Abstinence: The Heart of Darkness
I will have exactly one martini tonight and another tomorrow, accompanied by a bottle of a nice, cheap Italian wine. Not to worry; I’m not about to embark on a booze-fueled bender.
There will be food.
Yes, there will be piles of food.
Yogurt chicken, green beans and a fabulous salad for tonight. Something pasta-ish Sunday, maybe a nice Bolognese sauce since the kids are coming over and they’re not into anything too adventurous. All will be washed down by a Pinot Noir or a Malbec.
It’s going to be quite a weekend.
The spirits will be worked off, as usual at the gymnasty, as they were today — half an hour on the bike, another full throttle on the rowing machine, maybe some resistance training. Keeps me honest.
I will relish this weekend, the exquisite aroma of juniper berries, high octane, shaken together with a handful of olives, making the martinis very dirty indeed. And the oaky cask smell of a nice full bodied red.
You can’t beat it. As the commercial says: “This is living.”
Come Monday morning, the telltale bottles will disappear as I enter the world of abstinence — my heart of darkness.
It’s time for the semi-annual cleanse, a time to give the old liver a mini-break, to make it all shiny and new again with a regimen of hot lemon and paprika in the morning and milkthistle and apple juice in the afternoon.
I look forward to the cleanse, although I do so with some trepidation. There’s always something going on that involves alcohol, a long weekend, friends coming to town, a happy hour somewhere.
But I will not be in attendance. I have to avoid all contact with human beings — except my kids and my husband — because I have trouble being with people in a social sober state. I get easily bored and stressed in public, so I try not socialize for a few weeks until I’ve adjusted.
After that I’m pretty much relaxed, and I can invite people over again. My go-to drinks are herbal tea in the afternoon and Perrier in the evening. I just replace my martini glass with a steaming mug, and wine glass with a high ball glass full of bubbly water jam-packed full of tiny key limes. Both drinks are absolutely divine, really.
Now you might be thinking that I should give up booze altogether. Sure, I could do that, but I could also give up sunsets, and puppies.
Wine is something I adore, and I have learned to give it the respect it deserves.
I know what being a lush is all about. I’ve been to that rodeo and I never liked it much.
Didn’t like that person at all. She was pastey faced and bloated, given to volcanic mood swings and stomach flips. She drank at lunch, drank at supper and drank in the evening. She wasn’t much fun to be around, not even for me, and I was her.
Over the last decade, I’ve learned about moderation, but it took some soul searching and decisive action.
I started by getting rid of most of my drinking friends. Well, that’s not exactly true. Most of them got rid of themselves, if you know what I’s sayin’. I still see one or two of them occasionally — the ones who haven’t found themselves on a slab at McGarry’s — and I absolutely marvel whenI see they were still standing, or even miraculously still sitting.
Mostly, I’m just glad not to be them.
There are several keys to my success in beating down the drunken demon. One, never, ever, drink during the day. Two, make sure you always have something to get up for in the morning. In my case, it’s dogs and exercise. Three, stay away from any lush who could lead you into a path of thistles.
Finally, the twice year cleanse is absolutely essential. It makes a person reflect on their drinking patterns and check ridiculous behaviors. When you’re in the throes of a long binge, you can’t possibly give yourself a dispassionate and objective once over. You actually have to be sober for a period of time.
It’s my system. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it has certainly worked for me.
And when it doesn’t work, then I know it’s time to stop pounding the grape once and for all.
So off I go. Fare-thee-well young drinkers.
Think of me when you wake up in the morning.
One thing’s for sure.
I will smell better and feel better than you.