“I don’t need to drink or do drugs. I’m high on life!” proclaimed my 17 year-old self. Long ago. In a galaxy far, far away.
Honestly, I’ve never been much for substance use, because I saw a family member of a dear friend spiral from use, to abuse, to addiction, to jail, to death. It was harrowing to watch someone who was like an older sister in many ways succumb to drink and drugs.
And as a child I lumped cigarettes into that mix as well. My generation was the first to see pictures of black tarred lungs in school. My brother and I used to hide Mom’s cigarettes in the hall closet and push Dad’s further back onto the top of the fridge where he placed them with his government ID badge when he came home from work everyday. Let’s just say we were more afraid of Dad than Mom when it came to hiding the cigs. We were taught that smoking cigarettes was a gateway to smoking pot which was a gateway to doing hard drugs like cocaine. So we stayed away from it all.
My parents also always had a bottle of vodka and a bottle of whisky in the house. The vodka was Mom’s (usually Smirnoff) and the whisky was Dad’s (sometimes Cutty Sark Scotch, other times Jim Beam Bourbon). My brother and I stayed away from that stuff too. We didn’t have to hide it as it was put in the lower back ground level cabinet. And when we had a cold, Dad would mix a Hot Toddy and we’d hold our stuffed up noses and gulp that nasty honeyed gunk down our throats. We weren’t big fans of drinking thanks to Dad treating it like medicine.
When we went off to college, both my brother and I experimented a bit with cigarettes and alcohol–what college kid doesn’t. Many years later, we related to each other how we both–separately and of our own volition–came to the exact same conclusion: we didn’t need the cigarettes or the alcohol to have a good time. We were pretty good at finding a good time without it.
Years passed. I got married to someone who wouldn’t “let” me drink (or I should say someone who made my life hell if I even broached the topic: “Only whores drink.”). Then I divorced. Not because I couldn’t drink, but because I refused to be controlled and manipulated by someone who smoked and drank.
Soon after my divorce I met the father of my son. We never married, but he, his eventual wife, and I made a pretty good support team for my son. When my son reached his teen years, I started to slowly introduce bottles of alcohol into the household. I wanted to teach and model for my son how to drink responsibly and not become a binge drinker as is so common in today’s society. During my son’s high school years, he saw me drink only when I wasn’t leaving the house or when I was traveling to Las Vegas for a weekend getaway (Vegas is only a 300 mile drive or 45 minute flight from my home). I made it clear that if I had to drive, I wouldn’t drink. If I could walk or Uber, then maybe. If I wasn’t leaving, then probably. Now that he’s a freshman in college, I hope he remembers the motto that I have always followed: “Be moderate in everything, including moderation.” (Horace Porter)
So yes, I found that being high on life is a good thing. I enjoy life with my good buddies, Jack Daniels and Sailor Jerry. But from time to time, I do enjoy a good party with those two. My current favorite is warm apple cider with a spike of Winter Jack. Otherwise, I’ll hang with Ginger and Jameson for an evening.
Cheers to moderation, and Peace Out!