Bites Like A Snake, Stings Like A Viper

“Alcohol makes you feel better and then makes you feel worse and then remorselessly very bad indeed, but then alcohol will make you feel better again.  It is the cure for the dog that bit you, and how easily you forget it is also the dog.”

Roger Ebert

Have you ever noticed how things that are terrible for you look SO GOOD?   Scripture says alcohol is like that.  In describing a drink it says “it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly.  Afterward it bites like a snake, and stings like a viper.”   Now I have to fess up here.  I wouldn’t know a thing about it.  It’s not that I don’t have vices, alcohol has just never been one of them.  I figure I don’t need any further help in making a fool of myself by engaging in drinking.   To tell you the truth, I am terrified of the stuff.  My luck, I’d take one drink and be addicted for sure.  So I am a teetotaler and have always been.

The university I attended however, was a party school.   It was a small university town with an inordinate amount of bars uptown.   In fact the Halloween party was notorious.  People came from far and wide to attend the drunken fest.   The University didn’t try and stop it.   They just did their best to “contain it.”  I know for sure I was one of the rare few who attended sober.  I went up with a group of friends.  We went as the “Wheel of Fortune.” My friend was Vanna White and her boyfriend was Pat Sajak.  The rest of us went as letters.  What did we spell?  In a nod to my future home, we spelled “Busch”, as in “Busch beer.”   I did my best to keep the drunken letters together as we wove our way through the sea of people.  I am quite sure most of the night we spelled “schub.”  After surviving the surging, thronging mass of drunken, half-costumed party-goers on Court Street, we made it safely back to my friend’s room.  There her boyfriend, Fred, kept asking me “Do you want a beer Stace?”  He was so courteous in his drunkeness.  I would just smile and politely say “no.”  Then my friends proceeded to throw pumpkins out their second floor windows David Letterman style.   For that, they did get in trouble.  It was a surreal night for sure, made more surreal by being sober.   I don’t know why, but my friends always accepted me even though I didn’t participate in their drunken escapades.

I did enter a few bars uptown with my friends to go dancing.  One night a very drunk guy named Phil made his way to our table.  He kept telling me over and over “You’re beautiful!”  It was amusing.   You know how these stories usually go.   The next day Phil’s friends razz him: “Do you know you were telling the ugliest girl in the bar last night that she was beautiful?”  Then they laugh at him uproariously for his stupidity.  To my surprise Phil remembered me and continued to call me for weeks.  It was good to know his opinion of me didn’t change when he was sober, but I wasn’t really interested in dating a drunk.

Just to show you how corrupt the university I attended was, on my twenty-first birthday an R.A. (resident assistant) nicknamed “Twig” knocked on my door and entered my room carrying a back-pack.  He proceeded to unload all the ingredients to make me a Screwdriver, which is apparently a mix of vodka and orange juice.  I just stood there and laughed.  I lived in a co-ed dorm and apparently some of the guys decided it would be great fun to see if they could get me drunk.   They were sorely disappointed.   I refused the drink and my friend Steve ended up drinking it.

Let me cut to the chase.   Though these stories are amusing, drinking is not.  They just came out with a study that showed that alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack.   “Both in terms of medical consequences as well as societal consequences, alcohol ranks very high in overall harmfulness.”  Just this past year I was in a group with a woman whose stepson drove drunk and wrecked his car into a tree killing his best friend, who was an only child.   It was wrenching to hear her talk every week about her stepson’s life now.  Just this past month another good friend told me about her husband’s slide into alcoholism.  He started drinking when he was a teen.  Now at forty he goes on binges and sometimes can’t reach the bathroom in time at night and pees his pants.  Addiction is glamorous isn’t it?  In America we think we are not drug abusers as long as we are using a “legal substance.” Please.

Here is the end of the matter.  If you drink to excess and do so frequently, you are a fool.  Stop letting the snake charm you.  The truth is you are on the straight path to ruin.  Wise up and turn yourself around and be done with self-destruction.