Libations and Limitations

I have an alarming number of friends who don’t drink any alcohol. Not that there’s anything wrong with not drinking alcohol; it’s just odd how many people I know all of a sudden who don’t.

From about the age of 15 to 30 all my friends and acquaintances did nothing but drink their faces off at every opportunity. After 30, my social circle wised up and started drinking more moderately. Now some of them don’t drink at all.

Some are alcoholics so they had to stop. Some just don’t like it anymore. One friend says she won’t drink because she becomes belligerent and scrappy when she drinks. I find this hard to believe because she’s normally sweet as pie, but I’ll take her word for it.

I do know people who become really belligerent and scrappy when they drink. They’re very tiresome at parties because they’ll start arguing about the bean dip and punch the first guy who presents a likely target. But then these people are usually pretty belligerent and scrappy to begin with.

Most people seem to just become exaggerated versions of themselves when they drink, I think. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who has a complete personality change when they drink, have you?

One guy I knew in university – blond, surfer type…madly in love with himself – he used get naked at every single party he was ever at. Two or three drinks and off came the togs. Actually, I suspect after a while he just didn’t even bother with the drinking part and just whipped it all out as soon as he got to the party.

And we all know women who get extremely…er…frisky after a couple of drinks and everyone in trousers better put out or get out. They’re the ones who get themselves in trouble at the office Christmas party. It’s a cliché, but I was at a work Christmas party once where a normally under-the-radar type woman literally threw herself at our director. There he was enjoying an after dinner drink, chatting with some management types and she comes along and plops herself on his lap and winds her arms around his neck. That was some night.

And, I think we’ve all been at parties where there’s one miserable sod who has a couple of drinks and ends up in a corner weeping —  telling you you’re a beautiful, beautiful person and that you’re the only real person they’ve ever known – even if you’ve just met. I don’t know why, but I usually end up getting cornered by this person at parties.

I try to stay well away from them and from the pathetic saddo who drinks weird stuff like Southern Comfort and coke finishes off the night by lolling on a sofa peeing himself and playing air guitar long after the music has stopped.

And, of course, every party has at least one assholes who will expand in assholishness as the night goes on. And he or she will start losing control of his or her voice and limbs and get really loud and will start breaking stuff and spilling stuff.

And then there are those who have no understanding of their own bodies and/or the effects of alcohol on them and so will be barfing – hopefully in or around a toilet. You’d think they’d have clued in by the time they’re 40, but amazingly, quite a few haven’t.

And almost everyone ends up saying the most astonishing things while under the influence. Some people tell you things they’ve bottled up for years. Things that should never be aired. Things they would kill to take back the next morning. It’s best to leave town if someone who’s a little high on Crown Royal has told you where he’s hidden the skeletons.

I think perhaps many of us have been in one or more of these positions over the years and maybe that’s why so many of us have quit drinking altogether. I will confess to having been in at least three of these positions myself at some point waaaaaaaay back in my much, much younger and more foolish days. And I one or two things I’m not particularly proud of.

But I learned. Water under the bridge.

These days, a little wine or a little beer — preferably with food — is my limit. Make no mistake, I really, really enjoy a nice glass of wine with a meal or a beer on a warm day, but a couple is usually enough. I have no desire or need to get anywhere close to drunk anymore. I don’t even know why I ever did.

Was it ever actually fun? Do any of you still enjoy getting good and drunk every so often?


ATTENTION!!! ATTENTION!!!  The indominable Lynn has announced the details of this year’s Blog Out Loud Ottawa (BOLO). It will be held on Wednesday, July 7 at Irene’s Pub on Bank Street from 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Anyone who wants to read should register soon; but you don’t have to read to come out and enjoy an evening of food, drink and blogging hilarity. Check the BOLO website frequently for updates and details. Yay Lynn!!


41 responses to “Libations and Limitations

  1. I slowed way down after 30 too. Every so often when we have friends over for dinner and some stay over night I’ll stay up late drinking with them and get a bit drunk. However I shun the hard liquor and stick to beer and wine.

