Dear Younger Self, How Did You Drink So Much?

To my younger, more alcoholically-inclined self:

There’s admiration, there’s pity, there’s fear; addressing you is what I imagine meeting David Hasselhoff is like. Younger Me, looking back I’m mystified on how much, how often, and how ferociously you could drink. You personified a hurricane of alcoholic elephants—stampeding and destroying while never forgetting to booze. Your habitat was a perpetual liquor orgy, night after night of making uninspired mouth poon with any consenting or non-consenting pint, fifth, or Ziploc bag of swill you could wrangle. In those days drinking was the excuse as well as the plan.

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Just reminiscing about you habits, Younger Me, sends R.L. Stine-caliber goosebumps echoing throughout my body. Back then I’d find comfort in the ritual, everything from acquiring an eleven-dollar half gallon, the type exclusively consumed by the under twenty-one crowd and poor coal miners, to the inevitable debate on whether the “charcoal filtered” label meant it was strained through charcoal or if a process was employed to remove filthy charcoal scraps. Now, though, even typing such a recollection sends my muscles into spasms as I involuntarily twitch, my face souring like I’m in the midst of an orgasm that I’m disgusted about for some reason.

That vodka stench has stayed with me over anything. It’s that pungently biting smell like formaldehyde mixed with aloe, essentially what I assumed all 19th century medicine tasted like, that invariably triggers my gag reflex. I have no cocoon, no shell, nothing to retreat into every time someone suggests, somewhat smells like, or simply thinks too intently about that it in my proximity.

Full disclosure, just for a night a few weeks back, I tried to re-baptize myself in your lifestyle. The lone first shot loomed large on my coffee table but, alas, I was unable to coerce myself into downing it. Frankly, I don’t think I ever had a chance.  Once the reality coupled with the odor hit me, my post-traumatic stress manifested, my body tensing and writhing on the couch as my dinner party guests were left to gawk and speculate as to if I was experiencing a seizure.

Younger Me, you took advantage of our body’s trust. This rashy calorie vessel was once a gullible rube; it was years before it realized that once the mango-flavored torrent of grain alcohol came rushing in it would not cease until the system had been violently purged several times. It’s wised up now. It won’t be swindled anymore and will now, in fact, vehemently reject any attempt. There’s no kidding around these days; everything inch will fight tooth and nail, like an old mother grizzly, angry, stumbling around, and complaining about affirmative action and the black bears that moved into her forest.

I’m not sorry, Younger Me. Granted, I might indulge in the occasional night of passion with lady alcohol and a few friends, but I’m just a tease to her these days. There’s no way I could’ve maintained your pace, but I’m not ashamed. I realized my tastes have changed and nowadays it’s not the drinking I live for.  No these days I live for those sober nights when I eat a big sandwich in bed and listen to my neighbors argue for hours over the cat they both hate.

Relish it, Younger Self; it’s not always going to go down that smooth.

Much Love,

Present Justin

P.S. I know you’re down and this basically goes without saying, but if we ever meet in some sort of time warp the two of us are definitely fucking. TC mark

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