If you’ve read more than one post in my blog, you’ve most certainly come to realize that I’m a joker and try very hard to find something to smile about even in the darkest of situations. I really can’t help it. It’s how I’m wired.
There is something inherently funny about the time that I whipped it out and peed into a closet in the middle of the night thinking it was my toilet. I didn’t realize what was going on until I reached for toilet paper to wipe the seat (I’m a sweetheart, ladies) only to find that there was no toilet paper and there was no seat and that I had just urinated all over every pair of shoes I owned. I spent the next day trying to figure out how to clean and wear my pee shoes without having to throw them out and purchase brand new non-pee shoes. It wasn’t funny at the time, but framed by my new sober way of thinking, it has become silly to me.
Then there was also the time that I woke up in my bedroom with three untouched large pizzas from Dominos sitting next to my bed. Those were the fucking scariest pizzas I’ve ever seen. First of all, how did they get in my room and what the hell did they want from me? Second of all, they were all cheese which is not at all how you do pizza when you’re ordering three pies. I checked my bank account and realized that I was now overdrawn as a result of ordering them and it would be an entire week before I got paid again. I spent those seven days eating those three large pizzas and nothing else because it’s all I had left in my life. I did borrow $20 from a friend which I could have spent on something different and healthy to eat but instead I bought a gallon of vodka that I rationed out quite well.
While I may be able to laugh at these situations, it is never my intent to glamorize them as being something to aspire to. The fact that I am commenting on them while in sobriety is proof of that. Yes, those situations are funny now but obviously there was something so awful about them that I now find myself totally dry and intending to stay that way. I’m not deflecting the seriousness of my disease and trying to smother it with humor. Rather, I am coping by joking while I am simultaneously doing very real and difficult work figuring a lot of things out. This boy does cry. A lot. For me, humor is just another tool I keep handy that goes along with all of the others. I’m not trying to minimize the severity of what we all go through and if it ever comes across that way, well fucking shit. I’m sorry. But it ISN’T that and never has been.
But I have started becoming acutely aware of the humor that surrounds the disease of alcoholism that seems to be thrown around willy nilly in media, popular culture, and our country as a whole.
I don’t know what it was about yesterday that really plugged me in to societal depictions of excessive drinking or why it bothered me so much. I was bombarded by images and examples of our country’s mischaracterization of acceptable drinking and most of these images were meant to be humorous, but to me they just weren’t. I felt a bit hypocritical at first but soon realized that there was a fundamental difference between the humor that I employ as a recovering addict and the humor our culture calls upon in order to drive a marketplace and encourage industry and consumption.
I was watching an episode of this show called The Kitchen on The Food Network and they have this segment where all of the hosts yell, “IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE!!!” and then they proceed to make a cocktail and they all drink it. Fine. Whatever. But look at what that phrase is really saying. It’s saying, “Drink whenever you want. You’re an adult. Have fun.” The Kitchen airs late morning/early afternoon and romanticizes the idea of having a refreshing cocktail at a time of day that normally doesn’t call for cocktails. I’m not saying there is anything right or wrong with a person who has a normal relationship with alcohol to have a cocktail at noon if they really want to. What I will say is this: When I was active and drinking daily to excess, such a segment and phrase (IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE!”) would have lit my fuse. I would have thought, “See? Everyone does it. This is normal.” And I might have walked to the kitchen, poured myself something, and felt better about doing it. Now, this is MY flaw. I get that. I’m not blaming television or celebrity chef’s for turning me into a big old alcoholic dork. But I do find it troubling that a substance that kills and sickens so many people is given such a carefree and cavalier depiction in daytime television. “IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE!” is meant to be funny, cute, tongue in cheek, teehee look at us we’re being bad! I can see that. But I don’t think everyone can see that. And I don’t think that those already struggling and in the midst of their disease necessarily have the cognitive wherewithal to not take such declarations as further permission to continue as per the usual because, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” This observation isn’t a call to action. I’m not sure there is anything to be done or should be done. But it’s troubling to me, nonetheless.