  2. We got out of the alcohol habit long ago, not long after we moved to a county where you can’t buy liquor. Nearest liquor store is 22 miles away. Things have “improved” though, recently. Now there are a few restaurants that have liquor licenses so you’re not just limited to the few “private” clubs that I’d rather not set foot in that have had liquor licenses for a long while.

    We do have a half a bottle of wine in the fridge and a bottle of rum in the pantry. We have about two drinks each every month — or is it one drink every two months? 😉

  3. I seldom drank anything until I married a Frenchman and now I can’t imagine a meal without wine. I learned the hard way not to drink champagne and then red wine in the same evening-it always leads to a hangover. I’ve gotten drunk a couple of times but it is so awful that I always swear I’m through with alcohol but I never am.

  4. I think I can honestly say that I have been drunk less than 5 times in my life. I tend to be that quiet, weepy guy in the corner feeling all kinds of remorse, which really isn’t that much fun. Hence the low incidence of operating under the influence.

  5. I wasn’t the happiest of teenagers, and I found when I drank back then, it just exaggerated that, like you said, so I hardly ever drank, and still don’t.

    My sister and her husband are the kind who get really angry when they’re drunk. Once I was on a blind date as part of a group that included them. I was never so embarrassed. I can’t imagine why the guy never called me after that.

  6. Getting drunk was fun in my 20’s, back in university. I was bullet-proof back then.

    Now, after having a few, it just makes me tired. And the annoyance of the hang-over far outweighs any benefits of getting totally hammered.

    Though I enjoy having a pints with my buddy Brett on a regular basis.

    We bitch about work, talk about things, and then settle down and watch TV or a movie. I find our Beer Therapy Sessions are more beneficial (and cheaper) than a psychiatrist.

  7. I am more familiar with rubbing alcohol than drinking alcohol, and I think both are useful in removing (killing) harmful single celled organisms from our skin prior to receiving an injection. I expect my most recent contact with alcohol was connected to a medical injection of some kind, or perhaps cleaning up an accidental cut.

    Have I ever been drunk? Yes. Verbal historical records relate an infamous game of pictionary where I discovered a very specific blood alcohol concentration allowed me to guess whatever was being drawn after seeing three lines on the paper. Exceeding this B.A.C. resulted in my interpretation of everything being drawn as being one object, a penis.

    Do I drink alcohol today. No. I eventually concluded the “benefits” of drinking alcohol were insufficient to offset the negative effects. I know some people swear there are health benefits to drinking alcohol, but I have yet to meet a doctor who would be willing to encourage alcohol consumption in a non drinker.

    Then there is the cost of alcoholic beverages .vs. water, for example. A twist of lemon in water is enjoyable to drink, yet very inexpensive. I also tend to add water to fruit juices to reduce the amount of sugar I consume.

    In almost every case, when I see someone consuming alcohol it isn’t long before I begin to see another person emerge. They might not be more difficult to deal with, although some clearly can be a pain in the butt once they start drinking, however they are no longer themselves as they are impaired. A diminished mental capacity isn’t attractive, IMHO, and I am fortunate to have a collection of friends and family members who don’t drink.

    If all of the above wasn’t enough, I also enjoy NOT paying the taxes associated with alcohol purchases.


  8. Dr. Monkey – Don’t you feel all grown up and responsible? Me, too!

    Mike – That wine in your fridge must have an extrodinary shelf life. That’s the problem with wine. You pretty much have to drink up the whole bottle in a couple of days. Such a hardship!

    Linda – Ah, so you reckon you still have a couple of good drunks left in you? I don’t want to go there anymore.Wasn’t champagne originally a ruined batch of wine which they gave to the peasants to get rid of it? Now it’s the hoity of the toity. I’m not a big fan myself. I’d much rather have a nice bottle of red.

    LGS – Oh! That was YOU!!! I think I remember you from about 100 parties. Do you drink at all now? Wine with dinner? Beer? Absynthe?

    Skye – Are you happy now? What happens to you now if you have a glass of wine? Do you get sad and morose? Ah well, it’s not a necessity of life. It’s just a little perk now and then.

    Friar – Good old Brett. Is there a particular brand of therapist you prefer? I think of you and Brett as Guinnessish types?? Such an amazing variety of beer has flooded the market in the last couple of decades. Back when we were kids we had the choice of 50 or Blue.. unless we wanted to drink our dad’s Canadian.

