Always Do Sober What You Said You’d Do Drunk: An Experiment

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I love writing when I’m drunk. My father does too, as did his father before him.

It’s not hereditary; it’s more like some sort of shambolic bibulous pastime. Apparently, legend has it, my great-great-great-great grandfather, Llewellyn VI, liked writing when he was drunk, although my father was slurring when he told me this.

I – unlike Llewellyn, who was purportedly a sonneteer – write brutally honest observations about my daily life that seem, in my intoxicated state, strangely profound. I’ll sit there by myself, in a miasma of smoke created by the Benson and Hedges that I stole from my father, drinking the whiskey that my mother inexplicably buys me on her weakly shop, and write pages upon pages of bullshit – all of which is offensive to pretty much everybody, regardless of creed, color, religion or sexuality. I hate everyone equally.

When I read it back to my drunken self – foolishly proud that there is finally some realistic, honest writing in this god-forsaken, Facebook-filled, Reddit-loving, Upworthy-worshipping world – I think, ‘Jesus Christ, this is pretty fucking good’. Then, I drink plenty more whiskey and eventually get offended by my own words and delete the whole goddamn thing – assumedly, my ancestors did the same (burning rather than deleting), although there is obviously no evidence to support this assumption. In the morning, I wake up regretting almost every aspect of my life – including and perhaps particularly my curious lineage – except the glorious realization that I have deleted those words.

Then, in January, as part of my new year’s resolution, I decided to stop drinking alone. So, the next weekend – alone in my room drinking by myself – I decided on a new resolution, one that wasn’t unrealistic. It all stemmed from this Hemingway quote that I had come across when drunk-googling quotes about pretty much all things Bacchanalian. It read: ‘Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut’. I always take advice from those who kill themselves – they seem like pretty self-assured individuals.

In the midst of my drunken malaise, I often believe that the offensive words that spew from my shaky, inconsiderate, worthless fingers should be saved for eternity, so that one day I can release them into the world in a maelstrom of literary glory. And, of course, being drunk, I stutter these words to myself as I dribble onto my helpless keyboard. ‘Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk’, I tell myself. Alright, Ernie, Will do.

So, when sober, I decide that I must save these words for eternity. Yet, when inebriated, I once again delete them, betraying my earnest oath to Ernest. This occurred a few times until I eventually realized that my intoxicated mind always prevails over my lucid self – I drink therefore I am.

After a few weeks, I decided I needed a change. The problem wasn’t me, I told myself, it was my device. My laptop made it far too easy to delete these words from my processor. That, apparently, was the problem.

There was only one solution and this, in a sense, I realized while reading about that old Russian master, Nikolai Gogol. Before he killed himself of self-starvation, Gogol burnt the last copy of Deal Souls, Part Two. You see, my parents are relatively liberal about things like stealing their whiskey and smoking in a smoke-free house, but when it comes to fires in my bedroom, well, not so much. If I had a typewriter, I thought, these words would have to be at least semi-permanent. I wouldn’t be able to rescind them with a click of the mouse.

So, I hounded my brother and forced him to give me his typewriter. I described our family’s tradition and said, ‘in the words of William the Conqueror – things have to change’. William the Conqueror never said that, but my loving brother – let’s call him Odo of Kent – reluctantly gave me the thing I so desired. I was drunk at the time, as you can imagine. Sober, I rarely misquote William the Conqueror or any other Monarch for that matter.

The next evening, I stole cigarettes and alcohol from my parents and got perfectly drunk. I began typing my typically offensive diatribe, but this time on my newly acquired typewriter. Upon completion – with a stiff double for good measure – I started to lament the words that graced the page.

Usually I would have deleted them with a devilish click of the mouse, yet in my hands was a tangible, solid piece of evidence of a night badly spent. I placed the completed pages in the bottom of a sock draw, threw up, had a nightcap, attempted masturbation, cried and then slept. The next morning, hating myself, I vaguely remembered those pages amidst the unwashed socks. The words remained, the typewriter prevailed. I had succeeded in breaking an archaic family tradition and had simultaneously created a new one.

When I have a son, if any woman foolishly has her way with me, I will give him a pack of Benson, a litre of Famous Grouse and that ol’ typewriter and tell him to keep this new tradition alive. I imagine I’m going to be a terrible father. TC mark

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