So This Is What You Look Like Before Noon?

Two months later Dan returns to the scene of the crime, his favorite bar in Oslo, and comes to the realization that one-year-olds shouldn’t eat burgers.

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There’s no better place to convince yourself your drinking’s not a problem than at a bar. It turns out the opposite of that is also true.

My place, when I celebrated birthdays, couldn’t find a decent movie to download from a totally reputable website on a Saturday night, or wanted to find a place that serves alcohol on Sundays, was The Amundsen, downtown Oslo.

It was also the place I went to pretend I had friends, even if the drunken-idiot version of myself knew deep down the people with whom I tried to talk thought the shit I was choosing at random to say to them a chore to listen to.

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“Did I ever tell you about the time I got guacamole on my chin at a dinner party and it was a really funny and interesting story?”

The last couple months, hopefully the first couple months at the start of the rest of my life of sobriety, I haven’t exactly been dying to go back there. I had a few bad experiences where drinking buddies ratted me out for being too wasted, and standing around pouring shit down my throat (now non-alcoholic shit) for the few hours it’d take to justify the metro travel time to get there, doesn’t seem as appealing as binge watching HBO TV series and drinking cola now that I’m sober.

But last weekend I went for the first time without the intention of getting shitfaced.

I didn’t go there by design. I had decided to eat in town before I went to the movie theater, and had planned on going to McDonalds for the first time in around ten years. When we arrived at Ronald McDonald’s Type 2 Diabetes Shack, my girlfriend and I, you’d think they were giving away burgers for free by the length of the queue. Sure, I wanted to eat a McSausage or some shit ironically—to reminisce or feel silly or both—but I didn’t want to wait twenty minutes to get it.

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“You see this place here? This is the place we don’t want to go.”

Plus, it wasn’t just my quantitative analysis of the queue that was the issue; when I glanced at it, I also did some of the qualitative variety, and came to this conclusion: The diners at that particular McDonald’s would make a solar-eclipse-looking venn diagram with the type of Snapchatting, OMG-saying douchebag that goes to a Miley Cyrus concert.

I’m lazy by nature, so I decided for the both of us that we should just go around the corner to The Amundsen. I suggested it nonchalantly, like it was no big deal. I told her that we could go in there, order non-alcoholic drinks, eat a classy burger, and make it out in the time it would take before we could even barely see the menu at McD’s, having to do so over six-feet-seven fifteen-year-olds.

To top the argument off, I shrugged, and shot her a look that said, What’s the worst than can occur? avoiding any Dr Pepper intellectual property theft.

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Generic lemon and lime soda drink.

It’s worth noting at this point that The Amundsen isn’t the type of place that has a whole row of beer taps consisting of the same brand of domestic, but the type of watering hole that has a microbrewery housed in a glass-walled alcove for all to see. It’s the Mecca in Oslo for beer snobbery, the type of place that groups beers in refrigerators by style and sets the temperature accordingly.

I’ve gotten used to going to my local convenience store and avoiding looking at the selection of beer they have there, but going here and achieving that was like stepping up from boxing a beer-bellied slob at some local darts hall’s amateur boxing event to surviving the championship rounds with Mike Tyson… or some other ubiquitously feared boxer who’s relevant in 2017.

I couldn’t run past the beers, make it to the cheese refrigerator, and breathe a sigh of relief. Beers were everywhere. I felt like I was in Vietnam and had ignored LSD and dye-tie flares in favor of drill sergeants and five-o’clock starts. They were everywhere, and they were staring at me like I was the uniform who’d raped the wives and daughters of their bamboo-shack village. They wanted to fuck me up, in a bad way.

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Vietnam is now a holiday destination, like Disneyworld, but without Floridian college students dressed in Goofy suits.

We survived the beer-selection firing squad, got our non-alcoholic beers, ordered a couple burgers that read great on the menu, was seated by a Swedish waiter making bank in Oslo before he would go back to Sweden to study, and tried to relax.

It was like the good old days. Like we’d earned it.

It was then that I knew that I’m an alcoholic.

The couple weeks before, I’d been questioning whether I have a lifelong problem with boozing. As the number of days you’ve been sober become weeks, and then months, it’s only natural. Hell, if I were a serial killer, and for two months I’d managed to not lure a naïve twenty-something to my LGV in the parking lot of some bar, abduct her, and keep her locked up in my dungeon before killing her and wearing her skin, I’d start to convince myself I wasn’t still a criminally insane lunatic with mommy issues.

