Happy, hangover free Sunday morning everyone!
I was out on Friday night at a dinner party hosted by a couple I have known for 25 years. There were ten of us there, two I didn't know at all, and another four who I knew vaguely.
I learned a number of things that evening.
One: most people don't drink at least half a bottle of wine before they arrive at a party. I'd thought that pretty much everyone started drinking fairly early on a Friday.
When I was still working I would use 'thank God it's Friday' as an excuse to take my whole team out for a (boozy) lunch. Friday afternoon children's playdates would often end with a glass of vino rather than a cup of tea. Even if I hadn't found an excuse to open a bottle before 6pm, I definitely wouldn't wait a minute past 'wine-o-clock' before getting stuck in.
Doesn't everyone have a 'quick sharpener' or two while they're getting ready to go out? It appears not, because one thing I noticed on Friday was that, at the beginning of the evening at least, everyone appeared stone cold sober. Needless to say, in my BS (before sober) days, I would not have been.
Two: most people do not get drunk at a dinner party. Who knew? I was so busy getting merrily drunk myself (never embarrassingly so; never staggering, vomiting or abusive, but probably a little slurry by the end) that I just assumed everyone else was doing the same. But of our ten, at least 2 others drank no more than two or three glasses of wine all evening, and no one was obviously plastered by the end.
Three: I am - I think - much better company sober. I talked, in equal measures, to the bloke on my left and my right (BS I would have stuck with the 'more interesting one' as much as possible, ignoring the poor chap on the other side), and I was genuinely interested in what they had to say. BS I used to get stuck on 'transmit' and somebody else talking was just a helpful pause for me to be able to work out what other (tired old) anecdote I would wheel out next.
Four: I can spot the kindred spirit. Back in the early nineties when (and it seems odd now) coming out of the closet was a very difficult process, a gay friend of mine told me that he could always spot the repressed homosexual at a party. He called it his 'gaydar'. I suspect that I have a similar 'drunkard-detector'.
Here's what caused the drunkard detector to start bleeping: Most of Friday's guests asked about me not drinking (I've just quit for a while...detox...weight loss...blah blah) and then moved on. The lovely guy on my left, however, couldn't let it drop. He asked if I'd gone to AA. He talked about his problems moderating alcohol. I could see him watching the bottle and feeling awful about asking me to pass it when he didn't have the excuse of topping up my glass en route. I knew my not drinking was making him envious and uncomfortable in equal measures. I knew all of this because I have been there.
So, in general, Friday was a huge success. I drove there and back (no taxis - what freedom!), I had a good time. I was - I think - a good guest. I woke up without a hangover. But the next day I still felt really sad. I still fear that as people realise that I'm no longer 'joining in' that I will get left out. I worry that as I dry out all the invitations will dry up. I know that this is shallow of me, but being sociable has always been part of my raison d'etre. And, remember, I spend most of my day with people under the age of twelve, so my evenings are often my only chance to talk to grown ups.
On the subject of friends, one of the best things about writing this has been the people I've met already on the journey. In a short period of time you feel bizarrely close to faceless friends who've been brave enough to comment and to share something of themselves.
And then some of them disappear, and you think 'have they just got bored and moved onto more interesting things?' - in which case, fair enough. Or have they fallen off the wagon and don't feel able to read/comment any more?
I especially miss funny, Irish Kags who stopped drinking at the same time as me. Did she hit The Wall (see The Sober Rollercoaster) too and fall into a ditch? Where are you Kags? Please come back, drinking or not! And where is lovely Laura from Belgium, my continental doppelganger? I guess I have to get used to people dipping in and out, but it's hard not to worry about them.
Love to you all. SM x
Related posts: Will I lose all my friends? And for those of you who are new to this blog and this journey, have a look at Sundays: Hair of the Dog