I’ve spent a lot of time since my last post thinking about my teenage years and trying to figure out my drinking patterns. I don’t recall drinking much more of the kiwi-flavoured wine coolers or imbibing more flavoured Sambuca shots than any other person around me at the time. I do remember being doubled over more than one public toilet in my late teens, purging my body of the colorful toxins that were coursing through it though. I am also mildly curious as to how I made my monthly allowance stretch to include “nights on the town” with my girlfriends, which included evenings filled with bottles of semi-sweet wine, Southern Comforts and Appletiser and an untold array of “shooters” lined up along the sticky tables in the bars we frequented. We never seemed to be short of cash when the waiters at the local Hard Rock Cafe placed the bill on the table at the end of the evening and somehow we still managed to be home before our curfews.
I cringe when I think how young we were and how ridiculous we must have looked to the older patrons. But we were oblivious and uninhibited, unconcerned with what anyone might be thinking and disdainful of the late-twenty somethings who were not partaking in the wild revelry of body shots and down-down competitions! We sang, we danced, we laughed and we paid absolutely no heed to future and what we might be doing to our minds and bodies at the time. There were five of us, it was inevitable that one of us would end up with an unmanageable drinking problem. It just happened that I was the one who was hit with the unlucky stick and every drink I took in those teenage years took me one step closer towards alcoholism. I’ve never been sure as to whether I was just a sober drunk before I started drinking and once I started to drink my fate was sealed!? Or was it something that I built up to gradually over the years until I was no longer a “functioning alcoholic”!?
Whatever it was, those early years seemed carefree and frivolous for the most part. Yet, the more I’ve started to think about those times, the more occasions come to mind where perhaps things were not as wonderful as I vaguely remembered them to be. There were definitely arguments ignited by the fiery concoctions we were drinking that led to days of schoolyard silence. Some of the reckless choices we made during those times left us mercifully unscathed, especially as the incidence of sexual assault in South Africa was then, and remains now, incredibly high. That we were not a fatality in one of the horrendous road accidents that occurred over those years that left friends crippled, maimed and dead. But these were not deterrent enough for our infallible outlooks. And this in no way marked us different to most of the teenagers across the globe.
So it was with complete abandon I drank through my final years of school, not ever imagining that this might be contributing to my leaning towards mediocrity. That my weekday apathy was a by-product of my weekend shenanigans. This was particularly true in my final year of high school when parental politics interfered with my chances at a leadership position in the matriculating class. The situation was explained to me, the headmistress looking at her sensible shoes while she mumbled excuses, but this was just another reason for me to be less enamored by people in positions of authority, and to just be a little more anti-establishment than I should have been at seventeen. My actions were never directly harmful to others, I didn’t vandalise, steal or hurt anyone, but I definitely withheld myself from things and in the end the only person I ended up doing any real harm to was myself.
But be that as it may, when I was seventeen, I was far more interested in the cute barman who was lining up our next round of Kamikazes, then wondering what the long-term effects of binge drinking might be.
‘Til next time
“Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away” (Maya Angelou)