While I do believe I'll experience some of the things she—the author Elettra Wiedemann—did, I'm pretty sure I won't experience them all, mostly because it seems she was drinking a lot more than I am (at least in terms of days per week) when she started.
There will be two events this month that will probably be challenging while taking this challenge:
- January 23: The birthdays dinner. This is a group of a dozen or so of our friends who all gather one day in January each year to celebrate all of our birthdays, with a pot luck (but on the fancy side) dinner.
- January 27: NC State St. vs George Tech at the PNC. This event is with the Red Hat team that I work with, who has a corporate box at the PNC arena, which comes with food and drinks (probably just beer and wine, though, which is good, because that's easy for me to pass up).
Before I describe my first day's experience, here's the "tl;dr" version of the article with the author's experience for context:
- You might want to try not to get totally wasted on NYE.
- The first two weeks will be really hard.
- You’ll realize that almost all social life is centered around food and drink.
- A lot of people, including your close friends, will be super annoying and unsupportive about your decision.
- Tell people you’re on some serious antibiotics or, in very extreme cases, tip your bartender for club soda.
- You might decide you don’t like your friends anymore.
- Maybe “just a drink or two a night” is much more than that.
- Your Dry January will likely lead you to new friendships, relationships, and other cool people your slightly inebriated brain didn’t really notice before.
- By the end of week two, you’ll feel like a new person.
- You might be tempted to extend your Dry January to a Dry February.
- The first drink you have after the dry period will be like whoa. And hangovers? Well, they might never be the same.
- This whole experience may change how and how much you drink forever.
I met my friend, Todd—who is also going to do this, but he's not starting until Monday—at Flex, where it was "Go-Go Dancers" night, and I ordered a club soda. Matt, the bartender, knows my drink (which is always a bourbon and soda, "house bourbon is fine"), and I had to make sure I got his attention before he started pouring my "tall single" of that, which he sometimes does as soon as he sees me come in the door.
I told him that I was going to have a "dry January," and he didn't make fun of it or try to talk me out of it in any way, which I appreciated. The fact is, though, that he gets a-dollar-tip-a-drink whether I'm ordering a cocktail or club soda, so it's not really any skin off his back.
And, in fact, he gave me that club soda for free, so I tipped him $2. I asked for some fruit, and he added two slices of orange to it, and it was pretty good.
I sipped on that for about 45 minutes, and as I was about to go up and order another one, Todd reminded me of the cooler sitting on the bar, which contains water, presumably for designated drivers or people that just don't drink, and I drank from that for the rest of the night.
At one point in the evening, Todd and I thought of other things we might do for a month this year, once "Dry January" is over, and we came up with this list:
- Give up porn for a month, although we both dismissed this idea pretty quickly.
- Give up sweets for a month.
- Give up junk food, in general, for a month.
- Give up going to The Borough, though neither of us sounded like we really had our heart in that idea.
- Do a random act of kindness every day (or for a certain number of days each week) for a month.
- Do an exercise to improve short-term memory on lumosity.com.
At around 12:45 or so, we went over to Fifteen, where I had—guess what—a glass of water, and Todd had a beer.
While sitting there, we spied Todd's friend, Renée, out the window, and she dropped in to tell us to come next door to The Borough after Todd finished his beer, where she'd be with her husband, Bo.
We did that, and at about 1:15, Todd ordered an order of cheese fries, which he shared with the rest of us. I had a delicious glass of water with mine. It was so, well, wet.
At one point, Liz (the owner of The Borough) came up and said hello to us, and I said, "You might want to consider ordering a little less bourbon this month, as I won't be drinking any, and I wouldn't want your inventory to get too high." :-)
My thoughts and observations about the evening:
- I'm not sure if this was as a result of not drinking, but at least one person who talked to us at Flex, who was pretty intoxicated, was extra loud to me.
- There are a couple of "regulars" that go to Flex on Friday night, who just hang around me, and who talk my f*cking ear off, and they were there tonight. However, they didn't seem to be any more (or less, unfortunately) obnoxious than they are when I've been drinking.
- With regards to item #6 on the list above, even though I hadn't been drinking, I found Todd just as delightful as ever.
- Getting in my car to go home, I just automatically asked myself, "Have I had too much to drink to drive?" And then I laughed out loud.
- Once home, I thought, "What an absolutely cheap and low-calorie night out!" I usually spend between $20 and $25 on drinks on a Friday night, and with 69 calories for each shot of bourbon, my alcohol calorie intake for the night is usually about 400-500 calories. Tonight, those totals were $2 and 0 calories, respectively. :-)
- I woke up in the middle of the night twice, and had to get up and pee—and I peed like crazy each time. That was a lot of water I drank.
1 day down, 30 to go.