Happy St. Patrick’s Day to the lot of ye. May yis be in heaven a half hour before the divil knows yeer dead.
This seems as good a time as any to disclose to anyone who hasn’t figured it out that I will not be tipping a pint today because I no longer imbibe.
’Tis so. Quit the drink more than three years ago, and while I occasionally miss the idea of having a drop taken, I can’t say I miss the actuality.
There were no DUIs, no 12-step programs, no health issues. I didn’t wake up underneath my truck in a driveway not my own with a blinding hangover and a cast on one leg (though I have done that).
But while battling a nasty upper-respiratory bug in 2013 I thought it would be a good idea to leave the drink be while the pipes were rattling. Then I recalled that I hadn’t done my once-traditional sober January in a few years, so I thought I’d revive that practice.
We have some (ahem) issues with the uisce beatha in my family. None of us aspired to become drunks, as far as I know, yet more than a few of us have, so since I have some small experience with addiction (to nicotine) I liked to occasionally take stock of myself, see if I simply liked to drink or had to drink. There’s a line there somewhere, but damn few signposts. Mostly we see it in the rear-view mirror, after we’re already upside down in the ditch, wheels spinning in empty air.
So, yeah. January came and went, and I thought, “Hm. Let’s go for February.” And then it was March. And then it was 2014. And 2015. You get the idea. It just sorta grew on me, the way hair doesn’t anymore. Not on the head, anyway.
I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms, not the way I did when quitting cigarettes. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, was that ever a trial by fire. So maybe I wasn’t addicted to alcohol the way I was to nicotine, though I was a drinker far longer than I was a smoker.
Whatever. Now I’m just being stubborn about it. I have this streak going, and I’m riding it out.
Sobriety hasn’t made me any smarter, though. All those brain cells I started with are gone for good. Why, I arose this morning without pulling on anything green. ’Tis lucky I am that Herself didn’t pinch me.
• And now, a musical interlude: The Chieftains performing “John O’Connor and the Ode to Whiskey.”
• Editor’s note: The header photo of O’Grady’s Marina Inn in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland, was taken by my sister, Peggy O’Grady, though we are said to have our roots in County Clare. As for the Irish above it, it’s a rough Google translation of “Bigger. Hairier. Closer to the ground.”