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Happy Tipsy: Alcohol as Reprieve

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It was only 11am and I’d already responded to all e-mails. Aside from a 2pm meeting, I had nothing pressing to do for the rest of the day. My years on the job made me so efficient I only needed a fraction of what I used to take up when I first started as an impressionable, enthusiastic go-getter. An image of a drink of alcohol–red and syrupy–popped into my head.

I proceeded to read the latest news in my industry—higher education—then checked YouTube for the latest trending music videos. Why do the most popular ones have to be so crappy?

When the clock struck 5pm, I packed my belongings, left the building and walked to my car, feeling the warmth on my skin from the afternoon golden sun. My black kitten heels fell into a rhythm scraping against the gravel of the parking lot as I jangled my car keys in my hands. I felt exhausted; barely productive for most of the day yet had no energy to do anything else–boredom was a big culprit of fatigue. I later I learned it was burnout.

I did not want to sit in my car for an hour to head home during rush-hour traffic so I sent a message to my friend K and asked her if she wanted to have a drink. “Yes please!” she responded with enthusiasm.

I met K at The Kino, a cute café on Cambie street in Vancouver. They had great flamenco on Wednesdays. Inside, a musician was strumming his guitar, the strings telling a story in musical notes, and I pictured myself somewhere, Seville perhaps. The dancer graced the stage with her bright red dress, its’ ruffled ends and printed black polka dotsHer hair was pushed back into a ponytail and her deep red lipstick was seductive yet demure.

K and I chose to split a pitcher of Sangria. It was a refreshing choice for a balmy Vancouver summer evening. When it arrived, I took my first sip and felt the cool, fruit-infused red wine travel down my throat.

I never liked the taste of alcohol. It was one of the reasons I didn’t drink until my mid-20s– in addition to the Muslim shame. I only started drinking because I dated an alcoholic. We had nothing in common but a toxic, fleeting attraction and the consumption of copious amounts of vodka was the only way we could enjoy our time together. I do not recommend this misguided strategy to relate to your partner. I thank God every day I didn’t fall into alcoholism, considering my addictive tendencies.

We all know alcohol is a double-edged sword. We all drink for different reasons. I was living a very comfortable, boring life. Comfort can be procrastination’s fuel. So while some of us watch trashy TV and eat too many spoonfuls of ice-cream, some drink, especially when we need to silence the voice telling us we need to be more productive in our free time. That voice is even harsher when trying to produce creative work.

Alcohol
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS from Pexels

At first, the alcohol on my empty stomach made me anxious, and I allowed myself a brief pity party. I wish I were brave enough to get on that stage and dance like her. My creativity was stuck. It was always thinking of ways to get out but I didn’t let it. I became stressed and afraid. I knew a brilliant artist friend who remained stagnant for months and then– in a burst of inspiration– worked three days before her deadline, producing some of the best shit you’d ever seen. But at least she knew her process. Mine didn’t even get to the front door. I kept watching the dancer, jealous of her bravado.

I took another sip and now felt the wine travel to my brain. Shortly after, I started to feel good. It was the coveted sweet spot between being sober and not-yet-drunkenness. I felt inspired. I can do that too! With a burst of inspiration, I decided I was going to fly to Seville for a month to learn flamenco! I let myself dream: I imagined walking the cobblestone streets that led to the main square of Seville. I pictured listening to guitars and the tapping sounds made by the dancer’s heels as I roamed, walking in the beautiful moonlight during a warm Andalusian night.

flamenco at sunset
Photo by Kazuo ota on Unsplash

The music enhanced my feeling of tipsiness. I felt the instruments’ sounds; the singer’s voice attuned me closer to my emotions; the rhythm, words and melodies synchronized to create an audible happy place. My heartbeat synced with the guitar’s increased strumming.

But just as it quickly came, it went away. I sobered up.

I wanted the happy, fuzzy feeling to stay because it gave me the courage to dream, to believe that everything was really going to be okay. I’m going to quit my job!

I drank another glass of sangria, unaware that I was getting drunker than I intended. Pacing was always a problem for me; intellectually I knew that more alcohol was futile. But judgment eluded me, throwing itself out the window.

While I had introverted tendencies, I also discovered alcohol’s ability to make me a tad more social. I immensely enjoyed chit chat with people I had platonic chemistry with– liquid courage in its’ most charming form.

A cool breeze entered the café after the server opened the large windows, allowing the music to entice those passing by on the street. The café became louder as sunset transitioned into night, with patrons livening as alcohol flowed and candles were lit on the old, wooden, brown tables. The dancer’s tapping speed increased with the acoustics bouncing off the walls. In my drunken haze, I was pretty sure I saw Zorro and mentioned this to K. She started laughing hysterically.

We finished the pitcher and I realized– too late– that I was too drunk to drive so I had to catch the Skytrain home. It was going to be a long trip, and it wasn’t even to go to Seville.

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