Back in October of I think 2006, Joan and I went to see comedian Jeff Dunham at some tony club in Addison where I would normally never set foot, not being the kind of person who goes to tony clubs in Addison (or any elsewhere, for that matter). This was one of those places where, not content to mug you for your ticket money, they also expect you to buy two overpriced watered-down drinks in the course of the evening. Seriously, even the beers were like $5 a pop, a price not to be outdone until the new Cowboys Stadium opened in Arlington (I'm told $6.50. Are they exaggerating? I don't know. I don't do football.)
Anyway, the show was pretty good and I'd mostly stopped grousing about having to buy drinks and somehow I got away with buying only one. It was a little blue frou-frou thing with an umbrella sticking out of it, and it was ungodly sweet and very thick. I don't remember what they called it, which is kind of a shame, because I think the last time you do anything ought to be memorable. But I didn't know it was the last time, of course.
I drank the silly thing very slowly, over the course of the whole show, and by the time we left I was pretty much sober. I drove home, no ill effects. Then, the next morning, all hell broke loose in my digestive system. At first I thought it was something I ate, but I figured out pretty quick it was something I drank. I figured it out because this was a link my brain had been trying to make ever since I turned 21. For no apparent reason, I'd suddenly come down with what seemed to be the stomach flu and be miserable for days. Then I'd suddenly be fine again. The docs hadn't been able to figure it out, generally because by the time I got in to see one, I was over it. (Nothing more annoying than a healthy person in a doctor's office.) I wasn't too worried, since it went away by itself. But it was puzzling. What caused it? Lasagna? Chinese food? Excessive political debates? Why did it appear and disappear with such frequency? Questions, questions. Then came the morning after Jeff Dunham and suddenly there was an answer. She drinks alcohol, her stomach rebels. That's it. It's that simple.
I've since gathered that alcohol kills the friendly bacteria that live in my stomach and points south, making it difficult to digest food and leading to certain unpleasant results. Luckily for me, this problem has an easy solution: Quit drinking. So I did.
Thus began my six-year odyssey into The Land Beyond Alcohol. Interesting times were had. For one thing, I had random cravings for beer at odd times of the day and night for about the first six weeks. I figured this had to be psychological, kind of the Ghosts of Alcohols Past. I mean, I didn't drink very heavily, and I wasn't a beer-after-work-to-relax kinda gal at any point. I did, however, have an unpleasant habit of wanting to keep drinking until the alcohol was gone. (And to be fair, the same applies to espresso, chocolate, champagne, ice cream...) Portion control? Never had it. And I didn't act like an idiot when I was drunk--particularly--but I did do things I wouldn't do normally, like sitting through a video of a friend having her labia pierced. There are things one does not really need to know about one's friends.
Time went by and the ghosts quit bothering me. I ended up in OA and ran this story past a guy I met there who was also in AA. He said it sounded like I didn't have a problem--yet--but was well on my way to developing one. "It sounds like you quit just in time," he said.
Maybe. Unfortunately, Demon Sugar took over from Demon Drink, and we were off to the races. I've been trying for the last year to get off sugar, and knocking off the alcohol was a piece of cake, if you'll pardon the expression, in comparison. In fact I've come to regard sugar as cocaine, particularly in the form of cake frosting. (Remember, the cake is a lie.) Doughnuts and breakfast pastries? Gateway drugs. If I could freebase sugar, I'd do it, but I've tried and it just kind of turns to sludge. It's also kinda painful when you snort it up your nose.
I did, however, have one miracle period when I went 60 days without sugar. If I did it once, I can do it again. Today, incidentally, is Day 4. Not that I'm counting. Oh, of course I'm counting. One thing people with substance abuse issues often do is get obsessed with numbers. And that plus quarter to seven minus eight or nine bucks to Afrah for this nice dinner plus four slices of pita bread equals the end of this column.