Beverage Whore

Updated: Jun 28


I love to drink.


Soda. Chai. Kombucha. Tea. Even water. I once did a juice cleanse for 40 days. I felt amazing, like I could thrive on juice alone, never eating food again (so long as I could find someone else to make the juices and clean the juicer … ugh, the pulp!).


I love drinking so much, I playfully call myself a Beverage Whore.


Alcoholism runs down both sides of my family. I grew up hearing the stories. My maternal great-grandfather was an abusive drunk. He forced his daughter, my grandmother, to hand over her babysitting money, putting it in a glass jar on the kitchen table when she got home, so he could use it to buy booze. There are “normal” family photos where my great-grandmother has visible bruises.


I wanted nothing of this life.


I was determined not to open Pandora’s box. Or even get near it. I didn’t drink. I hated the smell of cigarette smoke. I steered clear of all drugs. My close call was bingeing on Luden’s Great Tasting Wild Cherry Throat Drops in the early '90s. Aptly named. They did taste great! With or without a sore throat.


Fast forward to the beginning of 2012. I hadn’t had a Luden’s in two decades, and I had recently sworn off all soda. A weight loss effort.


In my heyday, cherry vanilla Coke (or Diet Coke) was my dream beverage, my absolute favorite. I discovered the winning combination at a Sonic Drive-Thru in Oklahoma, but Coca-Cola caught up a few years later, making it more accessible nationwide.


Back to that Friday night in early January 2012. Some friends were coming over for dinner, and I asked what they wanted to drink. Diet Coke. Sprite. I committed to buying a two-liter of each with the express understanding they would take whatever remained with them at the end of the night.


I woke up Saturday morning and was slapped in the face by a partially-consumed two-liter bottle of Diet Coke upon opening the refrigerator door.


“Well, hello, old friend.” I think I actually said this out loud in the voice of a grisly, seventy-five-year-old, cigarette-smoking, whisky-drinking, outlaw. With swagger.


I pulled the bottle out like it was nothing. Easy. A dance I’d done for years. I made the choice to pull out a small glass, proof I was in control. It wasn’t even noon after all.


I delicately poured 8 ounces and returned the bottle to the bottom shelf of the fridge. I mindlessly nursed my indulgence while I started on breakfast. Too soon, the glass was empty.


Without another thought, no clear decision, my body on autopilot, I refilled the glass and got back to drinking.

As I took the first sip, I paused. Glass and Coke in mouth. I paused.


“I think I could be a really good alcoholic.” Hard swallow.


The thought took my breath away. Had I ever tempted fate and developed a taste for alcohol, this could easily be liquor in my glass. My second glass. Before noon.


Had I even tasted the first round? Did I enjoy it? Or was it simply following an unchecked impulse, scratching an itch?


The thought hit me like a lead balloon. I knew what I had to do. I had to pour it down the drain. All of it. Get it out of the house. Immediately.


My mind was in sharp focus now. No time for hesitation.


I grabbed the bottle from the fridge. Unscrewed the lid. And poured, quickly. The dark liquid fizzed in the sink and eased down the drain. My heart rate was slightly elevated. I felt a little manic but mostly relieved. I was proud of myself.


It was gone.


With a rush of adrenaline mixed with overconfidence, I turned my back to the sink and casually tossed the plastic bottle in the recycling bin. As I completed the turn to again face the sink, I did a double-take. I was being stared down, mocked by the second glass of Diet Coke.


Blood drained from my face. My mouth went dry. I’d spent all of my efforts on the bottle. I forgot about the glass.


“Pour it out.”


Seemed reasonable.


I reached for the glass. I held it in my right hand and, like a brainless robot, slowly brought it to my lips. And started to drink. To gulp. As if consuming every last drop was a matter of life and death.


The part of my brain in control of my right hand felt foreign to me, disconnected and intensely ferocious. It had the express mission of keeping the contents of that glass headed down the hatch at all cost.


“DRINK!”


The rest of my brain was responsible for my left hand, driven by my commitment to get rid of the poison, to prove I was in control of my decisions, to convince myself that I could overpower my genetic predisposition.


“POUR IT OUT!”


The battle was on: A strong, frenetic, controlling drive to consume versus an equally strong, life-defining need to overcome. Failure versus freedom. Conquered versus free. Defeated versus victorious.


My right hand held the glass firmly to my lips while my left hand held a death grip on my right wrist, forcefully wrenching it from my mouth, aiming it toward the drain. The tension was so volatile that if either hand wavered for a moment, the glass would have shot like a pinball, shattering in the sink basin.


A strength began to rise within me, a determined heat. My left hand loosened as it guided my right wrist to angle slightly downward, and the contents of the glass escaped quickly down the drain.


I released the glass safely into the sink.


It was done. I won.


I felt exhausted. And ashamed. My breath was shallow. My heart and mind racing.


Did I really just have a life-and-death struggle … with myself … to pour 8 ounces of liquid down the drain?


I knew then, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I ever found an alcoholic beverage to my liking, I could nail being an alcoholic.

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