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The Column

Toasting Not Toasting
4/25/04

I have a confession to make. I gave up drinking.

I know, that's crazy talk. I'm sure I will get very many angry letters from readers that support alcohol consumption. "Steve," they will say. "I'm not dunrk AT ALLllllalalal! You have to trythis. I dunno what's init, just tryit. I love you man!"

I don't think drinking is wrong. Frankly, I love it. Even when I don't drink, I have a great time going out with my friends and watching them get plastered. And I'm funnier when people are drunk. Go ahead and get smashed now, I'll be hysterical. Though I can't imagine it is much fun to read humor columns while you're drunk. (Drunk instant messaging, however, is awesome).

I gave up drinking because it was cutting into my life instead of enhancing it. I've been sober for two months, which is the longest I've gone without drinking in seven years. Wait, my mom reads this column and can do math. Uh, I mean I've been drinking lots of sacramental wine while praying. Okay, maybe not, but drinking has caused me to do a great deal of kneeling.

The last time I got drunk was after a show in upstate New York. That was a special night, because I also came down with the flu. If you think throwing up from the flu is bad, try being wasted at the same time. I spent that entire night on a strangers' couch simultaneously shivering and sweating, apparently the two great tastes that taste great together.

I cancelled my show for the next night and went home. Once I regained consciousness three days later, I made the pledge we all make: "never again." I don't know how often you've said, "never again," but that was my fourth time this year. So I didn't expect it to take.

I remember the last time I promised to stop drinking. I don't really remember it, but it's been retold to me. It was early September, and I was stumblingly hitting on a platonic friend. After she went home with a guy who could stand up straight without the aid of a wall, I took a drunken two-hour subway ride home. It was only an hour train ride, but due to delays and my inability to run for the train I missed, it took twice as long. Two hours of almost throwing up in the subway after having been rejected by a girl I shouldn't have been hitting on in the first place. Weeeee!

"But what the hell," I said the following week while having a beer, "that night wasn't so bad. I'll try it again four to five days a week for the rest of my life."

As a standup comic, I don't usually pay for alcohol. Often people buy me a few after the show, or free beer is part of my contract. And as a standup comic, I rarely go more than a few days without a six hour drive. Hangovers are bad. Hangovers are terrible on the interstate. And that's really why I stopped. The nights were fun – but the next mornings were absolutely terrible.

Free beer is usually just implied in my contract – but how cool would it be if that clause was actually there.

"Whereas the comedian enjoys libations, and we receive them at wholesale prices, therefore be it resolved we will make sure at least two of his sheets and as many as four are, completely, to the wind."

There are two types of next mornings when you drink. The amazingly fun recounting everything that happened with your friends, and the solitary "why does someone keep smacking me in the back of the head" feeling. Since I am traveling right now, I am always in a different place than the people I drank with the night before. So all I am left with is someone continually smacking me in the back of the head. On the interstate.

I don't know if this current non-drinking streak will last, but it has a better chance of lasting than my others. Because I have still been acting drunk. To get the effects of alcohol without spending the money, just become a standup comedian. If you thought alcohol lowered your inhibitions, try telling jokes to strangers every night. In the past two months, I have helped close a bar in Kansas, danced on one with five girls in Indiana, and had dinner at one with three strippers in New York. My sober stories are starting to beat my friends' drinking stories. Of course, the coolest drinking stories most of them have involve Taco Bell at 2AM.

"Dude, they were totally out of chalupas!"

"Wow. Maybe I should ask my new stripper friends what they think about that."

I'm kidding, of course. We haven't really stayed in touch.

I hope I can keep the promise I made to myself. Maybe I can stop destroying platonic friendships by hitting on everyone, buy something nice with the money I save, and actually get through life a little less hung over.

I'll drink to that.

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