    Lynn – I’m not even surprised anymore by all the things you HAVEN’T done! Ya, you could probably pass on this one.

    OC Driver – Ah, so your homoerotic self emerges when you drink??Ha ha. Interesting. And yes, you’re right that it’s not much fun sometimes to be the only sober one in a crowd of drinkers as you watch them get sloppy and bizarre. It’s not attractive at all.

  9. My best friend and I still look fondly back at the times in our 20’s when we used to go out for 4-hour dinners and go through a couple of bottles of wine between us. A couple of times we ended polishing off 2 litres between us. The first time we did that we were sick as hell the next day. The second time we did it we were perfectly fine the next day. That kind of scared us more.

    Since having kids our alcohol consumption has gone way way down. I still really enjoy wine or beer with a meal, but rarely drink more than a glass or two when I have some.

    The one thing I find is that I have a much harder time gauging how much is too much on the few occasions when we do go for an evening out. I reach that point so much earlier than I used to. I’ve ended up with hangovers after only 2 or 3 glasses of wine over several hours. That hardly seems fair.

    I get a bit silly and talkative when I drink, but I’m not the sort to spill TMI when I’m under the influence. I think that puts me in the category of people who just become exaggerated versions of themselves.

  10. During the week I rarely drink but on the weekend I like a glass of red wine or a fruity vodka coolers in the summer. We entertain a lot and I am always surprised by the amount of wine bottles the next morning. No one gets hammered…but some of our best parties involved everyone being “happy” enough to sing bad karaoke and dancing around. Good times.

  11. Yup. The Resident Love Goddess and I have wine with dinner just about very night. And I like a good Belgian or German beer or three – especially in the summer!

    Everything in moderation… ‘cept for stuff like heroin – just stay away from that completely, k?

    Soooo… I presume you will be reading at BOLO????

  12. Was it ever actually fun? Do any of you still enjoy getting good and drunk every so often?

    In the right circumstances, once in a while, sure. It can be a good way to relax and also to bond with people. There is a certain kind of solidarity that accompanies such occasions of social self-poisoning.

  13. I used to drink and get drunk ALOT as a teenager and into my twenties. Once I had kids and was either pregnant or breast feeding for what seemed like years, I stopped.

    Now, I enjoy a glass of wine or a beer occassionally, perhaps two times a week max. I get tipsy easily so two is my limit unless I want to get drunk! I’d say I get drunk four or five times a year, usually with my bookclub. It’s always alot of fun getting there but the next day is always horrible! HORRIBLE!!! I always swear to myself that I never want to drink again.

  14. Mary Lynn – I think a lot of the hang-over quotient has to do with the quality of wine or beer you drink; making sure you drink plenty of water along with your wine or beer; drinking slowly; and having some food with, before or after the alcohol. If you follow those rules you could probably still polish off a bottle of wine.

    MM – Oh boy! You have a karaoke machine? No wonder people come to your house a lot – well, that and the copious amounts of wine.

    Trashy – I try to limit my intravenous drug use. You know, it’s okay to shoot up on weekends with friends, but during the week I’ll just usually stick to the occasional crack pipe or line or two of cocaine. BOLO – I will read probably. It depends on how many people want to read. If she gets too many, I’m happy to just go and watch this time and let people who didn’t read last time have a go.

    Milan – Ya, you’re still young and can process that poison a lot better than us old folk. I would be interested in attending an event where you get good and drunk though. It would be fun to watch. Keep me posted.

    Betsy Mae – Damn those book clubs. Does anyone actually read anything or talk about books during them? All I ever hear about them is what a good drunkfest they are?

  15. Well as you’ve probably figured out, I drink light beer around the clock. It’s my normal state. For over 20 years, people have always been astonished that I never change at all. Of course, I’m always a generally silly person. Sometimes I am more silly when I first wake up than I am after a few beers. If I want to get “tipsy” like when I’m on vacation, I have to drink something weird like a Washington Apple or a Red-Headed Slut. Champagne can make me goofy, too. I was cut off by a bartender once about 11 years ago and he said this, “You seem totally normal and just like when you first came in, but I show 8 beers on your tab, so I’m afraid if I don’t cut you off, I’ll get in trouble.” I said, “That’s cool” and just went to another bar across the street. I never have a hangover. (And all of my blog posts were written after drinking beer for 12 hours or so.) I know. I’m strange. But I’m happy.

