When I was younger, I used to plan things where drinking was involved. These activities weren’t necessarily orchestrated because of drinking, but the nectar of the gods was definitely going to be a part of it.
Dinner with the family. Golf with friends. A night on the town. A ballgame. A weekend-long church picnic… which is where I found myself this past weekend.
My wife is from Effingham, Illinois, and each August the St. Anthony Church Picnic is the fitting end to a glorious summer of lazy days (by our children sleeping until noon), swimming (again, our children), and long… warm evenings.
This was my 17th church picnic. I still remember my first few. I always seemed to run out of drink tokens before the end. So at about year 5, I bought far more than I thought I’d use, only to be left with a paltry few before midnight on Sunday. And I would usually give those away, and walk out of there marveling at how well I knew my body and my limits, and what a giver I was.
Oh, what an idiot I’ve become.
This year when I walked up to the drink stand to buy my tokens, I purchased $50 worth for Stephanie and I to share for the weekend. And do you know how many I walked out of there with?
Approximately $29 worth.
Now lets be honest: picnic drinks aren’t all that expensive. Once, my wife and I went to STK Rooftop in New York and plunked down roughly $25 per drink. Stephanie said, “If I ever wanted to go completely sober, I’d come here every night. The thought of spending that much on a drink would do it.”
At the picnic, $25 will buy you 11 drinks. Yes. Seriously. We may as well have been a pair of Farvas with prices like that: “Open bar!!!”
And yet, here we were… pockets bulging with extra drink tokens. What happened to us? As it turns out… age… happened to us. The days of me raw dogging the beer tent have passed me by, and it’s not just because I’m close to 50. I know a lot of sloppy 50 year olds.
My change arrived with the one thing that age gives you: wisdom, which is not to be confused with intelligence. I’m moderately smart, but I have done some really stupid, stupid things in my heavier drinking days. If I was to share with you some of them, you would think differently about me. Those days were about saying, “Consequences be damned!”
They were usually followed by hours of regret and loathing the next day.
Now when I drink, I think to myself, ‘How am I going to feel tomorrow? Is it worth it?’
At 29, the world was my oyster. At 49, not being hungover is. It’s why I rarely drink on a school night, I try to down a glass of water between drinks, and I proudly ask for the wussiest shot in the bar when I partake… the kind where it’s usually a glow-in-the-dark color where they’ve waved the liquor over it.
And I never, ever drink on an empty stomach. Ever. EVER.
We are all evolving beings, both physically and psychologically. It’s a natural thing for your drinking habits to evolve, too. So if you’re tired of feeling like the floor of a movie theater after a Shrek double-feature from nightly, or even weekly drinking, don’t be afraid to reevaluate your relationship with booze.
Your body will thank you… or at least won’t attack you.