Day -4 | So Much for New Years Resolutions | Getting Hammered Every Night
“To escape the pain,” I tell her.
She’s a cute thing; young and blond. Has a head filled with medical smarts.
“What pain,” she says.
“The pain of living,” I tell her and the expression on her face goes blank. She’s got no perspective.
The inscrutable question [to most], “Is there ever a day where you consume 6-8 alcoholic beverages” is part of an ever-defining compilation of inquiry.
It’s either suggestive of an epidemic or a telling snapshot of just how off-the-charts the state of my consumption [pain] is.
I happen to be one of those people who are still big on honesty [or shock factor] and do not preface my answer by asking Dr. Suzy Q here to restrain her Size-4 person.
I tell her, a bit too casually, I drink 6-8 drinks every night.
1.5 ounces of distilled spirit equals one “standard” drink [B3]. Whether the alcohol is diluted in cranberry juice, soda water or Jägermeister. That means my nightly 6-ounce martini equals four drinks in one.
That’s 4, not 6 drinks.
Yea, but the martini’s followed by two to three glasses of wine and a double shot of Cognac.
I am, after all, of the all-or-nothing ilk.
Dr. Suzy Q, oblivious to the dark world of fiftiness, and who’s guffaw at learning of my alcohol consumption still reels concealed in her mind, maintains her clinical demeanor.
Hang ‘Em High, sister.
I leave her exam room ill-at-ease with the fact that I get hammered every night [confession surfaces guilt] and head back to one of the two rooms we’re renting from our friends, Ted and Sue [a short term thing that has gotten away from us]. Their grandchildren are visiting, two boys. When the second-hand creeps to the faithful hour of 7:00 p.m., I leave my desk to fix a drink [the guilt’s evaporated], full of glee to anesthetize the pain of living.
But I’m taken by surprise.
Just beyond the threshold, the seven-year-old is shirtless [remember, it’s January in New England] and whirling a phone charger over his head.
His eyes are glazed over.
His mother and father and Ted and Sue are seated at the nearby table. I stand aghast in fear of sustaining damage to everything located above my neck. Negotiations ensue. Statements iterated firmly, laced with the undertone dear-god-is-he-really-doing-this.
The air in the room is so dense with the notion of the kid’s bad behavior, you could karate chop at it and the scene would topple sideways.
I fall mesmerized watching, hear my dad’s voice. Rotten kid.
Tyler snaps out of it.
I step over the phone charger and once in the kitchen, mock-gesture to Sue, holding the 1.75-liter bottle of Ketel One to my mouth. It takes two hands.
Cocktail in hand, I steal away to our room, stopping to take sips so it won’t spill over and kick the door closed behind me.
Still, later, there’s dignity to maintain.
[why are we still living with Ted and Sue]
Sober people are repelled by drunk ones. I don’t leave our TV room. Not after I’ve sipped away every microscopic drib of the martini and whatever abundant flow of alcohol Husband has provided until Ted and Sue are behind the closed door of their bedroom.
It’s 9 p.m.
I’ve munched through a bag of chips or two and I’m going for the cognac in the kitchen, thinking, it’s safe.
But Sue is there, gazing out the window.
The drunk across the street who is compelled to numb the pain of living around the clock, is propped up on a gurney and being lifted into an ambulance.
Sue gives me the details—two EMTs, a police officer, had been inside for twenty minutes. My body sways. I’m exposed, deranged—ten bubbles off plumb—whirling the damn phone charger over my own head.
But hell, I’m a veteran, and beckon my drunk wits about me.
If you speak, you’ll slur.
I want to speak, say, do you think he fell down the stairs, maybe the neighbor called for help, gee, aren’t those spot-lights on the ambulance really bright, but my drunk wits prevent it.
They tell me, just nod and smile.
I nod and smile and skulk away infused with shame, thinking, I’ll quit [drinking] tomorrow.
The bottle of cognac is in my hand.