Since forever, after a stressy day, I reach for a glass of Pinot Noir. Or three. No, I’ve never been a hard-liquor luncher or drunk driver. But there are other ways to experience a drinking problem.
My social rituals – book club, barbecues, birthdays, even our Martha Stewart-ish Christmas cookie exchange — long revolved around getting a trifle tipsy. Or unsteady as a toddler on ice skates.
Drinking a few times a week is a slippery slope I’m pretty sure I could ride like a Slip ’N Slide.
I feed myself the line that my drink of choice — red wine — is actually doing me favors. As it raises my good cholesterol, its resveratrol lowers my risk of blood clotting. A rosy glow today, no heart attack later. A win-win, right?
Not exactly. All the positive health repercussions in the world don’t make up for the following:
— After my daughter’s confirmation, we had a backyard party. The wine began to flow, and I confess I can’t remember when it ended. In the embarrassing light of morning, I had to ask my husband what time people left, and if I said anything unintelligible.
— Soon after, at dinner with my two sons, the younger asked, “How much wine do you think you’ve drunk in your whole lifetime? Like, several swimming pools full? It has to be tons!” Talk about a punch in the gut.
Want to know how to tell if you’re drinking too much? You can’t recall the night before. Did you ever get out of bed and hazily remember emailing someone you shouldn’t have? I have — frantically checking my outbox and fighting the urge to throw my laptop against the wall.
Welcome to the world of hangover paranoia.
So you see why I cut back. How come I never stopped completely? Two reasons. Two really awful, stupid, asinine reasons.
First, I’m terrified I’ll become boring. In college, I was the girl dancing on tables. I never get college-blotto now, but I’m scared to death of no longer being fun. Standing in the corner at parties, on the sidelines. Watching everyone else having The Best Time Ever.
Second, I’m terrified my life will become tiresome. There’s a scene in The Wolf of Wall Street when somebody asks Leonardo DiCaprio what it’s like being sober. His response: “So boring, I’m gonna kill myself.”
But frankly, I’m even more frightened of how central booze has become to my lifestyle. Is there anything worse than the humiliation of drinking too much in front of your kids? Not much.
The truth is, I no longer bounce back the way I used to. And losing inhibitions hasn’t been worth the morning brain fog for a very long time.
So I’ve decided to stop drinking for the first time in my life (besides when I was pregnant). Do I hereby promise I’ll never again know the smooth, silky taste of Bordeaux Superieur? For now, that’s too scary. But I’m going to see how it goes. See what it’s like to be totally in control, all the time. In a few weeks, I’ll let you know.
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