I hadn’t had a drink in about eight years, give or take. Next Saturday, that was to change. I was to have a drink. I took a medication called Antabuse which causes the drunk who takes the pills to get violently ill after inducing the smallest amount of alcohol. I couldn’t even put alcohol on my skin, or else I’d get a bad rash. They say alcoholism is an allergy—well, Antabuse makes it true. I was currently, literally—but not figuratively—allergic to alcohol in all its forms. Until I stopped taking the pill. But I would have to stop taking it for three days before I could drink again. That’s how it works. If you want to drink, you’ve gotta wait three days for the medication to leave your system, ideally giving the alcoholic time to have second thoughts about drinking again.
I gave it five days, just to be on the safe side.
Monday afternoon I told my therapist, my psychiatrist, my AA sponsor, even my life-skill’s coach, about my plan, and they all advised me against it. But I was determined.
I went to the AA meeting that night, and I told everyone that I was going to drink again. I wasn’t going to keep this a secret; there was no point, they’d all know, anyway. Besides, you’re only as sick your secrets. So I put it out in the open.
After the meeting, as I was still determined, as none of their shares really deterred me from what I wanted to do--what I was going to do—next Saturday, I went home and I stared at the Antabuse for what felt like the longest time ever, because in eight years I had not missed a day, and then swallowed my resolve and dumped the pills down the toilet and flushed.
My heart pounded--boom boom boom!--like a choo-choo train, my nerves vibrated; I was so excited, but nervous, but mostly excited, but slightly afraid, and I might have even forgotten what it felt like to be drunk………….
* * *
Come Saturday afternoon, I texted Adrian and said: “I’m gonna drink tonight, meet me at the Bean.”
He didn’t respond.
I went to the Radio Bean, walked inside, and order a drink. A beer. Something cheap. Something to start the night smoothly. I was nervous. I thought they wouldn’t even sell to me. Everyone who works here, who hangs out here, knows me, and they’ve never served me anything other than coffee or tea. They must know I was in recovery. I used to live above this joint and everyone knew I was in recovery, and they probably wouldn’t even serve me but, Gawd, I hope they do.
The waitress was short, with blond hair, big boobs, big blue eyes. She was one of those hipster coffee house chicks who tried to dress Punk but didn’t quite pull it off, in her tattered fishnet tights, and ratty denim miniskirt.
She brought me the beer and I paid.
Then I went outside and sat on the patio. Set the drink on the table and lit a cigarette. Stared at it. Took a drag. Watched the foam bubbling over. Took a drag.
This was too much. I gripped the beer and let my hand really absorb the coolness coming from the glass, and tipped it to my lips and sipped. It was bittersweet, the foam and my lips becoming one as the liquid eased into my mouth and flopped and splashed around my tongue and descended my throat and a familiar warmness settled inside my stomach, festering like a heated blanket on a cold winter day. I was set. I took another sip and my limbs loosened. Another sip. My mind expanded.
I saw a guy I knew from AA. Shit shit shit, I gotta explain.
I set the beer on the table, wiped the foam from my upper lip, and hurried over.
I hadn’t drunk in a while and the ground was starting to seesaw and my body was rocking as I said: “Hey, man.” I chuckled.
“Where you off to?” I queried.
“Going to an AA meeting, you should come.”
“Can’t,” I said, as I noticed some friends scramble onto the patio. “I’m drinking.”
He looked disappointed.
“What’s going on?”
“Naw, I just needed to try something different.”
“Haven’t you tried this before? And before?”
“But this time is different,” I said.
He glared at me, smiled, and said: “Okay, but if you need to talk, you know where to find me.” He left me and I hurried over to the patio and sat down and continued to drink my beer. Gemma was there and a few others.
Gemma said: “Hey, I thought you didn’t drink.”
“I didn’t,” I told her, taking another sip. It tasted and felt good.
When I finished the whole beer, I got up and hurried inside. This time I ordered a shot of whiskey with my beer.
I downed the shot and went back outside, with the beer in my hand.
Gemma said: “You going to Waking Windows?”
“Sure, when is it?”
“Tonight,” she said. “All of us,” gesturing to the four guys she was with, “are going.”
“I’ll come,” I said.
I drank more and then saw Adrian stumble in.
He said: “I heard you were drinking tonight?”
“Didn’t want to miss this for a minute. Let me buy you a drink.”
When the sun went down, we called an Uber Plus and took it to Winooski, and since no one had any money other than what we spent on the booze we were carrying on our persons, we all sat on the grass outside the gates. We were on a hill and from this vantage point we could hear the music and just barely make out the nearest band.
Gemma passed me a bottle.
“What’s this?” I asked her.
“Tequila, have some.”
It tasted sweet as it sweltered in the darkest part of my stomach.
I saw the guy from AA who I saw earlier stroll past us. He came over. He knew most of us in this group. He was laughing with us, but he wasn’t drinking. I was a little nervous about drinking hard liquor in front of a fellow AA-goer, but who gives a shit? Tonight we were partying. I downed some more of the tequila.
A car picked us up and drove us down to the river and we sat there and drank beers, chucking our empty bottles at fish. A guy sat on the picnic table strumming his guitar. I wrote a poem. I felt good.
Adrian started acting weird. He was pretty fuckin shitfaced.
I said: “Maybe we should start walking back to Burlington.”
He nodded, and stumbled, and I grabbed him, and we went.
The streets were dark and cold and cars buzzed past us. It was only a 30-minute walk from here.
I turned around and Adrian was gone.
Fuck it. I kept going.
A car pulled up to me and it was Scott. He said: “Do you want a ride?”
I got in the car and sat beside Tom. There was some girl I didn’t know riding shotgun. I told them I was drunk. They all could tell. They all laughed.
They drove me back to the Radio Bean and I got out and started walking home.
I passed Nectar’s and decided to have one final drink, when I saw Wyatt and someone else eating at some table there and I walked in and joined them. I ordered myself some chicken tenders and a beer.
Wyatt said: “Wait, what?”
I said: “It’s okay, I’m already drunk.”
He was grinning. Then looked away and continued talking to his friend like I wasn’t there.
After I finished my chicken tenders, I went home. I resolved that tomorrow night I would do the right thing; I would get drunk again.
To be continued….