Looking from the bottom of a shot glass: reflections

Yesterday, I went out for a night of coarse drinking. Ever since I totally wasted myself five years ago, I vowed never to relive the stupidity and the need for reliance on other people: I realized that I should be responsible for myself and for the others who may need my help during these sessions. I wasn’t going to reconsider it for yesterday, although because of traumatic circumstances from my recent past I may have developed more of a tolerance for alcohol. I’m still not very fond of alcohol; frankly, I drank only because people become more conversant as well as patient listeners when they have taken in a bit of alcohol, and I needed that.

I'm glad I didn't vomit, but I drank the most shots yesterday.

There’s a different side to drinking that I have subtly enjoyed, however: once people have taken in enough alcohol, the inhibitions begin to pale away and their true nature is often seen. From that singular experience of being totally drunk I find myself a quiet man with an imposing superego, something that has been quite consistent with my quotidian existence these past few years. In short, I’m no fun when I’m drunk. I may burst into song, but for the most part I’ll stay quiet and wait until the heaviness and the languor get washed away by my body or by water.

I enjoy drinking as a spectator sport, however, because the mask of propriety falls off from people and their true colors come to the surface. People with hidden ‘wild sides’ allow these to come alive when they have taken in enough drink; people who are silent become uncharacteristically vociferous; and the men with rather untamed libidos have these rise to the fore. I’m just glad that my parents have raised me quite well to be scrupulous even in times of mental laxity (and chemical inebriation), and I am glad that they teach by example (although I make a few mistakes time and time again).

I wasn’t shortchanging myself yesterday, too. I think I probably had two bottles of beer, four shots of tequila, and the world spinning around me. Yet I could never find myself to be improper to ladies or to even be an ass to some of my friends (some even deserved it!). I could be an ass and am a big one at times, but these are often precipitated by my scruples and not by drink. While I was in my drunken stupor I was just wondering how painful it must have been for Yamada to never have gotten out that she liked Mayama after all that time: I knew that despite the watercolor backgrounds, Honey and Clover‘s relationships and characterizations were seated in real life, and that truly, especially after yesterday’s party, it really does break down some internal barriers and inspires a chemically-induced blase attitude as regards societal standards, even if only for hours. I didn’t really appreciate it back when I was still a true teetotaler, but I do now.

I admire her, however, for saying it even though she knew it would lead nowhere. I probably couldn’t do what she did even if was dead-drunk and vomiting like there was no tomorrow. She’s a bit pathetic: despite knowing she’s chasing air, she nevertheless admits to herself that it’s what she wanted, even if she hurts herself time and time again. But she’s also quite courageous for finally admitting to herself that she liked him despite everything. I have seen people tear their shirts off in public: I have even stuck my head in a freezer because I felt so hot after one time, because there was no water around, and I think I’m a bit allergic to alcohol. Only few people could compare with her feat of honesty and daring, however: to be courageous when defeat is imminent is a trait found mostly only on heroes, whether fictional or historical.

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10 Responses to “Looking from the bottom of a shot glass: reflections”

  1. Ryan A Says:

    Alcohol can be tricky business for many. I personally cannot stand being obliterated, but it happens. I think the key is to know your range and drink just enough to be where you want to be. Also, tequila is a crazy drink, and yes the different kinds of alcohol have various effects; try a nice whiskey if you get a chance, but not shots.

    Yamada, that lovely character. I can see your relation to her heroics, and it was quite Spartan. Sometimes I feel we reach a point where we simply cannot turn back nor linger, and we just have to walk forward, despite fire ahead. It is honesty in a sense, and regardless of the pain, it is usually better to be true to oneself. Such a heartfelt character. ^ ^

  2. Angelus Says:

    Whiskey? Too many vowels! Islay single malt for me.

    The description of Yamada reminds me of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech, which contains the following:

    “It is not the critic who counts, … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, … who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; … and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

    I’m definitely a “cold and timid soul”, and I spend my time now chasing not even something as substantial as air, but a ghost of a memory of someone who never really existed.

  3. Michael Says:

    Ryan:

    I can’t stand being wasted, too. It puts hassle upon a lot of people and leaves you so vulnerable. I don’t drink in excess, now that I’ve felt what excess was. Tequila is a powerful drink. It has quite a high alcohol content and one can really feel the burn once one tries it. Still, I don’t drink it often, although four shots have nearly made me kin with the floor.

