My longtime friend Charles Perkins—funny guy, real insightful professional computer programmer who grew up in the hood and is kinda on the cutting edge of a lot of cool shit—goes on a limb and says he’s jumping into that Sober October movement.
London, another friend—talented R&B artist, acclaimed bowler, table tennis tyrant and dart-throwing fanatic—says he’s in.
Me, an impressionable friend who happens to love sipping red wine while writing late at night, hops in the thread like, say no more fam: “We in this thang.”
It’s been ten days: 45 news cycles, a handful of natural disasters and the death of Jonathan Prince marking yet another police killing. Plus the Oakland A's got my hopes up just to lose to the Astros in the playoffs and break my heart again. I haven't even mentioned politics nor my personal life. Suffice it to say: there's plenty of reasons to have a drink. But I haven’t given in, and I'm proud of that.
That pride doesn’t just come from surviving the first presidential debate—the equivalent of standing next to someone ironing a musty t-shirt—it comes from breaking away from habitual actions. A broken cycle. This past week represents change in the most minuscule fashion, but small change is better than a big bag of the same ole shit.
I’m not the only one who's been on a 2020 binge. Drinking is up in the United States, according to anyone paying attention to social behavior. If you need numbers and statistics, peep this NPR article from last month. It says that according to Nielsen, alcohol sales are up. And, at the same time, many in-person AA meetings aren’t happening. That doesn’t bode well for the long term when it comes to alcohol, Americans and health.
Do I have a drinking problem? Uh… I mean, who really does? I more so have a, "Oh man, I drank too much last night" problem. You know, the "It’s 2am? Ok, just one more glass of wine" conundrum.
We’re all familiar with the “Daddy, why does your breath smell like that?” issue.
Yeah, that’s what I’m dealing with.
I’m drinking more than usual. White wine with this lunchtime salad. A shot of bourbon before that 6pm video chat. When my friend Will died a few months ago, I had tequila for breakfast, took a shower (had tequila in there), wiped my tears, got dressed and then started my day.
Twenty years from now there'll be a knock at my door. When I look through the peephole and see my kidney standing there, punching its palm with a fist, talking about how it wants payback for the way I treated it in 2020, I won’t be surprised.
Alcohol is pervasive. It’ll jump into you. One minute you’re talking to a neighbor, next thing you know you have a Corona in your hand. It’s one of the most widely marketed things in our economy—billions of dollars are spent each year to ensure that you can’t venture into a city center without encountering alcohol advertisements.
I know alcohol is one of the strands that make up the fabric of this society. I question whether it’s holding it together or holding it back.
On one hand, in a year like this it can seem damn near asinine not to drink. Over two million people worldwide are dead from a virus that wasn’t on the map in October 2019. America, with over 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, compiles even more reasons to drink with its ever-present layers of racism, police violence and race-based inequalities, packaged all up in an election year unlike any other.