I think it’s a good sign that I’m starting to lose track of what day I’m on.

Today is day 21.  Three weeks.

I had the day off from work on Friday, and a friend came over and we watched the first three episodes of Pride & Prejudice — the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth version.  I had seen it before, but he hadn’t, and he had just read the novel last year and then watched the Kiera Knightly adaptation.  I like that one too, but I think the BBC/A&E version is more true to the spirit of Jane Austen — it’s more satirical, sharper in its depiction of the “comic relief” characters like Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennett.  The Keira Knightly version humanized these characters, made them more sympathetic and likable.  This is normally a good thing, but it served to reduce the feeling of isolation for Jane and Elizabeth, the loneliness of being the only “normal” people in their sphere.  I think this is important, because that loneliness serves as a proxy for the true desperation of their situation — the fact that they are two “gentlewomen” with no dowries and low connections and almost zero prospect of marrying well.  And it makes their determination not to marry for material considerations truly honorable and admirable.

Can you tell I was an English major? 🙂

Anyway, this friend, J, was also my only drinking buddy.  Not that I never drank with any other friends, but with him I was able to reveal how much I drank and how I used alcohol to cope — and this is because he was doing the same thing.  A few years ago he and his boyfriend of ten years broke up, and in the wake of that his drinking picked up considerably.   Recently, in our once-monthly happy hour get togethers we were splitting a bottle of wine and talking about how we wanted to cut down on our drinking.

J is glad for me that I quit drinking — in fact he’s excited because now when he and I hang out it will automatically make that a “non drinking” day for him.  Yes, he’s still trying to “cut down,” and it’s not for me to say whether that will succeed or not.  I just know that for me, that’s not an option.  I tried that too many times, and succeeded for awhile each time, until I got complacent and my drinking crept up again.

So, J was really good to talk to.  Because he knew about my drinking before (and because of his own experiences), he totally “got it” why I want to stop.  I was able to tell him about the day without feeling ashamed, and we were even able to laugh about it together.  And we’ll still meet for happy hour once a month — for coffee.

This blog post is brought to you by Cascade Ice

We had a BBQ on Saturday (day 13).  In preparation, besides the usual mad dash to clean up the house, we stocked up on non-alcoholic beverages.  I may have gone a little overboard.  This is what we had in our fridge:

1.  Perrier, plain

2.  Perrier, grapefruit flavor

3.  Pellegrino, blood orange flavor

4.  Diet Coke

5.  Cascade Ice

Cascade Ice is something we’ve always had plenty of in our fridge.  My husband drinks it like it’s going out of style.  My daughters like it because it comes in 80 bajillion flavors which they love sampling like a wine tasting.  They drink about a quarter of the bottle and then hubby or I will finish it off.  I am not quite as enthusiastic as the rest of my family because I find the flavors too sweet, but for a party it seemed appropriate.  So when I was buying my Perrier and Pellegrino, a few days before the party, I also bought some Cascade Ice.  My husband, running last minute errands with my daughter, found that the Cascade Ice makers have added another bajillion flavors to the 80 bajillion they already have.  Peach Nectarine … Crisp Apple … who could resist?

We also had beer, which was the only alcohol my husband didn’t dump out on the day.  I hate beer, and once we decided to have this BBQ, we decided it would be a good chance to get rid of it.  My husband promised we would send any leftovers home with our guests.   At the last minute (along with all the Cascade Ice), my husband also bought a bottle of wine because … well, because he always has a last minute panic when we host a party or dinner about not having “enough” — enough food, enough beverages.  Which he blames on the “Jewish mother” in him (yes, hubby is Jewish).  He bought a cabernet because, he said, he noticed I never drank cabernet.  What a sweetie, I didn’t tell him if I was going to have a drink that cabernet would have gone down just fine.

Our first guests arrived, a family with kids about our age.  They brought some veggie appetizers, a six-pack of beer, and some Cascade Ice.  We laughed and stuffed it in the fridge, which was starting to look like a beverage display case at the supermarket.  My brother and his wife arrived.  Then another family, who we haven’t seen for awhile, who brought coleslaw (flavored with ginger, yum!) and cornbread (double yum), a six pack of beer, and … yup, more Cascade Ice.  It seems the wife has been doing a weight loss program and had severely cut back on her drinking because of it.  She brought the Cascade Ice because she wanted to be sure to have something to drink.

Well, need I say that I felt completely comfortable not drinking at the party?  About half the people at the party knew about “the incident” and the fact that I have given up drinking.  And the other half … well, I’m starting to get comfortable with not keeping this as some big secret.   The people who do know aren’t blabbermouth types (my brother is so discreet he hadn’t even told his wife), but I no longer feel quite so paranoid about the story coming out.  I don’t need to swear people to secrecy.  Over the past two weeks, I’ve been able to come up with a shorthand version of events, essentially that yes, I drank a little too much and fell on a fork and had to go to the hospital for a tetanus shot.  The implication is that it was the wound, and the tetanus shot, that necessitated the hospital visit.  No need to mention throwing up, passing out, and blood alcohol levels of .275.  It’s only out of an abundance of caution and responsibility (ha!) that I’ve given up drinking.  But, this didn’t come up at all at our party.  I drank my Pellegrino, my Perrier, and tried the new Crisp Apple flavor of Cascade Ice.  It tastes just like Sparkling Cider, and what could be more festive than that?

So cheers.  Happy Memorial Day.  Cascade Ices all around!