I’d promised Kate that I’d stop drinking after I fell to the ground and couldn’t get back up. It wasn’t the first time I’d fallen like that, but we wanted it to be the last. I told her I’d cool it for a while.
“Not good enough,” she said. “Stop completely for a month.”
So I stopped drinking. Around her.
A man who takes a nighttime trip to the grocery store, picks up a four-pack of tiny wine bottles, takes a long detour home, stops in a park where he can drink them safely, and disposes of the evidence with a trash bag and a bottle of mouthwash seems like someone with a problem, right?
I didn’t put it together. I mean, it’s not like I had to drink every day. Still, sneaking took effort, and so, when my wife had to leave town for work, I had a chance to kick back with a bottle of wine slowly over the weekend.
I wheeled my grocery cart through the garish greeting card aisle, through the fog of freshly baked bread, and through the corridor of fermented grapes. There was Germany and Italy and Argentina and South Africa and—it was definitely time for some Australia.
Within two steps after removing the bottle from the shelf, I froze. “No,” I said, every part of me in complete agreement.
I returned the bottle and left it behind.
I don’t remember the last drink I took, but I remember the first one I didn’t.
That was ten years ago, exactly. I haven’t had a drink since. Do I miss it? Yeah, I do. There are days when a glass of wine would really hit the spot. But I can’t. I’m not reliable when it comes to alcohol. Some people just aren’t. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is.
In the meantime, I will enjoy my iced tea or soda or (my latest passion) lemonade. It’s not much of a substitute, but it’ll do.