There’s a Devil at Parties, and that Devil’s Called Alcohol

Dan recounts the time he was super pissed about not being able to drink.


Like anybody with an iPhone and a lack of assertiveness, when I need to make a decision, I head over to Google to find advice. Before AA, the World Wide Web, or the internet as it’s become incorrectly known, was my sole source of information for sobriety and alcoholism. That, and podcasts.

One common piece of advice for sobriety the internet provides in regard to alcoholism is to avoid seeing, hearing about, or being exposed to alcohol at all costs. Stay away from the bars you patronized, avoid friends who are heavy drinkers, switch to an alcohol-free mouthwash, and if you get a cut on your big toe, acquire a gangrene infection before you put any rubbing alcohol on it. It’s better to stay sober and lose your big toe, than tempt the devil.

Don’t take another step. I’m an alcoholic.

This advice is often punctuated by this cliché, which I’ve seen touted on sobriety forums: If you keep hanging around in barber shops, it’s only a matter of time before you end up getting a haircut.

I’ve heeded this advice as gospel; on the surface, it makes sense. But I read something in the Big Book this week that contradicted this advice. I don’t want to locate the passage, so I can quote it verbatim, but it goes something like this: “If you have to avoid the deadbeats you hung around with because they drink too much, or it crosses your mind that swallowing Listerine while rinsing after brushing sounds like a good idea, then you aren’t sober. Not properly. And in the case of the latter, you’re probably an idiot.” (Okay, so I made up that last sentence.)

This shit was music to my ears.

I’ll still buy the brand of alcohol-free mouthwash I’ve gotten used to, but it’s refreshing to know that I shouldn’t avoid situations where people are consuming alcohol. Next week’s my birthday. I’ll be celebrating surviving thirty-three years after the umbilical cord was cut, and I think it’s just great that I can now encourage, no, demand, that the people with whom I celebrate do what they do best: drink until they think everything they say is funny and or clever.

Here’s a little story. Around eight years ago, I went to a daytime party to celebrate the marriage of Prince William to his lady friend. I was a heavy drinker at the time, and was known as such, and one of the guests who invited me forbade me from drinking alcohol, as there was a dude there who was an alcoholic.

We did it, honey. Half my shit’s now yours.

They wanted to keep the crazy drunk away from the guy who had a problem with raiding grandpa’s medicine cabinet when he should’ve just been pissing. I resented that guy the whole party, but I never let my feelings known.

I didn’t care about the wedding, or the royals, and I definitely didn’t care about what dress the bride was wearing, but I was super pissed about not being able to celebrate those things I didn’t care about in the way I knew best.

Let me celebrate, as this shit’s meaningless to me.

This story isn’t about me. I was behaving and thinking the way any active alcoholic would. The story’s about the dry alcoholic, and about that as alcoholics, we shouldn’t be trying to change the world around us, but trying to change ourselves.

It’s only this way we can stay sober. Alcohol is ingrained into the fabric of our culture. It’s the cart-wheeling clown at the circus, the wart on the end of a witch’s nose.

The giraffe’s long neck.

That party shouldn’t have accommodated him, and definitely not because this idiot wanted to get shitfaced to make watching a marriage ceremony entertaining. It’s for the other people. The regular drinkers, who’s afternoon would’ve been so enriched by a few glasses of wine. It’s also for his benefit, as sitting there white-knuckling isn’t the best way to be a guest at someone’s party. What’s the point of being sober, if that is what’s now ruining the relationships you have with people?

I agree with the Big Book. If the only way you can stay sober is to design life to fit your mold, then that’s a really shitty way of staying sober, and a miserable way to live your life.

Sure, you can lock yourself up in your apartment and watch movies with your wife, who’s graciously started this journey of sobriety with you, and it’ll work. And in the case of the story told in this blog post, you can be that douchebag who’s ruining everyone’s fun because you ruined drinking for yourself. But that’s not the type of sober alcoholic I want to be.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be hanging out at bars all Friday night, because it doesn’t hold the same appeal without a drink in my hand. But when someone’s birthday comes up, or my work buddies are meeting up after work on a Friday to toast the end of the week, whereas before I’d heed the advice that I should stay away, I’ll now take those opportunities to socialize.

I’ll be the sober ninja standing among the group, totally cool with everyone getting shitfaced. In some ways, they won’t even remember my being there. And that’s a great thing.

