By Sean Wilkinson
In which the author partakes of skunked near-beer…
I have not had a drink, a smoke, or a cup of coffee in 14 days. This recent monk-like existence is not based on a New Year’s resolution. It is not based on direction from a loved one or an intervention. It is not even because I wanted to stop doing all of those things.
I have an ulcer.
What the fuck? What am I, some street-weary, over-the-hill, cynical ex-beat cop with a desk job, relegated to perpetual bachelorhood and an ever-lengthening string of rookie partners with a penchant for getting shot? Should I run my fingers across my receding hairline, punch my government-issue desk, flip over a framed picture of my estranged ex-wife and take an improbably long swig from a white bottle of Maalox®? Jesus, I feel like that and all the worst clichés in Hollywood. “Oh brothah! My ullsah!” (I invariably have a Brooklyn accent in all of these clichés).
There’s no sure answer as to what caused the onset of my ulcer, but spicy foods, drinking, smoking, coffee, and stress are all major players in exacerbating the problem. So, here I am, two weekends into learning to go see shows while drinking buckets of ginger ale or water and pissing every 20 minutes.
I tried drinking a couple of non-alcoholic beers this past Friday for that “end of the week, buy another round, toss a few back” feeling. It just doesn’t feel the same when you’re drinking skunked Haake-Becks and not even getting a buzz to ignore the foul taste coating your mouth. I considered drinking enough to feel an effect, but by my lazy and random math I figured it would take 80 beers. I wasn’t even sure Brian Boru had 78 more Haake-Becks, and I had a feeling the skunky taste was not helping my pre-existing gastric situation. Plus, non-alcoholic beer still costs money! Did anyone else know this? It’s not the buzz you’re paying for!
I have been urged by certain members of my peer group to take up the reefer, but I’m not so sure that would help me avoid bad food late at night — one of the problem’s causes. No spicy food late at night? What am I, Cliff Huxtable? Am I going to have nightmares about Muppet monster baby deliveries and my giant sausage sandwich talking to me? Am I a successful OB/GYN raising five kooky kids in an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood? (See? Though Cosby never had an accent in the show, they were purportedly in Brooklyn.)
So I will be on this healthy living program for at least another month. After that, I will have taken care of the ulcer with the proper medication and can return to some of my old habits. I’m certain that I’ll never smoke again, since that was only a drinking-related habit anyway, and I haven’t missed it yet. I will relish being able to have a drink again, but will have to be constantly conscious of what I’m drinking and how much of it I drink. Gone are the days of my legendary iron stomach, gladly accepting any combination of potables: shots, beers, mixed drinks, flaming apertifs, gasoline, Skin Bracer®, etc…
I miss coffee, but after two weeks, my dependence on caffeine has waned considerably. Green tea gets me by in the morning and afternoon, though I miss the taste of good coffee. I think I may, in a month, answer my own question: “Who the hell drinks decaf?”
And, so help me god, I may just have to watch my habit of eating those foot-long, hot n’ spicy, double-dip, drop-kick, sausage bomb submarine sandwiches at 1 in the morning. Maybe I’ll just have some milk with it…