Nathan’s revelation yesterday that he’s too hungover to blog reminded me of something I’ve heard increasingly from friends: They’re quitting drinking. As a New Yorker, I’m kind of astounded that anyone would even consider this, but it’s true. One friend apparently quit drinking a while back; another, who lives in the South, did so recently.
Now, I can’t presume to really know what they were going through. And I would never simply laugh off their decisions. Still, I find it hard to imagine either of them as out-of-control drinkers, so dependent on booze that going cold turkey was the only solution. It makes me wonder if I really know these guys, particularly the Southerner, at all.
But it also reminds me of a third friend, this one a New Yorker too, who often frets that his desire for a nightly beer and/or whiskey is growing too strong, that it dictates how he’ll pass the post-work hours, even if he never actually gets drunk on his nightly tipple. He, too, is someone I can’t imagine truly out of control, and I begin to wonder if there’s something floating around in the culture that is provoking guilt over what, for thousands of years, has been man’s primary mechanism for coping with the horribleness of life. Heck, even Don Draper’s trying to slow down.
Here on Dadwagon, however, we are very pro-alcohol. I’m the guy bringing his kid to a bar, after all. I don’t see myself getting on that other wagon any time soon.
And that’s partly because I see drinking and parenting as parallel challenges. (This is not just a spurious theory ginned up to stretch out a blog post. Serious!) Both involve trying to balance a need for control with a need to give up control. Just as you hover over a little kid stumbling around the playground, you also need to give the child space to try new things and, yes, fall down from time to time. On the drinking side, it’s tricky, too—when have you reached the perfect moment of relaxation, beyond which more booze is bad?
I’m not saying that one helps with the other (although a beer or two can definitely make playing with small children more fun), just that they both test our limits and our self-knowledge. Although, I guess, in the case of my newly teetotaling friends, self-knowledge has been a revelation.