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Going Back in Time and Talking to Shitfaced You

This week, Dan goes back in time, to an ill-advised vacation, and talks to himself about boozing.

I step out of the elevator, walk down the corridor, take the key card out of my pocket, and swipe it down the slot on the electronic lock on the door leading to my hotel room.

I enter, and immediately know something’s wrong. My suitcase is open and all my clothes are strewn about the room—though that isn’t unusual. I’ve never been the kind of traveler who unpacks his shit methodically, setting up my hotel room like a miniature version of my home: clothes hanging in the wardrobe, toiletries lined up by the washbasin, etc.

It’s something else. There’s a big-ass bottle of gin lying by my open suitcase, and I’ve been sober for almost a month. It’s a liter bottle, but not the kind you buy from duty free. The shitty kind with some shitty name, and you know it’s going to have an acrid aftertaste that lingers, but you get it anyway, because what kind of asshole only buys 700 milliliters of gin at a time?

Around a third of the bottle is gone. I place it down and see something even more unusual. There’s a disposable paper plate with what used to be a lemon on it, hacked to bits with the type of plastic knife you buy for guests to use at the barbecue you’re hosting.

There’s also a bottle of tonic water. Only a little of this is gone.

“What the fuck…?” I say under my breath, my voice trailing off. “Has some jerk broken into my hotel room so he could get wasted on bum gin?”

Something catches my eye. I look up, and see someone standing outside on balcony. I squint my eyes, not believing what I’m seeing.

That jerk is me! And he has a glass in his hand and is looking over the balcony railing, and not to admire the view.

I knew there was something screwy with that elevator. When the lights flashed on and off, and there was a surge of electricity through the elevator keypad, and smoke was momentarily emitted from it, I thought what anybody else would think: I should’ve checked out the reviews for this hotel on TripAdvisor.

Not for a moment did I think I’d stepped into a time machine. But who would?

I walk up to the French door, lock it as silently as I can—just in case I’m wrong about the elevator and it’s a crazy person out there, who just so happens to look exactly like me from behind—and then knock on the window.

He turns around, and I sigh. It is me, and I’m shitfaced, which goes someway to explaining his response… My response, I mean. I’ll write him so this shit doesn’t get confusing. He says, “Hey, dude. I was wondering when you’d join the party.”

If the guy was wearing a mask or a disguise or some shit, he’d have given himself away, anyway. Only an asshole like I was would describe standing on some shitty balcony, in some shitty hotel, drinking shitty gin on my own, as a party.

He seems friendly enough, but I tread carefully. “What you doing out there, buddy?” I ask, lamely.

He shrugs, and says, “Drinking.”

“You weren’t thinking about doing anything stupid, were ya?”

He frowns. “What makes you think that?”

“I couldn’t help but notice you were looking over the balcony edge a minute ago.”

“Oh that!” He starts fumbling in his pockets, and pulls out a crumpled pack of cigarettes, takes one out, and takes his time lighting one, like it’s a natural pause. He takes a long drag, exhales a cloud of smoke, and then says, “I was thinking about jumping.” And then explaining, though it’s unnecessary: “Down there.”

Not knowing how his killing himself would affect my existence, I rush to unlock the French door and go out on the balcony with him. He looks at me confusedly and asks me if I want a cigarette. I ignore him and look over balcony railing. I’m looking down at an otherwise regular swimming pool, if it weren’t filled with foaming beer. Jeez, that was a screwy elevator. And a really shitty time machine.

Half to myself, I say, “So you weren’t thinking about killing yourself?”

He laughs. “Of course not!”

I stand up right, and turn and look at him. “Then why were you thinking about jumping?”

He shrugs again. “I was thinking about switching to beer.”

“And this is the best way to do it?”

“There isn’t any in the refrigerator.”

“Does this hotel room have a refrigerator big enough to hold regular-sized beer cans?”


I peek through the glass, shading my vision with cupped hands, and spot it. It isn’t a mini fridge you’d typically find in a hotel room, but a full size.

That was a shitty time machine. Someone should really take a look at it.

I’ve recently been reading about the twelfth step in the Big Book, so I’m aware I need to start helping other alcoholics as part of my recovery. If this guy wasn’t me, I’d let him carry on drinking. That’s if he wasn’t in my hotel room. I take the drink from his hand, and bring it close to my nose so I can smell it. “Jesus,” I say. “How many ice cubes did you put in this thing?”

“I filled it to the brim.”

