Yesterday was Day 45 of my year of living sober.
It was a Sunday. It was also Christmas Day.
Normally on Christmas Day I would have an excuse to start drinking early. Maybe I’d have some champagne for breakfast or pop my first beer stubbie before the hallowed noon? The rest of the day would be one glass of wine after the next. And, since I’d often receive a bottle of scotch (from either my sister-in-law or my wife—who only ever buys me spirits at Christmas, or occasionally on my birthday) I’d likely finish the day and myself off with a few straight shots on ice (having eaten too much to fit in any bloaty coke).
But this year was different.
In line with my commitment to living a year without alcohol, this year I had some pre-noon non-alcholic ‘champagne’ (with a late breakfast of eggs, pumpkin bread toast, smoked salmon and spinach) and a couple of non-alcoholic ‘beers’ throughout the day. Besides no hangover this morning, not drinking on Chrissy Day had another benefit: I finished reading one of my Christmas presents in, apart from a couple trips to the loo, one sitting.
Not drinking, my mind was sharper and more conducive to absorbing the subtle humour and slow pathos of a magnificent memoir by one of my teenage hero’s.
While my parents-in-law watched Christmas Vacation 17 (or whatever Chevy Chase vehicle it was motoring along in the background) I put my feet up and devoured Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up. As a huge fan of almost all of Martin’s (I really should call him ‘Steve’, such is my affinity and affection) work (Pink Panther et al being the exception) I couldn’t thank my sister-in-law enough for getting me everyone of the titles I’d text messaged her (in response to her request of my wife for pressie ideas).
Unwrapping 5 Steve Martin books and 1 John Irving memoir (My Movie Business) it was still a surprise though—cause I’d forgotten what I’d asked for. I was so excited I started reading before lunch. By dessert I’d finished Martin’s honest and inspirational account of his rise to fame as a stadium-filling stand-up comedian; the first and only of his kind.
I highlighted a few passages in Born Standing Up, one particularly appropriate to Year Of Living Sober. Martin explained how he used to record his performances on a cheap tape-recorder and listen back to see where he could improve his act. In the following snippet he writes about working on a bit about a smug party guy with a drink in his hand:
When the bit started, the waitresses brought me a glass of wine that I would use as a prop. When that glass was empty, they would bring me another. One night I listened to the tape and could hear myself slurring. I never had a drink before or during a show again.
I don’t think Steve Martin stopped drinking for good but he did learn that, for him at least, there is a time and a place for boozin’ and it’s not on stage, at work, making people laugh.
It reminds me how I used to never drink before going on stage to perform my music but how, when I got more confident and relaxed, I started having the odd beer or glass of wine (or five) while doing my singer-songwriter gigs.
Maybe next time I’m on stage I’ll try doin’ it my old way: sober?
Little Booze Joke 45:
Santa walks into a bar and the barman says, “Hey Santa, have I been naughty or nice?” and Santa says, “If it’s okay with you I don’t want to talk about work tonight?”