I am Thanksgiving up drinking (eventually)
Sisyphus contemplates sobriety, his sister almost dies, and he gets deathly addicted to McDonald’s Diet Coke.
Nothing hits quite like a McDonald’s Diet Coke.
It’s gotta be from McDonald’s, man. There’s magic in those golden arches, I swear. I think they lace everything with fentanyl.
You know the feeling… those ice-cold carcinogens sliding down the back of your throat like Satan’s syrupy semen… it’s enough to make a boomer COOM.
Diet Coke does the absolute bare minimum to assure us that it’s healthy, which is really all we need. Zero calories? Zero sugar? Sold. I don’t give a fuck about aspartame. I’ll drink nine gallons of this shit right now— 1,152 fluid ounces, lay it on me. Do they sell it by the barrel at Costco? I wanna fill my bathtub. I wanna fill my swimming pool. Fill up an IV and pump this poison into my veins until my thyroids pop.
I wanted a burger, too. 10:17 a.m. is too early for a burger? Since when?
Even McDonald’s is like, “Yeah dude, you gotta wait until at least 10:30 to ruin your day.”
Kinda bullshit though, right? Like, I know you motherfuckers have burgers in there. Fire up that microwave Kathy, I’m fucking hungover out here!
I got blisteringly drunk last night. Whenever I’m home for the holidays, I tend to clean out my parents’ beer cooler. I’ve gone through at least a case and a half in two days. Is that a lot?
We took Butter to a dog park in Oak Brook, a rich neighborhood in the west suburbs of Chicago. I hate driving through rich neighborhoods. All the Teslas, country clubs and gated communities— they all just make me feel like a failure as a human. I don’t even feel jealous, I just feel sad. I don’t want their life, I just want, like, $1,000 in my savings account. Right now, I have a tenth of that and it fucking sucks. What the fuck are you supposed to do with $100, other than get drunk because your life is shitty?
We gave Butter a speech before entering the park.
“Listen, Butter, these are rich people dogs. You have to behave,” Abby said.
“No jumping on children this time,” I said.
She sprinted in circles for the next 30 minutes.
We had to get Butter out of the house or my mom was gonna kill her. My parents aren’t used to having an agent of chaos in their home. They’re used to having complete control over everything. They’re fully self-actualized boomers, all the way down to having a Roomba that texts them when it gets stuck.
They have two shower heads in the master bathroom. A ride-along mower. Enough folding chairs to seat a standing army. Their fridge offers two kinds of ice, crushed and cubed. There’s also a specific way to close the fridge:
Left door first, then right.
If you close the right door first, lemme tell ya, you’re gonna get a fucking ear full. My mom will be on your ass in two seconds.
“DON’T CLOSE IT LIKE THAT, YOU’RE GONNA BREAK IT!”
Pretty soon it’s gonna be: Don’t sit on the chairs, you’re gonna break them, too. Don’t step on the floor, you’re gonna scratch it. Don’t breathe, you’re gonna ruin the air quality.
Why don’t you just put me in a HAZMAT suit and chain me up out back, would that make you more comfortable, mom?
It’s honestly shocking behavior and it’s only gotten more aggressive over time, but I get it. This is what happens when you live in the same house for 20+ years. You start settling into your routine, melding into your environment, growing into the walls like Bootstrap Bill on the Flying Dutchman. Anything that disturbs your home is an affront to your very sanity, a threat to your peace of mind, a catapult aimed at the castle you’ve built beer koozie by beer koozie.
These old loons have no idea how to communicate with Butter. She doesn’t respond well to screaming, something she and I have in common. Unfortunately, the only tools in my parents’ arsenal are threats and intimidation. Murphy and Daisy, the dogs I grew up with, are old and senile now. They’ve been so beaten down by my mother’s incessant nagging that they don’t even put up a fight anymore. They move around the house mechanically, sniffing around like hairy Roombas, waiting for a scrap of food that never comes.
Butter doesn’t give a fuck at all. She interprets my mom’s aggression as an invitation to play. She gets excited and starts sprinting around the house, jumping on people and biting them. It’s kinda funny to watch, but only because I enjoy upsetting my mother.
But after last night, I think the old birds could use a break.
Shortly after our Thanksgiving dinner, I was standing at the back door, looking out the window, when suddenly I felt a weight on my shoulder, like somebody leaning into me to hug or possibly molest me. I swung around and said, “What the hell?” and my unconscious sister went flopping back onto the hardwood floor. She’d fainted.
This happens about once per year. The doctors have run a million tests on her, they can’t figure out why it keeps happening… something to do with an irregular heartbeat. They put a pacemaker in her last year at the ripe age of 22. Fun stuff. Great genes, mom and dad. You’ve got a drunk son and a narcoleptic daughter on your record. You should’ve 23-and-me’ed each other before farting out these monstrosity children.
She came to moments later, pale as a ghost. I felt partially responsible, given that I failed the trust-fall test, so I decided to help by continuing to stand there and drink my beer. My terrified parents fanned her and gave her sips of water. The questions came flying in.
“Does your head hurt?”
“Do you feel dizzy?”
“How much water did you drink today?”
My sister sat there, dazed, probably a little embarrassed.
“Do you need a beer?“ I asked.
“Take your dog and get the fuck out of here,” my mom snapped. “Do it before the paramedics come.”
Butter and I watched the festivities from my dad’s office. I tried to keep her from shredding any important documents as the ambulance arrived.
I reluctantly scarfed down a breakfast burrito in the Westchester McDonald’s parking lot.
“These are actually pretty fire,” I said, taking a sip of my Diet Coke. “I still want burgers though.”