There’s a miserable lemon wedge floating on the surface. I look at it and feel depressed, and then I take action. I toss the drink over the balcony, though I hold on to the glass, placing it down on the floor. If this time machine is on the fritz as much as I think it is, there could be a whole host of replicas of me walking around down there.

“Hey, why’d you do that?” he asks.

“I think you’ve had enough.”

Having a coherent conversation is difficult for Shitfaced Me right now, as he says, “Of what?”


“You sound like my dad… Which reminds me, you look…” His voice trails off, and he searches for the right word. “Familiarize. Like me, but an older, uglier version.”

“Almost,” I say. “You were thinking of familiar. And I am familiar. I’m you, from a screwy future where hotel rooms have tiny refrigerators in them.”

He looks at me with one eye, squinting a little. “Remind me why you tossed my drink over the balcony again?”

I slap him, because I’m still figuring out this helping-other-alcoholics gig. “This isn’t a party, guy. You’re standing on a balcony, drinking by yourself.” I pause to look out at the view. “And is this one of the Canary Islands?”

“I think so,” he says.

“This is more depressing than I thought. Let’s get you inside.”

I open the French door, and he says, “Good idea. Let’s get another drink.”

This is going to be more difficult than I thought.

I take the cigarette from him, stub it out, lead him inside, sit him down on the bed, and I take chair in the corner, because I’m not fully comfortable sitting by a shitfaced version of myself on a bed. Then I explain to him that I was just like him, but now I’m sober, and my life, while it isn’t perfect, is way better than the life he’s living now.

And he says, “Good for you, dude. But I’m just going to cut down. I’ve been thinking about it for a while.”

I slap him again, but this time I don’t immediately regret it. “You’ll do that, putting rules in place, but none of it will work. You might succeed for a while, but before you know it, you’ll be back here, out on that balcony, drinking a ridiculously strong gin and tonic and thinking of a really bad way of switching to beer.”

“Are you saying I’ll decide to vacation here again? Is that what you’re doing here?”

“Maybe I’m not explaining myself right. It was a metaphor. I’m saying you won’t manage moderation. You’ll fuck it up a whole bunch of times. And then you’ll get to the place where I’m at now, and a shitload of time will have gone past that needn’t have.”

I pull out my iPhone, and cross my fingers that 4G exists in this screwy future. Failing that, at least 3G. It does, so I open the Safari app and pull up this blog, navigating to some post about relapsing.

I hand the cell phone to him, and he reads it. Then he looks up at me and says, “Whoa. You sound really down.”

I smile. I’m gaining some ground. “I was, but I’m in a better place now.”

There’s a moment of realization painted on his face. He looks down at the carpet, but may as well be looking deep into his soul.

And then it’s gone.

Picking up the gin bottle, he says, “If you’re right, which I don’t think you are, I need to find this out on my own. I just need to make myself another drink first.”

I sigh and give up. He’s right, and it’s the most intelligent thing he’s said since I’ve spoken to him.

As he stands up and starts wandering around, looking for a glass, I make a quick exit. I go out the hotel room, in search of reception desk, so they can get a maintenance guy to fix the screwy time-machine elevator. I’ll be taking the stairs.

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That Amazing Time You Got Shitfaced and Went Swimming in a Lake

This week, Dan tells you your summers are probably way shittier than you remember. And that it’s a good thing.

Last summer was probably the best summer I’ll ever have. But they all feel that way, when you look back.

The day I finished at work before four summery weeks off, I was almost a month sober. The first evening of the summer was traditionally a shit storm of Belgian beers, summer-themed movies like Dazed and Confused, and, weather permitting, drunken conversations on the balcony about what we were going to do that summer.

I’d probably smoke, too, during those conversations, even though I’d gotten the memo that smoking causes cancer a shitload of times.

I also looked badass.

None of that happened the first evening last summer. I sat and watched Jaws with a couple energy drinks, ate way too much pizza, and slunk off to bed as sober as the moment I woke up that morning.

I’d like to write that I was content being sober that summer, and that I did all the fun shit I planned to do—and that I didn’t experience one hangover and I took regular rides on a unicorn to a land where blowjobs are handed out like popcorn at a movie theater.

But I fell off the wagon. I wanted to experience being shitfaced one summer’s day for the last time. Or whatever excuse.

During the summer, these prepubescent girls have a penchant for taking LSD.

I don’t have time to write about the whole summer. Even if I did, I can’t remember it, which is kinda the point. But I’ll write about one day.

