It’s New Year’s Eve. I sink my twenty-five year old ass into the leather recliner across the room from my dad and two younger siblings and watch the ball drop without so much as a glass of champagne in my hand. I debated for many days prior to this night whether I should go out to a party, despite the fact that I have sworn off drinking for the entire year of 2014. After much consideration, the age-appropriate questions and awkward, elderly answers just didn’t seem worth struggling with. It is not normal for man my age, a party school graduate who has since forgotten he ever graduated at all, to forego drinking for an entire year just to prove something to himself. Especially when I am not yet sure what it is I am attempting to prove.
I have always been the type of person to experiment with drugs and alcohol, relishing the feeling I get when teetering on the thin twine that separates perception from reality. In college I tried just about everything. I drank myself nearly to death on multiple occasions, and I can count on one hand the number of party invitations which I have declined. When I was twenty, I thought I would smoke weed until the day I died. Then the day came when I realized I must grow up and quit treating my brain like the caged subject of a long-term chemistry experiment.
I have several reasons for my desire to exclude alcohol, drugs, and tobacco (including Tylenol and any other over-the-counter medicines) from my diet in 2014. Unfortunately, each time I try to explain them to a friend or family member I am immediately discredited, argued with, and told I will never be able to complete the year without a sip of the devil’s semen. For this reason, I have given up trying to explain myself to people who ask, and instead simply state, “I have my reasons.” I have discovered in my twenty-five years of life that simple answers tend to leave people more intrigued and abashed than lengthy diction.
I started the morning of January 1, 2014 hangover free. I grabbed the two remaining bottles of Redd’s Hard Cider from the fridge, placed them on a post in my backyard, and shot them with an air rifle. A figurative “fuck you” to my drinking days of the past (and potentially, future). As the bottles exploded, I felt the desire in myself to present a more literal “fuck you” to the naysayers who told me I wouldn’t complete the year without a sip of beer. However that insult can only be provided on January 1 of 2015. I know deep inside myself that I can do this and I will succeed. And, though I’m still not sure exactly how, it will make me a better man.