I didn’t start drinking until I was 21. Unfortunately I made up for lost time in the 18 years that followed. Until recently, I drank every night. Usually a couple-few glasses of wine while watching Netflix, maybe liquor on occasion—mixed with whatever juice the kids were drinking. And of course, having lived in two craft beer capitals—San Diego and Columbus—I drank a lot of beer. Much of it tasty, though a fair portion of it of the “Y’all trying to be too fancy and putting anything in this beer” variety.
After recently catching a respiratory infection/chest ebola that was spreading throughout Ohio, I cut my alcohol intake by about 80 percent. I probably should have abstained completely, but I prefer at least a little vice in my life, apparently through sickness and in health.
One of the changes since (almost) quitting alcohol has been in my attitude at work. Of course I still fantasize and save like crazy for an early retirement, but when summoned to meetings-about-meetings I no longer sigh and think “You can have my body but not my mind!” I’ve also been going without my normal mid-workday nap. During my professional career, which has unfortunately coincided with my drinking career, I’ve had sporadic energy. Mornings: Man, it’s too early to work. Afternoons: I’ll get right to it…after my power nap! Late afternoon: Working till 5 seems inhumane. Now during working hours I’m as chipper as a Chik-fil-A employee.
Another big change since I’ve almost stopped drinking is…well, let me say this first. Healthy men have erections while sleeping. Such erections tend to occur while one is in deep REM sleep. Alcohol blocks REM sleep. So in short, alcohol blocks sleep boners. I figured my sleep boners had decreased due to co-sleeping with our kids, as if my body had an auto-shutoff feature to avoid weird situations. (“Mama, why does Dada have three legs at night?” Well, maybe two legs and a baby finger.) But it was the alcohol the whole time. Now I tell my wife, “If I’m sleep and it’s up, just take the kids back upstairs and hop right on!” No such thing as #HimToo in this house!
Lastly, cutting down on alcohol has made me a better father. In recent years, I could only stand to be told by my kids to look at something three consecutive times—“Look! Look Dada! LOOK!”—before responding with an “I SEE!” heard throughout the neighborhood. Now even if I’m occupied with something important, like arguing about LeBron’s greatness on a text message thread, I pay them more attention. Of course they just want me to watch my oldest son make a fart sound with his sweaty armpit, but hey, it’s the little things they’ll remember when deciding if I get the bedroom or the basement when I’m elderly and forced to live with them.
Overall, I’m happy with the changes since I’ve (almost) stopped drinking. Now that I’m more alert it turns out the world’s a fairly good place full of good humans, though I still can’t stand people who say “per se.” Anyhow, I’ll see how semi-sobriety goes for awhile, provided I don’t end up substituting alcohol with “Devil’s lettuce” now that medicinal marijuana’s legal in Ohio.