Deleted Scenes: My Sober Year

A couple weeks back—it was either Dec. 6 or 7, I can’t remember which because check out what a big deal it isn’t—I passed one whole year without imbibing an alcoholic beverage.

I’m not in A.A., no 12 steps, friend of Bill Whoever, etc. Nothing against that if it’s your thing. I’ve known people who’ve done the program and had it work for them and I won’t say a bad word about it. When I started out a year ago I wasn’t thinking I’d never drink again—I’m still not, to be perfectly honest—just that I needed to take a break. A long weekend.

I even wrote a Deleted Scenes about it. It was called “My Sober Weekend,” and it was in the Dec. 12, 2012, issue. At the time that’s all it was: A sober weekend. Frankly, even that was enough of a novelty to write about.

The last beers I had were out to dinner with my wife, mother and grandmother on the Friday night prior. I’d spent a decent portion of the week shitfaced, as I was wont to do, and I ordered one beer without even wanting it. By the time I ordered the second, I more or less realized that I actively didn’t want it, and was drinking it anyway. I’d like to say I didn’t finish it, but I really don’t remember one way or the other. My general don’t-leave-it-if-you-paid-for-it ethic leads me to think I more likely did. Either way, those were the last two drinks I’ve had. No big deal.

This year I’ve been to festivals in London and the Netherlands, been to Wisconsin, Michigan, all around the Northeast, to Philadelphia, New York, Connecticut, Boston, New Hampshire, Maryland, Delaware and so on. Each place has presented me with plenty of opportunity to partake, and I just haven’t yet managed to do it. My wife drinks a glass of wine or has a beer almost every night with dinner—which is basically a doctor-recommended dose for general well-being—but still, nothing.

All along, I’ve maintained that I don’t really know why I’m abstaining. It’s more or less true. The way I see it is that if I wanted to have a drink at this point, I’d have one. There’s nothing stopping me. The stakes couldn’t possibly be lower. I’m in the music industry, I have no kids, and if I get loaded, well, it’s my headache the next day to deal with, so whatever. I guess I just don’t want to deal with it.

I’ve enjoyed the aesthetic of beer, talking about flavors and different kinds and all that, sometimes I still talk to my wife about it or other friends, and I like that the same way I like talking about different music or tv shows or movies or whatever, but I don’t miss getting drunk four nights a week, or three, or two, or one. I don’t miss feeling like I need a beer when I apparently don’t.

I have a hard enough time not being a self-righteous prick in general, so I usually try to avoid talking about it if I can. I like alcohol and it’s not the kind of thing I’d condemn someone else for enjoying—unless they’re fucking drinking Bud, or Coors or Miller or some of that shit—even if that’s not where my head is at right now. Drink up. I’m more than happy to drive your drunk ass wherever it wants to go.

Nothing in life is permanent and I make attempts not to delude myself otherwise, but in all seriousness, I think the last time I went a full year without drinking any alcohol was probably when I was 16 years old, so I guess I thought I’d mark what I’m told is something of an occasion, even two weeks late…

Because it’s not a big deal.

JJ Koczan