My boss discovered I'd stopped drinking, when I knocked back a beer after work on Monday.
'You don't want one? Oh that's right, you're on the wagon. Good on you. Why you'd want to do that though, I've got absolutely no idea.'
My workmate Chris added, 'I cut down drinking, so I could afford more smokes.'
My boss cracked one open, and it made that crisp, clear, slightly moist sound particular to an ideally chilled beer. 'Why would you want to give up this? Best part of my day. Still, if you don't have one, that's more for me.'
I tried to reply, but I was slobbering too much to make proper words. The after work office beer is pretty harmless. It's only one or two, everyone still drives home, and there's something delightfully devious about turning a workplace into a bar.
Still, I've committed to not drinking for February and unlike Chris, I haven't simply replaced one vice with another. I don't smoke, I can't cut out gluten because I don't believe it exists, and one look at the people lining up for fast food turns me straight off it. Unless I'm drunk or hungover.
Excuse me for a moment, while I go and make my thirteenth coffee of the day. All before lunch too, and I'm still not on track to beat yesterday's record. I'm serious. Coffee is yum, and it helps with weight loss and food cravings. Like smoking.
Anyway, this whole not drinking thing so far has been pretty easy, but it is only February 5th. Yesterday morning I stopped shaking and finally got some sleep, but I think that's more to do with all the coffee.
On Friday and Saturday night I didn't crave a beer, and I certainly wasn't staring at people through the window and into the bar, and telling myself, 'Look at those poor fools ruining their livers.' While secretly thinking, 'They are the luckiest people on the planet. The true kings and queens of life.' Well I did that for an hour, but then I went home and watched 'Step it Up 4: Miami Heat'. So it was a cracking night in.
Not drinking hasn't been a problem five days in, because I've simply avoided situations where I'd normally drink. No visits into the bar, I don't hang around long after work, I've avoided all dinner invitations, and I've refused all requests to meet up anywhere they serve alcohol. By ignoring everyone I know, I'm doing quite well.
Basically I've just been pretending that alcohol doesn't exist, and drinking the odd ginger beer, because it says 'beer' on the label, and my subconscious is stupid enough to believe that it's the same thing.
No, it isn't. I look around the office after 5pm and feel like I'm in black and white while everyone else is in colour. I've made myself a hermit and am dealing with the problem by ignoring it.
All that changes on Thursday, when I arrive in Perth for the World Fringe. I'm performing in venues where they sell alcohol, where most in audience will be drinking, and where I'll be talking to people before and after shows. In bars. Alcohol will be everywhere. Then it's off to Adelaide where I'm performing at Gluttony, renowned for its delectable food and wine.
Ignoring alcohol isn't going to work. Seeing it there, having it offered to me for free, and it's going to be available to quell before show nerves, to deal with post show jitters, to celebrate a good show, and to commiserate a poor one (hardly ever happens - promise).
Alcohol, my old friend. We're going to have a very difficult month. I imagine it's going to be like breaking up with your girlfriend, then living in the same house while one of you tries to find another place. And that process takes a month. And every night I'm there, sitting in the living room, while everyone I've ever met is constantly having a great time with my ex in her room, but I'm not allowed in, I'm not even allowed to touch, and I'm only allowed to watch. Jealously and envy. Here I come.
So that got a bit weird. Maybe I should be using something other than coffee to cover the cravings?
It's still not too late to sponsor me, and if I don't make it the full 28 days, I will personally double all the donations I receive. That means you get your donation back, if you want it, and FebFast gets some money too.
Place your bets here: https://febfast2013.everydayhero.com/au/xavier-toby
Like my Facebook Page and share the pic to win free tickets to my solo show 'White Trash: www.facebook.com/xaviertoby
Other articles and show details: www.xaviertoby.com
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