On Being Alcohol Proof

The first time alcohol touched my body was when I was quite young. My mother took a swab of cotton, dunked it ever so slightly into a bottle of rubbing alcohol and applied it to a scrape on my knee. I screamed like the dickens and gave her a look like “why are you trying to kill me?” The cure was worse than the malady. At the time, I made a mental note to try to avoid in the future anything that had to do with alcohol. I guess you can say I made myself alcohol proof.

In my mid twenties and well into my thirties, I did now and then have a mixed drink such as a whiskey sour, gin and tonic or a tequila sunrise. But, they were few and far between. I have to admit that I would drive a car anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes after imbibing. This occurred in the 1970’s and 80’s before organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) made a big push to educate us that our actions were irresponsible as well as potentially murderous.

Add up all the hard liquor drinks I ever swigged and divide by the number of years I was eligible for these opportunities, it would average less than five drinks a year. I can attest that I have not knowingly had a stiff drink in more than ten years.

Does this make me a hero? Not really. Some people can hold their liquor and as long as they are not driving and not doing any harm to anyone else, it’s probably okay. Except, that it costs a lot of money to keep such a hobby as well as it damages the brain cells.

Liquor can give you an immediate, short term high in that you feel good about yourself as well as you forget the reason you decided to take a drink in the first place. You then start feeling not so good, then somewhat depressed or tired. So, what did you gain by it? I know, it’s your business. Enjoy.

There couldn’t have been a cowboy movie without at least one scene in a saloon. Was that all everyone did in the Wild West- have a shot of whiskey and sleep on their saddle next to their horse? There are also a lot of cop and robber action type movies that has to have at least one requisite scene in a bar. Drinking makes you a man. And if you don’t drink, hanging out with guys who do drink adds points to your attractiveness score, I guess.

Society has worked hard to remove cigarette smoking from the public. Nowadays very few actors smoke on camera. When you see one that does, it is purposely done as a way to show that the character is evil or at the least has bad habits. I wonder if in twenty or thirty years we will be focused on stopping public drinking. They tried that ninety years ago with Prohibition. It didn’t work then. I guess we value our right to destroy our liver, kidney and brains but our lungs and heart are off limits.

When I was a budding teenager, my father took me along to make a condolence call to a doctor friend who had lost his own father. This was just after the US Surgeon General in 1964 officially declared smoking caused cancer. In fact, seven years earlier, the then Surgeon General attested that there was a casual link between smoking and lung cancer. There had also been studies done in the 1930’s through the 50’s that all showed more than coincidental linkage. But everyone chose to ignore it because there was big money out there being spent on cigarettes. The fear was that to put a scare like that to the public would ruin the economy.

My father’s doctor friend went off on telling us that the smoking and cancer link was hogwash, that he was a doctor and knew better. He smoked, enjoyed it and if he was to get cancer, it would be for other reasons. He said this while speaking in a very hoarse and hacking manner. And he died six months later from cancer. No joke.

Maybe its not fair to compare drinking to smoking. Go ahead- raise your glass and salute your favorite sober lawmaker for protecting your rights. I’ll join you in a glass of cranberry juice.

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