We got shitfaced as we watched a couple movies, and then rode out to a lake and went swimming to the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd. When we were freezing our asses off, we sat by the lake and smoked a couple cigarettes. It was probably a little overcast, but let’s imagine there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

It was the type of evening you hope the end of your life will be like, not the shit show in some hospitable bed it’s likely to be.

Quick, put on ‘Tuesday’s Gone’.

I’m reminding myself of this evening for a couple reasons: 1) Winter started in November and shows now sigh of letting up, and 2) every time I look at Facebook I want to blow my brains out with a shotgun.

You probably have the same experience I do. You scroll through the Facebook posts on your timeline, or feed, or whatever the fuck it’s called, and realize something: Everyone you grew up with is having a way better time than you are.

Their lives appear to be fulfilled to point of bursting. If you’re to be believe your Facebook feed, everyone else’s lives are a constant stream of good times with family and friends.

Their lives are filled with the perfect summer’s day I shittily described above.

Look at us. Look at how great our lives are.

What they don’t tell you, because people rarely do on Facebook, is all the boring, monotonous shit that’s in between those occasions they’ve documented.

The point I’m trying to make, and I do have one, is that it’s easy to look back on your time drinking as being this constant stream of good times. Of weddings that are a blast, of summer’s evenings where you don’t think for a even second the guitar solo to ‘Free Bird’ is way too long, because you’re young and the sun is shining and it doesn’t matter if you eventually get lung cancer from the cigarette from you’re smoking.

You didn’t take a photo of when you were hungover, riddled with anxiety, and you didn’t take a mental picture of it, either. Your memory from when you were shitfaced is just like your Facebook feed. It’s a lie, of sorts.

The good times remembered, documented. The bad times forgotten.

Last summer was the best summer I’ll probably ever have. But when you look back, they all are.

Thanks for reading! I know what you’re thinking: I was a real ray of sunshine this week. For more feelgood posts, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober. And if this post made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post on social media.

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So, You’re Thinking About Quitting Booze

Dan looks into his crystal ball and tells you how your life is and when you should expect to meet a tall, dark stranger.

If you think you drink too much,  and don’t have children, your life probably fits somewhat into this mold:

You work your ass off all week, and then you get shitfaced at the weekend.

You’re probably too tired to drink on a Friday, but you’re hell-bent on doing it anyway. You deserve it, and what better way is there to celebrate the end of the working week than by letting your hair down and drinking until you have to floss with one eye closed.

But you regret it the moment you wake up on Saturday morning. While you were stuck at work, you thought up loads of fun stuff you were going to do at the weekend, but all you’re able to do when hungover is scroll through your Facebook feed on your iPad. What was supposed to be ten minutes turns into half an hour, and that half hour turns into an hour.

You shower, eat breakfast—you’ve maybe exercised before—and you’re starting to feel better. Physically, at least. But it’s already midday, and shit, your weekend is going way faster than you thought it would.

“Windows 10 is updating itself again. I might as well get shitfaced.”

All that fun or productive stuff you planned, you can do that another weekend. If you’re going to make the most of this weekend, you better get drinking soon, so you can peak while there’s still a good amount of time in the weekend left.

Saturday becomes a blur, and before you know it, you’re waking up on Sunday morning with the same shitty feeling you had on Saturday morning. You’re responsible, so instead of planning to get drunk all Sunday, you’ll just have a couple drinks, just to get on an even keel.

And by God it works. Those couple drinks do help. You feel normal again. You could stop now, but you just thought of Monday morning, and how depressed you’ll feel. So you have one more, and one more, because you’ll just go to bed earlier that night. Sleep it off. Ready to ride that horse again on Monday morning.

But the ten hours’ sleep you get doesn’t help nearly as much as you thought it would. Now you have you to go work again, chewing gum, keeping a safe distance away from your colleagues when you shoot the breeze.

“How was your weekend?” one of them inevitably asks.

You think off all the stuff you planned doing; you might’ve even told this person all your plans, which you never got around to, so you lie, tell them you had a good time. You’re being vague, using adjectives instead of describing events.

There’s a shitty feeling inside you, like the bad but not debilitating feeling of losing a pet. Like you lost something. And you did: You’re mourning the death of the time you lost.

Only kidding. The grief of losing you was debilitating, Ringo.

At that moment you tell yourself the next weekend won’t be like that.

