Beer introduced itself to me in high school and hitched a ride with me when I went away to college. We became sloppy roommates and our intimacy peaked over party kegs, a toilet bowl, and pints of ice cream. One day, beer introduced me to tequila, and I fell hard. We were passionate with one another, and our nights often ended in great sex and a better story the next day. We hooked up only occasionally because our love for one another was so intense.
A snobby, buttery Chardonnay infiltrated our friend group during a dinner party that beer and tequila weren’t invited to, and soon I became that awkward friend stuck in the middle. I didn’t want to leave my childhood friends behind, but I was drawn in by fancy wine glasses and promises of more sophisticated evenings. Wine told me I was now an “adult,” so I tagged along until one day we were on equal footing.
Wine became the best friend I always thought I wanted.
Sauvignon Blanc helped me raise my children, and Pinot Noir nursed me through rough patches with my husband. Wine consoled me during funerals and helped me dance the funky chicken at weddings. Rosé was there for me and my mom friends, especially at school plays, yoga classes, music recitals, and weekend lacrosse tournaments.
Even as I demanded more and more time with wine, I was led to believe that wine wanted to be with me, not the other way around. As the years went by, I couldn’t imagine juggling a life, or even a simple evening cooking dinner, without a glass by my side.
Every now and again, tequila would stop by unannounced because that’s how tequila is, and I would rejoice at the unexpected visit and antics to come. Tequila was famous for being naughty and easygoing, a real bon vivant. Tequila tagged along one afternoon by joining me and some friends at a local Mexican restaurant known for its social atmosphere and strong margaritas. After many rounds, day turned into night, and we carried on and on until the restaurant staff turned off the music, asked us to climb down from the tabletops, and exit the building.
The next day I tried to piece together the details from the night before, but my couch wouldn’t stop spinning. I spent the day after that curled up at home, still nauseated, and now embarrassed because the previous Tuesday came back into focus. When Friday afternoon approached, a sacred day of cocktailing in my neighborhood, I joined the group at sunset holding a cup of tea and a pocketful of shame. Everyone asked if I was sick.
“Yes,” I replied. I was sick of alcohol’s hold over me and ready to do something about it.
Through years of its propaganda, I had come to believe alcohol was the elixir that made me funnier, smarter, more outgoing, more connected, better in bed, more attractive, more mature, and a better friend. I was finally ready to face some ugly truths about my relationship with alcohol and ask, “Are we really destined to be together forever?”
Like the snap of a magician’s fingers, I suddenly felt duped. I thought alcohol was a friend layered with good intentions and healthy boundaries, but alcohol was becoming increasingly filled with diminishing returns and false pretenses. I was bone tired and still a bit hazy from my night out with tequila, but I was suddenly very clear that I had fallen for alcohol’s con job on my health and well-being.
Alcohol spent years seducing and charming me, but I no longer wanted to give alcohol the satisfaction of beating me at this game of deceit and destruction. For too long, alcohol worked hard to keep my senses dull, my body sluggish, and my mind in neutral. I needed to break free from the hold and break up with alcohol for good.
Today I am 506 days without my best friend, and, as the annoying saying goes, time heals many wounds. I can now walk into that social Mexican restaurant without cringing at my behavior almost a year and a half ago, and sit with friends that drink strong margaritas. I’m not bothered by tequila’s presence at the table, or any other kind of alcohol, but I won’t let it sit right next to me, either. I don’t need that type of friend in my life anymore.
Andrea Chacos lives in Carbondale.