Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Never Again the Festive Negroni

It was only two mornings ago that I dumped fresh tangerine juice into my cup of hot tea, and I made this spazzy mistake without being even slightly hung over. Indeed, I might never be hung over again because, evidently, while I wasn’t looking, I snuck out last June and joined up with A.A. Which is to say I stopped drinking in June--not because I was drinking too much, or even just much--but because my liver, shall we say, broke.

It did not break entirely, but it did decide to stop processing alcohol. I first noticed something was gravely amiss when just one glass of wine—one enjoyed with a vast obscene dinner, no less, eaten no later than, I sweartagod, six—became enough to give me a headache the following day. The gravity deepened when I realized I no longer had to wait overnight, as the headache seized me by my fourth or fifth sip.  

It felt as if the devil herself was putting Antabuse into my drinks while leaving pristine the drinks of others—say, Ed Head’s Negronis and Hank Fitz’s martinis. After weeks of denial and half-baked experiments (Maybe it only happens with wine! Okay, only vodka and wine! In months that have Rs! In months that do not!) which all, of course failed, I had to give up.

So now I’m the person who drinks Diet Coke with her shrimp salad lunch while her friends order what shrimp really screams for, a glass of luscious cold crisp Chardonnay. As for dinner, which I almost always eat home alone unless Ed Head carries my body into a restaurant, I still don’t get how people can make it without a glass of wine in one hand. I mean, really, what is the point of sautéing shallots when you can’t taste the wine you’re about to pour over them to make the sauce that goes with your steak? Why, for that matter, eat steak at all when you can’t wash it down with a good, or even bad, Cabernet? 

Oh yeah, because steak is still fun to eat and doesn’t make you feel insane the next morning, never mind that it murders you later.

I still keep vodka in my freezer for guests, also half-bottles of both red and white wine--the ones that have corks, not to be snobby but because the screw tops never let me unscrew them. And while I still feel envy while watching friends drink, my envy’s now joined by something even more creepy, which is of course the vicarious thrill.

Strangely enough for someone who always enjoyed it so much, I find I don’t really miss drinking. Which is to say that while I miss the taste and the gleam of the glassware, I don’t miss the high. But that's only because I am, by dint of age or brain tumor or both, already high--as in exceedingly stupid and inexplicably giddy. And, per the tangerine juice I just dumped in my tea, I still act like a hung over person. 

I do miss being able to face the odd crisis by getting purposefully, medicinally drunk, but, what can I say, now I face them with Xanax.  Which, though not nearly as effective as cocktails, is something my liver, for now, still allows.