  16. I would be interested in attending an event where you get good and drunk though.

    Maybe some sort of blogger BBQ? Weekend morning gatherings really don’t incorporate neatly into my lifestyle – nor do they lend themselves to serious boozing.

  17. I use to drink only to excess for many years and then I stopped. I was the drunk that thought they were funny and since I have a sense of humor…I pretty much was. Of course there were those nights I did not feel so funny and people kept after me to lighten up and make them laugh. After a while it was 50/50 chance I could go either way while drunk, be funny or be not so funny to the point of just sulking. I quit when I was 40. If something is going to be less fun than fun, why bother.

  18. I agree with Milan! We need a Blogger BBQ! I’ll bring the veggie sausages! 🙂

    As for the post, I don’t drink all that much now that I’m approaching 30. It just seems stupid to me to get plastered and say/do things that I’ll regret later. I love wine and mixed drinks, but I prefer to drink in moderation.

  19. Geewits – Yes, I have figured out that you enjoy a beer now and then. I’m always surprised that you never get tired of it. I can’t think of anything, except water that I could bear to eat or drink around the clock. And your blog posts are always completely lucid so you must know what you’re doing.

    Milan – What a good idea! The blogger breakfasts aren’t really meant to be a booze-out…just a Saturday morning breakfast. As for the BBQ, why don’tyou organize something? Who has a good yard? Do you? Stella and her new house, perhaps?

    Cedar – Do you drink at all anymore? A beer now and then perhaps? But ya, drinking to excess stopped being fun somewhere around the time when I had to start going to work regularly every day.

    Pauline – Do you have a good BBQ yard? You could get together with Milan and organize the BBQ.

  20. ocdriver – that’s the Ballmer Peak

    I am also not drink, but I don’t really need drugs or alcohol to get high (or at least get to the point where I behave that way at parties). I’m like Chuck Woolery–naturally stoned.

    But I’m also like Colonel Flagg from M*A*S*H; I want my faculties there so I can see what’s going on.

    Looks like Lynn scheduled BOLO 2010 during Bluesfest, so I’m out. That sucks, because I knew even before last year’s BOLO which post I wanted to do this year. I’d be in for a BBQ.

    – RG>

  21. You’ve just listed all the reasons why I don’t drink, excepting the odd beer on a very hot day and a glass of white wine with dinner.
    It was never fun. The best time I ever had with alcohol was at university football games where I took my own flask and enjoyed watching my now husband’s friends turn bug-eyed at the sight of a woman (!) in those pre-woman’s-lib days with her own booze. And even then, I did not like hard liquor at all.
    The other fun thing was watching my normally very controlled parents getting into the rosé a glass too far.

  22. I still have an occassional beer and Amarretto, but that is pretty much it. The secret for me in heavy drinking was to just drink all night and then go to work. At the height of my drinking career I had the highest paying job that took me all over the that I stopped…I sell toilets. Life is a little snarky at times.

  23. I have noticed that so many of my friends (and family) don’t drink nearly enough anymore.
    I was rarely a heavy drinker since I would then be the one sleeping in the corner. And after several parties where I was one of the few sober ones, I couldn’t see much attraction to getting drunk.
    But I do enjoy a good bottle of wine or beer with dinner and friends.

  24. Just one question: If your friends “drank their faces off”, how did you know it was them, next time you saw them?

  25. Linda for starters you need to understand that you should never mix grapes. Seriously. If you are drinking Champagne – the real stuff from Champagne – the only reds you should drink are Pinot Noir and the whites are Chardonnay. If its “Champagne” from any where else you are better off not drinking any wines.
    I am a nearly daily consumer of some form of alcohol. I like variety, so some days it’s wine, most days its Cognac. 2 or 3 a day sitting either on the patio of the cafe with a cigar or the back room. With a cigar.
    As an industry professional I have an innate sense of when I need to slow down or completely stop for the day. I’ve probably lived at .08 for more then 25 years now and remain a pretty healthy guy ! 🙂
    And even at parties my limit switch kicks in. Then again I have too many friends who wear the tee-shirt that says “Instant Asshole. Just add alcohol.”