But you don’t get time to dwell on it, because before you know it, you’re caught up in the whirlwind of working your ass off again.

Friday comes around, and as well as having been an exemplary employee, you’ve planned the shit out of your weekend. This time, drinking’s going to take a backseat. You got this.

Friday’s the only day you’ll drink. It won’t be that much. While you’re at the store, you go ahead and buy a little alcohol for Saturday, too. How could you enjoy a Saturday night without a drink?

Something goes wrong. When you wake up on Saturday morning, someone made the decision to drink Saturday’s booze, as well as Friday’s.

Like this.

You made a deal with yourself, but the problem is, the version of you after a couple drinks, who’s getting into the swing of it, he or she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the deal you made. He or she doesn’t want the party to stop this early.

And the hungover version of you, he or she’s way too depressed to even think about the deal you made with yourself. This Saturday ends up a carbon copy of the previous Saturday. And Sunday, too.

You guessed it: You’re mourning loss of that lost time on Monday morning again, chewing gum, lying to your colleagues about the productive and healthy lifestyle you lead outside of work. Not outright lying, but never telling them the truth, either.

But next weekend’s going to be different.

Depending on how lucky you are, this either goes on for months or years. Until you can’t do it anymore.

Wait a second… you have a solution!

“Why didn’t I think of this before?”

You’ll take a month off drinking. Probably in January. During that month, you feel great, and the best thing is, you proved to yourself you’re not an alcoholic—which you kinda knew already. Congratulations! You did it, buddy! Collect your medal. You’re a winner.

So you start drinking again, putting all that mess behind you, but this time there are going to rules you won’t break. Gin was the problem, or cocktails. You never had these issues with drinking when you drank beer or wine. You’ll go back to those good old days.

Fast forward a couple weeks, and your weekends are playing out just like they did before you regained control. What the hell happened?

Oh shit, you realize. Drunk You didn’t learn shit during January. That motherfucker slept through the whole seminar, and he or she wakes up when you’re two glasses or wine or three beers in on a Friday evening and takes control of the reins again, handing them off to Hungover You on Saturday morning.

Drunk You is outside, smoking a cigarette.

Hungover You, that down-on-his-luck feet-dragger, doesn’t want to do anything apart from let Drunk You take back control of your horse and carriage.

You always thought an alcoholic was that cliché you see in movies, where everything goes to shit and the alcoholic ends up living on the street, wholly severed from any sense of responsibility or style. But now you’re starting to redefine the term, based on your own experiences.

You realize there are probably way more alcoholics out there than you thought. And holy shit, you’re one of them!

If this experience rings a few bells, then let me say congratulations again, but sincerely this time. You’re one of the lucky ones.

You’ve taken your first step towards a better, more-fulfilling life: You’ve either made the big leap of admitting you’re an alcoholic, or you’ve decided your life would be way better without alcohol. It doesn’t matter; your plan’s the same.

Working your ass off until you get to the weekend, which flies by in an alcohol haze until it’s Monday morning again, you shouldn’t accept that’s the only way to continue to live your life.

There’s a better way, and every day it takes a promise, and there’s no way you’re going to let Drunk You or Hungover You be any part of making it.

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Penises Don’t Work When You’re Drunk for a Reason

So you’re sober and experience erections. Now what?

Like a lot men in their thirties with a job, a mortgage, and a functioning pair of testicles, I’m toying the with the idea of having children. Failing that, the plural, I can at least imagine having one.

Right at the point when I’m about to pull the trigger—to make a decision, not in a biological sense—I become hesitant.

I think of Saturdays. And how I’d feel giving up the endless hours when I plan on doing everything I thought about during workdays, but which I never get around to doing.

Despite being bored, this gorilla doesn’t know what a Saturday is.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with alcoholism, and, per the title of this blog, comedy. In the case of the latter, this shit hasn’t gotten funny yet, but stick with it, the comedy cogs might start turning in my head in a couple hundred words.

In the case of the former, this mindset of giving up my precious Saturdays was precisely one of my barriers to getting sober.

From graduating ten years ago until around two years ago, I developed a nice routine on Saturdays of refusing to do anything else apart from getting shitfaced. If you haven’t tried it, it’s real fun.

An alternative method.

It didn’t have to be a special occasion, like someone’s wedding or birthday—hell, it didn’t even have to be well. I’d drink until I couldn’t drink anymore, making various visits to the local convenience store to re-up. And for those eight or so years, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Then it had to stop. Saturdays started leaking into Sundays, and Sundays into Monday evenings, until every day was a Saturday, just some Saturdays I had to go into work before the fun could start.

