03 July 2015

Introverted Drunks

I hung up my alcoholic spurs about two decades ago, but for all the drunk I got—and I got a lot of drunk—I am happy to report that I never found myself having gotten into anything like those embarrassing (and pathetic and disturbing) situations shown in pictures that circulate about the Internet. We've all seen them pass through our In Boxes: unresponsive, vomit-covered and urine-soaked young men wedged unconscious between the toilet and the wall of some public bathroom stall; bodily fluid-splattered young women in various stages of undress leading one to wonder just how many things were shoved into someone's daughter and where while she was out cold and oblivious. No doubt many a time as the door closed behind me or I stumbled away from the table to crawl home comments were made as to how I was pretty well lit and whether or not I was okay to drive, but I never faced any "Do you at all remember what you did last night?" announcements after waking up in an unfamiliar place with dried puke down my front, unfamiliar (as opposed to familiar?) panties on my head, and a load of piss and poop in my pants.

Perhaps I escaped these treasured moments because my drunken career built slowly; I was well into adulthood before I would cross the famous "blacked-out drunk" threshold, and then, always at home, alone. (Johnnie Walker and I managed to disjoin a happy and loving couple, by no means the first relationship destroyed by booze, which assisted with the alone part.) When forced to be out at some function I would pace myself, drinking as much as any normal heavy drinker (whatever that is), never a stranger to the bar, but rarely getting staggering, slurring, drunk in public. Once released from the function, I would finish the job at home, however many drinks it would take and until whatever hour. The job wasn't done until I couldn't remember finishing it, which usually meant waking up the next morning to a fresh cigarette burn in the comforter, the remains of a scotch on the night table, and some unexplained object—often the CD player remote—in bed with me, like a trophy brought back to a crow's nest. I went through a lot of eyeglass frames during The Drinking Years, from collisions with door frames when guessing, incorrectly, which was the real door.

Growing up in Connecticut during the state's legal-at-eighteen experiment, I was lucky enough to enjoy legal drinking early on. (Personally, and despite being an alcoholic, I still believe one should learn how to drink before one learns how to drive. Giving a kid a driver's license before a drinker's license just seems like a bad idea.) As a teen and into my twenties and beyond I was never a "party drunk"—I hated parties then, I hate parties today (more so sober)—so getting shit-housed and rowdy with a bunch of equally shit-housed and rowdy friends was never my idea of a good time. I would grow into that guy who drank too much but remained a functioning alcoholic for years—not yet drinking during the day or on the job (that day would come), but the first to say Yes without hesitation when the sun went over the yardarm. You never had to encourage me to have a drink. If someone wanted the motion seconded for the Should we start drinking? vote, I was your man.

Our super-sharing and social society does not shower many benefits upon us introverts, but I'll take this one.

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