Bottom of the Barrel – Why I’m Not Drinking In 2022

Everyone having a really great time at the pub

Excessive drinking and my twenties were intertwined. Most evenings I’d have a couple of solitary beers and a bottle of supermarket own-brand shiraz – after a couple of hours in a pub – any pub with any people.

The next day, aboard an empty No. 76 to the Strand, I’d be hungover. Horribly hungover. And I’d ask myself, “What is drinking too much?”

Dry mouthed, I’d reply, it’s embracing artistry (self destruction). A way to establish common ground with others (ensure mutually assured destruction). And a guaranteed route to sleep (sleep is always self destruction). I was lying to myself about every point except the last one.

And it continued. An unflinching habit between promotions, flatshares, relationships and all the other sentimental crap it’s better to forget. Between awful and bad drafts. Missed opportunities. Athlete’s foot. Regret upon regret. Drinking was always there.

I wasn’t blind to the issue. I knew I was drinking too much. But I didn’t give a shit.

Honestly, I didn’t give a shit until now.

Why? Because I’ve finally realised that I’m tedious. More tedious than an actuary. More tedious than an overused left-wing slogan. More tedious than you.

That’s why I’m not drinking in 2022.

Well done. If only you’d been less exciting.

Why Do You Think You’re Tedious?

I’m writing about quitting drinking. Can you think of anything less inspired?

Actually, maybe you’re right.

Maybe it’s not my fault.

Maybe everyone else is tedious. Maybe something happened to me. I was abused into thinking it was my own fault. I mean, it doesn’t change the substance of quitting drinking, so let’s go with it.

The pub got tedious. Parties got tedious. Exposure must have made me tedious.

How Will Not Drinking Make You Less Tedious?

Not drinking is a great excuse to avoid going to the pub. Going to the pub is making me tedious. How? 

It’s all about the conversations that dominate the ritual:

  • The Past. Oh, do you remember when I could see my toes? They wiggled, I giggled. Now I’m depressed.
  • Technical details about your job. I put the paper in the photocopier or else I get the hose again.
  • Marital aspirations. I finally understand the meaning of love. It’s settling down because I can’t do better. Certainty. Marriage is possession.
  • Children. Thirty years from now, I want my children to repeat this conversation.
  • Mortgages. Are you sure Help To Buy properties are sold at rates 20% average prices for the size of property in an area? No, of course they aren’t. Negative equity is a myth.

I didn’t believe the people I knew would ever start talking about this crap. But they have and do. And now they won’t stop.

It’s lame as hell. I used to like going to the pub. Sitting outside. Smoking cigarettes. Now everyone wants to sit inside, eat food, chat, invite people I don’t like. It’s like they’ve all evolved and I haven’t.

Why did everyone have to ruin it?

So, maybe I haven’t quit drinking. 

Maybe I’m just boycotting drinking.

Aren’t Those Excuses? It Actually Sounds LIke You Have A Problem

What? Why would I make up excuses? This is the opposite of an excuse. If anything, the social point is proof enough that I’m not drinking excessively.

How does that make sense?

When you’re drinking for the sake of drinking, you don’t meet people. I’ve clearly met people, or I wouldn’t be able to recant such a frank summary of ‘people’s’ favourite topics.

You’re thinking that list of conversation topics makes me sound like the whiny kid, Holden Caulfield, who gets his penis flicked by a pimp in Catcher in the Rye, aren’t you?

Got you.

Proof enough that I am really tedious. Now we can continue in earnest.

If You Don’t Have A Problem Why Quit?

I do have a problem. I didn’t quit because I have a problem. I quit because I started caring that I have a problem. There’s a massive difference.

Also, I want to strike from the record that this has anything to do with Dry January. I’m not part of the nation’s annual post-Christmas purge. This is a unique revocation of alcohol.

Maybe it’s because I’m broke and the prospect of living in a flatshare at forty is suddenly looking a lot less romantic than it did in 2021. 

Weird, I know. 

Maybe the aforementioned conversation topics were only boring because I’m in no position to contribute.

But Peak Alcohol Consumption’s Already Been Passed

I never said this was prompted by hitting rock bottom. 

It hit peak alcohol consumption in my late twenties. 

I’d drink two bottles of wine a night, pass out on the sofa and wake up at 5:30 the next day. It’s sad, but I admire how little I used to sleep. 

I also don’t think that compared to a lot of other people I knew, I had that much of a problem. I’ve never liked day drinking, spirits make me queasy and I’m still a healthy 90kg.

After that and some sketchy run ins, I calmed down a lot.

Why Write About Quitting Drinking?

I’m going to write about it twice. Once now. Once at the end of the year.

I’m not sure why I wrote this. 

I felt inspired. 

I also feel that quitting drinking means I’m sacrificing something. And sacrifice calls for documentation. 

I don’t really want to quit drinking, but I do. The desire to see this through is in a strange state of limbo. I thought writing it down might help clarify why I actually want to do it, and make the people I know realise that I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Still, I’m going to weigh up the pros and cons of the decision.

Why I Should Renounce Quitting

When I think about quitting drinking, I worry that I’m going to lose the following advantages:

  • Ability to drink more than you. If I stop, I probably won’t be able to drink more than you any more. That depresses me. It’s one of the few things I’m better than average at.
  • Entertainment. I find refraining from drinking is super fucking boring. I was round my girlfriend’s for Galette des Rois, a stupid French holiday about dancing around a cake. I think it’s how they used to decide who to guillotine. Still, both my girlfriend and her flatmate were both laughing a lot while drinking vodka (a French staple), while I consoled myself with a vat of fruit tea and read Philip Roth. Turns out drinking = fun. Not drinking = reading Philip Roth. I can’t even do something about it. That’s my sober personality. My sober personality is reading fucking Philip Roth.
  • Watching cartoons. I like cartoons. Yes, I’m a twelve year old. When I’m super hungover, I stream Ugly Americans again and again and again. Why? I have no idea. Cartoons are bright and vapid. Without a hangover, I can’t justify to myself time spent watching cartoons.
  • Maintaining relationships. I find myself boring. I find people boring. It’s not as much of an issue when I’m drunk, but when I’m sober. I can’t see myself maintaining an already lacklustre collection of relationships.
  • Damaging my liver and kidneys. I don’t want to be in a position where my parents can guilt trip me into giving either of my sisters a kidney or a bit of my liver. Damaging them more would prevent that.

Why I’m Really Quitting Drinking

Really, the only reason I’m quitting is summed up below:

  • Ability to maintain a writing routine. Hangovers and hard engagements wouldn’t get in the way of my pre- and post- work writing routine. So I can finally discover that failing to write anything good was entirely my own fault; not the booze. Perversely, I’d like to have that clarity.
  • Creaseless clothes. If I’m not hungover, I might be so bored that I actually iron my clothes. Clearly, this is only a secondary advantage.

Why I’ve Still Quit Drinking

Really, I’m fed up. I’d already significantly cut down on drinking in October last year. I don’t want to, but I couldn’t see another viable route and I still can’t.

Last year, I spent a lot of time working on a host of projects that never saw the light of day. It didn’t help that I was busy. But I think the only thing I could have changed the outcome of that would have been by completely cutting out drinking.

So that’s why I’m not drinking this year. To chase pipe dreams.

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