My 5 Most Abused Forms of Alcohol

by ANDREW HICKS

I used to drink so much the labels looked like they were on backward.

Next week, it’ll be a year since I quit drinking. Though I am extremely grateful and proud that I’ve been able to do it, I feel like it might not be commonly known to the people in my life that I used to drink a LOT. This is a list of the top five alcoholic substances I abused during my decade of hardcore drinking.

1. BEER
To give you just a tiny idea of how much beer I used to drink, this is what my Mondays were like 9 months out of the year: Wake up around 4 pm, hungover/still drunk from the night before. Eat about ten bucks worth of Panera. Go to my men’s bowling league, where the other members of Team Ramrod and I would take turns buying pitchers of Bud Light for the next three hours. Then, it was off to the shithole bar up the street for three more hours of cheap draft beer, jukebox songs, shuffleboard games and loud, obnoxious laughter. Then we’d go to the casino, where I’d drink more draft beer until the bar closed at 3. This was something like two gallons of beer every Monday. And I didn’t take the rest of the week off or anything.


2. CHEAP WHITE WINE

Wine didn’t really enter the picture until my wife got pregnant with my oldest child. I took that old doctor’s cliche about, “One glass of wine won’t hurt you,” and ran with it. I’d buy the magnum-size bottles of chardonnay or sauvignon blanc — cheap stuff like Liberty Creek, Crane Lake, Turning Leaf and other brands that sound like names of bad apartment complexes.

I’d serve my wife a modest 4-ounce pour, and I’d down the rest of the bottle within 90 minutes. After that pregnancy, straight up to the time I quit drinking, my main form of alcohol was cheap white wine. I loved that it was three times stronger than light beer and not carbonated.

Mostly, I drank wine at home, but every now and then I was one of those soccer mom exposes you see on fluff newsmagazine TV: that parent at the park looks like he or she is sipping on a soda, but really that convenience store cup is loaded with three-buck Walgreens chardonnay on the rocks. Mother’s little helper.

I used to buy three or four 3-liter boxes of Corbett Canyon chardonnay a week. Every now and then, I’d drink an entire box in a night and have an absolutely skull-shattering hangover at work the next day, when I’d inevitably show up 30-45 minutes late.

Apparently, I was drunk when I cropped this photo as well...


3. VODKA

To the alcoholic, vodka is the new water. It even mixes with water. Shit, vodka mixes with just about anything, including other liquors, if you don’t mind that it smells and tastes a little bit like paint thinner. Vodka was frequently a go-to substance for me to abuse during otherwise idle nights at friends’ houses and apartments I lived in.

In my mid-twenties, my roommate was in tight with a supermarket’s liquor department manager. This grocery-aisle booze overlord had accrued thousands of dollars in comps with the various liquor distributors, and he wasn’t a drinker himself, so he gave us all kinds of shit for free. This included big bottles of Grey Goose, Absolut, Ketel One, Skyy, Finlandia and flavored Smirnov. When I met my wife, her favorite spirit to keep on hand was vodka, and I didn’t mind accommodating her.


4. WHISKEY

As an underager, Seagram’s 7 was my original sin. I’d mix that smooth-tasting American blend with any cola or white soda available.

(Mixed it with grape juice at a housewarming barbecue one time and ended up vomiting purple chunks of 80/20 ground beef and half-digested bun all over the white walls of a friend’s brand new residence. The moral: Don’t mix Seagram’s 7 and grape juice. And don’t invite 19-year-old me to your housewarming party.)

In my early 20s, I’d frequently close a drinking night with a pint of Canadian Mist purchased from the gas station. In my late 20s, I’d suck down a steady stream of rocks whiskey mixed with club soda. I was once let out of a DWI after a long night of drinking rail whiskey/clubs. The cop had the drug dog in the car with him, and he’d thought I was coming out of the donut shop’s parking lot after buying weed. He lost interest when he realized I’d actually come out of the dive bar’s back exit after slamming whiskey all night. He had me leave my car after calling a friend for a ride, a $10,000 favor on his part. Thanks, man.
5. TEQUILA
Though I was never one of those drinkers who would shoot tequila all night, I loved a strongly mixed Tequila Sunrise or margarita. On Cinco de Mayo 2000, I downed several plastic fishbowls of Chevy’s house margaritas then had some friends over after the bars closed. I continued to drink from the fishbowl until four or five in the morning, while a pair of female coworkers tossed filthy pennies and nickels at me from across the room, in attempts to sink the coins into my plastic drinkquarium. That night was also the most fun I’ve ever had lying on my back in a truckbed and riding around town.

In case you’re wondering – yes, I was drunk when I fell down those stairs and broke my ankle last year. I was wasted. And that wasn’t the last straw for me. There was the time I went out, got hammered and had to crutch my way up a flight of stairs at my mom’s house. My mother, almost a foot shorter than me and three decades older, had to support the weight of my drunk, gimpy ass as I lurched up the stairs. And THAT wasn’t the last straw for me.

A drinking incident with my stepson led to my realization that the horrific example I was setting left me in a hazed hypocrisy, grossly irresponsible as a family man. Without the choice being presented to me in an outward ultimatum, I knew I had to choose alcohol or my family. I have two babies, and the youngest was 3 months when I quit drinking. A year down the road, with each child requiring increasing amounts of my time and energy, I can’t even imagine dealing with it in a state of hangover or drunkenness. It’s a damn good thing I don’t have to.

The beauty is, when the switch in my brain turned on, and I instantly went from hardcore drinker to nondrinker, it was abrupt, and it was final. There’s no question in my brain each morning that today, like the hundreds of days that have come immediately before this new one, I will not drink. Maybe I’ll tell some funny old drunk stories, and maybe I’ll miss places I used to go specifically to drink with friends who existed for me to drink with. But I will not be tempted to drink. I won’t ache for a drink.

A year ago, I couldn’t conceive of a reality in which I didn’t want to drink. Today, it’s the best reality I’ve known. I’m gonna go smoke a cigarette now. Dammit.

One Comment to “My 5 Most Abused Forms of Alcohol”

  1. I hear ya Brother Hicks. Testify-ah…

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