An alcoholic does by nature welcome the fortuity of an occasion to drink. This does not however mean that the employment is without restriction. Being one myself – that is, a “recovering alcoholic” – I am able to blather with some credibility upon the subject of drinking. The last time I had a drink (of anything alcoholic) was December, 2013 on the occasion of my 65th birthday. I don’t recall getting hopelessly drunk or anything persuasive like that. I think I was just fed up with alcohol and its mirage – much for the same reason I had abruptly quit cigarette smoking when I was turning 50 in 1998 (actually we were on a plane coming back from the Caribbean and I was having difficulty breathing). In both cases the abandonment was precipitous and the so-called pleasures have never been repeated.
This is not to say I haven’t a lingering passion for a martini and a cigar. When we were in Key West several years ago I recall having deliberately wandered into a cigar store on Duval Street to check out the merchandise, both the cigars and the paraphernalia that go with them – things like cutters, nibs, cases, lighters, etc. And naturally to swoon to the smell. I remember decades previously around 1978 on my first trip to Key West having seen old black women outfitted in plain light blue cotton dresses, seated at a long wooden table, rolling tobacco leaves with their yellow burnished fingers while smoking a cigar. My mother told me that women in Stockholm often smoked panetela after dinner.
The ceremony surrounding booze is a familiar story to any drunk. I had nonetheless always tried to sustain some limitation. This was not because I wished to dilute the effect of the alcohol; rather to prolong it. This meant for example that I seldom drank before six o’clock in the evening – by which time though my parched lips were singing for refreshment! The afternoon indulgence was inevitably acquainted with one of two events: a pleasant lunch followed by an immediate repose (that is, bed); or, a lascivious ambition which normally ended in bed as well. On the face of it, neither is unfavourable but for some peculiar reason it offended me to bow out of an evening for any reason, not to mention that the immediacy of the preoccupation is ruinous to the provocative allure of anything that might follow under the best of conditions. I mean, who is interested in dinner and table chat after sea bass and martinis for lunch by the fire place? And if one were lucky enough to have “scored” by calculated effort, it is likely that chatter of anything thereafter was irrelevant. Those were the days, n’est-ce pas? It is now thankfully no longer of importance one way or the other. I can only imagine how dreadful cigar or cigarette smoke must taste! And the thought of succumbing to a martini (much less two – which is more probable) leaves me wondering how wrong I would feel the next morning, recovering from the myth that no longer delivers. It is a welcome affliction that I now have so many other indulgences to preoccupy me and to sustain me in my repeated pleasure of living.
I confess I miss not having the entitlement to toy with the crystal tumblers and stemware associated with single malt, dry sack or martinis. One of the most notable martinis I recall was at la Sociéte restaurant on Bloor St W following a meeting at Osgoode Hall. The drink was a bathtub on a stick with an enormous iridescent olive in it. I had two martinis and still survived to relish the experience!