You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

11 October 2009

Aqua Vitae

My father is a recovering alcoholic.  I am proud to say he has been sober for close to 25 years now, and many are the AA meeting I've attended with him.  He entered recovery when I was still in Middle School.  In fact, as coincidence would have it, he started going to AA at roughly the same time I decided to start drinking.

See, there was this girl I liked, and she was a the partying type.  So, if I wanted to go out with her I needed to be able to drink.  (Did I mention this was Middle School?)  So here I am, ready to start drinking the way all good kids do, by stealing alcohol from my parents; when my parents announce they are going to start a "Date Night" every Wednesday.  How perfect is that?  I'm needing to steal their alcohol, and they're going to be gone one night a week!  Ah the egocentricity of the teen, eh?

Well, the plan ran into a snag the very first night.  A pretty sizable one, too, in that there was no alcohol in the house.  Not a drop.  I remembered there being bottles of stuff above the stove, beer and wine in the fridge, and even liquors in the dining room.  All of which have simply dissapeared.

I wait, not knowing what else to do, and soon come to find out that my parents "Date Night" is really a weekly AA meeting.  My how things did change.  My quest for drinking glory ceased almost overnight.  This was a new, scary thing, and it required more thought.  What happened, was that all of the sudden I had a Dad back in my life.  He had snuck out so slowly, so quietly, that i hadn't even noticed. 

He was never a loud or violent drunk, he'd just fall asleep early and never want to play catch.  Now we talked again, watched football together, and played catch.  My dad, as it was, had returned.  And the obvious culprit to his absence was none other than alcohol.  So, in my mind, I made alcohol evil.  That meant, by association, that anyone who drank anything, was also therefore, more or less, evil.

This attitude led to some difficulties in college.

As I grew older, being a teetotaler was both easier and harder.  I did, finally, disassociate alcohol from the drinker, and I was finally able to go to bars with friends or co-workers and not bristle.  Indeed at one of these a friend ordered a single malt, and I decided to give it a taste.

Holy crap I liked it!

Even though i had come to revile alcohol, I still wanted to be, "open-minded."  So I would try it.  Now most people start down the alcohol road with a progression.  Moving from the bear and wine neighborhood first, and only then hanging out in Hard Liquorsville.  Turns out I'm the opposite.  So I'd try beer, and I still do, and it still tastes awful.  I can drink a nicer beer if it's expected or the polite route to take, but I never have found a beer that I actually liked.  So why go to the trouble of drinking if the introductory level tastes like crap?

Even though I liked the taste of that single malt (I don't honestly remember what it was either), it was years before I actively considered drinking.  This sound awful but, I didn't start drinking until I met my wife;-)  Just not for the reason you're thinking.  I watched her drink.  I saw her have a drink with her friends and, get this... not become an alcoholic.

So I talked to her about drinking and how I had basically committed to not drinking because fo the experience with my Dad.  Everyone else had always listened to that story and accepted it.  She actually made me think about it, and as noble as following through on a committment was all those long years, was it actually a well thought out committment?

So I took up drinking.  I've come to find that I really enjoy the multitudes of flavors afforded by hard alcohols even though I honestly don't care for the effects.  So I limit myself for that reason, and also because I do want to learn from my dad.  I drink socially and in moderation; and I absolutely will not drink if I am down or in a bad place.

So far it has opened up a fascinating but terribly expensive world.  Especially since my absolute favorite remains what I first started with:  single malt Scotch whisky;-)

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