It’s my first night out since becoming “sober.” I’m 65 days without a drink, I mean.
I’ve been out for a quick bite with a buddy or popped into a bar to say hello, but tonight, I actually got dressed and headed to the city. I put quotations around sober because I gave up booze and all forms of cocaine. But weed and the occasional vicodin live on. Okay, fine, and maybe the occasional oxy if the mood strikes. (It hasn’t yet. But it will.)
A buddy of mine’s band is playing a bar in midtown and they always pack in the hunnies. Also three girls texted my roommate that they were at a restaurant/bar we used to work at, so we’re meeting them first. I’m also meeting up with a good friend of mine who I haven’t seen since moving home.
I’m on the N train and I’ve never been more relaxed and patient on a ride into the city. Whether it’s headed in on the LIRR from Ronkonkoma or taking the subway in from Brooklyn, it’s usually one anxiety riddled ride.
I’m usually so anxious because I’m dying for a drink or I’ve got to meet one of my guys to get cocaine. But not today. Today, my only concern is what I’m gonna drink tonight. The debate is between a nonalcoholic beer, water, or ginger ale splash cran. It feels good to not be so anxious and the ride seems a hell-of-a-lot shorter. This is the first thing I learned on my first sober night out. Without the crave of booze and blow, I’m more patient and relaxed.
My roommate and I met up with the three girls at Whiskey Trader, which is a bar that I didn’t even like when I was drinking. It’s down in a hole and it smells like a hole. It does attract some hotties, but they’re cheap ones. The girls were fine, but we all know what that means. They were cute, but when I stopped drinking I also stopped being interested in broads who drunkenly eat popcorn off the bar tables (especially in midtown shitholes) and complain about the salt making their fingers swell. The second thing I learned: I’m gonna have a hard time listening/talking to some of these broads.
The girls left and I left with them. When I walked outside, I ran into a girl I’m friends with from the restaurants in midtown. She’s sexy and sweet so I joined her next door at Cassidy’s for a drink. I had an O’douls (nonalcoholic) and she had a beer. We talked easily and flirted a bit. She was very encouraging and supportive about the changes I’d made, which I found pretty attractive as well because I’m really nervous girls are going to look at it as a negative. But anyway there was a spark between us and it allowed me to believe that okay, maybe I can meet someone out here while sober. That’s the third thing I learned: It might be hard to meet someone, but not impossible.
A few guys from the old restaurant I used to work at stopped in, but it was time for me to go. I had two O’douls and smoked some weed, so I was feeling a bit giddy. I had a pretty good placebo effect buzz going on so I headed over to Tanner Smiths to see my boy n his band. Fourth thing I learned: A placebo buzz ain’t bad.
I walked over to the other bar and sure enough some friends were standing outside smoking butts. That was a good feeling because you can feel awfully alone when you’re out and sober. But these are some cool cats, no one really wants to be out, but we’re here to show the band some support (I was there to see some broads). This was a good group of people, all potheads and not heavy alcoholics either and not much blow. We smoked some weed — I had my one hitter on me, which I never leave home without and proceeded to head in.
Ernie’s killing it on the mic and the girls are lookin good. I have a couple of Saint Paulie Girls (nonalcoholic) and listened to a few songs. They were great. The band had a killer set list. The songs made the girls move and shock.
Everyone kept saying how proud they are of me, but I wasn’t sure how that made me feel. I decided to deal with that later with my smoke show therapist. Then I’d discuss the issues with my smoke show therapist with my next therapist. But I was okay with that. The sexy and sweet girl from earlier showed up, but it was time for me to go.
I felt myself expiring. As I was leaving, me and the crew smoked a butt and took a few hits off my piece. One of my boys threw a gram in it, and I was like, “Yo I’m leavin,” but he said, “It’s all good! It’s hard not to drink and I’m proud of you so take it.” I couldn’t argue that logic.
My girl K— came walking up as I was about to leave — I hadn’t seen in about a year. We were real close and always had a good connection. She’s the ying to my fucking insanity. She asked me what was wrong. I told her that nothing was wrong. Everything was fine, but definitely different. The fifth thing I learned: I have more friends out there than I think
I met back up with my roommate and another friend who lives in Brooklyn to share a cab home. The cabby took Seventh Ave all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge. In the past, this would have led me to explode. I notice this around 34th, but decided to just not give a fuck. At 23rd, my boy starts bitching about the route we’re taking and I was like, “Ah fuck it, we’re taking the scenic route just deal.” And he looked at me like “who the fuck are you and what did you do with Joey Fuckin Appleby?” The sixth thing I learned: I’m changing, I can see it and so can others.
As I finish this up on my 67th day of “sobriety,” I looked back at my first night out and tried to learn from it. Because the hardest thing about not drinking or smoking crack isn’t not drinking or smoking crack, it’s learning how to be you. The seventh and final thing I learned on my first sober night out is that drinking O’douls is like putting a big crack rock in a crack pipe and sucking on the other end, but not lighting it. You just ain’t gonna get there.