    I agree. It is most definitely better to be true to oneself rather than live a lie. I also believe in persevering despite a lot of difficulties, as long as it’s done in moderation.

    Angelus:

    What’s Islay single malt made of? It’s certainly not in this place, haha. I was once a critic but have been a ‘man in the arena.’ While failure is not fun, and is certainly hurting and disturbing, at least I could tell myself that I tried my best despite everything. Even though I failed it doesn’t make me a lesser being.

    I’m still quite timid for the most part, but I have attempted to move outside myself and tried to court someone. At least I tried.

    I don’t think I like whiskey, by the way. I like a little tequila because it’s really warm and yet nevertheless enjoyable. That’s just a personal preference, however.

  4. Angelus Says:

    Islay single malt is made from malted barley that’s been dried over smouldering peat, but it tastes like it’s been made from seaweed and phenol 🙂

  5. Michael Says:

    Is Islay a place? Because I’ve seen an Islay Hotel in the original TV series (and in the trailer of the new film) of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. How does seaweed and phenol taste? I would think bad. haha!

  6. Angelus Says:

    It’s an island off the west coast of Scotland. Hence my original comment about “whiskey” having too many vowels – the stuff from Scotland is “whisky”.

    I think it would be fair to describe Islay single malt as an acquired taste. Except I didn’t acquire it over a period of time, I had a sort of road to Damascus experience with it one day when some relative who knew nothing about my tastes bought me a miniature bottle of it as part of a Christmas present. Having drunk my other presents (the rest of my relatives knew me much better!) by New Year’s Eve all I had left was the whisky. So, what with Hogmanay and all that, I determined that this would be the best time to dispose of the vile substance, though by mouth, of course.

    I poured it into my glass, and, grimacing, raised it to my lips. At once the aroma washed over me – peat, tar, salt spray, seaweed, iodine – I was transported, and felt as though I was standing on a Scottish beach looking out at the sea. Ever since, Islay single malt has been my spirit of choice. My three “traditional style” favourites are from the south-east of the island – Laphroiag, Lagavulin and Ardbeg – but I also enjoy the more “modern style” Bruichladdich very much.

  7. Michael Says:

    I didn’t know that. Thanks for that information. I thought Islay was just a random name. It seems that I need to know more about geography. I should try a shot of it someday: who knew I was going to actually like tequila more than beer? The kick is just immense, and to think that it was also just an experiment that actually led me to ‘liking’ it.

    Is Islay a placid island? I mean, is it quite rural and pacific?

  8. Angelus Says:

    I’ve never been there – it’s a place I definitely want to visit one day though, and not just for the whisky. It certainly is very rural, with a population density of less than 6 people per square km.

  9. Conor Says:

    Obviously this post was going to attract Scottish attention! I was initially put off of whisky following an ill advised night when I was 16 which consisted of most of a bottle of Famous Grouse, but now my drink of choice is most definitely Highland Park, which is a really nice single malt.
    On topic however, I find the idea of drinking as a spectator sport to be interesting, but I would stick on the playing end simply because I enjoy it. I find that drinks do effect people in different ways, but for me it just relaxes me and makes me in a way more than myself. Some of the best nights I’ve had were made that way due to heavy drinking, because the alcohol by nature allows you to be who you are with far fewer inhibitions than you would normally have. It isn’t always great, but it’s my feelings that you would never change the mistakes because it’s the mistakes you learn the most from.
    Interestingly, what is the attitude towards drinking in the Philipines? Over here it’s well documented that the majority of people drink too much, but it’s always interesting to find out the attitudes of other countries.

  10. Michael Says:

    Conor:

    Yeah, I think I was able to sing Mr. Brightside precisely because I was inebriated, and it was one of the best nights this year. That’s why I do drink at times, and I realized that I was really quite reserved and scrupulous even when drunk: my tongue is indeed a bit loose, but I tend to be the same guy as I am when I’m not drunk – just a bit more frank.

    There are a lot of people who drink here in the Philippines, and there is a good number who drink too much. But we’re not really quite known as a country of drinkers. We have a good attitude towards drinking, especially because it’s one of the few ways men bond with one another and speak with little inhibition. 🙂

    Angelus:

    Ah, thanks for that information. I wonder what’s inside the Islay Hotel. 😛

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