Some facts about me and alcohol:
- I have never been the type of person who could brag about drinking other people under the table*. The only person I could drink under the table would be a toddler and that’s an inhumane thing to put a toddler through.
- I was never a “kegstand every night of the week” kind of girl. It was more like once a week. (Waking and baking, on the other hand…)
- My hangovers are an event in themselves. “Ya make yourself SICK with this crap. You’re USELESS the next day!” – My mom
- Until I was 28, I had no idea I had a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (say that three times fast), caused by then-undiagnosed food allergies. So for most of my 20s/my life, my insides hated me and I only kind of knew it. In terms of alcohol, I’m allergic to whiskey, beer and some types of vodka and have only been aware of it for less than two years.
I still enjoy libations/cocktails/weekly margaritas. It’s just that recently I’ve started saying, “I don’t drink like I used to”. What I mean is that I don’t drink every drink I’ve ever heard of (Screw Drivers, Long Islands, Rum ‘n Cokes, etc) in one night, stumble home singing “Hakuna Matata” at the top of my lungs while arm in arm with my cousin, go to bed and then throw up on my other cousin while she sleeps. I don’t do that anymore. I also don’t spend an evening in a 19 x 12 foot dorm at the University of Illinois, singing “Friends in Low Places” while standing on a chair, shaking a handle of Skol in the air, only to fall asleep on the top bunk and wake up my friend on the bottom bunk with the sound of what she referred to as a “cascade of puke hitting the floor”. There are also other things I don’t do anymore, but we could discuss those over drinks sometime.
Those things happened in my early 20s, but it’s not like I didn’t spend many a Sunday morning cursing my choices during the rest of my 20s.
Last spring, I made the unfortunate choice to add a more tequila to a store-bought margarita mix that already had tequila in it. (And it wasn’t by mistake…) This resulted in an evening to remember, most of which I forgot. I’m told I started an argument with my boyfriend about nothing in front of friends and then later on, forced everyone to watch Ghost, during which I would not shut up about how brilliant Whoopi Goldberg’s performance was (I stand by that, Oda Mae). I made no sense whatsoever. A few days later one of my friends said, “I’ve never seen you like that before…it was weird. We couldn’t wait to leave.” Alrighty then.
After that, after years of waking up with the sinking question, “Did I do anything weird last night??”, I decided that I should start probably drinking smarter. It certainly wasn’t my worst night, but I realized I was sick of that feeling AND the wretched hangover. I realized that maybe, perhaps, I had…grown out of it.
Lucky for me, I haven’t had a debilitating hangover since Whoopi Goldberg Tequila night. Even after my 30th birthday party I was able to stand upright and walk around the next day, albeit slowly. What an improvement from last year, the year my birthday hangover morphed into pneumonia.
I’m getting there.
Now that I can go out with friends, have drinks, have fun and then wake up the next day and go for a hike (sometimes), I am astounded by all the dumb shit I have put myself through. Recently, I’ve been wondering why I didn’t do this all along. Why didn’t I alternate cocktails and water all along? Why didn’t I make sure to eat dinner? Remember not to mix? I was starting to feel super critical of my younger self and then I realized how many times in the past few years I have looked back and thought: “Why did I dress like that?”, “Why didn’t I go for that guy?”, “Why didn’t I save my money?”, “Why did I have a LiveJournal?”, “Why didn’t I work out/eat right/do more/see more?”
Because I was young.
A cliche answer, but too true. I did not emerge from the womb perfect, ready to make sound decisions. I emerged terribly flawed, but lots of fun. My life has reflected that. I had a few friends who figured things out faster than the rest of us- a sophisticated bunch. I have to admit, though, the mess, confusion, and poor choices of my 20s gave me some of the best stories.
One time in college, I was walking to get lunch with my friend Nate and I said, “Ugh, I look like crap today” to which he replied, “Yyyeeeaaah. You look…poor.” Since then, I have had a benchmark- don’t look poor. And since Whoopi Goldberg Tequila night, I have another benchmark. Of course there are others too- lessons learned for the umpteenth time that finally stuck.
I look better now, I live better now, I think slower now, all because I was such an idiot in the first place. It’s just the way it had to be. Plus, all the people that had their shit together straight out of the womb have hardly any good stories to tell.
*If you are the type who brags about drinking people under the table, it’s time to get a life.