Friday, January 27th, 2012

A Drynuary Diary: Week Four, The Wettening

John Ore: Hey, Jolie! We're in the home stretch now, only a couple of days to go and we can close the books on another successful January of not drinking. A little solidarity and we can get through this final weekend.


John: [long, unblinking stare] You know I'm happy for you. I really am. Like when Andy Dufresne busted out of Shawshank. You're happy for him, you miss him, and you hope to join him one day. But you're also a little scared for him out there, facing the world alone. You don't want him to end up like Brooks.

Jolie: You know? I'm happy for me too. Leaping lizards, that martini is going to be soooooo good! Oh but is that rubbing it in? Am I being ungracious? Yes? Well perhaps you should have thought of that when you denied me my O'Doul's, ya big jerk! (Actually we've got a free spot at the Luger's table tonight since Jill bailed on us to go to Iceland. I just say…)

John: I guess now's not the best time to reveal that after reading last week's installment my wife reminded me that she had O'Doul's last Drynuary?

Jolie: I'd be mad except that, oh right, I GET TO DRINK TONIGHT, WOOO! Since this is the end of the road for me (WOOO!) I propose that we take a look back, work ourselves into an introspective lather and then drink our faces off, because WOOO! So how are you feeling? What have you learned? Can you explain to me once and for all why we do this terrible thing to ourselves?

John: I'm actually feeling really good. Slimmer, healthier, better rested, motivated. Optimistic, probably a combination of the tangible benefits that I can feel and the ability to see light at the end of the tunnel. Because: I won't lie, I would love a drink right about now.

I think the reasons we do this are as varied as all of our compatriots out there who have helped make Drynuary a thing. A break, a commitment, a fast, a challenge, what have you. I may not be particularly religious, but I appreciate the Lenten aspect of Bon L'(h)iver: denying myself something I (really!) enjoy, not quite in observance but with the idea of it making me a better person? I don't think we need to kid ourselves that this is doing any sort of meaningful physiological repair, but it ain't hurting either.

What did you get out of this Drynuary, now that you're an old hand at it?

Jolie: Well, I'm happy to report that I did indeed regain that clarity I found in the labyrinth in Mexico. That's really the big thing I got out of our fast, a noticeable calming effect. I'm no longer the giant bundle of nerves and stress and feeeeeelings I was this time a month ago. And it was pretty bad: I spent part of the last day of 2011 chain smoking and sobbing while "Hand In My Pocket" played on loop, sort of bleating at myself, "everything's gonna be fine fine fine." It was not one of my prouder moments. But that feels like a million lifetimes ago, and now when I look forward at what the rest of this year holds I'm not scared or overwhelmed. I also feel much more confident in my ability to see through some of the Big Picture items I've got ahead of me, because I've just shown through action that I am capable of setting my mind to a task and seeing it through, no matter how tough it gets.

John: Yeah, right? So doesn't that bring up a sort of scary question: why don't we do this year-round?

Jolie: Because we want to know what joy feels like?

But yeah, it's kind of a creepy thing to consider and while I'd like to pretend like I simply have no idea what you're talking about, clutches pearls, it's something I've spent no small amount of time mulling over during these last four long (long, long, long, oh my God so long you guys) weeks. In part because—and this is Real Talk time—I struggle with anxiety issues that are ratcheted up greatly by alcohol, even in small amounts, and that have been diminished significantly during this dry spell.

For me, the takeaway has been this: I'm not giving up my wine. Absolutely not, no. But I am going to make a concerted effort to alter my social life such that not everything revolves so much around drinking. So: a friend says, "Let's grab drinks!" and I say, "How about getting a bite to eat?" Because one thing that Drynuary teaches you—and I have to apologize because I know we agreed We Were Not Going To Discuss This—is how often you drink. I mean, God, it's kind of mortifying really.

John: Well, I'm so glad we avoided discussing THAT. If there's one theme that emerges out of the ascetic practice of Drynuary, it's that doing to much of anything for a prolonged period kind of sucks. Especially teetotaling. All work and no play makes John a dull, etc. I want to prolong the positive effects of Drynuary without having to become a Mormon (offense intended, Romney fans). So once I get over my post-Drynuary bender, I think I'll try to take a little bit of Drynuary with me in the ensuing months. Maybe a week off every month. Yes, including a weekend.

I mean, yeah, I enjoy my cocktails, and judging by our commenting community (and my immediate family), I'm not alone. But it's nice to know that if I lose most of my liver heroically rescuing fifths of Templeton Rye puppies from a burning liquor store strip club, I could confidently carry on with a year-round Bon L'(h)iver.

