Over in the local paper, ‘wagoneer Theodore Ross—or, as he’s known around DadWagon HQ, The Odor—has a nice little piece up today about how the publishing industry revolves around drinking, even (or perhaps especially) when that industry is ridding itself of you with all the delicacy of a toddler emptying her bowels. Here’s a taste:
I didn’t really feel that I had taken possession of the office until I procured a bottle of bourbon and several drinking glasses. I remember telling my father, who is not exactly a teetotaler, about this, and he was appalled, unconvinced by my explanation that practically every journalist and editor I’d ever met kept a bottle around. (One of my friends, a writer, keeps seven mostly-full bottles of Schnapps on his desk next to a photo of his daughter dressed as a bumblebee.) You don’t necessarily have to drink it — I hardly touched the bourbon — but it has to be there.
As the schnappsmeister and father of said bumblebee, I feel entitled to comment, or really to burden you with my dreary thoughts on drinking, which have been changing over the past couple of months. In short: I don’t like it as much as I used to.
It started, I think, well before the last couple of months. In the past few years, I began to notice that if I drank beer at night—even just a single pint—getting up the next morning was an inconceivable chore. This didn’t happen with wine or spirits, just beer. So, I cut back. Well, okay, not really. But a few weeks ago, I went out to a new bar with a fellow writer and had a few pints—some kind of wonderful dark beer from Barrier—and found myself, in the middle of the night, puking into the toilet. I hadn’t had that much, I thought, so maybe I’m just getting older, no longer able, physically, to handle what I put in.
So now it’s the occasional beer, with wine taking its place. I have no scientific justification for this decision, only the vague memory of another friend who’d been told by his doctor to do the same thing. But even then, I’m skeptical. Last week I spent in Montreal with my brother, and we ate and drank a lot: you know, foie gras and pork and duck at every meal, washed down with generally great wine and the occasional shot of armagnac to cut through the fat. Everything tasted great, and yet there would always come some indefinable point in the evening when the effects of the wine began to eclipse its enjoyment. I wouldn’t get drunk exactly, but I could tell my taste buds were dulled. And in the morning, I’d feel awful—though more in an “I just ate a week’s worth of saturated fat” way than hungover.
All of which is to say it’s time to cut back. But just a little. I know a few people who’ve stopped drinking entirely, and another who’s always questioning whether his desire for a beer after work is evidence of creeping alcoholism. But that’s not for me. I still like the stuff—how it tastes and how it makes me feel—and rare are the times when I really do have too much. I like the rituals of drinking, of surprising my wife with a gin-and-tonic. I like the relief of a beer when I get home. In the absence of religious or cultural traditions, drinking is all I’ve got. I just want a little less of it.
And I’ve got a great solution: Sasha! Lately when I pull out a glass or bottle of “daddy juice,” Sasha demands a sip. And, sometimes, she gets one. For every sip she takes, that’s one I don’t, and I’m well on the way to temperance!