It was a pretty intense meeting last week. Some dude told a story about pawning all his relatives’ stuff, some other chick told a harrowing tale of living on skid row, doing heroin, and turning tricks to fund her habit. And then it came to me, and what did I want to talk about? How damn annoying it was that the manager of some fancy restaurant had the nerve to bring us complimentary glasses of champagne just because they were out of the oysters we ordered. God, what an asshole I am.
And if you’re wondering whether I checked myself and saved my tale of woe — woe! not only were they out of oysters, but also I had to face a glass of champagne! — for another time, the answer is no. I mean, my struggles are my struggles, right? Or, if my life is unmanageable for me, it’s unmanageable, right? Yeah, I keep telling myself that.
But it really was sort of hard. Dinners out are hard for me. Of all the types of drinking, I romanticize them the most. If I had quit drinking 10 years ago, I would have those pangs about bars and clubs, I’m sure. But recently my favorite drinking, the drinking I think of wistfully, through rose-colored glasses, has occurred in restaurants. A good bottle of wine, good food, good conversation with my love, or with friends. That buzz. The color of the wine, the smell. The taste. So for the first month or so after I quit, I avoided restaurants with wine lists. Truthfully, I avoided restaurants, period.
Anyway, this particular night, we went to a favorite place. Andrew and I had both been working like crazy, and we needed to reconnect. I ignored the wine list, sucked it up, and ordered sparkling water. He ordered a beer. We settled in, food started coming, and all was well. Until that damn champagne arrived.
Maybe I should have sent it back, I don’t know. It was just a friendly little gesture from the manager, and I guess I was surprised by it. So the glass just sat there. I sipped my water and tried to ignore it. Tried. Tried being the operative word, here.
It just kept sparkling at me. Those little bubbles rising charmingly to the surface. The candle flickering behind it. I kept it there in front of me because I wanted to prove that I could ignore it, I guess. That I would be okay with it sitting there. And I mean, I guess I didn’t touch it. But it was so incredibly distracting. And it not only distracted me during dinner, but I kept thinking about it afterward. I mentioned it on the way home, as a sort of celebration of the fact that I didn’t drink it. (P.S. I enjoyed driving home. Sober. Fast. Try to pull me over, copper. Have I been drinking? I fucking wish I’d been drinking.)
I guess all that’s to say that, look, okay. Me facing down that dastardly glass of champagne isn’t the hardest, toughest shit I’ve ever done. It just isn’t. It’s also not exactly sleeping in a car on skid row, getting stabbed, spending time in jail, or any of the other shit that even the put-together-seeming folks in my weekly meeting have gotten themselves into. And it’s not to say I haven’t had my rougher moments drinking, either. But at this point in my sobriety, having quit at precisely this wine-sniffing, restaurant-fetishizing point in my drinking career, a glass of champagne is a challenge. It is. It’s a challenge that tests me. And while one slip up would just lead to me having a glass of wine, I know that that tantalizing glass of champagne would lead me right back down to guzzling, and right back down to the depressed, helpless, hopeless state in which I found myself two months ago. So I guess I take that stab wound and raise you a nice Barolo. Happy 60 days sober to me.