My daughter used to tease me, “you’re just a wanna-be alcoholic she’d say and maybe I was but really who would sign up for that unless they indeed had a problem?
The line of my drinking not clearly demarcated one way or the other back then. No holiday scenes, DUIs, no tickets unless you count the one in college for open containers as I walked home from one of the bars with a plastic cup of beer. No passing out debacles at the dinner table or embarrassment to my friends and family. No lost jobs, missed school pick-ups with my kids. No one calling me out that I had a problem. Actually quit the contrary. Calling me out for quitting. Why would you do that? And more importantly, why did I? I am still not sure why I offered up a prayer of petition to Mother Mary five years ago in February just as lent was starting that if she intervened to help save my dog I would quit alcohol for the rest of my life.
So in alms and in reminiscence of what I did give up it seems fitting to toast to her or him today on Fat Tuesday. Let’s say I am giving myself this instead of my own chip, a toast in celebration and honor to alcohol for what it offered me for so many years.
It wasn’t the buzz at the end of my day that I miss the most, or the way it would help me circumvent stress. It is more its place at the center of my social circle. Alcohol walked hand and hand with me. An attractive handbag. At restaurant and parties and almost any outing it was there. It’s inclusiveness I miss, sitting and beaming the centerpiece placed in the middle of the table for all to see. Both figuratively and literally, the deliciousness. Enjoying in each other’s company. The knowing look from servers that yes, they had my drink coming right away and the next one not far behind. I've forgotten now how it would help to mute and buffer my life. Uplift my spirit, it’s vernacular apropos. I didn’t appreciate its importance enough. Like a lover you take for granted until they are gone.
The hilarity, taste, sophistication, enjoyment, wild abandon. I toast today to you with an empty glass full with gratitude. I tell my drinking compadres, I understand why you aren’t surrounded by non drinkers. We shine the light and you’d rather have the dimmer switch on. I get it. So with my own light shining brightly, I say to you carpe diem! Seize the day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart with my emptied cup in hand. And after the toast, I glance down at its emptiness starting to bubbling up with the taste of something new.