Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Haze of Alcohol

I don't believe in the whole concept of being drunk. Or maybe I should say I don't believe in the concept of being mentally incapacitated due to intoxication. But I also recognize this is completely egocentric on my part, because the reason I don't buy into true drunkenness (as it is portrayed on TV, or by the co-workers who come swaggering into work late holding their foreheads in agony) is because I have never experienced it before.

I should probably clarify at this point by saying that I'm not exactly a prude when it comes to drinking. Yes, I tend to fall into the category of the "good Christian girl," but I also fall into the category of a social drinker. I don't ever crave liquor, but if it's around, I'm generally more than willing to oblige by downing a drink or two (or three, or six.....). And although I can never compete with my sister's drinking binges (sorry Sho), I have definitely had those nights in the past that should have left me completely toasted. For example, on our 29th birthday, Shan's roommate took Shannon and I out for a girl's night out. We began drinking during dinner, and never quite stopped for the rest of the night. I remember bar-hopping a couple of times until we ultimately wound up at Dimpsies where we drank shot after shot. Men at the bar kept buying us drinks, and of course I didn't want to be rude by not drinking them. ;-) But even after a dozen drinks, I still was not drunk. Okay, physically, I was wasted. I couldn't walk straight, I was acting very silly, and my reflection in the mirror looked really strange. But my mental capacities weren't impaired whatsoever--that is, my ability to make reasonable decisions. At one point during the night, I was asked to dance by a relatively good-looking guy with sandy blond hair and cute dimples. We danced, and had some lively conversation. But the entire time we were dancing and talking, I was keeping a good eye on that "line" in my mind to be sure that, in my intoxicated state, I didn't cross it. Who does that? Who has 18 drinks (arbitrary number) and still gives even a fleeting thought to some moral "line"?

I am 116 pounds, and I can NOT seem to get drunk. By anyone's standards I should be a lightweight who topples after two wine coolers. But I can down six whiskey and cokes and still have all of my wits about me (even though I can't balance on a toilet). Why why WHY can't I get drunk? The plus side is I have never had a hangover, either. And this includes the time I went to Billy Bob's in Texas--the world's largest bar (or honky tonk, as Texans like to call it)--and drank so many White Russians that I lost count.

So based on my personal experience, I think people tend to use liquor as a kind of avatar. "Teacher" me or "Mommy" me or "Wife" me might not be incredibly interesting. But "drunk" me? She can do anything she wants. Alcohol gives people not only the freedom to loosen up their inhibitions, but also to make decisions that they would never make sober. I think when people are drunk and getting ready to do something tempting and stupid (such as cheat on their spouse), they actually do hear that little voice in their heads telling them that this behavior is wrong, but they are allowing themselves to use intoxication as a scapegoat. Being drunk is that proverbial Get out of Jail Free Card. If you do happen to get caught for your drunken acts of stupidity, you just play the card (and of course drive it home with the follow-up "I don't remember anything" card). Being drunk allows you to live out your fantasies, in small degrees.

Admittedly, I do get more touchy-feely when I've had a few. Not emotionally, but physically. My natural personality is also touchy-feely, but it's more exaggerated when I've been drinking. It's the kryptonite to marrying my high school sweetheart--I have never exactly explored my horizons, and I'm not going to lie--the casual touch of another man can send sparks shooting through my flesh. But even in a so-called drunken stupor, I would never in a million years sabotage the sanctimony of my marriage just for a few fleeting sparks. Again, there is a very blindingly bright line that I would never cross, sober or drunk.

Thus, I don't buy into the whole "I cheated on him because I was drunk" phenomenon. For those who have used this excuse, I think you knew exactly what you were doing and are trying to cover your shameful sin in the over-used blanket of intoxication. Morality can shove it's way through even the blurriest haze of alcohol.