Alcohol, that is. Not water. That'd be impossible. Water's in nearly everything. Fruit, meat, taps and even alcoholic drinks are mostly water. Also, it'd be deadly to stop drinking water, as it's essential. For me, alcohol has often been essential too. Which is one of the reasons I'm planning to give it up.
Anybody who knows me will be reading this through a smirk and thinking, 'Bullshit'. Which is fair enough. For years I've been the last man standing, the good times guy, the person that everyone blames for turning a few drinks into a full on bender. Who did introduce us to those flight attendants, but then got kicked out for dacking a bouncer.
I'm aware of all the stats around the health problems caused by alcohol. All the side effects of it and other drugs, but there's one massive point missed by all the campaigns against drugs and alcohol. It's fun.
People don't drink for the side effects. For the weight gain, the hangovers, and to destroy their livers. People drink and take drugs because they make good times better. Or terrible times bearable. Drugs and alcohol are so good at making fun, that most people know the side effects and are willing to risk or put up with them.
What I get back from drinking is no longer enough to cover what I'm losing. I'm 34, and I feel like my life is racing along, and I'd really like to do something with it. I'm trying to become a full time artist, while working full time to support myself. To do both with any semblance of success, something had to go, and that something is drinking.
Honestly, I wouldn't be an artist without alcohol. I would've never gotten on stage for my first ever comedy gig. Without drinking, I'd also still have the urge to write, but much less to write about. 'Today I went to work, watched a movie, and went for a run.' Boring.
Alcohol has done so much for me. So many objects and people set on fire, so many traffic cones and shopping trolley races, so many kebabs, and even a few pretty girls. So many wonderful, hazy memories.
Almost everything is more fun when drunk. Social occasions, music festivals, family gatherings, nightclubs, and many first dates. And have you tried sitting in inner city traffic for hours without being smashed? It's totally boring.
Seriously, I do struggle in social situations without a few drinks, and now even after several. Entertaining conversation I'm fine with, but it's really hard for me to take an interest in the facts of a life, from someone I barely know. Cut to the anecdotes and skip the information. Thanks. Now that sounds harsh, but when people ask me what I've been I'm to, and I hear myself talking, I'm just as bored. Down a few double vodkas though, and all of a sudden your trip to IKEA is fascinating. I've never been to IKEA. I imagine it's hideous.
I depend on alcohol for so many things. It's a warm security blanket of self-confidence that cuts through the doubt and any second guessing. Especially important for as a single, male comedian. I need the confidence onstage, and then to deal with the rejection from the girls afterwards.
So I want to see if I can exist in the evening without a few drinks to take the edge off. Basically, I want to break my dependence. I'd also like to extend my life for as long as possible, and achieve heaps in the time I have. Instead of wasted days hungover and hating myself.
Most importantly, I'm doing this for me. It's purely personal. I'm not encouraging others to give up, and I'm certainly not going out of my way to develop friendships with other non-drinkers, in the same way that vegans and Liberals have their own cult and secret handshake.
By sharing what I'm going through though, while reflecting on some of the good and bad times I've had with the booze, maybe others will think differently about their drinking. Or my friends will drink more, and continually offer me free drinks that they know I can't have. Seeing someone visibly suffer is one of the most entertaining things ever, especially when it's me.
It all starts on Feb 1 with FebFast. Links below. Sponsor me if you like. I'll also be trying to get through performing at two arts festivals in a row without drinking. Which is the truly terrifying part. Show, after show, after show. All sober. Have you ever seen a comedy show sober? Well try performing one in that state. So anyway, if you're interested, I'll see you back here a few times a week until the end of Feb, writing and that.
Sign up for Febfast here: febfast.org.au
You can support me here: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/xaviertoby
Not drinking during February is actually going to be extremely tough for me, as I'm performing at both the Perth Fringe (Feb 7-13) and the Adelaide Fringe (Feb 15-Mar 1). Here are the details:
White Trash at Fringe World Perth: http://bit.ly/WPVYF
White Trash at the Adelaide Fringe: http://bit.ly/Y28wA0
2013 - When We Were Idiots at the Adelaide Fringe: http://bit.ly/ZJVWB2
Follow Xavier Toby on Twitter: www.twitter.com/xaviertoby