On not drinking

I had a little health scare last weekend. I had purchased a bottle of Russian vodka for what seemed to me like a very good price. Big bottle. Fancy label with a lot of Cyrillic writing on it. Eighteen bucks. Quite a good deal, I thought. After all, it was imported! 

Stuff tasted like battery acid. Didn’t stop me, though. I’ve always prided myself on the ability to drink just about anything. When I was a kid in college we made beer out of a kit. Mixed it up, put it in the basement to mature. One night, we had a party, ran out of booze at about midnight, so we went downstairs and brought up the “beer,” which had been aging for about two weeks, and drank all of it. Everybody got sick but me. I’m a horse. 

At any rate, the Russian vodka was consumed along with a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs and an arugula salad. I’m sure it was the salad that did it to me, but possibly the vodka didn’t help. At 1 AM I awoke to find I was either dying or wanted to. It took me three days to straighten out and I missed a day of work. I’ll spare you the details. A word of advice, though. If business, family history and stress have issued you a hinky gut, it’s probably best not to pour a cheap corrosive on it. Make it the expensive stuff. 

So the bottom line is that I’ve decided that any person willing to drink that kind of junk as long as it’s cold, regardless of the taste or the effect it might have on his system, probably should take a couple of months off the fun train. It’s been a few years since I didn’t drink. I’ve always told myself it would be no big deal to stop if I wanted to. I’m not a sot or anything. I just like a drink or two every single day, no matter what.

A life in business makes it easy. And it’s never hurt either me or my act, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s helped me. My first corporate culture was inhabited by a bunch of crazy rummies. I loved them and they loved me. My current milieu – along with the rest of the business world – is a lot more sober, but we still get our licks in. It’s part of how we function, keep the whole thing amusing and possible. How do you sit across the table from a banker at dinner without a glass of wine in your hand? 

Also, you know, I love booze. I watch a Western, I want to drink a shot of rye along with Mr. Eastwood. When Bogart is in the absolute pit of despair in Casablanca, I want to share that consolation martini with him. Wine. Beer. Brandy. Gin, even, although I’ve left that part of my stable of beverage behind long ago. Gin will kill you. It’s the crystal meth of alcohols. 

All this goes to say that drinking has been a hobby and entertainment of mine for a long time, and now I’ve given it up. I don’t know if or when I’ll ever start again, but I’m serious about it. I know it’s not going to be easy – not so much physically, but socially. For instance, I live for part of the time in Northern California. This means I will have to talk about wine for hours on end without drinking any. When I go out for drinks after work with Bob and Fred and Chet and Betty, I’ll have to order club soda? It’s weird. Do-able, you know. But still… weird. 

I stayed last night at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. I realized that this was the first time, perhaps ever, that I would be there without having one of their intensely fabulous martinis, and I’ve been coming here for a couple of decades. It was okay, though. I had a few pangs of desire, which I squelched. I’ve given up other things, you know. Smokes. Coffee, even, for a while. I know how to quit stuff.

I had dinner in my room and not in the bar. Watched a movie. Went to sleep. Woke a little while ago. My stomach didn’t hurt. Sometimes boring is better, huh? I may have to work out a solution to the tedium issue going forward, though. I will clearly have to eliminate the things I did in my life that were possibly only when I was drinking, which I suppose will involve yet more work for my subordinates.

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