But it wouldn’t make it so.

I might have refrained from killing someone for a relatively decent length of time, but by God I still bought lotion in bulk from Costco.

To cut a long story short, during the time I spent in that bar, I felt like a one-year-old who wasn’t allowed his bottle. I was whiny, on edge, and I was one customer talking too loudly away from knocking my burger off my highchair.

Relaxing at a bar is no longer a thing I can do. But that’s fine. I didn’t like the motherfuckers that went there anyway.

There’s no better place to convince yourself your drinking’s not a problem than surrounding yourself with alcoholics, and it turns out the opposite of that is also true.


Thanks for reading, but don’t stop here! I’ve got some shit to plug first.

Don’t forget to A) follow this blog by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the webpage, B) check out my works of fiction here, and C), if this post made you laugh out loud three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this blog post with your friends on social media.

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You’re an Alcoholic if…

Here at Hilariously Sober, we don’t like to be all Judgy McJudgy-Judgerson, but we do like to contemplate what it means to be an alcoholic.

Last night I went to my first party since getting back on the wagon. I had hoped that I’d get a metric shit-ton of material out of the experience for this blog or, failing that, at least a blog post.

But it went without a hitch. It only took me around an hour to not feel self-conscious about being one of the few people who weren’t drinking, I had a good time, and none of my male colleagues slapped any female colleagues on the ass or insisted that our boss do the tango with them to the beat of the ‘Macarena’.

So what am I supposed to do, write about how swimmingly and to-plan everything went? Any comedy writer worth his or her salt knows nothing funny ever comes out of good stuff happening. Take Schindler’s List, for example; that’s got to be worst comedy I’ve ever seen.

So in lieu of another super-funny blog post about surviving a party sober or a wildlife-study style blog post about drunk people at parties, I’m pulling this blog post directly out of my ass and onto the screen of your tablet, phone, or, if you’re slacking off at work, desktop computer.

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You’re not fooling anyone, buddy.

Part of my routine for motivating myself to stay sober is to beam sobriety culture into my ears in the form of a podcast. It’s my way of avoiding filling up my time with AA meetings, so I can do a load of fun shit instead.

One of my weekly listens is The Recovery Elevator. The format of the show consists of the host interviewing a recovering alcoholic about their sobriety story. Terms like “journey,” “higher power,” and “spiritual growth” get thrown around like bubbles at a Hilary Clinton rally, but I enjoy it, nonetheless.

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Her manifesto might be shitty, but God damn if she can’t throw a bubble party.

At the end of the interview, the host asks the interviewee to complete the sentence “You’re an Alcoholic if….” I’ll likely never be interviewed on that podcast while I subtly plug my books and social media shit, but if I did, here are my four or five ways to finish that sentence.

You’re an alcoholic if…

  1. You plan your drinking sessions like a military operation

If you’re like me, liberating a people from their tyrannous dictator isn’t enough for you. You want to get their oil and besmirch their religion and way of life, too. And that shit takes some grade-A planning, and coordination with far-right-wing-leaning news organizations. When I got drunk, I planned my drinking sessions like a forty-day trip around the world. I’d eat a light lunch so I got shitfaced faster and to a greater degree, I had the schedule of liquor-based drinks and craft beers mapped out well in advance, and the day’s and evening’s entertainment would be all planned out before I even filled up my glass with ice to leave little room for the tonic. Clearly, this isn’t the behavior of a casual drinker. It’s the behavior of a lunatic hell-bent on ruining alcohol for himself for the rest of his life.

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“The dog’s great and everything, but can you do one in the shape of a beaker minus a couple centimeters… This beaker here?”
  1. You don’t get that one-glass-of-wine-with-dinner shit

If you look around carefully when you’re at a restaurant, you’ll spot someone who’s wholly engaged in conversation with the person or people they’re dining with and who rarely, if ever, glances down at their glass or scans the room for where their waiter is. If this person’s level of detachment from their alcoholic drink situation seems strange to you or, if you’re like me, it outright scares the shit out of you, you might have a problem.

When I got my drink on in restaurants, I got a little panicky. My level of shitfacedness depended on someone who might not care about receiving a tip at the end of the evening, and the people I was dining with might frown upon my waving over the waiter for a refill every half hour like I was helping a jumbo jet land. I could never relax in those places as a drinker. Baby needed his bottle, and he’d be dammed if Mommy or the babysitter controlled how often he got it. If this sounds anything like your dining experiences, drinking might not be for you. Oh, and here’s another link to my books.

