Tag Archives: Teetotalism

Why I could be a teetotaller: Part two.

no alcohol

As a kid, one of the things I admired about my dad was that regardless of how much alcohol he had imbibed, he wouldn’t stagger; he always remained collected and he didn’t seem to forget anything he did/said when he was intoxicated.

At one time, we thought he was extremely drunk so when he was seated on the couch dozing off, my sisters and I decided to get to some mischief. We pulled some money from his shirt’s pocket. He only opened his eyes for a few seconds, and we stilled, but he went back to counting sheep.

In the morning, he came straight to us asking for his money back. We were shocked. We had assumed he wouldn’t remember a thing. Meekly, we told him we had spent it. We still had it of course, but we didn’t want to part with it. I bet he read the mischief on our faces and let us get away with it deliberately. He didn’t even scold us. He tried to look stern, but his brown eyes sold him out. There was a trace of amusement in them. That was my sweet dad, ever patient with us.

I had seen some of our neighbours staggering home, and later we would be treated to a ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ show. There was this guy, he was the second born of our neighbour from staying in. To date, he is the most repulsive drunk I’ve ever met. He would walk into his parent’s compound drunk into a stupor. Then he would walk into the house, drag his old dad out, and with a mop handle, he would rain blows on him, he didn’t seem to care where they landed, beating him senseless. It was horrifying. I haven’t the slightest idea why he did that.

His old dad, who we were so fond of, passed on silently one night, sitted on the couch. We were woken up by loud screams which cut through the night, and I remember the first thought that came to mind as I lay in bed was a grim one; the old man had died. We didn’t know for sure what had happened until dawn when mourners started streaming in, and I realized I had been right.

I couldn’t help wondering if the wayward son had gotten the chance to ask for his dad’s forgiveness. I don’t know if it was out of guilt, but soon after his dad’s funeral, our neighbour’s son stopped drinking.

Silently, I found myself looking up to my dad on matters drinking; he managed to remain composed even when he had consumed large amounts of alcohol. Sometimes I even preferred him drunk; he was so lively; so relaxed. We would dance, and occasionally we would do karaoke, and he would record it all on tape.

But with time, and so much pressure from his mom, it all changed. The one person, who had given me hope, that one could drink and still look happy, became the one person I hated to see drunk. Each drop he consumed seemed to drain all his joy, leaving a vicious man in its wake. All he wanted to do was fight.

The roles reversed and it happened that my parents became the ones to treat our neighbours to scenes from Brangelina’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The only noticeable distinction was that there were no firearms involved. Our once happy home became a place I dreaded. Dad would only be my happy dad, until he took alcohol, then he would visibly morph into evil dad, seeing faults with everyone; with everything he laid his eyes on. At times he would challenge mom to fist fights, but she knew better than to oblige.

We would watch from behind closed doors, but when things intensified, we would throw all caution to the wind and run to intervene.

Slowly, as I watched similar things unfold with passing years, I started developing a negative attitude towards alcohol, with the realization that I didn’t want to be like my father. I couldn’t comprehend any of his violent outbursts, but one thing remained evident; when he was sober, he was my happy dad- the one I loved, the caring one, the kind one…

Each time he drank, turning the house upside down, I would calm myself down; all I had to do was wait till morning, and he would be back. Happy dad would be back. I was never disappointed. In the morning, when his head had cleared, he would resume his happy self, looking so innocent and loving.

However, to my displeasure, I noticed that his two shades have become permanently conjoined by alcohol, melding them into one version of him, with his darker side being dominant over his recessive good side, which we rarely catch glimpses of. I’m still in the process of trying to understand him; to assess what I feel for him. Sometimes I feel it’s still love, but at times he leaves me so enraged and I start second guessing myself. It’s a feeling that oscillates between love and hate.

When I look at him-the man he’s become- and the fact that his dad died of alcohol related complications, I feel I have reason enough to be a teetotaller.

