arrived shortly thereafter, and when they asked what I was having, I for some reason answered, “It’s like a gin and tonic, but with a splash of grapefruit and bitters.”  So, that was a lie.  It wasn’t at all like a gin and tonic, because it had no gin.

Anyway, I congratulated myself and was having a decent time catching up with these folks, old classmates of mine.  And then the waitress came by to take our orders for the second round.  Now, I had ordered my drink at the bar, but I figured this could still work out.  (Apparently I’m new at life.)  I told the waitress that the bartender would know what I was drinking — “the weird thing with grapefruit juice and bitters.”  She nodded.  And then, HORROR OF HORRORS, someone else at the table said, “I’ll have one of those, too.”

So I was left with a few terrible options.  I could admit that I had misled them about my drink which – of course – is a really strange thing to do.  I could try to sneak over to the bartender to correct the order, but then surely the waitress would bring the drinks and say, “here’s the one with the gin,” or something like that.  Or, I could just sit tight and, I don’t know, feel awkward and wait for something truly embarrassing to happen.  I choice route C.

It was actually sort of okay, at least for a little while.  The drinks came.  My old classmate tasted the drink and said, “It’s good!”  Vainly hoping to cover my tracks or something, I said, “There’s a lot more juice in it this time.”  (I’m the worst.)  Anyway, we sipped.  And all was well . . . until the bill came.  There were the other folks’ drinks, in the $10-12 price range, and then there was an entry for two $2 7-ups (which I guess is how he charged the mostly-tonic drink).  DAMN.  I just sort of acted confused (I’m a bad actor), and so did the other guy (his confusion was genuine), and then we paid the bill.  I made a lame joke like, “Maybe that’s why it tasted like orange juice.”  And he laughed.  And then I went home, sober.  And feeling foolish.

Why?  Why did I lie, and why did I compulsively dig myself further in?  Just to avoid admitting that I wasn’t drinking?  Ugh.  How very, very strange.  What a totally, truly weird way to be.

Anyway, it was a good lesson.  Much better to just deal with the fact that I’m not drinking than try to hide it.  Shared tabs, picking up rounds . . . there’s just no way.  Whoever said it would work to just order a soda with lime to “trick” people into thinking you’re drinking clearly never went out socially the way people do in my circle — that is, sharing bottles of wine with dinner, picking up rounds for other people, offering to hit the bar for others, etc.  I just have to suck it up.  I’ll give an update on how that whole plan is working out after I survive the wedding I’m attending next weekend.


The Lowest Low – Part I

I’m not sure what my lowest point was.  Emotionally, spiritually?  It was in the weeks leading up to the day I quit, when I felt like some external force was making me drink.  When I felt like I was under a rock and would never get out.  But just in terms of danger, of risk, of embarrassment, all that stuff?  There are just so many to choose from.

I mean, look.  I admit I had what they call a “high bottom.”  No DUIs, graduated from Ivy League schools, never got fired from my high-powered, high-paying job(s), never lost a relationship that was important to me.  I mean, I was really good at keeping my drinking a secret.  It was fucking hard, but I don’t think many people knew I had a problem.  Maybe just Andrew, actually, although I think even he was surprised when I told him I had to quit.  In the later years, once I turned 30, I was careful only to do my really absurd drinking at home.

But when I was younger, dude, I could DRINK.  One friend of mine, who I’m pretty sure is also an alcoholic, said to me, laughing, some 10 years after college, “You used to drink SO MUCH.”  It startled me.  Yeah, I drank, but so did everyone else, right?  Right?  On the flip side, I was hanging out with some law school friends last summer, and someone made a comment about how much we all used to drink but how none of us were really alcoholics.  I remember thinking, speak for yourself.  And then I drank some more.

Anyway, here is just a sampling of the lower moments.  I want to save other lows to revisit when I feel myself getting complacent in my sobriety.

-Driving back to to my suburban hometown after attending a rave-ish weekly party (hey, it was the 90s, technically) in The City.  I was in my teens and really drunk, and I think I had taken half a pill of ecstacy.  I had two friends in my car, and I literally could not see the road.   I remember running a red light almost getting hit.  I remember not having the faintest idea where I was.  I think I turned the wrong way down a one-way street.  Being a suburban kid, I didn’t know  The City that well.  I finally realized I couldn’t be driving and pulled into abandoned-seeming parking lot of a hospital.  We slept for a few hours and then made it home.

-Housesitting for a friend’s mother and having a huge party.  Getting wasted and almost losing the dog.  Getting the police called because of the noise; having to explain to my friend’s mother why a friend of mine had been arrested in front of her house, drunk and naked.

-Getting alcohol poisoning in France.  Nearly getting kidnapped by a taxi driver until my friend pulled me out of the car.  (The driver was trying to pull me in.)  Throwing up approximately 20 times the next day, as we drove from point A to point B.

-In high school, drinking a huge bottle of wine with my friend while my parents were out to dinner.  We were ostensibly going to a party that night, but we got too wasted and I threw up – a lot.  We heard my parents come home, so I put my friend out the window and pretended to be asleep.

-Going out for drinks for my 21st birthday.  Getting trashed and going home with a guy I had just met.  My boyfriend came over that night to give me flowers and heard me having sex with someone else through my dorm room door.

-Getting completely trashed in college and taking a taxi home.  Throwing up in the cab.  Offering to pay for cleaning before realizing I had lost my wallet (which happened all the time).  Promising the cab driver I’d be right down with the money but running into the dorm and passing out instead.

-Other embarrassing sexual misalliances that I don’t even want to talk about.

-Being high on cocaine at really inappropriate times during law school:  meeting my partner’s dad for the first time, attending a job reception thing where I had to make (super high) small talk with potential employers, taking an oral exam in a Spanish class at 8 a.m., mentoring and preparing students in the class I TAed for their moot courts, while high.  Not to mention stealing drugs from friends, literally picking up drugs off the floor, meeting a dealer in the sketchiest of sketchy places.  Etc. etc.  Cocaine probably deserves its own post here.

-More recently, buying a bottle of wine to hide in my suitcase during my last two visits to my parents’ house.  After having a glass or two of wine with dinner, hiding in my room with a paper cup from the bathroom and drinking my hidden bottle.

-Worrying the last time I had a houseguest before I quit drinking.  Hiding a bottle in my room to drink after my guest went to bed.

That’s Part I, off the top of my head.  And I wondered whether I really needed to quit.