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Here he comes… finally.
  1. The only friends you have are drinking buddies

I don’t have many friends now, and not just because I’m an insufferable jerk. After quitting drinking, I realized that most of the friends I have back in my home country* are just pub buddies, like spotters are to gym rats, only without the duty of care and offers of cut-rate anabolic steroids. All we ever did was get drunk together. Now that I’m sober, my criteria for friends have somewhat changed from just sharing alcohol dependence: I need friends who are slightly shittier than I am at squash, who think a café is a worthwhile place to spend their time, and who think that one high-five per evening is more than enough.

*This isn’t a euphemism; I live in Norway and come from England. The reason I don’t have friends here is that I’m thirty-two and enjoy wearing pajamas way too much. Speaking of pajamas and the opposite of what I said…

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Two imposters at a Jason Statham lookalike competition.
  1. You’re debating with yourself whether you’re an alcoholic

At my last workplace, I asked a colleague about her drinking habits. I was interested in getting the perspective of a seemingly balanced young Swedish lady. Her response was, she didn’t get drunk every weekend, never during weekdays, and she couldn’t remember, when pressed, the last time she got drunk. It might’ve been at some party around eight weeks ago. Or not. Chances are, if you’re making an effort to moderate your drinking and failing, or if you regularly talk to yourself in the mirror about whether you have a problem, as the heading phrasing implies, or if you’re the lunatic asking your colleagues about how often they get drunk, then Grandpa’s old cough medicine might be best kept as a medication for the sniffles.

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Stupid science with its facts and whatnot.

So there you have them. Turns out it was only four, and five would’ve been a much rounder number. Shoot.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you enjoyed this blog post and want to be a regular reader, sign up for email notifications by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the webpage. And as always, if I made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this blog post with your friends using the social media share buttons below.


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Am I an Alcoholic Revisited

After being sober awhile, you may question whether you’re an alcoholic. I did, and nearly ended up ordering three blue chimneys.

One of the first blog posts I wrote was an off-the-wall quasi-alcoholism-self-diagnosis guide that I partially used to recognize I was an alcoholic. It was only semi-serious, meaning that while it was true, it wasn’t exactly a heart-to-heart with myself, looking deep into my soul or some shit, but centered on more flippant, humorous signs of alcoholism.

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Me: “Dan, you really need to quit drinking.” Myself: “You think I don’t know that shit.”

Today, I’m three months sober, which I consider to be a milestone. More so than ten weeks, or two months, and, weirdly, probably more so than five months, when I eventually get to that. Maybe it’s because three months is the length of a season; maybe it’s because good things come in threes (that’s a saying, right?); or maybe it’s because in my sobriety I’ve reached a Zen-like state where the past and future seem irrelevant, and I only think of the present, which gives this milestone sole significance over the sobriety milestones of the future and past.

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So that settles it.

The last couple weeks, the question of whether I’m an alcoholic has been on my mind. For the sake of thematic coherence, I definitely think it’s related to the three-month milestone.

At times during the last couple weeks, I’ve felt indifferent about drinking. I’m over it, and that my life as an alcoholic is like one of those night terrors I get from time to time, when I run around my apartment naked, dreaming that I can’t breathe while still being kind of awake. But it’s over now, and I can return to bed and go to sleep after I’ve checked underneath it for the boogeyman.

I’ve even thought about changing the title of this blog to Hilariously Indifferent about Alcohol, so that it has a more sincere title, even if it has a ring to it like a rusty bell.

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The attachment of a ribbon has little-to-no effect on a bell’s ring.

But other times, like when I was buying supplies for my girlfriend’s birthday, I’ve felt like giving moderated alcohol drinking another shot. I flirted with the idea a second, as the booze aisle caught my eye. Maybe I could just set a limit and stick to it this time, keeping my disastrous experience of alcoholism at the forefront of my mind as motivation for not fucking it up.

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Looks like it’s off the beaten track for me.

Deciding whether I’m an alcoholic or not the last couple weeks has been like tossing a coin in the air: heads I am, tails I’m not, and both answers would seem valid. That is until yesterday, when I was listening to a podcast. The hosts of the show just so happened to talk about their five favorite beers.