Why I could be a teetotaller: Part one

If I say I take alcohol, I would-to some extent- be lying…and if I said I don’t, I know some people who would raise their eyebrows at me. Honestly, I have trouble answering this question. I’m not a teetotaller, but given the circumstances, I could be one. Somehow I seem to have a thing for peripheries; fences if you rather-something I can’t say I’m proud of; but sometimes it is just beyond me-like in social misfits.

To be succinct, I’m a light drinker; a conscious decision I’ve made over the years. I only drink on special occasions-parties mostly-and even so I always try to keep my consumption in check, lest I wake up to horrid revelations of things I said/did when I was under the influence.

Methinks Aly’s alter-ego would be a stripper, dancing on bars; maybe one day I’ll get myself drunk enough to do that. I’m not particularly big on dutch courage, but it’s something I imagine I would do when intoxicated. But so far, I must admit, the most I’ve ever drank was a few glasses of wine, which tampered with the ground level, I came so close to staggering.

wine

Funny thing is, with the way I started out, one would have thought me and alcohol would be best buddies. I’ve been given a few pointers on matters drinking: not to mix drinks, to drink when I’ve eaten, to take lots of water, by my old man, but even with this in my mind I refrain from alcohol consumption. I’m thankful that this far, I’ve come I have managed to not over-indulge.

When I’m out with friends they often ask why I don’t like getting drunk, and I simply tell them it’s because I like being in control of my actions. Truth is, there’s more to it than that; I fear that I could turn out like my dad; moreover, looking at my paternal side, drinking seems like a genetic thing; no one’s a certified alcoholic so far, but…it’s not a culture I would want to extend into our lineage.

My dad has always been drinking since I was born. At first he would do two bottles tops, but over the years he has managed to become a full-blown drinker. Recently I declared him an alcoholic. I didn’t tell it to his face upfront; I merely alluded to it in a four-paged text, pointing out that I felt we had become so detached, because he hardly spares any time for us; if he’s not buried in his work at the office, he’s somewhere drinking his wits away.

One might argue that since I’m all grown I should give the man a break, but deep in my heart, I know I will never be too old to be my father’s daughter.

Apparently, he never let me forget that text; not that I would wish to, because I still have it saved in my phone. I thought it was sweet when I sent it, still do, but he managed to misconstrue it and subsequently went on to fight about it. He was so furious; he constantly said he would snap my neck because I had called him an alcoholic. I knew he loved me too much to do such a thing, but when inebriated, I didn’t trust him. I kept my distance.

My sisters and I were introduced to alcohol at a very tender age. I was around seven at the time. But we were only drinking for the heck of it, sipping on it, straight from the mug; not because we relished the taste, but because daddy was drinking it; it was cool.

Everytime my small sister saw my dad drinking she would bring her sippy cup and dad would pour her a little of his bottle’s contents and in a single gulp, she would dispose it off in her tummy, then she would ask for more. But dad always had a sweet way of turning her down. We were afraid she would become an addict but somehow she made different decisions along the way and now she hardly drinks.

Once when we were small, around the same time, I recall this one night; dad was out drinking, then he came home late at night. He opened another beer and I’m guessing he had taken enough that day because soon after he had poured it into the glass, he stood, leaving it barely touched.

It was a Saturday, and we were watching a movie; mom was already asleep. We were alone in the living room. At first we thought he had gone to the bathroom, but after a long while we realized he had gone to bed.

Mischievously, we drained the glass, then sipped the beer straight from the bottle in turns, until the bottle was empty. I don’t know why, but we went to bed feeling like heroes; like we had slain enemies on the battlefield.

The next morning, as we prepared for church, we couldn’t help gloating about our achievement; how we had ‘emptied’ dad’s bottle. He just grinned, while mom just watched us speechless …but she didn’t seem mad. They found it amusing.

I thought it was amusing too, but over the years, as I watched my dad morph from the fun loving man he was into a cold, violent and distant stranger, I realized I wanted to be different.