Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Social Lubricant

Alcohol is often described as a “social lubricant,” something that somehow improves the quality of social interaction. It serves this purpose for me, at a party, or a restaurant dinner. But for me it also serves this purpose just sitting alone in the evening having a couple of pops.

I live a very sedate life, it’s all very still, like a photograph, or a tomb, a tomb with a TV, where all of the food is properly stowed and the place is kept clean for the deceased. In the evening I almost never see anybody, almost never even make or receive a phone call. I listen to music, sometimes idly and sometimes with great enthusiasm. I watch TV, movies, anything from Hollywood Noir to the sheerest escapist crap, some news, the History Channel, I’m enjoying Jimmy Kimmel these days, he’s better than I had thought. I play through old games on a two-dimensional, home-made chess set, it’s more exciting than you think. Why is Tal sacrificing his queen? What does he see that I don’t see? Why is Symslov retiring while he’s a queen up on pieces? Some of these problems take a while to solve, if I can solve them at all. I read, maybe poetry, maybe my own poetry, maybe something I cut out of some internet newspaper, maybe the recaps of “All My Children,” maybe I write something. It’s all very low key, I try stay engaged in life, and to avoid frustration.

Once in a blue moon I take out my guitar. It’s super-annoying. I first learned to play over forty years ago, I know scores of chords and hundreds of songs, I’ve gotten pretty good on and off. Now all of my fingers more or less automatically go to their accustomed positions, including the partially destroyed left middle finger, which only causes pain and a mess that mutes other strings. Django re-learned playing after his mutilation; I’m no Django. Who would I play for anyway? There’s nothing social about my evenings, so why would I need a social lubricant?

Well I do. I don’t like getting drunk, I never get drunk. But I do enjoy the buzz, so that’s a good thing. The real benefit, though, for me, alone, is that a couple of drinks makes me much more positive in my reflections on the day, much less likely to curse my situation, much less likely to review unfavorably my social choices made, or avoided, earlier in the day. Just drinking also allows me to retain the intellectual ability to enjoy all of the things described above; getting drunk would screw up the whole works. Getting drunk would also open the floodgates on a Lake Meade of bitter recriminations, I’m not interested in that at all, I avoid it like the plague.

So, the middle way, no no-drinking, no way, and no drunkenness. I’m a solo-social-drinker. It’s working for me


Anonymous said...

So you self-medicate with alcohol. Big whoop. No need to get in a twist explaining yourself. I use food, unapologetically. Whatever gets you through the night...

fred c said...

It's not all about me, not really. These are probably issues for many of us Boomer-Doomers.