I've finished reading Augusten Burroughs' Dry last night, his second memoir written after his runaway hit Running with Scissors. I loved both books instantly. I loved reading Dry and wished it didn't end. I have ZaraMeow to thank for putting me onto Augusten because he is without a doubt one of my favourite writers. (And people). One of my other favourite books is by another of my favourite authors and that's Last Drinks by Andrew McGahan. I seem to have a fascination and a seemingly inexplicable attraction to reading about alcoholics; inexplicable because I'm not much of a drinker myself. Besides, I've suddenly developed this romantic notion of going teetotal for a while, the influence of Dry no doubt. No more beers at the pub, no more sharing bottles of wine, just soda and lime thanks, or plain godly water. I'll be able to say to people ~ no thanks, I don't drink. Then I'll feel like Augusten Burroughs whose books I love and who's writing I'd like to emulate more than anyone else's.
I grew up with alcohol without realising that I was growing up with alcohol. When you have a dad who's at the pub every night getting lewered you don't question it as you grow up. If I was at the pub drinking 6 schooners of beer each and every night, or day, and increasing that amount steadily over the years, I don't think I'd last very long. Or it's likely I would last a few paces but I'd feel like crap most of the time.
The concept of alcoholism and my father is a bit of a moot point in our family. Alcoholism is a disease and an addiction, and although my father never seemed to drink to "alcoholic proportions" - well, he kind of did towards the end of his life - he never abstained from nightly drinking, even if it was only just 'beer'. As far as I remember the beer glass and that frothy cold amber fluid that filled it was his most consistent and reliable companion. That, and the passing parade of boozers and smokers that graced the local pubs back then, not to mention the pack-a-day Rothmans or Malborough Reds. Nowadays there are fresher, newer generations of snappy drinkers who grace the Robin Hood Hotel in Charing Cross, whose daddies are rich and who maintain sharp clothing and stylish gels in the hair. They're more aggressive than the generation of old boozers that preceeded them because they seem more moneyed and arrogant. They yell when the football's playing on the big screen. Ah, the folly of youth. There'll be a percentage of these patrons who'll be barfing like mules outside the pub in twenty years time, their permanent home away from home.
The bitch of the matter is that alcohol can be so damn memorable. I sometimes think back to a beer I had somewhere and how good it was at the time, or a glass of wine, wishing I could recapture that moment, that beer, that wine. But it's a fine line between pleasure and pain with booze, it makes a wonderful servant but a rotten master, and the line between the two is very, very thin.
But fuck, this stuff destroys lives. And it destroys families too, if not obviously then covertly, imperceptively over time, like rotting emotional corpses yelling and writhing for release yet choking in the flooding rivers of drink that's been drunk, the damage done.
Horrible stuff really, but don't we love it...