Issue #208 – “Sober Size Me” – August 20th, 2012

-Longtime readers know that I love to drink. When you need a buzz, booze is the potable, portable, and practical solution. My drug of choice has been alcohol ever since my best friend Claudio and I broke into my parents’ liquor cabinet in ninth grade and sampled my dad’s Sambuca. However, when I turned thirty-three earlier this summer, I realized that my tolerance was higher, my hangovers were longer, and my beer belly was bigger than ever before. And so I decided to subject myself to an absolutely insane physical and sociological experiment. The challenge: go 90 days without imbibing a drop of alcohol. As we speak, I’m on day 53. If a camera crew had been following my exploits throughout this experience, the documentary would be called “Sober Size Me.”

-The most immediate effect of sobriety is not being hungover. Waking up refreshed on Saturday and Sunday is like being given an extra day of the weekend. I believe this bonus time is called “the morning.” People do all kinds of crazy shit in the morning, like eat breakfast. This is a foreign concept to me as usually my food goes in the other direction.

-The second most immediate effect was that I dropped twenty pounds. And I’m not that big a dude so we’re talking more than 10% of my body weight. My beer gut has receded in confusion. I’m trying to turn it into a six-pack but it’s still used to ingesting six-packs.

-The lesson I figured I would learn at the end of 90 days was that I don’t need to drink to have a good time. However, I was only halfway through when I concluded this was not true. I absolutely do need to drink to have a good time. It’s not necessarily because I require an altered state of mind to enjoy myself, but rather because no matter where I go, everyone around me is getting fucked up. Concerts, the beach, breakfast. It’s really, really boring being the sober guy. Sure the designated driver is beloved – but only for the length of the car ride. Then it’s sayonara while everyone flocks to the fruit soaked in Everclear.

-Not surprisingly, the biggest advocate of my teetotaling is my mom, who in Ruminations #17 famously rationalized all of my setbacks with the explanation “You drink too much.” But now that I’m sober and life remains imperfect, her logic seems flawed. I mean, Mom, there are times when life gives you lemons that you just need a Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

-Also not surprisingly, I haven’t gotten laid in 53 days. This one I predicted would be a problem. Again, not because I need to be wasted to kick game, but because most of the girls I meet in flirt-worthy scenarios are themselves drinking. I’m good but I’m not a fucking ninja. Penetrating the mind and, er, other parts of a drunk chick requires irrational thinking and no fear – the very mentalities for which alcohol was created.

-As you can imagine, I’m notorious among my friends for my bluntness. I will observe something about you and a millisecond later I will say it out loud. Most of the time it’s funny (at least to me), and much of the time it’s inappropriate. I used to think my candor was only exacerbated by alcohol and that sobriety would engender discretion. This could not be further from the truth. Now I’m clear-headed as fuck and still manage to insult half the people I meet. In a way, it’s heartening: I am who I am no matter what. On the other hand, I have no idea what kind of beast will be unleashed when my 90 days are up. Though I am certain it will be skinny, horny, and first in line for a goddamn cocktail.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-I always do a double take when I’m told a newborn’s “length.”

-Figuring out last week how to get the water in my toilet to turn blue ranks as one of the greatest accomplishments of my thirties.

-I was at some hipster bar recently and all of a sudden they put on a burlesque show. Let me tell you: nothing is less of a turn-on than burlesque. First of all, we’re in LA. The civilian chicks are wearing less than the burlesque dancers. Second of all, don’t half-ass it. If you’re gonna be a mediocre dancer, at least be a stripper. Otherwise get off the bar. You are ruining everyone’s night. For the love of God, your main prop is a wicker chair.

-A few people have asked me if an audiobook version of my new novel will be coming out, remarking that they’d love to hear me tell the story. And I’ve been replying that since the protagonist is a seventeen-year-old boy, it wouldn’t be me doing the reading anyway, it would be some child actor. I’m an idiot. I thought the story gets acted out with different voices for each part. Then I bought the second Hunger Games on audiobook and it’s just one woman reading the whole thing. Turns out I had no idea how an audiobook works. I also have no idea how the book ends because listening to this chick drone on as Katniss for eleven hours is as painful as an arrow to the eye.

-My buddy Dan is a foodie. He started to go on and on about this new organic olive oil he found. He said, “I use it for everything…” and my eyes started to glaze over. Then he continued: “You know, aftershave, moisturizer, shaving cream…” Yes, he actually uses olive oil as moisturizer. I believe he also jerks off with a balsamic reduction.

-Since I was gonna go three months without drinking anyway, I decided to use that opportunity to get in really great shape. So I joined CrossFit. Everyone says that CrossFit is very cult-ish, but I don’t know. I’ve been going six days a week for two months and no one has recruited me to be in any cults. I’m actually a little insulted. I’m like the one guy who signs up for Scientology and is told, “You know what, we’re gonna pass.”

-You’re not much of an entrepreneur if you can’t spell entrepreneur.

-And, finally, I chose the duration of my sobriety very strategically. It’s long enough to be super challenging but it ends on a very important date: Claudio’s wedding. Nearly twenty years after we raided my parents’ liquor cabinet, I will have the honor of making the Best Man toast at his reception. And that will be the first drink I’ve had in 90 days. Now I know you’re probably thinking this is literally the worst idea I’ve ever had (I know Claudio’s fiancee is). But I am who I am. What I lack in charm, subtlety, and ab definition I more than make up for in discipline. That is what has kept me sober for 53 days, self-employed for ten years, and writing this column for a decade and a half. I have no doubt I will deliver Claudio an appropriate and memorable toast. I better; that will be the last part of the wedding I remember. Fuck me!