The Feel-Good Complex: A Chronicle of Bad Choices

by Bill Brenner on July 20, 2015

With all the death and drama in my life recently, I tell people that I regret quitting drinking a few years ago. Few things appeal to me more right now than the sweet buzz a bottle of wine would give me.

I have no intention of falling off the wagon. I know where it would take me. But the fact is that I’m desperate to feel good lately. For now, I cling tightly to my vapor pipe. It won’t give me a buzz, but it’s a safer crutch than the other things I crave but can’t have.

Mood music:

The memories are strong lately — specifically, memories of trying to feel good.

Age 18: I discover an after-dinner drink — Haffenreffer Lager Beer. There are little puzzles under the bottle caps, and your ability to solve them steadily declines with each bottle. I suck down three in quick succession so I can immediately enjoy feeling like I just absorbed half a keg of light beer. I feel good for about an hour. Then I throw up, nap on the cool, bathroom floor and watch any number of tripped-out movies with whoever was still around. I switch to vodka, because it’ll keep me buzzed with less intensity than the so-called Headwreckers.

Age 21: I’m pacing up and down the driveway of the old Revere house in a blue-green polka-dotted bathrobe. I’m freaking out because I’ve consumed two beers and an entire stick of marijuana by myself. I call my friend Dan and ask him to come over. He finds me in the driveway and takes me to Kelly’s Roast Beef for chicken fingers. I spend the rest of the night repeatedly blathering, “Heheh. Heheh. Haha. Haha…”

Age 31: I’m at my then-boss’s annual Christmas party. For the first hour I stand there like a stone, not knowing what to say to these people, many of whom I was butting heads with at the office. I’m offered a glass of wine. I suck it down and start to loosen up. I have another. And another. Conversation becomes easier, so I have another. I walk away realizing that enough alcohol will numb that itchy, edgy feeling I get around people. It becomes a habit.

Age 34: I leave that job and go to a company full of young, just-out-of college kids. The company likes to have long offsites where free booze flows like tap water. I make sure to get my fill, followed by my fill of food. There’s nothing quite like a food binge when you’re drunk. For someone like me, it’s heaven for the first hour, followed by shame and terror over my utter loss of control.

Age 39: I’m several months into my abstinence from binge eating. I’ve dropped 65 pounds on the spot and my head is clearer, but the defect in my head is still there, so I look for other things: wine — lots of it. It becomes a necessity every night with dinner.

By Christmas I realize wine is no longer compatible with a clean life — the kind I have to live, anyway. So I take my last sip on New Year’s Eve and put it down.

Age 45: Here I am, sober for the last 5 1/2 years. Life is tough and I miss my wine. So I clutch the vapor pipe as hard as I can, wondering what’s next.

pacman: y3t1 style by eddietheyeti-d6i1t1kPacMan: y3t1 style, by EddieTheYeti

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

jonee July 21, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Life IS tough!! Would have liked it if, upon entering school, they could have handed me a manual of some kind outlining what life entails, how to deal with it, etc., etc., etc.

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