Alcohol is there when we need it, when we're at our best; good friends, great food, amazing views. Unfortunately it's also there when we're not.
There are many reasons to drink to forget, Steven Seagal movies being just one, but essentially it's because a Martini is not just a drink, but a magical, glowing doorway to a warm and fuzzy world that calls to us in our time of need. When things go bad, and I mean really, really bad, we look to alcohol to take the pain away, to soothe us like a gentle anesthetic and whisper in our ears that it's all going to be OK. It doesn't always go to plan that's for sure as booze often has ideas of its own, but what it boils down to is, when the going gets tough, the tough go looking for three-for-one margaritas.
Most of us have felt this siren call at some point; the times when love develops fangs or we find ourselves on the street outside our place of work with a cardboard box wondering what the hell just happened. On Friday I discovered I had a $1,000 in unpaid traffic fines. Did I calmly sit down and work out a financial action plan? No, I got hammered and spent all day Saturday crying and kicking a motorcycle. When seeking solace at the business end of a bottle, we do so because of the mistaken idea that nothing can possibly make us feel worse. I can assure you that Tequila can indeed make you feel worse, considerably, considerably worse, as anyone who has ever clung for dear life to the cold and unforgiving porcelain of a toilet bowl can testify.
There are warning signs of someone seeking a liquid lobotomy; a downcast expression, a trembling bottom lip, eyes that linger too long on the bottom of the glass, or worst of all have a manic gleam about them, but it's by their trail of destruction they are truly known. This is because the safety valve in our heads, the insistent voice that cries 'no more,' that is supposed to kick in around the fourth shot, or when Jagermeister seems really tasty, remains strangely quiet. Either that or outright abandons us when it realizes we're about to transform into a howling banshee of despair, self pity and horrifically uncoordinated dancing.
Many things that can bring on this urge, but its heartache, break or trauma where it really, truly comes into its own and where the consequences are particularly spectacular. Drowning your sorrows is responsible for some of the most pitiful acts in human history and any decision made after the tenth drink is at best suspect even if it seems like such a great idea at the time. I once rang a recent ex who shared her name with a certain Manilow song, tearfully getting two full verses and a chorus in before my friends finally broke the bathroom door down and confiscated the phone.
Alcohol does indeed kill brain cells, but unfortunately not selectively, and attempting to blank a period of your life or a fully fledged human being is like performing major brain surgery on yourself, in a mirror, with a golf club. You might get it right. it's not impossible I guess, but is a touch unlikely and at best you'll get mixed results. The fact that drinking gives you something else to worry about is a form of victory; Yes, Frank has left you, but now you have a torn muscle in your groin from falling off the table the nice bartender asked you not to dance on. Yes, Jenny cheated on you, but now you've had a nice night in a cold jail cell to mediate on your time together.
Will this stop me making a beeline to a bar or bottle the next time things go badly wrong?