Then a commercial came on for Pinnacle Vodka and all of their whipped cream, cinnamon bun, and angel poop flavors. They used very cheerful, happy, youthful sounding music with very vibrant and fresh colors making vodka consumption seem like a day at the beach. Usually alcohol is depicted with a tonality that makes it clear this is a product for adults. It’s typically sexualized and painted somewhat darkly appealing to desires that perhaps children wouldn’t be aware of yet. But Pinnacle’s commercial was totally the opposite. I honestly could see a child watching that commercial and only hearing the words, “Whipped cream” and “Cinnamon bun” and being intrigued. Again, I have no idea what this means or if it’s wrong or if anything should be done. But, still, it gives me pause.
The boyfriend and I left the house after becoming sick of television and boarded the train with the dog to attend an outdoor food and flea festival. At one stop, a group of people boarded and stood directly in front of us. They were probably around our age. Perhaps a little younger. They had obviously just come from a bar or a brunch with alcohol. (Bloody Mary, I miss you! Sort of. Shut, up alcoholic brain!) One guy was extremely bombastic and obviously partying harder than the rest. He told story after story about various bars he’s been drunk in and detailed how drunk he had become at each bar and what level of difficulty he had getting home from each. The stories were rather sad sounding but he found his binge drinking episodes hilarious and his pals laughed along with him either because they, too, found them funny or because they were just being polite. No one else really had much to say about his tales and sometimes seemed a bit uncomfortable at how loud he was being. This guy may have had a problem with alcohol. I have no idea. But he was trying to elicit laughs by depicting himself as an excessive drinker. If he didn’t have a problem, he thought it funny to paint himself as a person who participated in alcoholic-esque behavior. Is faux alcoholism a comedic device now?
I was reminded of a TV show I had just seen the night before where Jane Kaczmarek played an aging mother who always had a dirty martini in her hand. It was daytime and no one else was drinking and she seemed to maintain and conduct herself in a very witty way while drinking potent beverages. She made it look effortless and was cracking jokes left and right. She looked fun to be around and, frankly, fun to BE. Why wouldn’t a woman want to be powerful, effective, in charge, AND drunk? The Will and Grace Karen has become a go-to trope and audiences begin to embrace the character’s flaw of alcoholism and perhaps even begin to romanticize the drink as being a manageable accessory to fame, fortune, beauty, and desirability. I tried to imagine Kaczmarek as the same exact woman but always walking around with a syringe that she occasionally used to shoot heroin into her arm. Of course this wouldn’t fly. Alcohol is a national pastime and big business. It’s being glamourized for a rea$on.
After the flea market, we ended up at a store that sells gift items, clothing, and home furnishings. I took some pictures of some things I found:
This is a glass where you are able to measure how much alcohol to drink depending on which stage of grief you are in after someone dies. HILARIOUS, right? This is the perfect gift to tell your loved one, “I know you are hurting. But it’s funny. So drink a lot.” WTF, you guys?
Here is a little pocket book that lists over 200 terms that are used to describe being drunk in case SHITFACED just won’t cut it.
This is where you can keep your liquor to drink in the morning when your alcoholism has progressed to physical dependency. Stop your shakes in style with this cute and smart little flask!
While I try very hard to give myself and anyone who might be reading this blog something to smile about in the midst of this awful thing that is alcoholism, I absolutely NEVER want to accidentally minimize the significance of what it is we are doing here by trying to get and stay sober in order to lead a happy and healthy life. And if I ever venture into territory that is questionable, by all means call me on it. I may or may not agree with your assessment, but I’d rather have to look at something a second time than to casually offend or hurt someone.
Alcoholism isn’t a pesky little cute thing we deal with while still having fun living a life with booze in hand. When the show ended, Karen from Will and Grace either got help and is sitting in a recovery meeting right now OR she is fucking dead. Period. The boy on the train entertaining his friends with stories of him crawling from the bar to his house will either grow up and calm down OR he will realize he has a problem and will get help OR he will die. Period. And the people who buy the gift items pictured above have absolutely no fucking clue whatsoever.
Alcoholism has become the trained circus lion performing at the hands of a ringmaster that thinks he can keep such a dangerous animal in check. Crowds laugh and point and have a good time at its expense. But it’s only a matter of time before the lion gets really hungry and eats your face.