Parenting, profundities and humour

Dry…Life? — January 5, 2016



So husband decide to try a dry January. This seems to be a ‘thing’ now like growing a moustache in November and all those different coloured ribbons.

I think he made the decision on a bit of a whim when we were recently on holiday and his alcohol ran out on New Years Day. Then we got home on the 3rd and the port beckoned. Apparently that didn’t count. Not sure why. Convenience may be.

It got me thinking about my relationship with alcohol. I think it could best be described as ‘failed’. I could have a dry year and not really care. So I don’t understand the difficulty people find in giving it up. Except I guess I would feel the same about chocolate. Or cheese. Or tea. Shudders.

I was never really very good at drinking. I was brought up in a pretty dry environment. My mother had been brought up by non drinkers and so our household was the same. It wasn’t usual to have wine on the table. Just a pot of tea. We had a 1970s drinks cabinet. To my knowledge it was filled with more than a year old creamy liqueurs. In case we had a dinner party.

I became aware that my dad did like a drink. But that was a solitary affair. When we went to his mother’s there was wine with meals. My brother and I drank Ribena out of small crystal wine glasses so as not to feel left out. I have those glasses now. We get them out at Christmas. They look shockingly small. But that is a whole other story…

So I hit my teenage years not having been exposed to social drinking that much. I quickly discovered, with the help of extremely weak, cheap, beer that my alcohol stages go like this:-

  1. Pleasant glow (accompanied by bright red cheeks)
  2. Numb teeth
  3. Likely to say or do something stupid
  4. Vomiting

My problem is that the gaps between these phases are very, very small. And unpredictable.

Probably because of the weakness of the beer and its unavailability I didn’t really get to try out the ‘vomit’ phase until I got to university. There I switched to the cheapest beverage on offer at my Halls of Residence bar. Cider. Sweet. Stronger. 50p a pint.

I discovered vom phase following my first fresher week party. Not pleasant. Especially in communal toilets.

But hey drinking was what you did. So to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb I had to carry on. I learnt pretty quick to make the pints last. After all I had to go to the lab the next day and be responsible for a Bunsen burner and noxious chemicals.

And so it went on. At any social gathering I would run the gauntlet of my drinking stages. I would often get it wrong. I can remember numerous times when I saw in the New Year staring down a u bend. Once memorably due to chocolate cream liqueur. That nearly put me off chocolate. Not an easy feat.

I can recall only about two occasions when I got it right and managed to not flip over into that last phase but remain at pleasant glow, albeit with red cheeks and numb teeth.

Once I walked home bare foot with my boyfriend of the time to our student house singing, giggling and generally feeling fabulous. He had to wash my feet in a washing up bowl when we got home. I hadn’t noticed the grit and God knows what else. I didn’t care. That’s me up there. Age 19. Nicely drunk. An extremely rare occasion.

Once I started work I had to master that art of drinking on Friday lunch times. Chip butty and two pints of stout. Always best to call me on a Friday around 2pm if you needed an overdraft. Not four because by then the hangover was kicking in. And all I wanted was my bed.

That was my other problem with drinking. If I avoided the vom stage it was because I had fallen asleep. I could nod off anywhere. In pubs. On sofas. In the work’s kitchen. In nightclubs.

Anyhow. It was with some relief that five years of almost constant pregnancy and breast feeding gave me a legitimate excuse to just stop. Period.

And I have never really gone back to it. Since my kids arrived I have zero tolerance. One sniff of alcohol sends me giddy. My children think it is hilarious.

So now I am designated whatever. Driver. Parent in Charge. Etc. Any excuse.

And anyway I have got better at saying “I don’t drink actually”. And dealing with the incredulity and questions. I am not ashamed to say it doesn’t agree with me. It makes me feel awful the next day. I don’t need it to have a good time- just ask anyone who has been dancing with me or to karoke…

My husband must think he has died and gone to heaven. Not only am I a cheap date (tap water is my tipple of choice or if I am feeling reckless a pot of tea which pubs now serve) but I drive everywhere too.


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