"Alcohol, my permanent accessory//Alcohol, a party time necessity//
Alcohol, alternative to feeling like yourself//Oh, alcohol, I still drink to your health." (Page/Duffy)
Seriously, though, was there ever a line so fine? That nearly invisible line that so many inadvertently cross between social drinking, professional drinking, and problematic drinking? Based on that sentence, there may be more than one line. Which makes it that much harder to see which side of which line you may be on.
I think I've been on all sides of all lines in addition to straddling each and every line like John Wayne straddles a horse. Before he steps into a saloon. Sometimes, I may have been throttling that very same line rather than trotting along through the desert in a graceful canter.
"Now I know that there's a time and there's a place where I can choose//
To walk the fine line between self control...and self abuse." (Page/Duffy)
These lines are but the inherent risks of falling in love with wine, on one hand, and making it your life's work, on another. The struggle to walk these lines isn't always dark, noticeable, or dramatic, either. Sometimes it's more like having a buzzing light bulb in your house that you just get used to.
I've always been fascinated by the archetype of the happy-go-lucky, oft-tipsy, funny-guy character. Maybe because I felt like I knew a few of them in my life. Maybe because my dad was hilarious with a few cocktails in him sometimes. My mentor in wine might also be that guy. And I love Dean Martin. The idea of the loveable drunk.
"I love you more//Than I did the week before//I discovered alcohol." (Page/Duffy)
It can be dangerous. I've put on weight. Lost it again. Put it on again. I've struggled in relationships of all kinds. Overextended myself and not realized I was doing it. All the time. Made things that were not a priority a priority in the name of professional advancement and educating myself, which, in a great sense, was actually true.
I didn't just drink. It's my job, I thought. I'm that guy. The wine guy. The guy you want to have drinks with. That loveable drunk. Finally, and after not too long a time trying, I'd become that guy.
I made it.
"Would you please ignore//That you found me on the floor//Trying on your camisole." (Page/Duffy)
When I drank, it was intellectual. I used to drink. I still do, but I used to, too. I thought that drinking just to get drunk was a waste of precious booze. In my mind, I was pushing the cart forward, and my career further down the road. And it seemed to be working. I was always praised for my work. And yes, I did a lot of it. I always worked hard. Tried hard. And dealt with the lack of balance in my work life, social life, personal life, with the same thing that was tying them all together and happened to be my main interest, hobby, career, pastime, and passion: wine.
"Forget the caffé latté//Screw the raspberry iced tea." (Page/Duffy)
There's no moral to this story. But, rather, I just wanted to take some time to reflect and share. It's not just the wine business. It's every business. You're on the road a lot. You've got a big family. Social. Tons of friends. Or maybe it's the opposite. You might be lonely, and a drink fills a gap in your free time. And in the middle of those two poles. And beyond both of them, too.
"A Malibu & Coke for you//A G&T for me." (Page/Duffy)
It's easy to let one become a few, and a few become a few too many, and for this to happen on repeat, because it seems so benign. It's easy.
What I do want to say, is that as I've created healthier habits, more boundaries, taken better care of myself, listened to the inner voices, the ones that say, "That's too much social time", or "I can't stay for another, I need to get home", or "Does this even taste good to me right now?", my work has become more honest, my relationships have improved, and I just. feel. better.
I know how tricky it can be. People pressure you. "C'mon, stay for one." Then it's "C'mon, stay for one more." I've heard it all.
"Alcohol, your songs resolve like my life never will//When someone else is picking up the bill." (Page/Duffy)
I suppose what I want to say, is that when you need the voice inside you, telling you to wrap it up and head home, or to not crack that 2nd, 3rd, or 4th bottle, to be a little louder, let my voice speak with yours and support you.
Yes, there's an aesthetic element to the loveable drunk. It's in the name of this project. I am well aware of that. Because, it is fun to get a little tipsy with your friends and share a few good bottles of wine. Sometimes, it's fun and can be totally OK to enjoy one by yourself. People do it all the time. They walk the line. As I have done, and as I often continue to do.
"Oh, alcohol, would you please forgive me//For while I cannot love myself//I'll use something else." (Page/Duffy)
There's no reason we can't talk about this, check in, and see if we know for sure where that line is and where we're at every so often.
"Oh alcohol, I still drink to your health." (Page/Duffy)
If you need an extra set of eyes to find your line, just reach out. For those who don't know me, it's Steven. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll respond. I'm not a professional therapist or counsellor, but I do have ears, and I do have eyes, and we are on this journey together, and I'd prefer if we all felt better, felt balanced, and felt in control of ourselves while we go through it.
It's more fun that way.