It’s a mad, bad world, as any man who’s ever tried to quit drinking or smoking will tell you. Everyone looks at you differently the day you announce your intention to turn over a good, new leaf. Friends check your temperature, ask you if you’re having a hangover, and offer you cigarettes and coffee with worried looks on their faces. Some enquire whether you plan to become a monk. Your sex life will run dry, they tell you, so you just as well might.
An air of gloom pervades your entire social life.
Your descent into solitary confinement begins soon after. “Hi, we’re going out for a drink”, colleagues will tell you. So maybe you go and sip orange juice while everyone else has a great time. The only satisfaction you can get out of that is by telling everyone the next day how hilariously silly they drank themselves. It’ll go like this: “Ha, ha you were so piss drunk you thought the pot was your ex-boyfriend – and you, you wanted to go up the wall because you thought you’re Spiderman!” And then they’ll never call you again unless they need a driver.
The professional losses are no less than the personal. Try inviting business contacts over for a tea party. They’ll thank you profusely, say how good tea is for health, and erase your number from their phones. There might be a few discreet enquiries about your religious beliefs and sexual orientation, for purely professional reasons of course.
The trauma of all this social rejection can seriously damage the psyche. As a consequence, you could become a drug addict.
Even those of ultra-strong mental construction, who escape such a fate, must come to terms with their newly found free time. Since evenings will always be free, they will have to take up something healthier than television to kill time. Joining some strange cargo cult and spending the evenings prostrating before pictures of the only superhero currently more powerful than Spiderman might be a good idea. I refer to the friendly hood, Taxman, who is reportedly slinging webs even Spidey can’t escape.
Women who quit smoke and drink somehow seem to get a better deal. They still get invited everywhere, and get free orange juice and sympathy because they’re such good girls. Men, those hypocritical ding-a-lings, suddenly want to take them home to mama after years of trying to just take them home.
There might be some common fringe benefits for born-again teetotalers of both sexes. Lower credit card bills are guaranteed. The money previously spent in bars can now be spent in salad bars. The beer belly could well recede, especially after the distinction between morning and night becomes clear.
Days and nights would obviously seem to stretch longer as well. If, after all the sacrifice and heartache, you still don’t live any longer, you’ll at least feel like you did.
Having considered all the pros and cons, my plan is to quit drink, but to leave a loophole in the law (Safety valve feature to prevent drug addiction). Even teetotalers are allowed to drink fruit juices. And wine is but a special sort of grape juice, after all, isn’t it?
Well, now I know what to say the next time someone asks me to quit drinks. :-)