I have just come from the hospital, where a pal, let’s call him Kris - has been recovering from a deadly car accident. Alcohol and other people were involved. Fortunately no one was dead but Kris was grievously hurt, had lost his cell phone, his wallet and the cops had him booked from some pretty serious charges. His new sedan now a mangled mess of metal and plastic.
That he has injured himself and others while drinking and driving does not surprise me; I have been worried about that for quite some time and so when the sms came that he was hurt but alright, I felt sort of relived, maybe Kris would deduce the accident as a godsend sign to stop abusing alcohol but I doubt it and I am not especially hopeful.
Apart from serious addiction issues involved here, Kris like some other friends and associates I know, has very few important pressures whose loss might force him to stop. With no significant other, parents or children threatening to leave him and with enough cash to fuel his drink habit ad infinitum, he lacks some of the usual carrots to abstinence – like a loss of job, family, etc. At the hospital, he even had the audacity to tell me that the pain medication was actually giving him “a really great high.” Kris may have crashed his car but it had not brought him to his knees.
While I feel sympathy for Kris, I no longer find his booze tales very diverting. His story of what happened the night prior to his hospital stay, in fact, was way too foolish. Already high on Vodka, he invited a friend he had met in a party over to his favourite pub. They soon had more rounds and were soon wasted. By late evening, 2 other boozed out couples had joined them and by morning light, they were all huddled around in Kris’s car with a blaring speaker, unconscious to their surroundings until Kris decided to take his brand new car for a demo spin. This is not my idea of a Saturday night, 3 wasted couples dazed and confused, crashing a fancy new car.
Yet while I think Alcohol has a horribly negative effect on urban social life, I do not want to sound judgmental. If Kris and his kind think drinking enormous amounts of alcohol is fun, I think he is plain stupid. Moreover, I don’t want to appear hypocritical. I’ve done my share of partying in the past and when the juices were right, had a pretty loopy time of it. But I no longer want to pretend, as many people I know still do, that there isn’t a difference between the occasional recreational use of alcohol and the every Saturday booze orgies favored by the likes of Kris and company.
As I left Kris in the hospital, it occurred to me that my boredom with alcohol had something to do with aging and that to reveal it among my group of 20/30 something friends would make me look so Uncool. Wouldn’t such an attitude illustrate what many of us call the ‘new gap’? I can just see it - First we renounce booze and the next thing you know; we’ll be exchanging our Metallica CDs for a ‘Save Us Lord’ prayer compilation!
Events of the evening after the hospital visit, though, made me wonder if my languor with booze was related to age after all. I had dinner with an old friend who is same as Kris’s age and comes from a similar background but is effortlessly n essentially cool. For different reasons, our dinner stretched over 3 hours and we ended up discussing a lot about life, work and beyond; that night, ending with the kind of “Take Care Bro,” declarations that buddy movies like to lampoon. When I was young, I realized, I could never have had such a conversation without the inhibition-loosening effect of alcohol.
As I drove down home over a werewolf inducing moon shined night and the Devlins wailing over the Car stereo, I still felt worried for Kris, but mostly I felt proud for my dinner friend. He had learned something earlier in life which Kris hadn’t: that clearheaded emotion and common sense can be much more thrilling than beer, vodka and a speeding car. Maybe I am getting a little grey-haired or maybe some guys are wiser than their peers like to think. At least, it’s safe to be wise and I don’t drink n drive.