As the ball dropped at Times Square, everyone hugged and kissed, I finished the last drop of red opened for dinner hours earlier, the resolution began. I was to abstain from alcohol for a month.
This was not the first time. Years ago, I abstained during a February, the shortest month. A couple of years ago, I attempted one more time and failed; weak will-power succumbed to excuses.
Why am I doing this? The overt reason is for my health. Family members defined “excessive drinking” differently from myself, but we all agreed that I should drink less, so advised the Internet. Underneath, I needed to know that I can do it.
First I needed to get over with the need to pair foods with drinks. The temptation is almost impossible: steak with red wine, fish with white, and beers with pretty much everything salty and crispy, everything tastes better with a pairing alcoholic drink. At first, I substituted with club soda, juice, ice water, or tea. Then I tried just nothing and found the foods quite enjoyable and mouth not really parched.
I also need to fight the yearning for an unwinding agent (“Man, I can really use a drink now.”) Somehow, alcohol brings relaxation or the “loosening up.” I distracted myself or went to the gym.
Lastly, probably the hardest, was the social occasions: beer busts, gatherings after work, parties, etc. I found the trick of holding a club soda with a wedge of lime. My reputation would have established that I am having a clear mixed drink. Why do I need the charade that I was drinking? The answer surprised me: I did not want to be challenged or teased to take a sip. I wanted to go on with this private resolution on my own, quietly, without drawing attention.
I resolve to abstain one month each year.