Wednesday, March 29, 2006

People believe what they want to believe

which is as true as it's trite.

Case in point; In my more realistic moments (which is most of the time) I'm happy to admit I'm an alcoholic. Rare indeed is the evening when I go to bed with less than half a dozen glasses of wine inside me. I'm not talking wine-bar sized moieties either; I'm talking glasses I filled myself.

This should not come as a surprise; there have been enough hints in my blog over the past year and a half!

I've even done the AA thing; 'My name is Rob and I'm an alcoholic'. That was about 5 years ago when I was still living in Melbourne. In 2001 I went without a drink for 25 nights in a row in April/May and 58 nights in a row from early August until late September. In 2005 I once went all of 4 nights in a row without a drink! I think I've done it once this year so far.

I can't describe how good that first sip of wine tasted and felt on the 59th night!

Over a drink in Baguio a couple of weeks ago we were talking about drinking and I said I was an alcoholic; the reply from one who doubtless wants to think of himself as an alcoholic about as much as I do was 'well, your drinking doesn't interfere with your work so you can't be'. Nice thought I suppose.

I even felt virtuous on my final night in Baguio, last visit, and the one before that and the one before that..., stopping after two glasses because I needed to have a shower, check out and travel down to Manila. 'Oh no', I thought, 'I'm obviously not an alcoholic; I can say no when I need to'. And most nights I don't need to?

My wife tolerates my drinking; she knew about it before we were married; it's exclusively, when I'm at home, late night when the rest of the house has gone to bed. Out of sight out of mind? If I'm out with the boys it's strictly social level drinking or less; I know I need to drive home and that's a powerful incentive to wait until I'm home. And if I'm in Baguio or elsewhere on company travel I drink in the hotel; walking distance to the room. *shrug*

My wife tells me she's an alcoholic. Based on the evidence of my eyes I have to say not; I think the most I've ever seen her drink is a single beer but remembrance of those AA meetings tells me that perhaps she is but has better control of it than I do. Given that she was 49 when we met there's much scope for earlier drinking since controlled :-)

My wife told me about Morgan's comments regarding my drinking early last week. I'd just got home from the nth trip and was relaxing over a glass of wine and some classical music. Cheese and crackers were probably also involved along with an importunate cat demanding her share of the cheese! Anyway, apparently Morgan said that she didn't think I was a drinker at all; all I did was sip at the wine. Well, most nights she goes to bed a lot earlier than I do; she doesn't see the quantity; nor does she see the travel from this seat to the up stairs light switch followed by the grope in the dark for the down stairs to the bedroom!

Nicely put; but perhaps, being a teenager, Morgans experience of drinkers is limited? I went through what I imagine as the usual 'of age' drinking experience; you have no idea how powerful this stuff is so you drink it like it was milk only to have the mother of all hangovers the next day! I had one hangover in 1973 that lasted three days! Enough to put me off the idea of drinking entirely for about 15 years!

So perhaps, if Morgan's only experience of drinkers is of 'one pot screamers' she might see the way I drink as not 'real' drinking at all; merely because 18 years or so of drinking teaches you a thing or two about controlling the outward manifestations.

When I returned to drinking, at age 33, I was somewhat more careful. Not careful enough perhaps, as witness the sight of me at 51 unwilling to consider the idea of a drink free evening. Nonetheless, by 33 I'd seen the legal system tighten up on drink driving to the extent that I don't drive if I've had just one sip of wine. I know there's a bottle waiting at home! And believe me, I do know there's a bottle waiting at home; I make sure of that. Almost the first thought when I fly into Phoenix is to wonder if there's a bottle waiting; the second is to call by the bottle shop (liquor store) on the way home just in case I've misremembered.

Classic alcholic wouldn't you agree?

Of course, Morgan wants to believe that I'm not an alcoholic almost as much as my wife wants to believe it and almost as much as I want to believe it. I justify it by remembering how I don't drink and drive; how I drink little on the evening I leave Baguio.

My wife justifies it by contrasting me with previous husbands; how I don't get angry when I drink; how I just write blog entries and listen to opera and watch ancient movies and just generally do harmless (and silent) things.

Morgan? She has the example of her father before her. The example of various boyfriends. I've seen her father so drunk at the local petrol station that he can barely stand up to operate the pump; and then get in the car and drive away. They don't seem to do booze buses and random breath tests here in Arizona!

Why didn't AA work? Two reasons. The first, and most important, is that I really don't want to stop drinking anymore than I want to stop smoking. For reasons that I may blog about sometime in the far distant future I felt pushed into AA. If you choose to believe that those reasons involved a woman long since gone you wouldn't be far wrong! If you imagine that the woman was a wife you'd be very wrong! :-)

The second? It's a Christian organisation. Since I don't believe in the God of the Christians nor in Yahweh or Allah that was a barrier. Given that I don't believe in ANY god no matter what her name the insistence of AA on the powers of God was somewhat hard to stomach.

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