Drinking has given you roughly 90 percent of the most fun nights of your life so far. Maybe it hasn’t been the sole reason a night was fun, but it definitely gave you a kick in the ass during those nights. And that’s great — it’s fun. Boozing drove your college and early postgrad social schedule like Buscemi in Mr. Deeds when he gets his hands on the Corvette. Just like staying after practice to throw up hundreds of free throws, you went out as much as possible to develop a top-tier drinking game.
Times changed, though, and you’re not able to go out at the rate you once did. If you can still get sauced up four to five times a week, you’re either a champ or an alcoholic. Even now, I see a lot of my fellow postgrads steadily pumping the brakes and opting for the night (or even whole weekend) in. It’s nice to rest and relax because binge drinking will take a lot out of you. It’s like a boxing match — at some point you just don’t feel like getting off your stool when the bell sounds.
Eventually, you may find yourself in a complete hiatus for a number of reasons. Maybe money is tight or you’re working long hours. Perhaps a new relationship is leading you to more nights in with a nice dinner and Netflix on the couch. In extreme circumstances, you may have to even hang up the cleats because you just can’t take what raging brings anymore.
Me, though? Single dad life keeps me clear eyes, healthy liver, dead sober for extended periods of time. I feel healthier and more responsible, but at the same time, I wonder if I’m ever going to reach that peak performance I was once capable of.
Recently, I trekked to my college town for a weekend of golf, watching baseball, and yes, drinking. I was worried. They say that if you stray from something for too long, it’s gone forever. I’m a year-and-a-half out of baseball and couldn’t throw two strikes in a row if you paid me the big bucks. Considering that I’d taken an extended leave of absence from throwing back alcoholic beverages, I was worried that I’d have enough in the tank for a weekend back in the game. The last thing anyone needed was this old man puking every time he smelled liquor, Ubering home from the bar before midnight, and not being able to shake his hangover to get off the couch all day.
In The Natural, Roy Hobbs spends years and years away from the game of baseball only to take it by storm when he returns. Like Hobbs with his baseball bat, my trusty liver and I proved that you never truly lose the abilities that made you special. Binge drinking is like riding a bike — it just takes a little while to get back to riding with ease.
For three glorious days, I threw ‘em back like a man on a mission. While my initial plan had been to stick to beer and keep it slow and steady, thankfully, my friends wouldn’t allow that. If I had a dollar for every Patron shot that got thrown in my face that weekend, I’d have enough to buy another round of Patron shots.
As I drank, I waited. When would the mouth sweats arrive? How soon after my first sip would my low tolerance rear its ugly head like a father who just caught you hiding in your boxers in his daughter’s closet? My answer never came. Despite all the beers and “This is the last goddamn shot I’m taking,” I didn’t miss a beat. Two last calls plus an entire day of golf and baseball steadily pounding away. All my fears weren’t needed as the rampant consumption was essentially the same as it had been in my heyday, albeit a tad more responsible thanks to Uber.
Toby Keith once said, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” It holds true. While my Sunday hangover wasn’t overwhelming, it still made my head and insides feel as though they’d been beaten like Apollo Creed versus Drago. Wasn’t tip-top shape but I sure as hell wasn’t knocking on death’s door as had been anticipated.
I’m heading into this weekend looking forward to packing it in early and sober on the weeknight, but there’s no more trepidation about my boozing prime or if I’ll ever see it again. I know that, should my name be called and I’m needed to drink through 18 holes then follow it up until 2 a.m. downtown, I’m ready for it. It’s as easy as getting back on that bike and pedaling like you never got off. You may not be Lance Armstrong, but you can definitely make it through a stage of the Tour. .
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