By John Hubbuch
I quit drinking in 1989 at the age of 40 after burning my 10-year-old son Nick with a cigarette. It was an accident. I didn't drink for 20 years. At first it was kind of tough, but after a while I became "the guy that didn't drink." You can be defined as something worse. In the last few years, a combination of factors and confidence that I wouldn't return to the days of a six-pack, a fresh smoke and listening to Mellencamp's "Hurt So Good" 16 consecutive times caused me to stick a toe back in the pond of alcohol.
So I am a little like the ex-patriate who returns home — in this case to Boozeland. What a place. To paraphrase Coleridge: "Liquor, liquor everywhere, so many drops to drink." Booze is the oil that lubricates our lives. It permeates our very concept of time. Eye-openers like mimosas start the day, a glass of wine at lunch, then Happy Hour, a cocktail before dinner, wine with the evening meal, a night cap and last call.
Our calendar is similarly infused with booze. We get hammered to start the New Year, drink heavily to get through our horrible winters, St. Patrick's Day, all three summer holidays, Halloween, Black Out Wednesday (before Thanksgiving) and then the whole month of December.
All of life's benchmark events include "spirits": Birthdays, graduations, promotions, marriages, bachelor and bachelorette parties — any celebrated success is memorialized with a little taste of liquor. One of the reasons we like watching sports is it provides us an excuse to drink. Otherwise how can anyone possibly watch baseball? Try and recall the last sporting event you either attended or watched with a group at which "demon rum" was not consumed. No one will come to your Super Bowl party if you announce in advance that no booze will be served.
Upon my return home to Boozeland, I noticed the liquor industry has been busy. So many product innovations. In days of yore, getting high required drinking nasty-tasting liquids. Today there are grape and root beer vodkas. Get a buzz and a taste sensation. Getting fat used to be a disincentive to drinking. Today a whole line of Skinny Girl products permit the ladies to get their drink on and keep their girlish figures.
Another innovation is craft beer. In the olden daze, I could buy a six-pack of Stroh's for $1.99. Today I can buy a beer from Portland that tastes of blueberries and anise for 12 bucks. At least it has a higher alcohol content. I also note that you can get your liquor in small plastic bottles — in case you fall down, your booze won't break. That's progress.
Now that I know that liquor lurks everywhere, I must be constantly vigilant lest I scar children. Twice I have exceeded my personal 2.5 drink limit, and even then I felt 90 percent the next day. OK, 75 percent.
And I haven't sung "Sometimes love don't feel like it should." Not even once.