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Soup of This Day #247: Better Than Down Here

September 18, 2012

Pool balls
Put your coins in the table and rack ’em up. I used to like a game of pool with a pint or many of Dogbolter dark lager. Once I had so much to drink that I attempted to play a game from under the table. I think I lost but it’s hard to tell from down there – Photo: Andrzej Barabasz (Chepry), 2005. Andrzej Barabasz (Chepry) is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This is a sober post. Quite literally as it turns out – It’s about not drinking alcohol.

It’s not meant to be a preaching kind of post. Maybe it’s a cautionary tale – I don’t know.

It starts when I moved to Perth to start my university drinking. You’ll notice that I said drinking instead of studies. This is because as I progressed slowly through most of an undergraduate degree in physics I drank an ever increasing amount of alcohol. It was mostly social drinking to begin with – I was a reserved country kid and when I went out I found that a glass or 2 of beer helped untie my tongue. That soon became a glass or 3 or 4 or 5 and instead of beer I graduated to spirits.

That was the only graduation I achieved at university.

In my mind those drinks were critical to my social success – I could dance up a storm and charm the pants off any girl I met and all it took was 6 or 7 shots of tequila, hold the lemon and salt because I can never remember the order you consume them in. Especially not by shot number 8 – Suck the salt, guzzle the tequila and throw the lemon over somebody’s shoulder.

That last bit is the crux of the drinking thing for me. I divide drinkers into 2 categories. Those that have 1 drink and are better at playing pool than they were before and those who have a drink and are worse at playing pool than they were before.

I have a drink and I’m @#$% at pool. Alcohol impairs my judgement and not in a good way. I wasn’t an ugly drunk but I wasn’t how I saw myself either – Bluntly, I can’t hold my liquor.

Oh I could drink a fair bit of it. Some nights I can recall drinking volumes that would stagger hardened alcoholics. In spite of this I never passed out, never had a night I couldn’t remember the next morning, never woke up next to a strange woman.

Ok, maybe once or twice I woke up next to a strange woman but it was always 1 that I knew. There’s nothing wrong with being strange and a woman. My wife can be a little strange sometimes but it’s in a sexy mysterious kind of way.

So I thought I could handle the drink ok – This was set in my mind. At least it was until around the time I turned 25.

I started to get hangovers.

Not small 1s. Nope, these were monumental wipe-outs that lasted for days and sometimes as much as a week. I missed some work, missed some friends, missed some lovers. And it occurred to me that most times while I’d been drunk I’d missed even more.

So I dialled it back and started to take note of the things I enjoyed while being sober. I met my future wife and almost 10 years ago now wrote her a note in which I told her I loved her. And I did and still do. In 2007 I got serious about dealing with my depression. Alcohol and depression are not a good mix.

Or maybe it’s more correct to say that they are too good of a mix. Either way drinking with depression can have nasty consequences for the likes of me, so I cut back drinking to barely anything.

Even if you take the depression stuff out of the equation then there is a case for drinking smart – I think the vast majority of people are worse at playing pool after a drink. That’s ok – The key is to recognize that and to drink in moderation and at appropriate times – That’s the smart bit. I think though that there’s a lot of people playing @#$% pool who think that they are gods of the table and that is definitely not smart. If you can’t see that you missed an easy set-up on the 6-ball in the corner pocket because you had a drink then how are you going to think stuff through in other situations.

Like being part of 1 of the world’s most storied baseball teams.

And that’s the cue to bring in the sporting connection: John Lackey is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Last season for him was dire so most Sox fans weren’t unhappy at his enforced layoff. His attitude hasn’t come across as the best either. 1 of the moments of clarity out of the September 2011 implosion was the drinking of beer by a group of starters in the clubhouse during games they were not going to pitch in. Lackey was 1, Josh Beckett another.

Beckett has gone now. In part this was down to his poor record of late but the attitude had to be a big factor too. The drinking during the game would surely have been a part of that.

John Lackey has argued that the beer in the clubhouse thing was blown out of proportion:

‘Guys having a beer after their start has been going on for the last 100 years. This is retarded. It’s not like we were sitting up there doing it every night. It’s not even close to what people think.’

Lackey later apologised for use of the word ‘retarded’, describing his choice of phrasing as ‘thoughtless.’

Since John is lacking in thoughts I figured on providing some for him…

I think that drinking even 1 beer in the clubhouse while your team-mates are playing a game is wrong – It’s disrespectful to your colleagues who are fighting it out on the field and it’s disrespectful to your fans who pay good money, some of which goes to you. That’s not smart pool – Lackey and Co. are missing an easy set-up on the 6-ball in the corner pocket.

Libertarians please note – I’m not calling for legislation or regulation. I’m not even suggesting that the players should be banned from drinking in the clubhouse during games – Hell, they should be allowed to drink as much as they like provided it doesn’t lead to something that is dangerous to others, like getting behind the wheel of a car while drunk. Otherwise I’m not about to block anybody from having a beer.

Or to block anybody from appearing in a music video about beer.

That latter bit happened last year. Country singer Kevin Fowler put out a song unambiguously called Hell Yeah, I Like Beer. In the video for the number Fowler can be seen with 4 Red Sox pitchers, including John Lackey and Josh Beckett. Given that the video came out in August, right before the monumental collapse and the subsequent revelations of beer in the clubhouse, it’s probably not great timing.

I’m ok with that though, even if I don’t really get country music. There’s few tastes finer than the 1st mouthful of a tall, frosty beer on a hot afternoon, especially after a hard day’s work. Yep, even though I don’t hardly drink any more I still like beer.

Hell yeah.

See, I’m not saying stop drinking beer. Lackey and Beckett are adults and they can make up their own minds. I’m just saying that drinking in the clubhouse during games is @#$% pool and I reckon the Red Sox are smarter than that.

Better Than Down Here

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