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Posted on June 6th, 2017

The Geography of My Mind – My Liver

I spent the past weekend in Athens, Georgia abusing my liver. I went down for a cycling race – but really to see friends – and spent the majority of the weekend in the watering hole. While my drinking stamina is not what it was 20 years ago as an undergrad, I’m impressed that I didn’t drown myself. It was draining but also very fun. I actually don’t drink that often these days typically, though I guess that depends on your perspective. They say the average man should consume no more than 14 drinks a week, and typically, this past weekend aside, I clock in at around 10 or so. Does that mean I can hold those drinks not drank in a reserve somewhere, kind of like a bank? Will I gain interest on them and be able to drink more at some future date? I doubt it, but something to consider.

I worked on that Thursday and then drove the 4.5 hours to Athens, arriving by about 9:15 p.m. When I got into town, I was ready for a cold one – or two (or three, or four…). I had only been there once before, on pure business and during the summer, but on this weekend the scales were tipped in favor of pure fun. And school was still in session as well. Actually, it was the final week of classes so the coeds were out shaking it loose before summer break. The temperatures hovered in the 80s, too. Because of this, skin was in session as well. Short shorts and short tops. UGA girls are a force to be reckoned with. The only other school that might rival the student “body” in terms of looks is Ole Miss. Damn, those southern gals are smokin’ hot!

Anyhow, that Thursday night I expected it to be an early evening. After all, we had two more full days to account for, and I didn’t want to get behind the count. But I don’t know what I was thinking. How you could be on your first night of a vacation in a college town and not burn the midnight oil is beyond me. I powered through, fueled by lager, and shut down the bar. I actually had a professional meeting of sorts the next day as well, early, so that was not something to look forward to. But I made it. I think I performed quite well, too. Before you know it, and against my best interests, happy hour creeped up fast on me, somewhere around 4 p.m. on Friday. While an early night, we got back around midnight, we did the damage, pushing through, committed to the intake of uncounted calories and a foamy layer of padding for the brain. By Saturday I was running on empty, knowing I had my latest night ahead of me, and my longest day of liquid grappling. I just wanted out of the picture, but I was committed. And was being coaxed by bad influences. Friends, jeez…

I remember a few years back, March of 2009, one of my good friends was having his bachelor party in Tahoe. For some foolish reason I agreed to go for 5 nights. After 2 nights I was trying frantically to change my flight and get out of dodge, but to no avail. It’s funny how things sound good on paper but when it’s time to put up or shut up, the decision seems less and less like a good choice. That was one of the many poor decisions I made. Wasn’t the first, wasn’t the last. I’m not saying this past weekend in Athens was a bad decision, just that I made bad decisions while in Athens. It’s okay though. Maturity is a lifelong process. Or at least that’s what I tell myself…

I’m not really a frequenter of bars unless there is a good reason. This boils down to dates, good friends in town and concerts, usually. I more often prefer a few cold ones at home, away from society. But even then only occasionally. I have some friends who are still weekend warriors, channeling their inner frat boy at age 40. I have some friends who are daily drinkers, maybe 1-2 beers a night, but rarely in excess. But neither strategy appeals to me. I have a happy medium, somewhere between 3-5 beers in a sitting, maybe twice a week. It works for me, generally. But then there are those times where I almost feel obligated to drink. Whenever I go to a concert or sporting event, I typically want a couple of beers. There seems to be some sort of implicit obligation to drink in these settings, and apparently I have weak self-control. It’s funny, as much as I disregard most societal norms, this one still gets me. Must be my upbringing. Hard to take the frat boy out of me, I guess.

There’s a corner bar near me that I go to now and again to see blues bands play. It caters to an older crowd, and a heavy drinking crowd at that. These folks are there at quitting time and stay till their speech is slurred and their voices raised. I don’t really get it. It seems like a waste. I can appreciate that from time to time, but on a regular basis? Not for me. They don’t typically serve as strong advocates for overindulgence. And I sure don’t want to slowly turn myself into leather, inside or out. I can’t imagine a path that would take me that route, but I do wonder when you hit the point of no return. I can’t imagine anyone intentionally turns into a drunk, but then again, in college I had a buddy that intentionally wanted to become addicted to cigarettes. I don’t know either… I guess somewhere along the way it just happens. Kind of like when your hair falls out, your belly gets bigger and your face gets more lines. Heavy drinking is just the fast-track to the pickling process. Though I gotta say: having a few beers sure is fun, so in some strange way I can see how one “evolves” into a drunk.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to be more health conscious. But there are definitely things I do intentionally that aren’t healthy: my sweet tea addiction is one, having a dozen cold beers or so each week is probably another. Though they say everything in moderation, including moderation, so what is really “bad” for you anyways? We’re all ending up six feet under, some faster than others, but who’s to say what’ll certainly put you there quicker? I mean, you can overdose on water, you can run yourself to death and you can fall down your stairs and snap your neck. But there’s no age limit on water, we don’t encourage folks to get less exercise and we don’t disallow multilevel homes. So, sometimes I go away for the weekend and drink. All weekend. Sometimes I have a few beers here and there. More often than not, I don’t drink too much at all. But I’ll tell you one thing, I sure could use a beer right now.

Marco Esquandoles
My Liver is a River

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