After a particularly heavy weekend in Rome that saw me relegated to the toilet for longer than is polite, it occurred to me that I have been drinking pretty much every weekend since the age of 14. That’s almost a quarter of a century of jagermeister, beer, red wine, consequent hangovers, junk food, and existential crises.
It’s kind of gross. My last baby tooth was yanked out by my drunk-ass self in a Paceville toilet, and since then my liver has been under permanent attack. Once, at the ripe old age of 15, and all in one night, I drank 2 bottles of red wine to myself, proceeded to throw up in a bar in front of all the ‘cute seniors’, got dropped by my equally drunk best friend down a spiral staircase, threw up again all over the backseat of some random guy’s brand new car as he was driving me and my friends home, got forced into a cold shower by my friends who put me to bed where I stayed until I (surprisingly) surfaced the next day with zero memory of everything except the embarrassing parts of the night before.
I have had high expectations of my body’s ability to heal itself for quite some time now and I feel like I’ve had my fun. I’m so unbelievably bored of it, and I’m at that age where what I do now will have a much more significant impact on my lifespan than what I did when I was in my twenties. So, for this reason, I decided to stop drinking for 4 weeks, primarily just to find out if I could. For all I know, I could be a raging alcoholic, I’ve just never stopped drinking long enough to find out. But this experiment was also a way to find out if there is anything else to do for fun that doesn’t involve drinking (or joining a gym, fuck off with that). After I was finished, the plan was then to return to drinking, but at a much more modest pace. You know, like what French people do.
So, after 28 days of not drinking, here is what I discovered:
1. People Are Shit
Oh my god. People are so fucking shit, how did I not notice this? Oh yeah, that’s right, because I was smashed the whole time. Going into a social environment as the only non-drinker, I could not believe how self-obsessed everyone was. Drunk people LOVE to talk about themselves. And in the most nauseating way, too. Here are just some of things that were said to me without even a hint of irony:
- “I’ve travelled here, and here, and here, and there, and as a result I am an authority on every single culture that exists on planet Earth at the present moment.”
- “I teach yoga. I’m pretty amazing. Look at my bendy body, look at it bending more than is necessary. Wow, right?”
- “I have quite a lot of money, not to sound like an asshole.”
- “My husband has quite a lot of money. It means I have the luxury of being flexible with my career choices. I’m currently on my 9th career move because I have experienced no repercussions as a result of lack of commitment due to all the money that my husband gives me. He’s really cool like that. He respects my need to be free.”
- “I train for 2 hours every day after work. Feel how heavy my bag is. It’s because I have to change outfits 3 times a day because of all the activities I do. I also have to carry my lunch in there because I’m vegan, so you know, I have to plan my meals.”
- “I’m quite important, as much as I despise myself for saying it.”
No need to despise yourself, everyone else is already doing that for you.
2. I’m Not Sure Pizza Is As Amazing As I Thought
Think about it guys. It’s basically just bread and cheese with some fancy ketchup. I think the only reason I like it is because I can eat it with my hands when I’m an immobile, onesie-wearing, hungover mess on my sofa, and I don’t have to feel bad about it because you’re supposed to eat pizza with your hands. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there are actually better things than pizza to eat if you are willing to commit to cutlery.
3. I Actually Like Sundays
When I drank every weekend, Sundays were like a horrible no man’s land for me. You can’t go out on the smash because you have work in the morning, you also can’t do anything productive like exercise or cleaning because you’re hungover from Saturday night, so you kind of just sit there in your pjs feeling this horrendous guilt mixed with dread that the working week is about to start all over again and you’ve achieved literally nothing.
When you don’t drink, however, your entire weekend is one giant Sunday. And where before it was my write-off waste of a day, now it’s like I’ve discovered a whole new day. An entire day has been added to my week. It’s amazing!
4. I’m Thinner
The fact that my drink of choice is pints of 200 calorie beer advertised by Peter Kay, of course I’m going to lose weight. I consumed up to 1500 less calories over the course of a weekend.
5. I Can Be Productive When I Want To Be
I wrote this article, for example. Since I fulfilled my life-long dream of writing for a living, you’ll be fucked if you think I’m touching a keyboard after 6pm on any day of the week or at all on the weekends. I like my free time to be as devoid of words as humanly possible. Or so I thought. Turns out that it’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s that I can’t be arsed writing because, you guessed it, I’m hungover and my brain can’t create anything other than the minimum words needed to order a pizza.
Although I don’t want to replace drinking with fitness activities (because I just don’t like people who do that), I do want to be more active in general. So, now that I’ve stopped drinking temporarily, I have joined a trapeze yoga class which is kind of awesome because you get to hang upside down and swing about under the guise of exercise, plus the other day I did some kind of martial arts drill on the roof of a seafront house in Xemxija. I mean, Jesus! My instagram has never been so horrifically smug.
#innerwarrior #namaste #livelaughlove #beautyinnature #downwarddogkindaday
[Side note: Can someone tell me how to properly hashtag? I’m not sure if you put a full stop after the end of your caption and then start your hashtags on a new line, or if you don’t use a full stop (the horror) and just go straight into the hashtags? I’m becoming my mum it’s fine.]
6. More Sex
Not surprisingly, you feel less disgusting when you’re not drinking, plus you are thinner. What does this mean? Naked! Naked all the time!
7. People Say Mean Things When They Are Drunk
Someone said to me:
“You look younger than what you are, apart from those wrinkles on your forehead. They kind of give the game away.”
Uh, thanks bitch.
And also this one:
“I mean, I don’t know your financial situation, but I’m assuming you can’t afford to buy property in Ta Giorni.”
Assuming from what exactly?? My wrinkly forehead? I’m an oil industry veteran you fucking asshole. A VETERAN. OLD MONEY. VINTAGE CURRENCY. BLACK GOLD. You don’t know me. You don’t know anything.
Turns out I can’t really afford to buy property in Ta Giorni, but whatever. At least I’m not on my 9th career move and entirely financially dependent on someone who is quite obviously fucking the company events manager, and has been for some time. SOME TIME.
8. I’m No Less Cynical
It may surprise you to hear that cutting out the drink has not made me any less suspicious of happy people. Most people still annoy me, I still hate inspirational quotes, and selfies, and narcissism, and stupidity, and charcuterie boards. If anything, it’s probably made me worse because I can’t soften my tolerance with John Smiths.
So my conclusion after a month off the booze is that I’m definitely not an alcoholic, which is nice (I got drunk to celebrate), but I’m afraid that enduring any social activity without drinking is not possible for me at this stage. It’s not the physiological need to drink, it’s that everyone else is a problem when you’re sober in a bar. If I stopped drinking completely, I would have to stop going out completely and that in itself is not healthy for a fluttering social butterfly like myself.
Saying that, I have discovered a whole new way to spend my free time, and I really like it. I like trapeze yoga, I like writing, I like organising my life, and cooking, and phoning my mum, and being good to myself. So I’ve made a deal with my inner 15 year old to only go out when I actually want to, which is only about 50% of the time that I actually do. All that’s left now is to learn how to say no…