I wasn’t a turn-up-to-work-shitfaced alcoholic who washed his FrootLoops down with a margarita, but I was an alcoholic of sorts.


Fast forward two years and more than my fair share of relapses, I’ve grown accustomed to drinking carbonated water and enduring the boredom of Saturdays with a smile.

I still don’t get anything done, especially not all the shit I think up when trapped at work, but I’ve grown into a moderately responsible person who pragmatically accepts every Saturday can’t be a wild party.

Which brings us to now, and the nagging feeling I should level up my adulthood and take the big leap of being a father.

Stranger danger.

Two hundred years ago, I imagine the choice would’ve been a more simple one. Having kids was a no-brainer or, failing that, an accident waiting to happen: You either had kids or there was no one to look after you or the farm when you started going pee-pee in your pants again.

Now things are a little different. Condoms and the pill, for instance, and the fact that I don’t know how to water rhododendrons, let alone provide a living by raising plants.

And when the effort to get up to go to the bathroom outweighs the feeling of sitting in my favorite chair without having soiled my pants, if that day comes, I can get in-home assistance from someone who’ll slap me around a little when we’re alone or grab my arm a little too tight when escorting me to my bath elevator.

Someone bathing unassisted, and in milk and oranges.

They didn’t realize it, but people had it much easier when they couldn’t choose to be selfish, which I for some reason am programmed to think of choosing not to have kids as being.

Selfishness was also what I thought about my lifestyle choice a couple years ago. That I was being selfish by choosing to get shitfaced every Saturday. But am I being selfish by not having children? Fuck yeah.

Here’s why: The only reason I exist is because someone decided to give up their Saturdays for me. Instead of going to see the latest Denzel Washington movie, they bought tickets to some piece of shit set in a universe where pets talk, and they sat there and pretended to laugh, so that I’d have a good time.

Voices, that’s what’s missing.

And I’m going to what? Not take my turn? Shake my head while I mumble that shit’s for someone else?

When you get sober, you’re not just quitting boozing, you’re quitting being a selfish jerk every minute of every day. You’re becoming responsible.

That shit takes time. This isn’t going to be a caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation that happens in days and with seemingly no effort, apart from hanging from the branch of some tree while Mother Nature takes over.

I’m not there yet; shit, I haven’t yet fully let go of the caterpillar lifestyle, despite being sober. Not quite. As much I like to think I have sober Saturdays nailed—and I do, when there’s no adversity—I still miss those heady Saturdays when the only selfless thing I’d do was get up off the sofa to go the refrigerator for the next round of beers.

But if I had to choose between going back to those Saturdays and watching the occasional kiddy movie, I know which I’d choose.

So what are you waiting for, Dan? Stop being selfish and take your turn. Who knows, you might actually like the latest Eddie Murphy movie.

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Are You a Pickle or a Dildo?

Every alcoholic everywhere should ask themselves, “Am I merely a dildo soaked in vinegar, or a pickle?”

A couple weeks ago, a sober buddy told me a metaphor for alcoholism I thought clever. He said, “Dan, you’re either a cucumber or a pickle. And after you’ve drunk for a while, you find out which.”

The metaphor is this: Everyone starts out a cucumber, but some of us, after being drowned in vinegar for a while, turn into something you chop up and dress a burger with. In the metaphor, the vinegar represents alcohol. The cucumber doesn’t represent your penis, which succumbs to alcohol-related erectile dysfunction, but the alcoholic, who can’t go back to being a pickle once he’s soaked in the proverbial vinegar for a while.

He’s gone through a metamorphosis, and can’t go back to being a caterpillar who drinks the occasional gin and tonic with friends. He’s now a butterfly flying around like he’s just learned how to do it, hell-bent on drinking the bar dry, whether his friends are still there or not.

The majestic butterfly, shitfaced… again.

My buddy’s metaphor is sound, but it has one fatal flaw: All cucumbers turn into pickles when soaked in vinegar, which implies all of us have the potential to become alcoholics, if we just soaked for long enough. That might have been his point, but the context of the conversation didn’t support that.

With one minor tweak, the metaphor becomes one rigorous to examination of its logic. I’ll take it for a spin now, with you as my test subject: “Reader, you’re either a cucumber or a dildo. And after getting shitfaced for a while, you’ll find out which.”

