I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in thirty-one days.
That’s right, I’ve had a Sober October. The tradition, four years in the brewing, is the brainchild of Kate Buenaflor, co-owner of The Soft Spot bar on Bedford Ave, and manager of my softball team, the Soft Spot Specials. When I first learned of her plans, I was shocked: was the woman who brought five-gallon jugs of tequila-laced Gatorade to the dugout really going to lay off the sauce for an entire month?
You’d better believe it. Kate does it every year, and she’s recruited a small army of followers as well. Any other October, I probably would have agreed that it was a worthwhile pursuit (for crazy people) and ordered another beer. This particular October, however, followed one of the most sodden summers since getting my fake ID freshman year, and I was ready for a break.
Between the months of June and September I got married, hosted a restaurant opening (my new husband’s!), had parents visiting, and became a member of two softball teams—one of which is sponsored by a bar, and another (The True Foes) which may as well be. By the time autumn rolled around, my liver was pickled, and my tongue permanently fuzzed. I’ve lost count of how many hangovers I’ve had (it’s hard to use a calculator when your hands won’t stop shaking).
So when I heard about Sober October I decided to jump on the bandwagon, and to stay on the wagon until all hell broke loose (in other words, until midnight on Halloween). How hard could it be?
Week One: Feeling fantastic. On top of the world! I am a paradigm of healthy living, and I pity the fools who willingly pollute their bodies with that evil substance known as alcohol.
Week Two: Still feeling pretty pleased with myself. Mornings are certainly a lot easier than they used to be, but evenings are another story. I start to plot ways around my abstemious vow: if I just have one glass of wine, then technically I’m still sober, right? I console myself with the fact that I’m halfway through, grit my teeth, and soldier on.
Week Three: I start giving my innocent husband dirty looks for having a beer with dinner. I shun bars and social invitations. I buy a bottle of sparkling apple cider at Key Foods and drink it out of a wineglass while watching Sex and the City re-runs. By myself.
Week Four: Vacationing family in town. There could be no worse time to be sober. I play the chipper tour guide and graciously accept congratulations for sticking with this no-drinking thing till the end. I’ve never wanted a drink so badly in my life. I am counting the days. All right, I’m counting the hours. Why has time suddenly come to a screeching halt?
The moral of the story: With less than 24 hours until I’m free to make a drunken idiot out of myself, I suddenly feel calm. Why was I ever so anxious for the month to end? After all, it’s not like they’re going to stop making booze—it’ll always be there. I’m definitely looking forward to drinking again, but I’m also looking forward to thinking before (and hopefully while) I drink, and stopping before the slobbering and stumbling start. I value the experience, but I’m not sure I need to go to this extreme again. In the future, if I feel like I need to dry out a little, I’ll just have a teetotal week or weekend now and then.
What is it they say about the best-laid plans?
Regardless of whether or not my drinking habits show real improvement going forward, there is one guaranteed reward for having a sober October: the return of the two-beer tipsiness! Happy Halloween, and…what’s that word again? Oh yeah, cheers!