One of the host’s list was comprised mostly of Belgian beers—my tipple, my overly long and destructive love affair. Upon hearing the name Chimay Blue, I was transported back to the summer holiday, when I would buy in my favorite beers every day and get shitfaced watching movies. My mind started racing. I compiled a list of my favorite five, and I thought about going out and getting them.

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“Barkeep, I’ll have three blue chimneys, and forthwith!”

It would just be one last hurrah. One more gunfight before I rode off into the sunset to buy a ranch and have six or seven kids. Before I knew my legs had extended, I was looking at my DVD shelves, searching for the perfect one or two movies to provide entertainment for the last time I sat and enjoyed my favorite five. That’s allowed, right? I have the rest of my life to be sober. How will one measly afternoon and evening getting shitfaced on my five favorite beers ruin that? It can’t.

I thought, Why haven’t I thought about my favorite five before? Five’s the perfect number: one better than four, and six is just weird and not round.

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“Five gets my vote.”

Then I remembered this was exactly my mindset during that summer. I’d planned on getting sober the couple weeks preceding it. My plan was to get my favorite beers in, enjoy one last sweet evening, and then spend four weeks in a self-imposed rehab.

That didn’t happen. Not only that, but I spent a fortune getting in my favorite beers for most of the days of the holiday. My five favorite? Shit, I’d compiled that list a fuckload of times before. Every time it was different, but the results were always the same. It wasn’t a last hurrah. The day after I’d write a new list, one that dicks all over the previous one.

I did what any reasonable alcoholic would do in that situation. I yanked my earphones out of my ears and threw my iPhone across the room, blaming my near relapse on that particular podcast.

(Just kidding, my iPhone is safe and sound in its nerdy leather case.)

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“Yank that shit out and I’ll cut your balls off for juggling with.”

I try to make each blog post useful to you, the reader. I don’t just want to ramble on about myself, even if I can provide the odd photo with a caption to make you laugh. You’re here for that, sure, or you’d be reading some other blog called There’s Not a Single Funny Thing about Sobriety. As well as having laughed, I want you to step away from your iPad or iPhone or desktop computer and feel awesome about being sober or to have a learnt a little more about sobriety.

With that said, here’s your tidbit for this week. Your favorite drink, or more accurately your memory of your favorite drink, will never go away. It will shrink as you cross off your sober days, weeks, and months. It will lay dormant, like a hibernating bear, but one little prod, and that fucker will stand up and be as big, bad, and scary as it was in the summer.

So tread carefully, my friend, because every podcast that mentions your favorite drink, every Facebook post you read about someone enjoying a glass of chardonnay or merlot on a Friday night, and every blog post you read about the blogger’s favorite drink or drinks, is potentially one big kick in that bear’s nutsack.

Now stop thinking about it. Enjoy all the benefits of getting sober, think about doing something fun instead of getting shitfaced, and be proud of yourself for not getting mauled by a bear today.

Thanks for reading! Even if it this blog post is a potential trigger for a relapse. If you enjoyed it, don’t forget to subscribe to email notifications for Hilariously Sober by using the form at the top-right corner of the website.

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Five Signs You Might Be an Alcoholic

If you don’t show classic signs of alcoholism, deciding you’re alcoholic might be difficult. Here are five subtle hints I received to suggest I might need to get sober.

I was reluctant to call myself an alcoholic for about five years. It wasn’t because I didn’t know I was one, but because I didn’t feel like I fit the classic definition. I got out of bed when my alarm started to ring, ate my bowl of cereal with milk instead of super-strength lager, and went to work without a gravy stain on my tie or stinking of last night’s booze. I only drank reasonably moderately throughout the week, even managing to have some dry days, but when the weekend came, my employment-oppressed Withnail came out to play. I was free from the shackles of doing regular life-type stuff for two and a third days. How did I spend that time? Bankrupting myself financially, physically, and emotionally by drinking a shit-ton of craft beer.

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“Just put the beer ’round the back.”

I struggled to moderate my drinking from the time I recognized I was an alcoholic to the time I quit. Sure, I had long periods where I wouldn’t drink anything—riding that wagon for a predetermined period of time—but when I started drinking again, I fell into the same pattern. It was at this point that I had to rethink what an alcoholic is. I wasn’t a falling-down, punching-my-boss-in-the-face-on-a-Monday-morning drunk, but my relationship to alcohol was a destructive one. Whatever new, enlightened definition I came up with, I fit it. Whether I based it on consumption level, the level of destruction alcohol caused to my life, or how many times I visited the bathroom for a number two before midday (see below), the shoe fit like a motherfucker.

