I don’t do extreme sports. Or, for the last 15 years, sports of any kind. It’s not that I couldn’t. I could. Though I’d resent every minute I spent training, let alone doing them. I’d almost certainly hurt myself. I would probably kill myself. Sports, especially extreme sports, are not for everyone.
It’s the same way with drinking. I took my first drink when I was seventeen. In fact, I took 9 of them that night – all different. I was at a political convention but I missed most of the debates on the final day because I was too damn sick. You might think I would have learned from that experience. I did. I didn’t take another drink for 10 days. By then I was in university.
I drank a lot in university, usually starting on Thursday. Sunday through Wednesday I seldom took a sip. Well, a beer or two now and then but it hardly counts as drinking. But I never missed a class and I got three degrees. I’d like to tell you that I quit drinking after that but it would be a lie. Not the quitting part but the idea I would have liked to quit. That would be the lying part.
I like drinking. I’ve learned to do it well. Some people might say I have achieved Olympic level competence. But they would be wrong. I never push myself that hard. I don’t get hangovers; I never get sick.
I love the taste of bourbon on my tongue, the bouquet of wine in my nose, the tingle of beer, the sweetness of port. I love the sensation of putting the glass to my lips, letting the flavours and aromas and feelings linger. I like the softness drink gives to my vision, to my thoughts. When I drink I am more myself. I like myself when I drink. I am more jovial, more loquacious, more romantic. I am not a mean drunk.
I am, of course, not an alcoholic – I simply refuse to go to all those meetings.
In all my years, I’ve never missed a day’s work or a deadline. Some might say I could have done more, reached higher. Pshaw! I’ve done everything I wanted. Had a decent career, published four novels and a raft of stories, thought deep thoughts, travelled and loved and made great friends. Drinking was and is a part of that. Soon I’ll lie back and take it easy. Sit on beaches or in palazzos, drink beer and red wine, write more novels, enjoy life and love and friendship.
But it’s not for everyone. Some people hurt themselves with drink. Some are hurt and think drink will make them better. You have to know yourself. You have to know when the mountain is too high or the slope too steep.
Know yourself, control yourself and everything else will take care of itself.
And that’s ten minutes.