Two Glasses Shy
For many many years I have been on the front lines of the battle against the devastation alcohol has brought upon individuals, families, and our entire society. The cavalier attitude so many Christians take toward the use of alcohol has distressed me to the core of my being. Some I have known even see their alcohol use as a badge of honor as an expression of their freedom in Christ. Scattered around them are the broken lives and the detritus left in its wake. They don’t seem to notice.
Recently I read an article by Gordon Keith that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on July 11, 2013. Its clarity and applicability struck me so much that I decided to repeat it here. I wish that I had written these words.
“Last week, 20-year-old Kirstyn Blackwood fell off the back of a party boat in the approaching darkness on Lake Ray Hubbard and no one noticed. Directionless and confused, the girl treaded water for two hours before a rescuer’s spotlight found her 200 yards from shore.
This weekend and every weekend after until the cold sobers us up, we’ll be out on our lakes with our plastic cups and leaking coolers chasing good times and navigating poor decisions. For most of us, life without alcohol doesn’t seem like much of a life. It’s what we do. We pair it with everything. A lake outing, a celebration, a defeat, a night out, a night in, a Christmas, a Memorial Day, a wedding, a Wednesday.
I got a promotion. Let’s have a drink.
I didn’t get the promotion. Let’s have a drink.
Alcohol is the prescription and the accepted response for all life’s experiences, even opposing ones. Part of this is cultural. But most of it’s human.
We are born two drinks shy of happiness. Two drinks gets you to what feels like the natural starting line of life. It’s a warm restoration. A velvet womb. Easy, free and a transceiver of love. But if you’re unlucky, it gets harder to hit that target of two-drink contentment. Soon three is not enough and four is too many. Then five is not enough and six is too many. And so on. Managing the alchemy can be exhausting and futile.
When you’re young, sailor drinking is expected. In bikinis and frat houses, prodigious bouts of drinking result in proudly retold epics. But when you’re not young, but just want to feel that way, prodigious bouts are retold by loved ones that hush when you enter the room. You start off drinking out of the bottle and at some secret point it starts drinking out of you. It’s not everyone, but it’s enough.
If he’s lucky the drinker will quickly figure out that his two-drink deficit can’t be slaked with actual drinking, or drugs, or adventure, or money, or sex, or the approval of strangers. He’ll still envy people who can have one glass of wine a night, but not as much as he’ll envy those who can have five. There are many who feel that as long as they are a functioning alcoholic, they’re not an alcoholic. That’s the sad logic of the besotted mind.
Not all alcohol consumption is bad, but most of it remains unexamined. How many bad decisions have been made under the fuzzy blanket of alcohol? How many mornings have been salted with the detective work of piecing together the previous night? How many afternoons have been christened with new drinks to swallow old shame? It’s a carousel that some stay on because they think carousels are fun. Maybe they are, but they don’t go anywhere.
It’s Friday, and once again the lure of the Party Coves of North Texas is calling. To many, this past weekend’s toll is already a forgotten news story bearing someone else’s name, and the party will go on. Most of the lake drinkers will be young and will survive the delicious pleasures of an unwise youth, but some will be those older drinkers carrying nervous kids with watchful eyes.
We still have a lot of summer left and a lot of beer. I just hope we, I included, enjoy it with a splash of moderation. It may be a kill-joy virtue but it’s also a certain salvation. For our light drinkers, I feel gratitude and hope. For my fellow heavy drinkers, I fear most of us will tread water a long time before we’re hit with the illumination that means rescue.”
Well, those are words spoken like someone who has been on the devastating end of the drug. Unwilling to ask others to completely abstain lest they too feel the heavy hand of addiction, he pleads for moderation. That’s fair. I guess the problem is that none of us know in whom that biological switch dwells that the first drink flips. Then its “Game on!”
Seems to me the better part of wisdom is to simply abstain. Then that switch never has the chance to get flipped.
I don’t know, if you are two glasses short of happiness, you might want to begin looking for the reason rather than trying to achieve it by artificial and potentially devastating means. I’m just saying….