In college, going out for a drink was like kissing. At first it was exciting, but then you wanted more. For a brief few hours it was exhilarating to go through my usual ritual of buying the beer, running through the drive-thru at Hardee's (the only fast food joint in town) for a bag of 50 cent cheeseburgers, and then driving out to my favorite haunts getting drunk as tunes from Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell blasted on my car's stereo. It was a nightly love affair and like any good mistress or overindulgence there were consequences.
First class of the day was music theory which suffered the most as far as my studies went. Early in my drinking career, I suffered terrible hang-overs and would moan as my alarm clock blared waking me up. "Oh my God, I am never doing this again," I would say every time with a pounding headache as my roommate showered getting ready for class. It seems my memory was terrible in those days as nightfall would find me driving out to those same deserted dirt roads to sit, drink, and listen to talk radio and blaring music yet once again. I know I would stumble to class the next morning reeking of stale cigarettes and sour beer breath. I thought I was having a good time. Doesn't every college guy do this? No, they don't, but my skewed sense of reality couldn't see that.
Failing college, I dropped out and took a job. I was living the life I thought my admired uncle envied. "I wish I could just work eight hours doing a mindless job with little responsibility, come home and get drunk, and go to sleep after screwing my wife only to get up and do it all over again. That's the life," I can remember him vividly telling me and my father many times. Although I was living a similar life, I was miserable with a capital m. Alcohol was making my choices for me and not vice versa. It took another decade of living similar to this before I finally woke up and smelled the proverbial coffee.
Lately, that old nagging urge to get shit-faced is no longer there. There is an empty feeling of not being normal though. Normal for me was being drunk - three sheets to the wind. Not normal was living life without my old crutch, alcohol. I realized I had kissed my last kiss in this relationship and had to say goodbye – like a lover pining over a lost love, I mourned for months. My next kiss might have been the kiss of death and the fear of death is a powerful motivator. There was one bullet in my gun and I was playing a risky game of Russian roulette with a loaded bottle. They often say in Alcoholics Anonymous that the average drunk has to hit rock bottom to begin to climb back up and find a new life. With the help of friends and family, I was able to avoid that for the most part and was given a new opportunity at life. I no longer want to kiss, make out, and dance flirtingly with my old nemesis, beer. It feels good to be sober today.