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This stock photo model is modelling “The Classic.” Note the rolled-up sleeves and vice-like grip around the liquor bottle.

It’s up to you to decide whether you’re an alcoholic. It would be unethical of me to go around defining people as such . But even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t want to come across as Mr. Judgy McJudgerson. My consumption level aside, there were a few subtle hints for me over the years that indicated I might have an unhealthy relationship to alcohol. A few red flags that, had I not been drunk and/or hungover when they popped up, I might’ve spotted and be writing this blog five years earlier. As a way of entertaining you more than enlightening you—I am a comedy writer first and a sobriety blogger second—I’d like to share those telltale signs with you.

  1. You’re not an alcoholic, you’re an enthusiast of some type of alcoholic drink

As I mentioned above, craft beer was my tipple. Namely, Belgian beer. I would taste the shit out of those all Saturday afternoon and alleviate my hangover by discovering and tasting new ones on Sundays. If I were to base level of enthusiasm solely on consumption level, I was up there with craft beer nerds who write for Craft Beer Monthly, a fictional magazine I made up to make this point more humorous. I’m not a craft beer enthusiast, but an alcoholic who hid behind his casual interest in snobbish beer like a flasher hides his perversion behind an expensive fur-lined trench coat only to reveal his, um, true self a couple hours later. Just to make that simile clear, the flasher exposing his genitals is analogous with my getting shitfaced. Unless you’re the type of wine drinker who spits it out after tasting it, you’re enthusiasm for wine might be bordering on or is alcoholism.

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You’re not fooling anyone, buddy.

2. You spend more money on toilet paper than you do on vacations

I’m going to go ahead and assume that A) you only go on vacation once a year, and that B) you don’t steal toilet paper from the supply room at work. Anyone who’s had a hard night drinking knows that the next morning you get up and star in your very own horror movie while sitting on the can. Drink a skinful of beer, and you could be convinced, upon visiting bathroom the first of five times the next morning, that the only thing you had for dinner was a super-size spinach and sweet corn smoothie. All that time you spend in the bathroom the morning after the night before means a whole lot of wiping. If you get drunk on the regular, you could literally be flushing that trip to Disneyworld with the family you’ve dreamed about for so long down the toilet.

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“Kids, come and take a look at this model of Cinderella Castle Daddy made.”

3. You’ll find any excuse to turn a Monday into a Friday

When I took the train to work on a Monday morning, I used to mourn the loss of the weekend. But I was hungover, and there was no way I would spend Tuesday morning feeling like this. Around closing time at work, I would start to wrack my brain for any excuse to go to the store and pick up some beers afterwards. It could’ve been that I’d had a bad day at work, or a good day, or that there was a new Rob Schneider comedy on Netflix to stream. I had to sit through it, even though his last five movies had been subpar, and what better way to get through that ordeal than with a beer in my hand? You get where I’m going with this, especially if you’ve seen Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

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“Huh, my feet got wet in the shower… Looks like it’s time to get shitfaced.”

4. Only nausea or something out of your control can stop you drinking

If I look back, only the first five or six beers were really any fun. After that, beer changed into sickly sweet treacle that I sipped at, hoping to bring back the level of optimism and excitement I felt two beers in. If I planned to have a light drinking session and only bought three or four, when they were finished, I’d put on my shoes faster than a centipede that’s late for work, so that I could go back to the store and resupply the refrigerator. I’d only stop drinking when I thought I was going to break my X-number-of-years record of avoiding throwing up, which I both fear and hate in equal measures. If the only thing stopping you from drinking more is an empty wallet, a closed bar, or your lack of consciousness, alcohol might not be for you.

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“If Roger thinks being late isn’t a natural consequence of having 126 legs, then he can go fuck himself.”

5. You can’t imagine your life without alcohol

I’m going to try my best to finish on a serious note. If you can’t imagine spending a Friday evening, a Saturday night, or your unusually younger brother’s Briss without a glass of something in your hand, then Mr. Judgy McJudgerson thinks you maybe, probably have a problem with alcohol. Me? I’m not saying shit.

If you enjoyed the first of what will be many blogs I’ll write on the funnier side of sobriety and recovery, then don’t forget to follow this blog by subscribing to it by email using the form at the top right of the webpage. And if I made you laugh at least three times, feel mildly obligated to press one of the social media buttons below to share it with your friends.

Days sober: 13


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