The other night as I settled onto my settee for the evening, I picked up my fridge-cold can of Brewdog, their Elvis Juice flavour to be exact and took a good hefty hearty swig. This was the way to end a night, with our nations much loved ‘alcohol’, the permitted and accepted drug. I was acting out as the rebellious consumer chugging down on a Brewdog and living vicariously through their outrageous and offensive advertising as they ‘disrupt’ the alcohol market with expletives and engage, which I guess could be considered postmodern, in the act of mocking advertising itself. It is an interesting insight into the workings of a society where marketing that uses cussing and coarseness still resounds as an act of rebellion, you only have to look at the millions of people who were willing to pay to have the word FCUK across their chests. But yes, it still grabs the eye of the consumer, and particularly rankles as we work our way through this new age of purity. Does this say more about marketing or about us, the consumer?
Beer, wine and spirits are almost the final accepted ‘drug’ as the final nail in the coffin for cigarettes is hammered down on the lid and only those who choose to remain ‘old school’ with their cancer sticks, their Freudian phalluses, their ‘get-out-of-work-every-20-minute-excuse’ seek refuge in the few remaining areas left to light up, inhale and intoxicate.
So here I am virtually prostrate on the sofa, drinking like one of my literary heroes Bukowski, when it dawned on me that I didn’t actually savour the taste. I took another mouthful, rolled it around on my tongue, let it soak and saturate my taste buds and yep, it wasn’t satisfying, it wasn’t refreshing, it wasn’t even quenching my thirst. So why was I drinking it?
I had never really been a heavy drinker, or even a drinker in my early years. I was never inebriated until around 17 years of age. It never interested me. All through my 20s I could spend months, sometimes years without even touching it. I simply had more in my life going on and didn’t ‘need’ it. ‘Need’ being an interesting word, a compelling verb.
Need: “to require something/somebody because they are essential or very important, not just because you would like to have them.” The Oxford Dictionary
I would say, it wasn’t until my mid-to-late 30s that I actually really started drinking, and that in the last 5 years I have probably drank more than I had previously, of all the years combined. Of course, I had partaken in the customary English Friday night out with the lads for ‘a curry and a beer’, attended weddings, birthdays and now and then, not often at all ended up in a club. For the latter I definitely ‘needed’ alcohol.
In all that time, I’m not sure I ever remember actually liking the taste. It was the intoxication. A desire to be drunk. The dipsomania. To get out of my head and simply escape. A need to be numb. To remove myself from the moment. To deal with people. Yes, people.
As I climb the stairs of age, I do find myself reaching for the bottle more frequently, but never before 7-8pm. I don’t necessarily view my eagerness for alcohol as a problem, but it is certainly not a benefit, particularly when I find I have drunk a bottle of wine or 4 beers every night of the week for the last month. This is by no means alcoholism, not in my opinion anyway, but admittedly it is by no means healthy, and somewhat expensive. What it is, is a waste. A waste of time that filters into the next day. A waste of time that eats into my energy, my thinking and my health.
So, if I don’t enjoy the taste, understand the detrimental effects and know I have a tendency towards the intoxication, what does this tell me?
Perhaps I’m not dealing with something in my life? Maybe I’m running away? Or is it conceivable that at times I may simply just be bored, disinterested and spiritless? (Pun intended).
I used to think no one, including myself, had the right to boredom, what with the myriad of art, the plethora of prose and the inundation of information so easily obtainable through the device we have all become so unfortunately addicted to and in turn would chastise those who passively stared at the blue screen in the corner of every room. So ubiquitous had the TV screen become, until screens per se now dominate us with their omnipresence.
So yes, boredom. Hello. How I have run away from you for many years. How I have drowned you in booze with my meagre attempts for some form of entertainment and escape. Like an apathetic Whodini I have downed drink to displace myself from the doldrums. The question I have to ask myself is: “What is wrong with reality that I need to repeat this behaviour that leaves me depressed in the morning, breaks up my sleep, puts on weight, makes me sick and fills me with dread when I open my eyes and wonder who I need to apologise to with regards to my behaviour?”
The Buddhists believe the mind has a habit to label experience as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, and boredom arises because of this. When our experience is ‘neutral’ that is when boredom really arises.
The key to beating this feeling is to become curious about what we are feeling, rather than trying to change it or label it, as in my case, with alcohol.
When I stop drinking, I get more active, I feel generally happier, sleep better and dare I say it, I’m a more congenial person to be around.
Will I ever drink again? More than likely. But to acknowledge, to understand the reasoning, the triggers behind my errant inebriations is a step forward in the right direction, rather than alcoholically aberrate the minute I start to label experience.