Fifty days of sobriety

Fifty Days of Sobriety

Perhaps I shouldn’t even mention it. When compared to someone like my dear sister-in-law, who has managed over 30 years, my 50 days of sobriety seem almost negligibly insignificant.

Yet, this little milestone is important to me. Especially now while we’re in Vietnam and observing “Sober October.”

Every evening that I resist the temptation to order an ice-cold beer or a shot of bourbon (or both) at one of the restaurants where we dine here, my determination grows stronger.

With each passing day, the idea of drinking anything other than a glass of dull sparkling water or lime juice that is brought to our table seems more and more distant. As long as I don’t have to sip water through a straw, I’m fine.

I’m not overly fond of alcohol-free alternatives, but I can certainly appreciate washing down my throat with an ice-cold, zero-percent beer without feeling much repulsion. Yet, despite the taste that alcohol-free beers do have, it was that temporary euphoric feeling – the release – from a tall, strong one that I was truly craving.

In the late 1980s, I discovered the boozy, writing poet Charles Bukowski. Like many other young, lost men with artistic ambitions, I was captivated by how he managed to be so damn creative and productive despite leading such a tough life.

As I read Bukowski’s unfiltered descriptions of the squalid, impoverished life he lived in the Los Angeles slums during the 1960s, he became a sort of Californian version of the other broken artist I had long admired, Vincent van Gogh.

When actor Mickey Rourke landed the role of Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s literary alter ego, in the noir film “Barfly” with Faye Dunaway (and Sylvester Stallone’s younger brother, Frank Stallone), I already knew even before the film premiered that it would be a brilliant success, at least in my cinematic universe.

Today, I’m equally fascinated by how Charles Bukowski survived as long as he did as I am astonished at how I, coming from a family where alcoholism has wreaked so much havoc, could glorify his life in that way. C’est la vie.

One of Bukowski’s most honest and perhaps most accurate quotes goes like this:

“That’s the problem with drinking…If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget. If something good happens you drink in order to celebrate, and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”

Just fifty days today, but one day at a time…