“If a man has no vices, he’s in great danger of making vices out of his virtues, and there’s a spectacle. We’ve all seen them: men who were monsters of philanthropy and women who were dragons of purity. … No, no – nurse one vice in your bosom. Give it the attention it deserves and let your virtues spring up modestly around it.”
I see blogs all the time touting the health and wellness benefits of quitting booze. From losing weight to not being at a constant risk of DUI, there are some positives, but for the most part, it’s a lot of nonsense. One website says you’ll get clearer skin. Yeah, I’m not a thirteen year old girl. I’m way past puberty and I take showers. I didn’t need that added benefit. I’ve also seen a lot of stuff about your internal organs. Supposedly your liver fat will decrease and something about your kidneys will improve. I’m a simple man. If I don’t notice it, I really don’t care. Occasionally, I’ll get a tingle in my chest, and I’ll think, “well, it’s been a good run. Better delete my browser history before I die,” but that’s about it. I couldn’t care less about LDL levels or blood glucose. If it’s my time to die, due in part to a lifetime of ingesting carcinogens and not wearing sunscreen ever, then so be it. I have quit drinking for the past three months and who knows how long I’ll keep going. I wasn’t an alcoholic or anything and it wasn’t doctor recommended. I just wanted to do it. Overall, it’s been easy. I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms or anything. I have tons of booze in my house and not once has it called my name so strongly that I broke my fast. So here are some of the things I’ve noticed since quitting drinking.
You Absolutely Need Alcohol to Have Fun
This is the truth. That thing your mom and the D.A.R.E. program told you is a flat out lie. When I was drinking, a few cold ones, a bottle of wine, or a few fingers of whiskey were like a kiss from an angel. It made TV better, it made my wife’s terrible reality shows more watchable, and it makes you not care about that guy that cut you off in traffic earlier that day.
Now, I sit on the couch bored out of my mind. Not to mention the social and traditional aspect that goes along with having a drink and watching TV. No more whiskey or partaking in any of the special release beverages that have come out with the new season of Game of Thrones. No more Bud Lights during Saturday baseball games. And the Kentucky Derby? I don’t even think I’m gonna watch. I make ‘good’ decisions when I’m not drinking and that means that without having 6 mint juleps, I won’t be confident enough to engage in the other vice of the triple crown, gambling on horses that I don’t know anything about.
Brunch is no longer appealing. It would just be going out for breakfast. Can you imagine how dumb that sounds? Going out and paying someone else to cook the least necessary meal of the day?
I also realized basically that anything that wasn’t that fun was made fun with my friends Jose Cuervo and Jack Daniels. Work parties, museums, and coaching Little League baseball are all way more fun when you’re blasted.
You’re a Less Gross Piece of Shit
Booze is weird because it’s such an excessive thing. Think about anything else in the world that you could eat or drink. You would never, and I mean never, consume as much of it in one sitting as you would alcohol. On a solid football game day, I could knock down 15 beers without a problem. Now replace that figure with anything else. 15 hot dogs? Not only would you be shitting your pants, but the nitrate consumption would kill you on the spot. 15 sodas? Okay, psychopath. Enjoy your diabetes and rotten teeth. 15 glasses of water? The standard has always been 8. Even gym guys who walk around with gallons of water would tremble at the thought of that.
Another thing that always got me was the drunk munchies. Pizzas, McDonalds runs, tortillas with cheese in the microwave to make a disgusting quesadilla. All things that would get me to inevitably pass out before waking up and doing absolutely nothing for two days to combat the hangover. Now, the thought of that is simply unappealing. Also, without drinking, I’d say you’re about 100% less likely to piss yourself or throw up. Not that this example was ever really my bag, but I have buddies in their late 20’s who would be best off wearing a diaper to bed.
You Feel Like You’re 17 Again
I see Facebook-quality memes floating around that basically imply that it’s all downhill after age 25. While this is somewhat true, it was way more pronounced when I was on the sauce. So then I started to realize that the reason I probably feel like shit is because aside from natural aging, the only factor that has changed since I was underage is that I drink more regularly. This is probably the longest I’ve gone without a drink since I started drinking. I had my first whiskey and coke at 13, and although it didn’t turn on a lightbulb in my brain that turned me into Ron Artest in his days on the Pacers, I haven’t gone more than a few weeks without any booze since then. Pretty alarming really.
So some changes I’ve noticed. I slept like shit when alcohol was normal in my life. Even without having a drink for a few days, I would take forever to fall asleep and I would wake up three or four times throughout the night. I had lower back pain that I attributed to getting older, and just generally, I felt like crap all the time. After like two weeks of quitting booze, my back pain totally went away, I sleep like a rock, and I just feel really good in general. You always hear that taking ecstasy is like stealing happiness from tomorrow because you get that huge serotonin flood in your brain, but it comes from the next day when you feel awful. It’s similar with alcohol except now I feel great all day instead of just for 3 hours at night.
You Really Don’t Save Money
The stuff I drink is generally a little pricy. I do have $15 12-packs of Bud Light, but I enjoy a nice $12 6-pack of Dogfish head or a $40 bottle of makers mark. That’s just at home. At the bar, $4.50 for a Bud Light or $12 on a cocktail isn’t out of the norm, so I thought, wow, if I’m not spending $40 a week on booze at home and who knows how much at the bar, I must be saving some serious cash. Not the case at all. Due to my boredom, I’ve discovered that I absolutely needed a new Titleist Vokey wedge, GFORE golf shoes, Givenchy slide sandals to wear literally only from my house to my car to the golf course locker room and back, and a Supreme duffel bag. Now did I actually need these things? No, but when you’re stone sober during that 45 minute pitch black battle scene in Game of Thrones, your mind starts to wander. You hear all the time about drunk Amazon purchases of random shit, but this isn’t middle of the mall stuff like a dog-shaped tape dispenser that basic chicks order when they’ve had too many margaritas at happy hour. I’ve gone designer. So yeah, you might save a little by skipping out on bottomless mimosas or a bottle of Rip Van Winkle, but you can spend way more when you don’t have booze preventing you from being able to read your credit card numbers.
So what’s the point of this blog and me not drinking? Like I said, I didn’t get told to quit by a doctor, I didn’t have any run ins with the law, no ruined relationships, nothing like that. I just realized I should see what all the hype is about. I still don’t buy in to the AA thing. I think that even people who are physiologically alcoholics could probably safely consume alcohol if they have the willpower to keep it in check. I just have kind of wanted to see if I could do it. I do really like the way I feel for the most part, but in all fairness, it’s just very boring. As much as a I love sitting down to watch some Sunday afternoon baseball, instead of soaking up some booze and basically having your day turn into a wash, I can actually drive to the golf course for 9 holes after the game is over.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it if you have your drinking in control and you feel good, but it can also tell you a lot about yourself and where you are in your mental and overall health depending on how it goes for you.
So how long am I going to keep doing this? Tough to say. Like I said, it’s basically a tradeoff. My choices are: have some drinks and feel absolutely fantastic for 3-6 hours then feel like shit for the next two days? Or would I rather just feel pretty good all the time, but I’m the single most boring human being on the planet? That’s really what I’m dealing with. I can promise I’ll never be the asshole who turns down a beer with a buddy or the person who rejects a champagne toast, but I’m not so sure I’ll go back to being a full-fledged, borderline alcoholic.