Zoiks, the Leaderboad is looking a little lopsided.

Week Four

Alcohol Consumed (units)
Jolie: 0
John: 0

Days Without Booze
Jolie: 26
John: 25 (start on January 2)

John: Abandoned

Irritability (scale of 0-10)
John: 6, going up with each Jolie entry on the Leaderboard

John: Giants 27, Patriots 21

John: #smdh

Smugness (scale of 0-10)
John: 8, Oh, look who caved early!

Sounder Sleeping
John: Keep it down, some of us are trying to sleep the sleep of the righteous

Substitute Activities
John: Recruiting volunteers to hold your hair while you barf later tonight

Jolie: God, I really am such a barfer. But I am not CAVING, John. I said from the outset that Drynuary ended on the 27th for me! Also: it must be sad for you having to go through life as a Giants fan.

John: It's more like I'm an anti-Patriots fan, but yeah, I've jumped on a bandwagon or two in my day (go Lions!). Speaking of wagons, what fishbowl are you falling off of this wagon into? I hear mention of martini(s)? Careful!

Jolie: I'm going in for a Gray Goose martini, straight up, extra dirty. (And before the "vodka martinis aren't martinis" crowd shows up to ruin my party I need to explain in no uncertain terms that I do not touch gin, as gin makes me mean. And I'm a pretty vicious mean girl under normal circumstances, so right, no gin.) It's a bold choice, I know! But steak and dirty martinis are a pair I can't resist. I will probably leave it at just that though, maybe a glass of wine, but I'm not planning on getting blotto.

John: "Planning." LOL! OK, well then, way to Play Us Off, Sober Cat!

With one final weekend to go in Drynuary, how are the rest of you planning on breaking your Drynuary? Be sure to etc. in the etc.!

Jolie Kerr is going to be drunk later. John Orebelieves that jealousy is a feeble emotion.

17 Comments / Post A Comment

It's all over bar the drinking. My Drynuary ends tonight too, and it was nice to read this sober evaluation of the past four weeks before going out and re-discovering what a hangover feels like.
But, to return to your question, John ("Why don't we do this year-round?"), I think if any of us felt like our lives were genuinely, measurably improved by not drinking, then it's a question we should take seriously. But for me, the fleeting pleasures of a sober month (a bit more cash in my pocket, a little less flesh in my jeans) don't compare to the rich satisfaction of a fireside whisky, or a cold beer at sunset. I knew that going in, and I'm even more sure of it coming out. Bottoms up everyone!

@Dan Stewart@twitter Fuck. No one warned me about the post-Drynuary hangover.

Philma (#205,067)

Whiskey sour as soon as I walk in the door on Wednesday, followed by a fabulous dinner and a really nice bottle of red.

No getting shittered, because I have also achieved Drynuary Clairity, and it feels awesome. My Monday runs are no longer the death marches they used to be.

Moxie (#81,363)

@Philma haha. Monday runs.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

It's interesting, the distaste I have for the type of person who insists, for instance, that chili isn't chili if it has beans in it, while at the same time being myself the type of person who would take a bullet for the fact that a vodka martini is definitionally not a martini. I guess it's not interesting as much as it's evidence of me just being an asshole.

Mr. B (#10,093)

@boyofdestiny I think the term "vodka martini" is fine (you've got to call that thing something!). But when I order a regular martini and the waiter asks me what kind of vodka I want with it, I'm not above some bitchy upbraiding. I feel shame afterwards, but a righteous kind of shame.

bitzyboozer (#6,867)

@boyofdestiny Hey, us Texans have to have something to get all high and mighty about!

bitzyboozer (#6,867)

(I mean, other than denying gays basic human rights and the sanctity of women's uteri and, and…)

sajrocks (#2,067)

My birthday is February 1, so for the first time in 36 years I have something to look forward to. Haven't decided if I'm going to pour a Manhattan on my tongue drop by drop and let it slowly coat my throat over an hour until the brutally sweet lump of brandied, slightly muddled cherry eases into my belly, or perhaps just mainline rye whiskey from the bar. Or both! Thanks for the spiritual guidance you two, and especially Jolie for reminding us you can't depend on anyone ever.

r&rkd (#1,719)

"Romney fans" LOL

kamakiri (#202,641)

Hey dudes,

Congratulations, but you should know a couple of things. I'm assuming you're under thirty . . . well, it's just a feeling I get. Anyway, you've inspired me to get my own little group together. I've made a website and everything for us — it's just a handful of friends, one relative . . . but the premise is that we're all going to stop drinking February 1st. There are no rules, no promises — each to his own, but all sort of "supervised" by me.

