Drinking Alone

Joan Tierney
Age of Awareness
Published in
10 min readApr 10, 2020

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As someone who has spent nearly a decade toeing at the edge of alcoholism like the edge of a dark lake on a summer day — waffling between desperate enough to seek sanctuary from the pressing heat, and a healthy wariness of whatever lurked in the water — I feel uniquely qualified to judge the sea of varied alcohols with at least some amount of accuracy. And these days, for many of us, alcohol is probably looking better and better. It’s called drowning your sorrow for a reason, and a lot of us are pretty flush with sorrows.

A lot of us are pretty good at drowning, too. Swallowing, wallowing, swimming in our emotional wading pools. Quite a few drinks lend themselves to the somber — red wine, gin, whiskey. I think of these bases and I think of sad, terrible poetry. I think of sitting out on the balcony and staring out at the night, thinking we aren’t so different, like some movie villain who’s really just an allegory for depression, who really needs to just take a shower and sober up.

I’ve always had a rule — one which I have never broken and don’t intend to — when it comes to alcohol: never drink alone. For many people, I know, drinking alone doesn’t spell disaster. But for someone who has a proven track record of becoming easily addicted to whichever vice lands in my lap, I’ve learned to be cautious. You can always tell who was born with caution, and who’s learned it. The ones who learned it have more scars. Not even interesting, mysterious scars. Sometimes they’re just stupid. Worst of all, sometimes they’re embarrassing, the truth of them dangling like a sword above our necks as, every time we’re asked, we deliberate over being honest. After all, no one at this bartop knows that the scar on my shin came from a failed, drunken attempt at leapfrogging over a metal pole. (In my defense, it was New Year’s, which means some leapfrogging is forgivable. In the pole’s defense, I would probably have gotten hurt regardless, as I don’t have the natural disposition for leapfrogging.) So what, if I tell them I got it while parasailing? Who’s going to argue?

The alcohol that led to that scar was Smirnoff Ice, which has also led to a number of poor decisions on my part, including but not limited to, breaking and entering my high school one night and robbing the gym teacher’s cache of old band t-shirts. It’s hardly fair, however, to blame my own lack of discipline regarding grunge fashion as a teenager on an otherwise innocent and enjoyable drink, so I’ll give it four stars regardless.

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