I stopped drinking because I was bored with it. It wasn’t a health scare or a ruined romantic relationship. I didn’t lose a job. I was just tired of waking up with zero dollars and zero cents in my bank account after I had been out the night before. I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t good at it, because I was. I used to be able to drink for about 13 hours straight and still be able to function. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s considered binge drinking, but I was always able to keep my jobs and my friends were always right there with me, so I wasn’t marring any of those relationships either.
The last night I drank was New Year’s Eve day. A friend of mine had bought a new car specifically to drive here to Austin and spend the holidays with my family and me. We had gone out plenty of times since he had gotten here the week after Christmas. I had been fighting a bad case of pneumonia and was taking medication. It wasn’t the smartest thing to be running around like that and of course I’m an idiot that smokes, which basically turned it into super pneumonia. The last time I drank I had started around 11:00 AM. My friend wanted caffeine, and I had taken him to a coffee shop that some friends of mine own. I don’t drink coffee, but they have booze, so I decided that I was going to start drinking hard cider for breakfast. 12 hours later I was still drinking when a close friend of mine convinced the two of us to walk down to the Moody Center to see Willie Nelson about twelve blocks from where we were. Because of my pneumonia I had to stop frequently to take breaks so I could sit down and breathe. The night was also kind of cold and drizzly which was definitely helping me get over my illness. By the time we got to the Moody Center and somehow ended up with VIP badges, I could barely stand up. Part of it was because my body was just weak from being extremely sick, but mostly because I was extremely drunk. I decided that I’d had enough Willie after about 20 minutes and went wandering around looking for a chair to rest myself. I found a bunch of them underneath patio heaters in the middle of the catering area that had been set up for the show. Willie Nelson’s catering consisted of a large smoked whole pig, black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year, and a huge platter of cornbread. There was champagne which I never drank because of the massive headache it gave me, so I drank a bunch of canned Austin City Limits water. At a certain point I remembered that I hadn’t eaten, and I began to circle the pig looking for the perfect part to start picking. I got a few pieces, got some black-eyed peas, grabbed some cornbread and began to eat. Even after the first bite I knew I was going to start bitching about the food, but I made sure I had enough stuff on my plate so I could really make a scene.
“WHO COOKS A WHOLE POT OF BLACK-EYED PEAS AND DOESN’T SEASON THEM? I MEAN, THIS IS A HUGE HOT OF BEANS, OBVIOUSLY CATERED FOR A GROUP OF SUPPOSEDLY IMPORTANT PEOPLE. DOES ANYONE HERE KNOW WHAT FLAVOR IS? I MEAN GODDAMN, PEOPLE! THERE’S A FRIGGIN’ SMOKED PIG RIGHT HERE! YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT NO ONE THOUGHT TO THROW A HAM BONE IN THESE THINGS? HAPPY GODDAMN NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!”
and then I tossed the plate into the garbage and stormed off down the stairs. The people who had seen my tirade wore expressions varying between shocked and amused. (I’m going to go ahead and assume the ones who looked amused were drunk.) I knew I was going to get kicked out of the venue, so I just showed myself out before anyone asked me to leave. At the bottom of the staircase was an electric cab, and like Cinderella I had my coach whisk me back to the bar I had been previously. I felt offended that Willie Nelson had such horrible food for his guests. Then I remembered that I hadn’t been one of them. I still feel as though my outburst was necessary because in the future, whoever cooked that whole spread might think twice about how they prepare things the next time. If you think about it, I might have done someone a favor. Probably not, but I had done my due diligence as far as I was concerned. But that night I was sick, I was tired, and I really wanted to go home. About halfway back to the bar I realized that my friend from out of town was still back at the Willie show. I just didn’t care. He knew how to get to my house, but I was pretty sure he would come find me at the bar, and he did eventually. We got home and I passed completely out. I woke up the next morning on my floor staring at a spot on my carpet that I had stained with lipstick because I had passed out on my face. None of that is what made me stop drinking. I’d had plenty of nights like that before. I’ve ended up in some weird situations. About fourteen years ago I ended up sleeping in a closet because I had gone with my friends to a party with a band whose singer had murdered his girlfriend and done prison time. I was revolted after the few words I shared with him, so I grabbed some pillows off of the bed I had previously been jumping on with the guitar player of the band, and passed out in the closet until the maid kicked us out a few hours later. So, the Willie thing was not anything that made me for or against drinking. I had decided that after the New Year I was going to stop drinking anyway, but that day I woke up at eye level to my maroon lip stain on the carpet next to my bed, and I just somehow knew that was it for me. When I stood up to wash my face, receipts from the bar were stuck to my jeans. I had about four different ones from the same bar. I had reopened my tab and blown so much money each time that I was furious with myself. Again, this had happened to me before, but this was the last time. It was then when I decided that I didn’t ever want to want sobriety again. So, I stopped drinking on New Year’s Eve, an odd day to call it quits to be sure, but I haven’t missed it or been tempted to drink. I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough drinks for everyone. More than enough drinks for myself. I go out more now since I stopped drinking because I’m not exhausted all the time, and I have money that wasn’t spent on cocktails. Now I spend money on expensive manicures and extremely fancy door-knobs and drawer handles that I have no idea how to install. But the receipts I have are from things that I remember, and unlike booze I have something to show for them the next day besides them just being stuck to various body parts.