Damn you Steve Lamond* is what I would say if I gave a crap what people think of me. I make people infuriated by the fact that I do not get pissed off if someone makes fun of me. My wife will sometimes try and piss me off on purpose just to see if she gets a reaction. I'm a very laid back person, though I was not always that way. So in truth, these stories are not embarrassing to me at all. It's good to be able to laugh at yourself.
It all began back when I was 18. Truly, I did not start drinking until I was 18 and I also stopped when I was 18. Let's go back a little further and explain why that might be.
My parents do not really drink, they never did. On the other hand, they also did not put restrictions on alcohol. There were no lectures, no "if I catch you drinking, you're dead" threats that Irish mammy's love to shout at their kids. On the contrary, even though my parents were not drinkers, they would get wine or lambrusco for special occasions and sometimes a bottle of Guinness for the Christmas pudding. I would taste it each time and make a face that said "ughh.... people drink this?" There was never any mystery to alcohol so I simply did not bother drinking until I got older.
Eventually one night when I was 18, myself and my friends went to the off license and decided to get a load of beer. I like to experiment and try different things, a trait that is evident today in my minor obsession with trying new beers and writing about them. Anyway, I got 8 cans of beer, each one different. I don't know what I got but certainly there was a Guinness and Harp in there somewhere along with whatever was available those days. We also went in to the chipper and got curry chips as you do on such occasions.
We went back to my friends house and started drinking and eating. I don't know how many cans I had got through when my friends mother came in with fruitcake. What I do remember was facing the dilemma of having curry chips in one hand and fruit cake in the other. How the hell was I supposed to hold a can of beer? The solution was simple. Put the curry chips over the fruit cake and I have a hand free for beer. I remember noticing how quiet the room was and eventually I realised every one was looking at me eating fruit cake with curry chip frosting. I said something like "it's actually very good". To this day I maintain that I will try it sober, I have just never been in the position to have curry chips, fruit cake and lots of beer at any one time since then.
The second time I went drinking was probably a few weeks or months later. I still got a load of beers but this time we all chipped in for a bottle of wine. Wine was expensive in those days, perhaps when wine actually deserved the sophisticated image it has today. We went to my friends, Aunts house for a bit of a family party.
While most of the older people sat around the garden table, we sat on the grass in a circle drinking beer and sharing the wine. Real classy, like knacker drinking in a back garden instead of a field.
At some point, my friend takes the wine, pours it in to my shirt pocket. I look down dumbfounded and then he slaps my pocket sending wine in to my face and eyes. So I did what any red blooded 18 year old would do. I grabbed the wine bottle and threw the contents at him (not the bottle itself mind). He did a matrix maneuver and in slow motion, moved faster than I threw the wine. It missed him and went all over the table of old people. This table consisted of all the mothers and grandmothers as well as my friends younger sisters.
The clincher was shortly after, when I was in the kitchen feeling chastised, my friends sister who was younger than me said "Reuben if you can't handle your alcohol, don't drink". I agreed and did not drink again until I was 24.
It was mulled wine in Prague that got me drinking again, that and being with my later to be wife while drinking it. It was the beer that kept me drinking. I discovered craft beer in the US (where my wife is from).
So in more recent time? Sure there are a few times when I have been drunk, and let's get this straight. I stopped drinking because I did not enjoy being drunk. Nothing has changed, I still try and not get drunk. I don't often succeed in staying in control of my sobriety but I am very rarely drunk. I can probably still count on my fingers using two hands the number of times I have been truly drunk in my life or at worst I can move on to include my toes. Even still, that is not a lot for the average Irish person who is often drunk at least once every weekend from about 15 or younger.
There was another night, years ago, before I got in to beer that we call Becherovka night. I was probably 24 or possibly 25. Essentially this involved a LOT of spirits, cocktails etc. In the end I tried to drink my friend under the table. She has MS and was on medication which seems to have made her immune to the immediate effects of alcohol, though not the after effects. We were drinking Becherovka like it was juice. I was seriously drunk and my wife found me sleeping on the bloody stairs. I had not made it all the way up to the bedroom and gave up with a few feet to go. I had a three day hangover and had to stay off work. That was the end of my Czech spirit drinking days.
There was also Squishy Jack night. My wife's cousin and boyfriend (now husband) were over from the US. We got Scrumpy Jack cider for some reason and after a load of mixing of spirits and cider, I of course got drunk. At some point it was late and it was suggested I go to bed. this involved putting down my can of cider. My wife tried to take it and I warned her. "Don't make me do it" I said. She did not listen so I squeezed the can sending cider all over her. All over me as well but I was beyond caring at this point. Cousin Em always fondly recalls Squishy Jack night when we meet up.
Moving on to recent years, this post from a few years back catalogues how I got drunk in Dublin, while on a research mission to try new beers. I still used pen and paper for notes back then (iPhone now) and I have an image of where I actually wrote that I am drunk. At least I was sober enough to know... The handwriting gets worse as time goes on, until I wrote that last line in the image. That said, my hand writing is not that much better when sober.
So there we go, that's most of my embarrassing stories. There are others, no doubt VelkyAl recalls at least one incident in Prague.
Steve hosts The Session this month, head on over and see what he has to say.