making friends over drinks

this is yet another post from my marvelously supportive and creative-thinking husband, dan. as i have been abstaining from alcohol for the past six weeks, he has dramatically cut back on his booze. the below post are a few thoughts HE has had since doing so. you may read mine here.

I had an epiphany……

Alcohol is a terrific equalizer. Whether you’re rich or poor or smart or stupid – when you’re drinking, you’re none of those things, but you ARE drunk.

Humans naturally want to connect with one another, and whether we are attempting to bond with a new group of strangers, or kick back with a circle of friends we have known for years, but may have less in common with than we used to, sometimes conversation and synergy are a struggle.

However, when you’re drunk, none of those things matter. Social drinking strips away all of those barriers and differences that make communication difficult. If you’re a plumber, married with two kids who loves sci-fi , living in the suburbs you meet up with an old college pal who’s a single lawyer living in a Chicago high rise, you’re likely to run out of things to talk about in the first five minutes if you’re not drinking. But if this meet-up is at the bar, you will really only start to connect AFTER those first few minutes when you’ve both downed a drink.

Because no one gets smarter or richer or more interesting when they drink, there’s no threat of competition; we’re all drunken fools who are now only qualified to do nothing but drink more and order Taco Bell. No matter how intimidating someone may appear while sober, that disappears after a round of shots and we’re all equal. Alcohol turns us all into idiots with the dexterity and the propensity for vomiting of toddlers.

In a way, it’s similar to small talk about the weather or sports; they’re topics of common interest that affect almost everyone. No one will be confused or offended or made to feel inferior when these topics are discussed  (regardless of your favorite team losing, you’re still under the umbrella of “sports fan”), you’re all part of that common denominator of small talk. But naturally, small talk isn’t eternally interesting, so we drink to make it seem so.

It’s like a mob mentality when the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. You’re all part of something equally, regardless of your varying levels of intoxication. You’re all working toward the same goal, which is void or a surrogate goal, but it’s that common denominator of alcohol, that equalizes everyone involved.

This is [my theory about] why people drink and why drinkers are put off by non-drinkers. It’s a stance of inequality to not drink when your friends are or vice versa.

There are multiple movies and books where the protagonist destroys part of himself or his life to live a happier and more comfortable life. In one of my favorite movies “Pi”, Max is one of the smartest people to have ever walked the Earth and is plagued with finding patterns in Pi that suggest the stock market is an organic , yet predictable entity. The torture of his burden becomes unbearable and he gives himself an ad-hoc lobotomy, killing his super intellect and dropping him down to the level of the average human. Only then do we see him at peace.

This is what alcohol has become to me. Once the romanticism has been stripped away – and with some alcohol, such as wine , that love will never completely disappear – it’s simply a tool for replacing the burden of thought with a calm ignorance. Next time you are about to drink, think of the effect on your thought process and not just your individual thought process, but the evolution of mankind that has allowed you such a sophisticated brain, and how you’re about to destroy that with whatever your drink of choice may be, no matter how romantic it appears. We’re a self-destructing species and that is inarguable – we smoke, gamble, dismiss birth control/std prevention, drive recklessly and we drink.  On one hand, drinking comes with the guilt of self-destruction but with another sip, that burden becomes lighter. Our intellect is a switch we often choose to flip OFF, but are we really just turning off the thinking switch or is it more like stalling out  manual transmission car? Sure we’re powered down, but it is actually at the long-term expense of our cognitive capacity, just as stalling out a car is bad for the engine. I still have trouble avoiding at least a small drink to stall my mind when it’s time to shut down and go to bed, or when I feel so overwhelmingly burdened with critical thought beyond what’s important right now.  I could go for hours thinking about everything from subatomic particle physics to  new business ventures and sometimes, I need to let go and focus on the topic at hand or at least calm my mind before bed; and it’s then that I find alcohol’s short term benefit outweighing it’s long term detriment.

I could argue in favor of alcohol but that evidence is already overwhelming. I’m not damning it either. I simply ask you to think about what alcohol means to you, why do you drink and ask yourself next time you reach for the bottle, “How will what I’m about to do next improve my life?” and not just the next few minutes.

Cheers,

Dan.

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One thought on “making friends over drinks

  1. Pingback: “cell” restraint | Workouts to Wine

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