I don’t look at an evening as a time when I have to drink. I look at it as an opportunity to drink. An opportunity to see how I handle things on autopilot.
Each drinking endeavor takes a different turn when you really think about it. You have any number of permutations: a beer night, a whiskey night, a wine night, a night of cheap beer, a night of cheap wine, straight, cheap, liquor, starting off with cheap wine then navigating to cheap beer, starting off with classy wine and jumping over the classy beer, doing straight shots then down-shifting to pitchers, Jager bombs, that hangover-free rum drunk, that headache-induced vodka drunk, that refreshing gin drunk.
And any combination thereof. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s a different experience every time. Although similar instances might happen—you blare AC/DC a bit too loudly, you make one too many forward comments to the sexy young bartender, you eat Waffle House and you wake up with a splitting headache and the inability to get anything down—it’s never really the same night, it just has a common denominator with other nights.
I’m not fond of drinking alone—when I take a night off it’s for a good reason.
What I am fond of is going to bars alone. And it seems every time I do I end up at some Podunk East Tennessee neighborhood pub where the cigarette smoke rapes your lungs before you’re even in the door, the smell of dried domestic beer permeates whatever is left of the air, and the lighting is three shades too dark (a phrase that only makes sense after a sixer and a few shots).
That’s the situation where you learn the limitless potential of alcohol. (Or yourself, through alcohol.)
Odds are when I got there I already had a few in my system. I’m not one to turn down going to any establishment, but my frequency of going to a place is inversely proportional to the number of Nascar decorations they have. Unless I’ve already gotten the ball rolling.
It usually takes 2-3 drinks to settle in. Then I’ve had a few interactions with the bartender, the people sitting around me conclude I’m there to stay and warm up to me, and I’m grooving pretty hard on the abrasive nectar that is Miller High Life.
Then I’m ready to roll, but I don’t say anything. I let the conversation come to me. I let the challenges come to me. That way they’re more unpredictable.
When you’re at a bar alone, you’re more approachable. I don’t go to pick up women and I doubt they come to pick me up. I don’t even have a preference of who I talk to. But if I’m alone, people strike conversation up with me. They don’t want to interrupt you on a date. They don’t want to talk to five dudes. They want to talk to the guy who’s alone at the bar. They need to get some kind of idea why he’s there. It intrigues them.
If someone strikes up conversation with me, I allow it. I give straight answers. We find some menial topic to chat about like the Vols or some relatively non-controversial current event.
But that’s when I adjust the evening by throwing my beers down faster or switching to shots. And, to reiterate a point I already made—that’s when you see the limitless potential of alcohol.
That vodka shot that I did on a whim because my autopilot—who I’m very fond of, incidentally—glanced up and saw a mirror hanging against a side wall where no mirror should be, but has “Smirnoff” smacked across the bottom of it and decided “hey, that’s my next move.” That shot overflowed my stable buzz and landed me in tipsy town (where, incidentally, I’m the mayor).
That might not have happened with another beer. I might’ve stayed on the buzz path and never left my comfort zone. But I’m bored with the conversation now. It’s time to stir things up.
So I veer off into those topics you shouldn’t touch. They either hate me or they give me too much information. A funny thing I’ve learned—people in bars and people in churches have the same openness. They’ll tell you anything you want to hear. And both get offended at the drop of a hat.
They’re all drunk on something.
So I stick around, guiding my evening with a smorgasboard of fermentation. If I blew that conversation I wait for the next. Eventually I’ll get to a point where I’m talking to everyone, I’m sure. I’m letting my subconscious take control.
Everyone’s aware of the right thing to do. Everyone can empirically figure out how they should and shouldn’t act. Everyone has built-in reason. Everyone knows how to weigh options.
But in life you don’t always have time to analyze, philosophize, or even use logic. The biggest decisions you’re ever going to make you need to do at the drop of the hat. In war, soldiers don’t ponder “do I shoot?” If they did, they’d die. If the pretty lady’s walking out the door you don’t have time to work on your phrasing, you need to say something immediately.
You have to rely on your subconscious. You can’t control your subconscious, but you can train it. You don’t actively think of how to stand up anymore, like you did when you were a baby, it just happens. You don’t actively think of how to ride a bike, it just comes to you. You don’t have to plan out signing your name, it just flows off your hand.
That’s because of your trained subconscious. You need a trained subconscious. So much of your life is controlled by your trained subconscious.
How can you ever develop a trustworthy subconscious unless you put it through rigorous training?
To say it a third time: that’s the limitless potential of alcohol.