“Well, there’s a grocery store right there,” Abby said. “Why don’t we go buy some and I can cook lunch for your parents? It’s the least we can do. They’ve had a rough couple days.”
I don’t deserve her.
The grocery store was called Martino’s… or Margianno’s… or some Guido shit like that. There used to be a lot of Italians in this neighborhood. Now it’s just Mexicans and old white people who smoke.
There’s nothing more fun than walking around in a strange grocery store— oohing and ahhing at all the weird brands of cheese, window shopping the deli section like a couple of fat tourists. It’s one of our favorite pastimes.
“Look, they have gelato!” she said.
We bought a pound.
“No sugar December,” she said. “Promise?”
“Promise,” I lied.
Speaking of not doing things anymore, it’s getting to be that time, I can feel it… Addicts know what I’m talking about.
It’s time to take another run at this whole sobriety thing.
There’s a quote by George Carlin that I always come back to in times like this.
“The drug and alcohol thing, seems to me, comes down to this: Drugs and these things are wonderful. Wonderful when you try them first— they’re not around for all these millennia for no reason.
First time: Mostly pleasure, very little pain— maybe a hangover. And as you increase and keep using, whatever it is, the pleasure part decreases and the pain part, the price you pay, increases— until the balance is almost completely the other way and it’s almost all pain, and there’s hardly any pleasure.
At that point, you would hope that the intellect says, “Ohhhhh, this doesn’t work anymore! I’m going to die!”
For every new subscriber, I’ll drink one less beer.
I honestly don’t remember most of this weekend. When you’re on a bender like this, your whole life just begins to revolve around the booze. You’re either drinking or nursing hangovers. Waking up, taking Advil, slamming waters, doing some light exercise, eating a heavy lunch, taking a nap— all just to get your body recovered enough to start drinking again.
And the drinking isn’t even that fun. I’m not out here doing crank off of titty dancers, I’m literally just sitting at my parents’ house, stuck in this semiconscious haze, melting into the couch like Bootstrap Bill on the Flying Dutchman. Where’s the fun in that?
I try not to make sobriety into this big, scary, dramatic thing. I’m dramatic enough as it is. For it to work, I need to strip all the emotion out of it.
“I drank for a while, it was fun, now I’m bored and I’m going to try something else.”
That’s how I need to look at it.
I try not to see it as a test of my willpower or a punishment, but instead as a minor decision, like buying a new pair of shoes or canceling my HBO Max subscription. I don’t like the whole permanent thing. I try to view my sobriety as mostly permanent, with a few six-month relapses sprinkled in for good measure. This opinion is liable to change, but let’s let it change when I’ve got six months of sobriety under my belt. For now, I gotta give myself that out.
I know a lot of people in AA don’t like that, but I’m not going to live in a world of guilt and shame just because some 60-year-old Jesus freak has more poker chips than me. You know you can buy those on Amazon, right?
You’re allowed to enjoy the ride. I firmly believe that. The trick is knowing when to get off. That’s the part everyone struggles with. I’m gonna give myself a month, maybe two. Then I’m back to teetotaling. You gotta give the bad habits a proper burial or else they haunt you.
I know the shit’s not good for me. I can feel it in my bones. You know it’s getting bad when you start having thoughts like…
“Am I drunk right now?”
“Am I slurring my words?”
“How long did it take me to finish this beer? Ten minutes? Fuck.”
Pretty soon, you start timing out your beer runs, making trips to the fridge when people go to the bathroom or when they’re distracted by something on TV. You offer to grab other people a beer to try to seem like a nice guy, but you’re not fooling anybody.
You’re always the last person to go to bed. That’s when the real drinking starts. It’s like a weight off your shoulders, being able to do a judgment-free shot of whiskey at midnight. Call it a nightcap. Call it whatever the fuck you want, this is America, goddamnit! When I drink, I fucking drink, man. I’m all in. I take it the length of the field and spike the ball in the endzone.
But much like football, this shit takes a toll on your body. The cramps, the diarrhea, the splitting migraine headaches— it reaches a point, like George said, where it’s just not fucking worth it anymore. And I’m there, baby.
Plus, I’m fat. God, I’ve gotten fat. I’ve gained 30 pounds this year alone. Normally, I don’t really give a shit about my appearance, but once you start growing that second tit near your armpit… you know what I’m talking about?
I don’t know what kind of farm animal I’m turning into but I don’t like it. It’s time to see if I can… I don’t know, do some push-ups or some shit.
I want to stop drinking, stop doing edibles, and do some push-ups or some shit— those are my three New Year’s resolutions.
But 2023 doesn’t start for another month. The Iowa game starts in 10 minutes. Time to crack another beer.
For those of you who don’t care about college football, just skip the rest of this article.
If 7-4 Iowa beats a terrible 3-8 Nebraska team, they’ll somehow make it to the Big Ten Championship game for the second year in a row, despite having a bottom-5 offense in all of college football. I’ve hate-watched this team all year, and now it’s time for the grand finale.
Regardless of what happens, it’s going to be funny. If they lose, hilarious. They deserve to lose because they suck and they’re too stubborn to change.
If they win and then get clapped by Ohio State or Michigan next week, even funnier. I want this team’s last game to be a 60-point loss.
If they win and then beat Ohio State or Michigan— that’s like a Rudy-level, Miracle on Ice-level, David vs. Goliath-level underdog story. They’d make a movie about that shit. I NEED to watch the Spencer Petras biopic on Disney+. Pump that shit into my veins.
Any outcome is hilarious.
The same is true in life.