  26. I haven’t been drunk since college and don’t drink at all anymore (too dangerous with some medication I take). And my husband doesn’t drink either and never has. However, we have lots of friends that do and they are very moderate in their drinking. They were probably never the ones that got really drunk anyway. One of them even makes his own beer but is really good about just enjoying it for the taste and not to get hammered.

    We used to have a group of friends that thought it wasn’t a good get together unless they were all drunk and puking afterwards. They did and said a lot of embarrassing things; things that were embarrassing for us to even watch. It’s not at all enjoyable to be the sober people at those things, that’s why we don’t hang around those people anymore.

  27. I gave up drinking other than the very occasional alcoholic beverage after I turned 21 and threw up on my sister’s face in the middle of a bar.

  28. Grouchy – So…you are “also not drink” eh? Sure. Sure. I agree though – you are naturally stoned most of the time. I could never quite put my finger on what it was about you, but yes – you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    Mary – I’ve been looking for a good flask. Not because I want to carry booze around with me all the time, but it just seems like a cool thing to have.

    Cedar – Beer and Amaretto together? You may have been making the big bucks while high, but now you’re providing a service that will always be needed. There’s a lot to be said for job security.

    Violetsky – What do you mean your friends and family don’t drink “enough”?? Do you mean you’re out for dinner with them and no one but you thinks it would be a nice idea to have some wine with the meal?

    Bob – That’s a good question Bob. I did my best to memorize other physical characteristics of them – especially the ones who took their clothes off at parties – so that I’d know them again. Also, their faces grew back after a couple of days so they could start all over again.

    Lebowski – Interesting info. I didn’t know that about not mixing grapes. So, you shouldn’t have red and white wine in the same evening either? Or are there, as you indicated, certain grapes that are compatible and incompatible? So, if I’m hosting a wine and cheese evening, how do I choose compatible cheeses and wines to make sure none of my guests feel poorly the next day even though they tried a bit of everything? (You can email me the answer) Thanks.

    Kimberly – Your husband has never, ever drank? Even as a kid? Why? How? Not even a beer now and then? I don’t think I know too many people that have never had alcohol. Is he Mormon?

    Linsey – And yet you talk all the time about drinking on your blog. Hmmmm. Your sister sure is a good sport.

  29. Yes, that is pretty much how it has evolved over the years. Mind you, the family get togethers were full of tension while my parents were around and the alcohol helped. But at our last few family dinners, only one other person said yes to a glass of wine, and then only drank half a glass. Seemed a waste to open the bottle.
    It is interesting how most of my friends barely drink at all anymore. I very rarely drink alone and enjoy having a few drinks with friends, but now I enjoy the drink less as I am usually still drinking alone.

  30. Nope, he’s not Mormon or even religious at all of any variety. He had a friend killed by a drunk driver in high school and that probably influenced him. But as he says, he ‘has never knowingly put alcohol into his body.’ If you’d seen him in his heavy metal college band days I think you would have just assumed he drank and did drugs too, so it’s kind of funny that he’s never done either. He used to be so opposed to taking drugs of any kind that he wouldn’t even take aspirin or ibuprofen. He’s come over to the dark side though and will sometimes take an ibuprofen now.

  31. I adore wine. DH and I go through easily two bottles a week; often we have a glass with dinner or after dinner.

    DH also makes a mean martini and we indulge every week or two. I am an avid PC gamer and have large blocks of time set aside on Friday or Saturday night to play my favourite game. DH makes a martini or two and it’s not a good night if I’m not half looped by the time I log off. (this sounds super lame as I commit it to writing but it’s the high point of my week…)

    I make a high-test sangria on really hot summer days and DH and I drink it all and dance barefoot on the lawn and scandalize our neighbors in other ways.

    So yes. I certainly enjoy a good drunk every now and then, but only with my husband and never in public.

