Today, I take a different stance when served with alcohol.
My first bottle of beer was…
I was trying to trace back the first time but I wasn’t so sure. I think I had my first beer in Grade 5. I sipped my first glass of gin in first year high school. I couldn’t remember when was my very first gulp of the native rice wine we call tapey – which I had much a little earlier.
I said I won’t drink alcohol ever…
Before I had my first drinks, I told myself, I wouldn’t get into drinking alcohol. I had experienced firsthand the negative effects of alcohol from a drunken father not in his right mind – who comes home before the dark hits the road or when the lamp posts struggle to brighten the way at past midnight. Because of several sad encounters, I remember telling myself, I won’t get into drinking alcohol.
But when I tried and experienced the somewhat therapeutic effect of drinking alcohol (in physical and mental self, geee – also emotional? Hmmm…) and the good casual and oftentimes deep conversations, I started to appreciate its “good” side.
My alcohol drinking spree…
As I went on to my third and final year in high school, drinking alcohol became part of certain occasions. Good thing, I maintained it to moderate level.
Those days, I was consistent in the honor roll every school year. I was also actively involved in church and youth activities in our parish and even in the diocese. Probably considering these, some of my classmates and “friends” thought I don’t drink and they don’t invite me when they have gimmicks which may in a way involve drinking alcohol.
Church guy vs tough guy…
One night, I joined them. And trying to convince them that we are on the same boat, I immediately accepted the glass they handed me and took a sip – no, a big gulp – of what they call “punch” – a juice with a little mix of alcohol.
At the middle of the drinking session, we’ve gone short of juice. Being students of relatively small cash, plenty of juice was out of the budget. Now, without the juice, the alcohol would come on its own – perhaps, with a little mix of water. Of course, with a stronger taste and kick!
The other guys no longer wanted to drink the solid alcohol but I dared them on. At that point, I was somehow trying to portray that I am a tough guy – someone astig, who can drink hard alcohol. (This I later realized, that part revealed the weakness inside. Real manhood is not measured in how strong you are no matter how strong the drinks you take in. One of the real measures which challenge us men is how we establish and nurture our relationships – still a tough yet good challenge for me.)
I’d say that I was not an alcoholic then. I’d say that I was just an occasional drinker.
But there were times I would just go to a bar alone and have a bottle of beer or two to “relax” – or so I thought. In college, there were some times that I’d cram my accounting and auditing books with a bottle of beer or a glass of brandy.
Good boy with a bad habit?
In most of the drinking gimmicks I had with my barkadas, I was almost always the responsible guy making sure that everyone or the bottle in front kept standing. But there was a time that I also got out of my mind as two of my friends had to assist me walk down the road and at the bend of which, I had to vomit to get my good belly and mind back. I think that just happened one or two times because the food and the drinks we had were not “compatible” – be it the reason, it is not an excuse.
Our classmates wouldn’t know that I also had those kinds of nights. Some classmates got surprised when they overheard that our circle of friends had some bottles the previous night. Yes, we were part of the academic scholars. They thought we were all good boys who knew nothing but spend our nights reading accounting books, solving auditing problems, and ravishing accounting standards from thick large compilations.
Yes, we somehow maintained our responsibility as good students and good “children” but in some ways, we also had those “drink-the-night-away” funs and blues.
On the other hand,
The good thing that I had experienced in the drinking sessions I had joined in is the value and depth of friendly and brotherly conversations we had. At times, I was able to share some deep and heartfelt stories as I also listened to those of my buddies. Somehow, I experienced how camaraderie can be established in the midst of drinking sessions.
The wind of change blows…
But one sunny morning, I decided to take a different stance.
I decided no longer to experience these two things:
1. Waking up one morning with a heavy head, with an unexplainable feeling and just wanting to drench myself with water… and not able to do something productive unless I get to doze off for more hours and then take a long, cold shower afterwards; and
2. Having an unhealthy body hindering the achievement of aspirations, savouring of life, and nurturing of relationships. [After passing the written exams, I did not pursue the physical exam at the PNPA because of a health issue (although it was a good thing for me that I did not go to the Academy 🙂 ). And that our days with my father that even got soured by some not-so-good days and nights was cut short because of his bad alcohol drinking habit.
Today, I no longer drink alcohol they way I used to do. If I had to, I still join in some friends but limit myself to one bottle of beer or one sip of drink if coaxed to do so. Actually, I still insist not to. In certain way, I get to escape. 🙂
To my friends, don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy our company, our friendship, our brotherhood.
Thanks for those who understand.
As you know, we can still have our drinking gimmicks but instead of alcohol, we can drink good coffee or tea or water (warm, please) – and the bond and brotherly conversations is still there.
Taking a different stance…
Yes! Today, I take a different stance because I no longer want to experience the two things I mentioned above.
I still enjoy our occasional gimmicks but my alcohol ceiling is now so much lower than before – and I like it that way.
I decided to have it that way because…
1. I wanted to be freer in my mornings.
2. I wanted to feel light and healthy.
3. I wanted to enjoy our friendship in a more wonderful way.
Getting back our barkada moments not necessarily beerkada moments…
Yes, we can share a glass of wine on happy occasions like weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries to celebrate life. (Limited supply – don’t make it overflowing!) Other than that, we can still exchange stories over a cup of coffee or tea and with some showers of songs with my guitar or in a karaoke.
I’m still the Tito, Cristito, or Chris that you know. I’m just taking a different stance and thanks that you understand. 🙂
Cheers to my barkadas. Cheers to a freer life!
Live your life, young mind!
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