MY TRUTH ABOUT BOOZE, or…WHINING ABOUT WINE

I guess everybody has a story about themselves and alcohol. This is mine. Where I’ve been, and where I am. It’s not a terribly interesting story, but it’s my story, and important at this point in my life.

I’ve always enjoyed having a drink now and then, but never drank to excess. Both of my parents had a problem with alcohol, to the point that they had to give it up completely, so I’ve always been keenly aware of the possibility that I could too easily end up in the same situation. I enjoyed drinking far too much to let it get to that point. I always figured it was better to always be able to have a little now and then, than to have too much and have to give it up completely. So I have always been careful to not allow drinking to become an “issue” in my life.

Mostly I’ve enjoyed beer and wine, because they are cheaper than hard liquor, and generally provide a better buzz. For me, enjoying a drink was always something to do at the end of a long day, usually on a weekend, in my own home, while cooking dinner and watching TV. In fact, one of my favorite things in the world is to have a glass of wine or beer and get a pleasant buzz while working in the kitchen.

However, I think those days are behind me now. I can’t say exactly when it started, but possibly around the time I went through menopause I began to notice that having a drink no longer gave me that same pleasant buzz. To feel buzzed at all, I would have to drink more than usual, and that would lead much more to feeling sick and dizzy, rather than “pleasantly buzzed.” I’ve always been fortunate to not experience hangovers, but these last several years, I sometimes don’t feel so good waking up the morning after have a drink the night before. I guess my tolerance is not what it once was. I wouldn’t exactly call it a hangover, but I just don’t feel good and healthy. And I hate that.

These last several years too, I’ve become more interested in doing everything I can to lose weight and be healthy. It’s paid off too, with a weight loss of up to 45 pounds (depending on when you start keeping track), and those fabulous numbers I just got at the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago. And in fact, I just feel overall better now than I used to. I’m making an effort, and it’s paying off.

Drinking does not really fit into my new healthy lifestyle. As for beer, it’s wheat-based, and I do so much better when I avoid wheat and gluten. As for wine, I’ve long suspected that sulfites don’t really agree with me. So I’ve cut way back on drinking, at times going months and months without having any alcohol at all. Then, there’ll be some sort of celebration, or we go to a nice restaurant, and I’ll have a drink. And again, I’m always disappointed that I don’t get the same results I did when I was younger.

This blog is about aging, and that’s my best guess about why my experience with alcohol has changed. It’s sort of sad, I feel like something fun and positive has gone out of my life, but at the same time, I know this is really for the best. Many of the health experts I trust insist that red wine in moderation can actually be good for you, and every now and then I’ll become convinced and go out and buy a bottle of wine, but inevitably I find that I don’t really enjoy it that much. Drinking the prescribed five ounces is not enough to give me the buzz that is my reason for drinking in the first place. To my way of thinking, if drinking doesn’t give me a buzz, why bother? There are plenty of other good health practices I can be doing that are a lot cheaper, and contain a lot less sugar.

A few weeks ago, for our Anniversary, Russ and I went out to a nice restaurant and I had a glass of Riesling that was VERY good. Yeah, it’s not a red wine, like the experts suggest, but it was so tasty I said, “The heck with it!” and decided to buy a bottle of Riesling for the house. I found one that was possibly even tastier, very sweet, and enjoyed a couple of glasses, one on Friday night, one on Saturday, but again, getting less of a buzz than simply feeling tired, so again I said “The heck with this!” and drained the rest of the bottle down the sink this morning.

I’m not saying I’m never going to drink again. But I think I’ve reached the point where I have to admit that drinking simply doesn’t give me the same payoff it used to. As we age, there are lots of things we can’t do as well as we used to. For guys who played softball in their teens and twenties, they might want to think twice before getting out on the field in the fifties and sixties. And those women who used to look so cute in their little mini skirts, well, guess what? Let’s not even go there.

There are a lot of things I can’t do as well as I used to, and I guess drinking is one of them. It’s a curse. And it’s a blessing. It’s an “Oh, good!” and an “Oh, well….” It’s an opportunity for me to look for new ways to brighten up and enliven the time I spend in the kitchen. I have some ideas. But that’s a topic of another post.

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