Drunks & Drinkers

I admire people who drink without, (apparently,) getting drunk.

As a skinny, lightweight, drinker, the edge of drunk and too-drunk has always been a knife’s edge for me.

Not only that, but there are just some people who approach drinking differently than others.

A lot of people drink as part of a social interaction: go out to the bar, hang out with friends, drink some pints, chat, play darts, etc.

Have several drinks over the course of hours, pacing themselves, without apparent danger of disturbing the rules of the social contract or becoming out of sorts.

On the other hand, some people like to be drunk.

I’m one of those people, the ones who sometimes like to get a little too drunk.

Different people go different ways, when a little too drunk.

Most of the time, I am OK. Pleasant enough, smiling, if quiet, and somewhat mischievous. Fine.

On the other hand, sometimes drinking a little too much, is a descent into the yawning chasm of self-pity, insecurity, and anger which sits at the center of my being.

Again, as a skinny person, it is a knife’s edge, one drink this way or that, between pleasantly too-drunk, and unpleasantly too drunk.

And sometimes, it just seems to be mood, or my perception of the situation in which I find myself.

“Evil Erik,” my wife calls these bad trips. Mostly I just tend to leave, walk away from the situation in which I can clearly, drunkenly, see I am not wanted, or interested in participating with.

Some people believe that drinking, or other drugs, can make you a different person.

For the most part, I disagree.

I believe that whatever aspects you show when altered, are there with you, to a larger or smaller degree, all the time, perhaps sublimated under your restraint and respect for the rules of the social situations in which you are participating.

As a sober participant in social interactions, I can usually perceive that walking away from the people I am talking to, or ignoring their words, (words, so many words,) is something I should not do. I sublimate my fear, anger, and insecurity beneath my respect for the social contract.

However, this is something I had to teach myself to do, and have to sometimes consciously make an effort at. Let’s just say I have my Asberger tendencies.

When I was younger and I was bored with my friends, or felt like they weren’t interested me, I would simply walk away. Go inside the house and read, even if it was in the middle of a game or conversation.

I guess drinking too much turns me back into an 8 year old brat.

Drink as Little as Possible

Around my birthday, last year, I realized I had been drinking for 30 years. Since I was 18. Whew.

The broken bottle and the damage done, eh?

Since this realization, off and on, I’ve been trying to drink as little as possible.

Generally, this hasn’t worked well.

Started the less drinking project October-ish, then there was my birthday and Portland Cocktail Week. I was cut a break when Heaven’s Dog closed in Oct/Nov, and peer pressure was reduced to drink on a semi-weekly basis. Re-started the project, and then there were the holidays. In January, I finally got around to drying out for a few weeks, then I got invited to England to visit the Savoy Hotel. In February, to Boston for a cocktail event.

Then started working behind the bar regularly at South in the SF Jazz center.

Even leaving aside peer pressure from fellow bar staff, there is always an excuse to drink.

I was reading Roger Ebert’s memoir, not to put any spoilers out there, but in his 20s and 30s he drank to excess with the rest of the Chicago newspaper scene at The Goat and O’Rourke’s. Eventually, he decided he was an alcoholic and joined AA. When he joined AA, his sponsor gave him a drug that would make drinking very unpleasant, “If you are able to drink, it is only your will, and will always fails,” or words to that effect.

Without drink, he went on to live a fairly productive late life, with adopted children and a wonderful, supportive wife. Film festivals, TV show, etc.

For most of my life, I feel like, and this is my perception, that I’ve managed to keep drinking in its box. It has never cost me a job or a relationship. I’ve never lost a weekend, or a week, to a bender.

On the other hand, I’ve always been lucky to have friends or loved ones to bail me out from periodic lost nights. Shove me in a cab with some money, or help me get into my pajamas.

When you’re young, binge drinking seems fun. However, at some point, you just become a drunk old guy, instead of an enthusiastic, youthful, partier.

I was looking at a photos of older men, who still try to sport the stubble look. It’s like that. At some point, you just look like a rumpled old man who didn’t have time to shave, instead of a youthful bon vivant.

I feel like that now, I’m old enough I should have learned to drink well, like the quintessential Italian man. To drink enough to enjoy life, but not enough to be drunk in public.

But, I haven’t, and I still manage to occasionally get embarrassingly drunk.

