There’s a great quote from Moneyball that sums up my life of late. A young Billy Beane is sitting at his family’s dinner table, and an MLB scout is offering him a pro contract, giving his sales pitch to the family. He’s telling them how great their son is, and how he’s going to be a huge star in the big show one day. At one point, the scout says to Billy, “We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.”
I had that moment during Memorial Day Weekend.
I wouldn’t say I’m an alcoholic by any means. I was born and raised Midwestern, was in a fraternity, and have friends who love to order shots and stay out until closing time. An accurate way to describe us would be contently degenerate. I’d say my generation is okay with the way we party and cut loose. I don’t think I abuse alcohol, but rather use it to enhance my social life. I’m getting older though. My hangovers are worse, but my tolerance is sky high after nearly a decade of what some “experts” might call an abusive relationship with alcohol. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t think I’ve come to enjoy drinking less, but rather become dependent upon it as a means to hold onto my fleeting youth.
Either way, Memorial Day weekend came and I was determined to get my three-day’s worth of fun in before heading back into the office on Tuesday. I kept it pretty tame on Friday, having my nightly scotch and water an hour before bed, and calling it a night after ignoring a few texts from friends who wanted to go out. Saturday came and went. I took in a ballgame with my dad and brother and then went out for an early dinner and drinks afterwards. After dinner, I met up with friends and was back home before midnight.
Then Sunday happened. First off, I got a great night’s sleep on Saturday night. I mean, the kind of sleep that makes you feel like you can conquer the world in the morning. I was ready to go. I met with friends for lunch at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant and we ordered apps, margaritas and beers. After a couple of beers and margaritas, I was feeling good, but it was still pretty early in the afternoon. We headed out on the town and hit some of our favorite patios around the neighborhood, slowly lubricating ourselves for the night.
But somewhere along the way, soggy with three hours worth of casual drinking, we decided to up the stakes. Shots were ordered and a couple of gals from Australia that we had met out a few weeks earlier joined our crew. Determined to impress our female compatriots from Down Under, we pounded liquor until the sun subsided. At this point, everything gets foggy.
We ended up at a block party in a bar district, and I started racking up a hefty tab as we had been joined by a handful of my fraternity brothers. I don’t know what happened, but by judging the way my feet felt the next day, I had danced the night away in the street.
This particularly compromising Vine was on my timeline the next day. If you’re gonna start playing Ghetto Superstar, you’re gonna get a spectacular display of white guy dancing from yours truly.
Notice how I completely ignore the blonde admiring my questionable-at-best ass shaking ability about halfway through. Needless to say, I was in the zone.
I awoke the next day with a debilitating hangover, which somehow only got progressively worse as the hours passed. I tried to work out and sweat out the toxins, but I made it about five minutes in and puked. I thought I’d try to cure my shame through greasy food, hitting up McDonald’s around 3pm. That only made things worse. I began to shake as I tried to watch the NHL playoffs later that night, and am currently sweating through my 2008 fraternity formal commemorative t-shirt like an offensive lineman.
It certainly was a “come to Jesus” moment for me. Yeah, I can still drink, but just not for as long as I used to. My tolerance has certainly increased, but the cost is too great. There’s a certain point where we’re all told that we can’t play the children’s game anymore, and I guess I reached my point this weekend.
I’m not done drinking, not by a long shot. I’m just done drinking the way I used to. Maybe subconsciously I knew that this kind of thing had to be done, that I had to push myself hard one last time, like Rocky Balboa did in the final installation of the Rocky series, where he went toe-to-toe with Mason “The Line” Dixon in Vegas. Balboa went the distance and proved to the world, and most importantly, to himself, that he could still hack it with the best. It has become obvious to me that I can’t hack it like I used to.
Then again, I also didn’t eat anything all afternoon except for an early lunch. I guess I can just try again next weekend.