Why Do I Drink

I’m sipping a Long Island Iced tea, at 4:45 am while writing this blog post. A quote from the biker movie, “The Best Bar in America”, comes to mind, “The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards: confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely, and above all, the elusive promises of friendship and love.”

  • Confidence for the shy – I need all of the confidence I can get because when I grew up everybody grew faster than I did. So, at any given age up until my Junior year in high school, everybody stood taller that I. My inferiority complex gained stature instead.
  • Clarity for the uncertain – The cloud of inebriation makes a sharper world out of the blurry reality of all of life’s situations. Other’s become either friend or foe. Middle ground is abandoned when inebriated.
  • Solace to the wounded – For example, my golf game which is a complete calamity disguised by a rare stroke or two seems more than adequate when under the additional cloud of drink!
  • Elusive promise of friendship and love – I’m the most popular person on earth under the influence because my personality become that of an extrovert wolf who took off his introvert sheep skin.

All this seems to make a case for hopping onto a motorcycle and touring every bar from East to West. The original quote is from the book, “A Drinking Life”, by Pete Hamill. If you are trying to convince your audience that bars are worthy tourist attractions, you would no doubt use that quote.

The quote, however, is taken out of context and the very next sentence in Pete’s book changes the whole thrust of the quote, “From almost the beginning of awareness, drinking was a part of my life; there is no way that I could tell the story of the drinking without telling the story of the life. Much of that story was wonderful. In the snug darkness of saloons, I learned much about being human and about mastering a craft. I had, as they say, a million laughs. But those grand times also caused great moral, physical, or psychological damage to me and others. Some of that harm was probably permanent. There is little to be done now but take responsibility. No man’s past can be changed; it’s a fact, like red hair.”

So, why do I drink? Certainly, it’s not a “family tradition” as described by Hank Williams Junior. It’s just me trying to experience another part of life before I’m gone into the oblivion of what may be a non-existent after life. In fact, I didn’t drink more than an occasional glass of wine until I became 65 years of age and joined a 55 and older community in Florida. I’ve learned fast!

Part of my motivation is that many famous and successful people develop drinking habits. Many don’t survive. But many do. What is the difference? I don’t know, but the drinking may be part of the creative process that helps produce creative successful people. Maybe drinking is more of the process than any of us are willing to admit. So, maybe when I say, “Why do I drink?” I can and should say, “To write more creatively.”

In my experience there is something in the warm comfortable feeling I get drinking that loosens my creativity or the confidence I experience with the perception of creativity. Maybe it’s not even creativity that loosens. Actually, it might be self-honesty. How many of us are prisoners of thinking the way someone in authority told us to think? Churches are good authority sources that tell you how to behave and how to think. I am certain that you must think for yourself or you are lost. There is no compromise here. And if drinking is a catalyst to thinking for yourself, then do it until you no longer need to. 

My drinking while I believe is under control may not be. How would I know? How many alcoholics claim they can quit whenever they want? But they never want to! I’m sure that the wonderful woman I’ve lived with for fifty plus years would weigh in strongly on this one. I can read the concern in her face when she thinks I’ve had too much. But then I always wonder, how much is too much? That in itself may be a bad sign. Or maybe it really isn’t because I do function well from day to day, or at least I think I do!

The drink makes me feel good and helps me write something important for me and maybe you. You be the judge. Have I had too much? Have I had not enough?

These remarks are coming from a 73-year-old man who loves his life and wants to experience everything there is to experience before the end. Another good friend of mine died yesterday of liver cancer. None of us knows how much time we have left. We are all marching to a deadly cliff of no return. Detours should be seriously considered. You don’t take detours if you don’t think for yourself with an opened mind. You just follow the person in front of you until he disappears over the cliff just before you do.

You know, we make our choices and cannot go back, unless you believe in re-incarnation. I’m not sure of the existence of god or an afterlife, but I also think that after 73 years of development it would be such a waste for me to evaporate into nothingness. What a lousy model for life that would be. If reincarnation is real, then I will come back with some wisdom that I learned in a previous life. I know what you are thinking, “He has gained no wisdom in this life time.” But, how can you be the judge. Has some religious figure convinced you that what he believes is what you should believe? All I can say is, “Don’t be fooled and think again.”

Perhaps, the power of drink is in the releasing on one’s verbal filter so that one can say what he really believes without worrying about his or her standing in the popularity ratings of this life. Perhaps that is why I voted for Donald Trump. Heck, his filter does not work when he is sober!

My glass is empty save the ice cubes. If I were a true alcoholic, I would fill the glass again with whisky or vodka. But either I know enough not to or don’t know enough to! It’s time for a nap!