The difference is between us and you — and here is where you should start to pay attention — is we're all above 50 years old. We've all been tossing them back for at least three decades. Daily.

I hate to sound old, but when I was thirty, you just didn't admit you drank every day. It was at the same time an accepted thing to do, but also completely taboo. You could never admit you drank every single day of every year — no exceptions. If you did, you were sick.

I realise I'm in lecture territory now, but I would like to pass on a word or two that you might have overlooked. It may seem fun and odd to quit drinking for a month, an adventure, if you will, but one day — trust me on this — it will not seem like a crazy, interesting experiment. One day, it will become, for some of us, a deadly serious life-or-death scenario.

I've come through relatively unscathed — seizures only once, incredibly fatty liver, no, repeat no DUIs, but many things have escaped me because I decided not to not drink. And apparently, my small gang of fifty-somethings — all incredibly smart people, have come to the same conclusion.

If I could somehow be in your place and go back and be you, I'd kind of ditch the humor and really take advantage of the chance to control it instead of letting it control you.

I haven't been a stumbling drunk all of my life, but I've always had a reputation, wherever I went, as a "big drinker." Relationships haven't died because of it, but then again, maybe they have. I'll never know.

But my advice to you across the years, would be: do your best. You don't have to drink forever. Not drinking at all is a very wise choice. The pressure to drink is huge — tell me about it, the son of a four martini lunch drinker.

Again, no lectures . . . just listen to someone who's on the other side of your future and consider carefully what your options are. Fuck "sobriety". I despise all the negative words associated with alcohol . . . on Tuesday I won't be beginning my "sobriety." I'll just be trying to go somewhere I haven't been in thirty years, and I'll always wish I'd done it thirty years earlier.

Thanks, dudes, for inspiring me, and through me, inspiring others. But consider your own futures as well. If I were where you sat right now, I'd continue Drynuary indefinitely.

I really would.

sevanetta (#14,222)

@kamakiri I think that these guys have got some of what you're saying, though. I just wanted to add my story: nearly 2 years ago I stopped drinking for a few months because 'just one' was affecting me really badly, and I couldn't afford to be sick for a day each weekend, because I was working full time and studying part time. I worked out that I had a food intolerance (gluten) and then a preservative intolerance, which was causing the alcohol problem. I was never a big drinker, but after a few months of no alcohol, I've never really gone back to having a lot, ever. The most interesting (and scary) thing for me has been other people's attitudes, particularly how many people think 'just one' doesn't affect them and that they can hold their liquor well. People can and do act differently after not much.

kamakiri (#202,641)


I know these guys know what I'm saying — they seem like pretty smart cookies. It's just that I'm trying to communicate the almost hilarious seriousness of my position, namely, after the party's over and all the revellers have gone home. Because then you're just left with your bottle, and no amount of euphemisms will make everything all right. I also know I'm preaching to the choir, but I like to think that I'm an older choirboy telling the youngun's just what they're in for.

Alcohol (and for that matter, any other mood-altering chemical) has such profoundly different effects on each of us that literally, each one of us is a "one-in-a-million" diagnosis waiting to happen. How else does that explain my sister's penchant for cocaine when, like it though I do, can give it up in a heartbeat without a single backward glance but she can't? MY SISTER.

Still, I feel like these guys' open and honest approach — not discounting a hefty dose of humor, which seems to be sadly lacking in the 12-step world — is a real step towards tackling something that's gotten the better of three-quarters or so of humanity over, oh, the last 500,000 years.

Lucky you, not being able to tolerate alcohol. Anyone wanting to join my tiny force, feel free to email me at for an invite to my tiny support site . . . again, not looking to change the world, just one drink at a time.

sevanetta (#14,222)

@kamakiri Best of luck. For what it's worth, there's a distinct pattern of alcoholics and teetotallers in my family, so it's not an issue I can just turn off by not drinking; and I've observed a few other friends doing alcohol-free times in the last year or so (apart from all the new mothers, there are heaps of those). I also miss the fun aspect, but it's worth it to feel better.

John Ore (#7,170)

@kamakiri For what it's worth, neither Jolie nor I are in our 20s. I'm the wrong side of 40, but thanks for the compliment! It's like getting carded.

notthebest (#536)

I did this back in November and it was a delight. John, may your first drink when this is over be the most delicious ever.

SeanP (#4,058)

"John: Yeah, right? So doesn't that bring up a sort of scary question: why don't we do this year-round?"

This is why I don't do Drynuary. Because that way lies madness.

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