I’ve never understood drinking to get drunk. There, I said it. Think I’m lame if you must, but I prefer not to have to find a stranger at 3 in the morning to find my shoes or hold my hair back.
Perhaps growing up in a dry county in Texas explains part of my perspective. For those of you who don’t know, “dry” doesn’t mean the humidity was exceptionally low (although in Abilene, Texas, it is); it means you can’t drink alcohol in public. unless you’re rich and belong to a private club (but then again, if you’re rich, the rules never apply to you, right?) Of course, in Abilene, you also couldn’t swim with the opposite gender (whatever that is), dance in public, or curse near a church and spending four years there hasn’t stopped me from doing all those things.
There were plenty of kids in high school who stole liquor from their parents’ personal stashes, but all we had at home was gallon bottles of wine so cheap even winos would scoff at them. My then-stepmother liked to get up early in the morning, put on some Tammy Wynette music, and begin drowning and smoking away her sorrows. In my mind, I associate alcohol with bad country music and soggy shag carpet (stepmother spilled a lot).
Flash forward 40 years and I’m still not that much of a drinker. I made it 23 years in the Lone Star state without developing a taste for beer, which is one of the reasons I had to leave. There’s a time limit on how long beer-haters are allowed to stay. I also didn’t develop a taste for voting Republican, so my departure was good all the way around.
I’ve spent 25 years as a comedian and comedy producer. That means I’ve probably been in more bars than most alcoholics. I usually order a seltzer water with a lime, so it looks like something exotic (yes, to me a lime on the rim makes a drink exotic.) If I can talk the bartender into a little umbrella for no extra money, I will.
As you might imagine, a lot of my comedy friends are recovering alcoholics and every few months one of them celebrates their sobriety birthday and we celebrate by not drinking together.
I want an extra birthday too. One in which I celebrate decades of making good choices without having had to hit bottom. (Well, my last marriage counts as hitting bottom, but not in an alcohol-related way… at least not for me…) Where’s the celebration for those of us who commit every year to not getting inebriated at children’s birthday parties or running up on stage when someone else is performing and showing off our bra? Don’t we deserve a party too?
So I’ve declared October 8 to be my second birthday. That’s the date of my last divorce. If you want to celebrate with me, it’s BYOSW (bring your own seltzer water). I’ll supply the lime slices and if you’re lucky, little umbrellas.