Hear me out.

In the history of cuisine, a dildo has never been transformed into a pickle. Dildos are made of rubber, and no matter how many bottles of gin you force them to drink, they’ll always remain a phallic object impervious to the effects of alcohol. Sure, they’ll get drunk, and depending on the temperature of the alcohol in which they’re soaked, they might get a little floppier. But take them out, and they’ll dry off, go back to living their normal life as a dildo, and definitely shouldn’t be chopped up and smeared in ketchup for consumption.

Are you telling me this doesn’t look kinda like a dildo?

The dildo, unlike the cucumber, hasn’t gone through a metamorphosis. He’s still a caterpillar, and is content with crawling, taking the occasional drink. He doesn’t want to fly, as the wings he’d get look shit anyway. Like a DUI waiting to happen.

So which one are you? A dildo or a cucumber?

Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow Hilariously Sober for more insightful metaphors explained to you. And if you laughed out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this blog posts with your friends on social media.

My works of fiction, which also contain references to dildos, can be checked out here.

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Sobriety Isn’t Just For Grade-A Fuck-ups

One AA session in, Dan is battling old demons: He’s still trying to convince himself he’s an alcoholic.

Last week I made a commitment to go to a strange place every Saturday, talk about my feelings with strangers, and hold hands with other dudes as we say a prayer I don’t yet know the words to, all in the name of staying sober.

I haven’t joined a cult; I’m a bona fide member of AA. I even already have a buddy I can phone with whom to shoot the shit. What I’ve learned about AA so far is that relationships between people in that environment move at breakneck speed. I, usually the overfamiliar one when it comes to getting to know people, feel like a highschool junior who’s being driven out to a make-out spot by a senior who’s got his hand on my knee.

This dog’s mistakenly getting what is commonly referred to as a “rapey vibe.”

As positive as I am about building up a network of other sober people to strengthen my resolve and accountability, I’m a little bit weirded out by the intensity of it all—this is my failing, not theirs: they’ve been nothing but welcoming. I thought the members there would ease me into it, allowing me to at least get my seat warm before I opened my mouth, but AA members don’t do shit by halves. They wouldn’t, as that’s why they’re sitting there in the first place.

I think it’s natural to go to your first AA meeting, hear stories from the members there, and feel like a phony, like you haven’t earned the right to be there as much as everyone else. Think of it like a dick-measuring contest, but for fuck-ups.

A contest in which penises aren’t exposed.

But as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts—or at least I think I have—labels don’t mean shit. To qualify as an alcoholic, you only have to possess the need or want to quit drinking. It doesn’t matter if your drinking habits are restricted to getting shitfaced every Christmas and birthday. All that matters is that you think you’d be a lot better off without booze in your life.

And don’t let someone tell you shouldn’t quit, just because you don’t meet the definition of an alcoholic in their mind. You certainly shouldn’t not quit drinking just because it’ll make them feel better about drinking a bottle of White Zin every Friday night.

Which brings us to the topic of this week’s blog post:

You don’t have to jump through hoops to convince other people of your alcoholism—even if that shit only exists in your mind, which in my case it most definitely does. In the world of sobriety, you can be shit at throwing a shot put and still compete at the Olympics.

I’ll just leave this here.

After the meeting, while I small talked with other members, I felt like that’s what I was doing at times—again, that shit’s on me. They’d say something I thought implied I was still discovering my relationship to alcohol. That I had to say something that would convince them of my genuineness, because I was new to AA. And I am; I’m just not new to wrestling with the temptations of alcohol. The experience was a test of humility—the ability to nod, smile, and bite my tongue.

I guess that’s the message of this blog post. If you’re contemplating quitting drinking, that the hangovers aren’t worth the fun the night before, the only person you have to convince that you need to quit is yourself.

Besides, taking the step meet your own definition, to define yourself as an alcoholic, is big enough without having to meet other people’s criteria for membership.

You’re an alcoholic if you want to be… as long as you want to quit drinking. And when you go to your first AA meeting, you’ll do well to keep that shit in mind, because you might come away feeling like you have a sobriety micro penis.

Thanks for reading! You’ve probably guessed I didn’t bring my A-game this week, but I’ll give you the usual spiel anyway: If you enjoyed this post, no matter how unlikely, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober. And if it made you laugh out at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.

My works of fiction can be checked out here.

My dark corner of Facebook, slowly expanding at a depressing rate, can be checked out here.