Maybe 30 years of drinking is enough.

Imbiber’s 100

Darcy O’Neil, over at the Art of Drink blog, has proposed that Imbibers adapt the “Omnivore’s 100” meme and posted the following “Imbiber’s One Hundred“.

Instructions:

1) Copy this list into your blog, with instructions.
2) Bold all the drinks you’ve imbibed.
3) Cross out any items that you won’t touch
4) Post a comment here and link to your results.

OR

If you don’t have a blog, just count the ones you’ve tried and post the number in the comments section of his blog.

Here’s mine…

List of Drinks You Must Try Before You Expire

1. Manhattan Cocktail
2. Kopi Luwak (Weasle Coffee) (Extemely expensive coffee.  Beans eaten by weasels, partially digested, and pooped out before being roasted and ground for coffee.  Hmmm…  Tempted to strike that one out.)
3. French / Swiss Absinthe
4. Rootbeer
5. Gin Martini
6. Sauternes
7. Whole Milk
8. Tequila (100% Agave)
9. XO Cognac
10. Espresso
11. Spring Water (directly from the spring)
12. Gin & Tonic
13. Mead
14. Westvleteren 12 (Yellow Cap) Trappist Ale (I wish!)
15. Chateau d’Yquem
16. Budweiser (Budvar, even!)
17. Maraschino Liqueur
18. Mojito
19. Orgeat
20. Grand Marnier
21. Mai Tai (original)
22. Ice Wine (Canadian) (Plus Canadian ice cider!)
23. Red Bull
24. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
25. Bubble Tea (Just haven’t gotten around to it yet…)
26. Tokaj
27. Chicory
28. Islay Scotch
29. Pusser’s Navy Rum
30. Fernet Branca
31. Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
32. Bourbon
33. Australian Shiraz
34. Buckley’s Cough Syrup (Darcy has clarified, this is some sort of vile Canadian Cough Syrup.  Does Robitussin count?)
35. Orange Bitters
36. Margarita (classic recipe)
37. Molasses & Milk
38. Chimay Blue
39. Wine of Pines (Darcy sez this is some sort of fermented beverage made from Pineapples.  I had house made Tepache at Teardrop Lounge in Portland.)
40. Green Tea
41. Daiginjo Sake
42. Chai Tea
43. Vodka (chilled, straight)
44. Coca-Cola
45. Zombie (Beachcomber recipe)
46. Barley Wine
47. Brewed Choclate (Xocolatl)
48. Pisco Sour
49. Lemonade
50. Speyside Single Malt
51. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
52. Champagne (Vintage)
53. Rosé (French)
54. Bellini
55. Caipirinha
56. White Zinfandel (Blush)
57. Coconut Water (I totally think this shouldn’t count unless you’ve had it directly from the coconut on a tropical island.)
58. Cerveza
59. Cafe au Lait
60. Ice Tea
61. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
62. Vintage Port
63. Hot Chocolate
64. German Riesling
65. Pina Colada
66. El Dorado 15 Year Rum
67. Chartreuse
68. Greek Wine
69. Negroni
70. Jägermeister
71. Chicha
72. Guiness
73. Rhum Agricole
74. Palm Wine
75. Soju
76. Ceylon Tea (High Grown)
77. Belgian Lambic
78. Mongolian Airag
79. Doogh, Lassi or Ayran
80. Sugarcane Juice (I’ve chewed fresh sugar cane, so I’m gonna give this one to myself.)
81. Ramos Gin Fizz
82. Singapore Sling
83. Mint Julep
84. Old Fashioned
85. Perique
86. Jenever (Holland Gin)
87. Chocolate Milkshake
88. Traditional Italian Barolo
89. Pulque
90. Natural Sparkling Water
91. Cuban Rum
92. Asti Spumante
93. Irish Whiskey
94. Château Margaux (My French wine phase was quite a while ago so I’m not sure about this one.  But I don’t think I ever quite got to that price range.)
95. Two Buck Chuck
96. Screech (I’ve had Wray & Nephew Overproof, does that count?)
97. Akvavit
98. Rye Whisky
99. German Weissbier
100. Daiquiri (classic)

91 out of 100.  Obviously, I’ve been beverage obsessed for some time now.

Now if I can just get to Mongolia, Belgium, Canada, and Mexico, I’ll knock out the rest…