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Cinco de Mayo

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10 May 2006

I'm thinking about alcohol today for several reasons.  I started thinking about it last night at the Cinco de Mayo party we attended.  The hosts were very responsible, telling people to be sure they had a designated driver (and providing some teenaged designated drivers for those who didn't have their own), letting them know that there was also a "tipsy taxi" available, and joking that sometimes at this party it looked like a hotel in front of the house at 3 a.m., with all the cars lined up to take party-ers home again.

And then there were prizes for people which included things to help with hangovers, and lots of laughs about who had gotten too drunk the previous year and who woke up with a horrible hangover.

There were tequilla shooter contests going on in the kitchen.

makemarg.jpg (60224 bytes)Everybody was still relatively sober when we left (9 p.m.), but the real "party" part of the party was just starting and they were mixing up a second huge batch of margaritas to go into the margarita machine.   Everybody was very nice and very happy, but it just seemed a given that most of them would end the night drunk.

Contrast that with a gathering I attended recently for a friend who was celebrating 5 years of sobriety.   It was great fun and there were lots of AA people there who were all very nice and very happy and very supportive of the guest of honor.  It was a real "feel good" event. There were gifts and laughs and everybody had a wonderful time--and the only beer served was of the "root beer" variety.

And then I think of a friend who is now many years sober, working the AA program, and seems to be happier than he's ever been.  I remember the years when he was falling down, sloppy drunk.  I remember the things that he did that significantly altered his life in a negative way during his drinking years, some of which nearly ended our friendship more than once.  I remember when he hit bottom and started the road back and how proud I was of him as he began tackling and beating his demons.  And how happy I am to see the good that he does now, and the whole change in his attitude.

I had a couple of margaritas early in the evening at the Cinco de Mayo party, but then I switched to water.   I really don't drink much any more.   Water has become my beverage of choice, even when lots of other things are available.  People sometimes find it hard to believe I actually like water.  I'm not against drinking responsibly.   I enjoyed wine-tasting recently.  But the emphasis on drinking and the acceptance of getting drunk at a party as an inevitabile part of "having fun" bothers me.

I am appalled at things like this, which celebrate drunkenness.

When you look at all the anguish and heartache that come with abuse of alcohol--everything from fatal diseases, to broken families, to irreparable relationships, to accidents which may kill the drinker and/or some innocent bystander--I just don't know if the momentary enjoyment (which, if you continue to drink, leaves you feeling awful in the morning) is worth it.

Why do we drink?  I don't know, but it's been going on for centuries.  Why can't we drink non-alcoholic beverages and still have fun?  We certainly had fun at the 5-year celebration and there wasn't a drop of liquor there.

I think of my father, so drunk he could hardly walk,  unable to remember the names of his grandchildren at our Christmas celebration with him.  "I only have two drinks a day," he slurred after I found an 8 oz tumbler filled with bourbon in the cupboard.  His was a bottomless glass.  When he had to attend drunk driving school following a traffic accident, he celebrated after it was over by going to a bar.

I think of David, killed in an accident because he had driven drunk, even though his friends were responsible, had taken his car keys and had put him to bed, assuming he'd sleep it off and wake up in the morning.

I think of Paul, whose blood alcohol level was above normal when he was found and whose death was almost certainly due to his being too drunk to be doing what he was doing that killed him.

I think of all of my uncles and aunts who were hard drinkers, all of whom had tragedy in their lives due to alcohol, and all of whom eventually ended up in AA.

One reason it's easier for me to give up alcohol is that I don't like feeling out of control.  I've been there and done that.  There were drunk days for me too and I could easily have gone the route of my father or my other relatives.  It's obviously in the genes.  But I'm terrified of being out of control, of embarrassing myself by doing something that people will laugh about.  When I was pregnant for the first time the fear of the pain of labor wasn't nearly as intense as the fear of turning into one of those women who scream terrible things during labor pains.  It was that fear that got me to learn natural childbirth techniques so that I would not be a "screamer."

It was that fear that made me give up drinking, at least most of the time.

I'm one of those people who actually like the taste of alcohol.   I like a good wine.  I like a margarita.  I love a gin and tonic on a hot day.  I was pleased to discover non-alcoholic beers, which taste like the real thing because there are times when a beer just tastes good.  But I don't want to have the effect of what beer can do to me.

I don't really mind people drinking.  And I do it myself from time to time, but I guess it's the expectation that when there is a social event people are going to drink to excess that bothers me.

I'm not really going anywhere with this entry.  Just thinking about alcohol and what it can do to you...and how it just seems an accepted part of having a good time -- some people just assume that they are going to drink more than they should of some alcoholic beverage at a social event and then wake up feeling like hell in the morning.

I don't know.  That's not really my idea of having fun.

I dunno.  Maybe this puts some of the comments made about our illegal immigrants in proportion:



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Jeri doesn't really drink that much,
but again, it was her party, so everybody expected her
to drink too much....and we all laughed about it,
myself included.

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