"Mate if you want to stop drinking, why make such a big thing out of it? If I wanted to stop, I'd just stop. Just like that," said the man in the pub. Who then scratched the underside of his mammoth spherical stomach, downed half a schooner in a gulp, put on another bet, then went outside for another smoke.
While not a role model for moderation, this bloke had a point. If I wanted to stop drinking, why did I have to start with a big parade? Why not just quietly stop, and if anyone asks, simply tell them?
Well I've tried that, more than a few times, and it never works. During the week I'm fine, and it lasts all weekend if I don't see any friends, or family, and don't go outside, or out of my room, except to the toilet.
It's partly because alcohol is so synonymous with leisure in Australia, but blaming big bad society is weak. Few criminals are responsible for their crimes, it's always societies fault, and while society isn't perfect, it's not society who can't say no to a drink. It's me.
Partly because I don't like being the focus of attention. Strange for a comedian, but it's the same reason I don't like my birthday, or being put on the spot unless I've got something to say.
Onstage I'm ready, I'm supposed to be there, I'm prepared or drunk enough that I don't care, and I've worked hard for that opportunity. With birthdays, all I did was get born, like everyone else. Really, birthdays should be all about Mums, as they did all the work.
So to avoid the attention that comes with refusing a drink at the pub, club, house warming, barbecue, wedding, engagement, birthday party, lounge room or office, it's just easier to accept one.
Among a lot of people I know, whenever someone stops drinking, they're accused of being pregnant. We're usually right, if it's a girl. If it's a guy, they're usually driving. That's how rare it is.
The main reason that I have so much trouble saying no to alcohol, however, is that I really like drinking. It makes me feel good, and being drunk makes me feel even better. Unless I'm really drunk I don't stumble over things, I just relax, get funnier and slightly arrogant, but overall less of an introvert, which is my natural state.
People like the extrovert. Sometimes when I arrive at a party sober, or if I'm driving, people will ask me what's wrong. Why I'm being so quiet.
'Nothing's wrong, I just don't have anything to say,' I tell them.
'That's not like you,' is the regular reply.
I'll quickly down some spirits and forget about driving, just so I can go from normal Xavier to fun Xavier. I make more jokes, I've got more to say, and as well as being more fun to be around I feel part of the party, instead of a bystander.
Maybe that's a bit sad, but it's the reality, and a big part of the reason I want to stop drinking is to see if I can find that fun Xavier without needing booze. So far, committing to myself that I'm going to stop drinking just hasn't worked. If I make a commitment to others, maybe that'll work better? More on that next time.
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