It is back to school season, but not just for the kids. There’s been a particularly kinetic energy through my slice of the city over the past 2-3 weeks, as people return from fuck knows where and give in to the nearly prehistoric urge to reunite for one last celebration of the summer before the rest of the year starts.
Translation: I’ve been out a lot. Drinking. Carousing. Imbibing. And whatnot.
From a neurochemical standpoint, this is not good. Ethyl alcohol, as found in the Jamesons neats and hoppy beers I’ve been drinking, inhibits (among other things) a number of glutamate receptors in my brain. That’s why it’s a depressant: it’s blocking neural activity. But at the same time it’s also jiggling loose the dopamine and seratonin that influence mood and reward behavior. So as I’m taking syrupy shots of sadjuice, my brain tells me that drinking is a great thing that I should perhaps do more of, even though I know that 7am will roll pitilessly into my home the next day and it will be time to wake and pop some Advil and slog through diapers, serve up breakfast, walk to school, go to the gym, and then start a day of work (or citizen justice).
I have not done some of the bad things that dads in a drinking phase might do to their kids. I have not been drunk around them. I have not barked at them (though I may well have croaked, as I do get a little froggy after a night out). I have not skipped taking them to school. I have otherwise lived up to most if not all of my commitments as a man and a husband. I’ve been sleeping less, but have otherwise fit my day-life and night-life in together.
But still. There’s a part of me that wonders if I’m not somehow picking away at the glue that holds the family together when I find myself still at the bar at 12:30am on a weekend. I look around and get a fairly good sense that I may be the only father of young kids there. I know my wife does not head out for drinks after putting the kids to bed, so why do I?
I’m uncertain about all this because none of it is clearly stated in the contract of fatherhood. It just seems implied, a clause written in invisible ink that says: “You are a dad now. No acting a fool. No third round of drinks. No 2am cabs home.”
A new case is about to start up here in Useless Grand Jury Room #4, so I will leave my navel-gazing at that. But this is actually not a new concern or interest for me. I have my bouts of clean living, and bouts of dirty drinking. None of them really sit right with me. Tell me, please, if I’m overdrinking or just overthinking.