For completely un-fun, non-interesting reasons, my wife Christina and I recently quit drinking entirely for what amounted to just over 6 weeks.
There was no DUI, public intoxication incident, pregnancy, medical scare, or any of the other reasons that often cause people to give up alcohol…we just decided to stop for a while. It was an idea that had been building for months as we would regularly suggest to one another that it was time for us to just take a break and dry out. Of course, when you’re a regular drinker, there’s always a reason to not quit drinking. Law school finals, contract negotiations, upcoming vacations, plans with friends, visits with in-laws, and stress over a new dog in the house were all bandied around Williams Manor for the last few months.
After a week in Hawaii when we found ourselves drinking less than ever because we were constantly on the go pursuing ATV rides, snorkeling hideaways, helicopter tours, hiking trails, and more, we returned home and just decided it was time; so we drank through the 4th of July, weened off for a couple days and just stopped; until, it turns out, the end of August.
It’s important to point out that we often acknowledge on the air that what you hear each day are exaggerations of who we really are. Yes, Dawn is absolutely nuts in “real life,” but it is occasionally amped up a bit on the show (although to be fair, not much). Brandon is known as “the stoner,” but the truth is that his consumption level hasn’t warranted that title in a long, long time. As is true as well of my purported alcohol consumption. Now, you’d have to be a real idiot to actually believe that I always maintain my Blood Alcohol Content at .04% to avoid ever being hungover. Sadly, we do have our share of idiots listening and you’d probably not believe the occasional e-mails we get from people concerned about my drinking, actually believing that I consume the amounts portrayed on the show.
We rarely take the time on-air to dispel the myths because, well, it’s just fun to maintain the narrative. Nor should it even be necessary for God’s sake.
The paradox with alcohol in America is that it is so romanticized, mainstream, and accepted. Yet at the same time it is so demonized and shamed. We have done a brilliant job of training society to accept and even endorse alcohol in moderation while at the same time loathing and despising it in large quantities or at specific times (while pregnant, before noon, etc.). that, in conjunction with the absurdly unrealistic definition of what a serving size of alcohol is, and the further use of our personal choices against us in our own medical care, has simply led more and more Americans to lie about drinking. My wife and I see it all the time; people who claim to “never drink,” drink every weekend. People who claim to drink “only on the weekend,” find themselves at cocktail parties and happy hours every Wednesday and Thursday evening. People who drink “a few nights a week,” drink every day. And people who “never drink before 5pm,” have bloody Mary’s every Sunday with brunch. Christina and I feel like cops sometimes…everyone has always had “a couple of drinks,” when pull them over.
Not one to endorse or embrace lying, I have no problem saying that, while I have made poor decisions at various times in my life involving dosage, I’m basically a daily drinker in moderation.
Oh! Wait! There’s another problem with the public shame of alcohol! Despite all of our best attempts to create formulas like “one drink every hour is safe,” believe it or not, different substances effect different people differently. Imagine that. I know guys twice my size that drink as often as I do, yet they’re drunk and worthless twice as fast as I am. Conversely, there are women half my size who can drink me under the table. “Moderation,” for one person is abuse to another, and vice-versa.
For me, 3 drinks per night is the average and the norm. Of course, my wife and I also don’t lie about “serving size.” A “serving” of wine is supposed to be 5 ounces, meaning a bottle is 6 glasses. HAHAHAHAHA! Who’s pouring those? The Smurfs? My wife and I do a bottle of wine in two glasses for each of us because we pour reasonable sized glasses, like most people (and bars and restaurants).
Additionally, I’ve had a cop friend of mine drink with me a few times while we played breathalyzer bingo. That stupid “formula” has been debunked at Williams Manor more times than I can count; multiple times I intentionally had 3 drinks in an hour and never blew above a .07…as my friend said “we’re taught that’s impossible,” yet the proof was right there. Again, believe it or not, people and their bodies and their genetic and the effects substances have on them are…wait for it…DIFFERENT!
Either way, we stopped for 6 weeks and the results were…exactly as expected. A little more energy, no real temptations, and lots of sugar consumption. No big deal, no life altering moments, just as expected. And so, we resumed and celebrated with a trip to Napa to get our livers back up to speed.
What seems to bother a lot of people is the ability to accept and acknowledge that at this point in our life, we’re better people in all facets of our life, as drinkers. And yet, despite the horror of that, the number one reaction we got from almost everyone (including a lot of those alleged “weekend only drinkers”), was “oh, I could never stop drinking for 6 weeks!”
The paradox and hypocrisy continues…