Making Liquor Recommendations.
Over on the twits, there was just a brief discussion about bourbon. One friend who is christening her office has procured a bottle of bourbon with which to do so. Discussion of brands followed. I made a recommendation that they try Baker’s barrel proof bourbon. They said they’d try it out. Then, GertyZ said: “[I]t always seems weird to me when you give out [alcohol] suggestions.” I totally respect that. It’s a little weird to be giving out alcohol suggestions. But I think there’s some important stuff going on in me about it.
I want to have a normal life. I want to be able to participate in the whole realm of human experience. Most especially, I want to have a social life that is fluid and florid. I want to be able to engage with friends, and hopefully one day soon a lover, across the entire spectrum of relationship. I’m in my 30s. I interact with a lot of grown ups. Most grown ups drink, normally and successfully. The vast majority of my friends, online and otherwise, fall into this category. And most grown ups also drink regularly, and enjoy it and talk about it. If I want to have a normal social life, I have to be able to be in groups where that happens.
I refuse to cower from alcohol. Don’t get me wrong. I am afraid of what drinking does and would do to me. I respect my disease and my addiction. I will not put myself in situations which risk my sobriety. While I haven’t encountered such a situation in quite some time, I am not so arrogant as to presume they could not or do not exist. I have tools, which I keep finely honed, that provide me with strategies to avoid, evade, confront, or retreat from any situation which might present me with danger.
People new to sobriety should avoid situations with alcohol. They should avoid friends who drink. They should change the people, places, and things associated with their drinking. It was months before I went to a restaurant that served alcohol. The first business trip I took, more than a year sober, I called the bellhop and had them remove all the alcohol from the hotel mini-bar. When new to sobriety, alcoholics need to recoil from the presence of alcohol.
Some people need to stay that way their whole lives. There is no shame in that. There is great strength in that.
But for most of us who have done the work, and continue to do the work to maintain our sobriety, seeing, smelling, thinking about or talking about alcohol doesn’t represent a temptation. Even our euphoric recall is properly sorted into “memory” rather than “desire”. My sponsor has a wet bar in his basement. I know another alcoholic, sober 14 years, who does as well. I don’t keep alcohol in my house, because I have no need to. And I would feel uncomfortable with it there, I know. But if I one day live with a wife who drinks, I’d imagine I could keep some in the house and not worry about it.
I don’t want to be excluded. And I have comprehensive knowledge about liquor. I had some money, and I drank a lot, and I’m a fancy, eclectic, self-aggrandizing ass. Therefore, I spent a lot of money on drinking a lot of really good booze. And I liked it. Up until I was married and had to hide it, I wasn’t drinking diet sprite and vodka from a 20 oz plastic bottle. I was drinking single barrel bourbons, single malt scotches, and some of the finest wines in the world. Truly great micro brew beers. I brewed my own beer and mead.
So, in friendly discussions about alcohol, I have something to contribute. And doing so doesn’t impact me negatively. As I’ve written here before, people have apologized to me for talking about alcohol, or asked me if it’s ok. Of course it’s ok. It’s not my business! People have no responsibility, obligation, whatever, to refrain from any subjects around me. Not only because I have no right or desire to control their subjects of discourse, but also because I am truly not bothered by discussions of alcohol, and I sometimes enjoy participating in them. If I am bothered by a situation involving alcohol, or the discussion thereof, I know how to remove myself. It’s my responsibility.
My life used to be totally controlled by alcohol. Now, I am totally free from it. Being totally free from alcohol’s control means that I am capable of discussing my history and experience with alcohol fearlessly. And because I have such experience, and I know the pleasure that good alcohol can bring people who can enjoy it responsibly, I feel unencumbered by any proscription against sharing that experience.
Baker’s barrel proof bourbon is good. Dead Arm Shiraz is good. Chateau Latour Pauillac is $400 and worth every penny. Just because I don’t drink them anymore doesn’t mean that normal people shouldn’t. I get pleasure from sharing good things with others. We in AA are not abolitionists. We recognize that alcohol is a source of pleasure and happiness for people who can safely imbibe. We just aren’t those people. And I don’t regret that now. I drank a whole life’s worth, and now I’m done.