  32. my teens and 20s were all about drinking copious amounts of whatever was offered. i can’t stand the look of an oozo bottle. my last drunk was at an ottawa food and wine show. ended up on the bus in mid afternoon in my bare feet because my shoes hurt and did the drunk-n-dial to an ex. yep. a proud moment.

    now i enjoy wine with dinner and a good dark beer when i’m in a pub. but i find after one or two glasses i get sleepy. and i just can’t handle a hangover over anymore. it just isn’t worth it. though after getting screeched in in nfld next week, it might be a different story.

  33. Wow a great post summarizing everything I don’t like about drunk people and one of the reasons I have become an almost non-drinker. I happen to like the taste of beer so do drink beer but usually only about once a month and rarely more than one in a sitting.

    Back when I did drink alot re: high school and university I did a whole Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde thing after a few drinks.

  34. Violetsky – Family get-togethers without alcohol?? Shudder.

    Kimberly – You’re obviously a bad influence on him. Next thing you know, he’ll be mainlining Tums.

    Susan – Those all sound like perfectly wonderful uses of alcohol to me. You never show this side of yourself on your blog! What fun.

    Smothermother – That last drunk of yours at the Ottawa food and wine show? How long ago was it…or shouldn’t I ask?

    Sean – Well, when you get to Ottawa and are well into your first long dark winter, you might re-consider your position of abstinence. I’m just saying…you should be prepared for that possibility.

  35. I’ve had more than my fair share of alcohol in my lifetime. Starting going to pubs with my older brother when I was 16, where I learned how to properly drink someone under the table. By the time I was legal, it was kind of boring but, hey, why stop. I’m incredibly shy in company and drinking allowed me to shed many inhibitions. (It also fed my depression toward the end of the night, which is when I knew it was time to go home. Ah, I remember many a night walking home from downtown Halifax after having to abruptly abandon my friends at the Palace when I started bottoming out.)

    It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that I stopped drinking, not from any moral high ground, but because my body stopped tolerating it. Beer started to make me ill, and everything else made me sleepy. When medications I was on prevented even occasional special occasion drinking in my mid-30s, I just stopped. These days, I’m a cheap drunk — I fall asleep after one cooler — so most times I just don’t bother.

  36. Until last november, I used to drink sparingly. I have a small collection of single-malts that I used to enjoy, and I was always up for a good beer.

    Unfortunately, my body can’t tolerate any alcohol any more. It’s what I miss the most, I think, since I became ill. I don’t drink alcohol now, not because I want to not drink but because I simply cannot.

    That aside, there are some very good reasons not to drink, none of which have to do with alcoholism or drunkenness. The primary reason, I think, is that it is an expensive hobby. Beer, wine, and spirits cost a lot more than a soft drink (or water). Although a good beverage can add to a meal or social situation, it seems like a lot of money to spend. I noticed this right away – immediate costs of eating in restaurants dropped noticeably when there wasn’t a beer and two spanish coffees on the bill.

    Another issue is perception. In days past, it was quite normal to have a beer at lunch. These days, if you do that, people look at you funny (at least anywhere I’ve worked). It’s not so much a matter of whether it’s OK as it is “these people go back and gossip like little hens that I drink at lunch”. A half-pint with a sandwich gets blown out of proportion by gossip.

    Personally, I plan to go back to my occasional-alcoholic-beverage stance as soon as I am able 🙂

  37. Louise – many people seem to be able to live perfectly normal lives without alcohol, strange as that may seem…

    Squid – At my workplace it’s practically mandatory to have a drink with lunch on Fridays. The rest of the week it’s frowned-upon unless it’s a group celebration lunch for someone’s birthday or something. You need to switch workplaces obviously

  38. drunk people annoy the crap out of me even though i was rather fond of being drunk every chance i got many years ago 🙂

    personality flips are very common for alcoholics, using alcohol as the bus to get them as far away from their problems as it can.

    for example: i would start fights with grown big men, i would strip off my clothes regardless of where i was, and i put myself in harms way entirely too many times (not unscathed) while drunk.

    in fact, i don’t really have much experience (from the past) of being around responsible drinkers. they don’t like to hang with balls to the wall crazy drunks 🙂

  39. Leah – I’m so glad you found your way out of that nasty place and have become the strong, wonderful person you are now.