It was my cousin’s baptism. I was 13. We celebrated at my uncle’s place. There was a great deal of alcohol, and drugs. My mother thought it would be funny if I joined the festivities by handing me my very own screwdriver. She poured .5 oz of vodka, half a liter of orange juice in a glass, followed by a Salute, and a drink up little man! I was drinking the big people’s drink, and in a few minutes, I thought, I was going to act funny like the big people drinking big people’s drinks. It didn’t happen, I was not acting funny—I was still acting like a kid. And like the 13-year old kid that I was, I rebelled…by pouring .5 oz of orange juice and half a liter of vodka in my glass, and laughed myself silly like the big people did, into a drunken stupor where I stole the keys of my father’s Plymouth Gran Fury Sedan, and drove into a snow bank, barely avoiding a head-on collision with an oncoming car. Later on that night, I was hospitalized for acute alcohol poisoning. Your son is allergic to vodka, sir, said the doctor. Your son has a very high concentration of alcohol in him, sir. Your son shouldn’t be drinking at his age, sir. This was all peachy and stuff, what the doctor said—I was 13, weakened and wired on medical equipment, my father’s scowling eyes conveying their disappointment, with the mother of all hangovers—and yet, I couldn’t wait to get drunk again.
For many years, today is my last beer honey was my mantra, my ticket to one more night of debauchery, the ace up my sleeve, my get out of jail free card, [insert idiom of your choice]. Not only was I lying to my partners, I was literally convincing myself: today was going to be my last beer. My mantra was even more convincing after a gram of cocaine—drinking and snorting was for losers, I was not an alcoholic, I could stop anytime, go to the gym as of tomorrow, be a good boyfriend, start my own business, marry Monica Bellucci… Who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of her life with a charming drug addict, and a cute one for that matter, one that looks like Robert Downey Jr? Trust me, honey, tomorrow we’ll eat healthy. Pass me the broccoli, and the Heineken, please. If you are in need of help, please visit the Minnesota directory of alcohol rehab centers.
Came a day where one last beer didn’t pack the punch it once did. And girlfriend #1-2-3-4 and my now beautiful wife threatened to leave: I’m leaving, your drinking is out of control, and if you can’t see it, I won’t be part of it. This was when I took out the big guns: Honey, I’m done with drinking… during weekdays. From now on, I will only drink on Fridays. And Saturdays. Perhaps even on Sundays. But not during the week, unless it’s a Wednesday, just to break the week in two, or if I have a hard day at work, and I need to unwind with a few beers on a Tuesday night. But honey, I’m done with drinking. Girlfriend #1-2-3-4 all showed a look of disbelief, and sadness. And I couldn’t care less—I was an addict, and no one would stand between me and my allergic reactions to vodka.
Summer of 2010. My wife. Paraphrasing: Eric, I love you, it’s visceral. But I cannot be part of this. I’m sorry. There was no lie that was going to get me out of this one. Insert cliché: my life was one big lie, a marketing tag line with the sole purpose of getting me closer to another beer. 2 for 1 slogans were even better. Insert fact: facing 20 years of addiction was not going to be achieved through the bottom of a beer bottle. On the 24th of June, I got shitfaced for the last time. For my wife, my kids, and my life. 873 days sober.
Le Clown, clear-headed. Insert new catchphrase: