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.


  1. I honestly don't know. When I was younger (much younger), Matt and I got a few bottles of random stuff. I drank almost an entire bottle of Aftershock (the big bottle, not the small one) and for the first time in my life I got drop dead drunk. I mean, really, really drunk!

    Although, I still remember everything that happened that night, at the time it was happening in a haze where inhibitions failed to exist. Luckily, we were together, in our apartment, so what came next wasn't obscene as it could have been had I been in public.

    When I get drunk, and I mean really drunk, I go to an uninhibited place. I'm not talking a few wine coolers drunk, when I feel fuzzy and light and flirty. No, I'm talking slobbering drunk. Like you, I become very touchy feely.

    Of course, that night that I got really, really drunk Matt's best friend came home and found me on the bed, passed out naked. Matt was passed out naked on the sofa. LOL. What'd he do? He covered us up and then took pictures of us. We made sure all those pics were burnt.

    The next morning, I felt so, so bad. I didn't even know a hang over like that could exist. I felt HORRIBLE. We drove all the way across town to IHOP, where I sat in the parking lot for 10 minutes and made him take me home. His friend was waiting inside, but I never could have gone in, I felt like I was dying.

    My feeling about the whole cheating while drunk thing is that if a person knows that they're without inhibitions when drunk, they shouldn't put themselves in a situation that would cause something stupid to happen. I never, ever drink in public without Matt nearby to make sure that I don't drink too much. Matt, on the other hand, doesn't drink at all anymore, so it works out.

    And, now that I've written you a short story, I'm off. :)

  2. I personally love your miniature novels, so keep em' coming. ;-)

    My first time getting drunk was in the privacy of my townhouse in Wisconsin (with Clinton, of course). I also lost just about all inhibitions. I actually slid down our banister, naked...several times! When Clinton helped me to get dressed for bed, he put me in green sweat pants and a red sweatshirt, and I kept calling it my "Christmas Suit." LOL

    The thing is, to this day I still think I had control over my actions. If, for example, I had consumed the same amount of rum but my grandma had been in our house, would I still have slid down our staircase stark naked? Probably not. Even in my liquor-induced insanity, I would have been able to muster up SOME level of self-control.

    I think that alcohol is a catharsis. As tightly-wound human beings, we need that emotional release from time to time, so when a situation presents itself for us to have that release, we're going to jump on it.

    I can drink with or without Clint and have no fear about losing myself completely. If Clint's not around then I will push that line to arm grazing, hand touching, or some other kind of bodily contact, but I don't let myself go any further. At least, I don't think...there is always that possibility that I just haven't been in a tempting enough scenario for that dilemma to actually present itself in a real way. I can tell you that I feel 100% convicted that I would never cheat on my husband, but I can also say that I'm not so naive to think I'm completely infalliable and immune to life's temptations. So I have to agree with you that the best thing to do is to simply avoid putting ourselves into situations where we might be vulnerable to exercising poor judgement.

  3. If you think alcohol is a "catharsis," does this mean I should rename my blog "Alcohol"?

    Really interesting blog. I agree with you about individuals being able to hold onto their moral convictions even when seriously intoxicated.

    My last "night out" really threw me a curveball though. I have always hated it when people claim "they can't remember" because they were "drunk." No matter how much I have drank, I always COULD REMEMBER. Well, until a few weeks ago. There are gaps in my memory, such as how did I get to the bathroom, and how did I get from the bathroom to outside? (I will NEVER drink a cognac AGAIN unless I am slowly sipping it after dinner!)It is SO strange. So now I am acknowledging that an intoxicated individual CAN forget some things, although I think 95% of those who say "I forgot" are really just full of sh**.

  4. I'm actually surprised by your comment to this post, Shan, because as I wrote this entry, I figured you would be the one to disagree with me the most. I still remember you coming to the Inn on Sunday mornings with the biggest hangovers. LOL

  5. Yeah, but if I strip down all the excuses and BS, I used it as an excuse to get stupid.


Thanks for your comment!