I find myself writing these words about four hours after my latest experience in a "neighborhood bar," which bears direct relevance to what I have to say here.
Back in my teens, I engaged in the "expected" activity of drinking, often to the point of excess; it was a "badge of honor" to be able to put away a large amount of alcohol without puking or passing out, and this was my first exposure to the idea that I could let my emotions run wild without being judged for it too much afterwards, as one could always blame any emotional outbursts on the alcohol. A night with Jagermeister in the late 80's cured me of my immature practice of engaging in drinking games, and caused me to reevaluate and adjust the way in which I approached alcohol for the next decade of my life.
Throughout my twenties, I had a different approach to drinking, with very few intentional instances of drinking to the point of inebriation; my 21st birthday even consisted of having a someone drive me to two bars where I had a grand total of two drinks that night. Most of my time spent drinking anything was spent drinking strong coffee in the coffeehouses that were so prolific during the 90's, which was wonderful in the sense that I was able to interact with others of various age groups in a completely aware & focused manner most of the time; I got a lot of work done in the context of the occult tradition that I work within, including networking with other magicians within these "Coffee Meccas," as the (legal) chemical of choice we mutually shared served to stimulate the mind & body rather than numbing it, and if we were of a mind to, we could freely and safely travel after quite a few beverages.
Enter my thirties: I began hanging out with a married couple who I'd met at a sword fighting practice near my favorite coffee "watering hole" in Fullerton, and began spending more and more time with them at their residence. Slowly but surely, these people began holding more and more private get-togethers with a select number of friends, get-togethers that included quite a bit of drinking. At first, I started out with a few drinks that I nursed for the duration, but then later on, I found myself joining in on their jovial consumption of larger quantities of alcohol which brought me to the point of stumbling around with everyone else. This trend continued as I hung out with the couple, which came to include dueling while really drunk (something that I wouldn't have thought about doing only a few years before.) When I finally came to the painfully embarassing conclusion that this couple were fucking morons after various instances of stupid & neurotic behavior on their part when we were all quite sober, I parted ways with them. While I parted ways with them, I didn't part ways with the drinking habits that I'd developed during my time with them. Over the following years, I developed many new friendships, many of these friends being of the "drinking buddy" variety; a few of these drinking buddies have even proven to be great friends in a completely sober setting if we have common ground that extends beyond our mutual adoration of intoxication. For a while now, I've been consciously moving away from the "drink to be entertained" mentality, and yet I've found myself in "drinking environments" time and time again, often with little to speak to others about in my less-than-inebriated state. I've seen good friends, people who I really care about, getting beyond-buzzed on a very frequent basis, and it's becoming quite depressing to see them like this so often, especially if they're no longer even putting much effort into the common ground that we have outside of the context of drinking. Moving ahead to last night: I'd gone to a "neighborhood bar" in someone else's neighborhood to enjoy time with a friend, and as I looked around, I realized that I was not only surrounded by people who I had absolutely nothing in common with, but also by quite a few people who I downright disliked based on their demeanor. The bar itself was patrolled by several gorillas wearing black shirts with the word "security" silkscreened across the back. As the night moved on, I noticed drunks and punks being expelled from the premises, sometimes leaving a threat or two behind them. As I'd maintained my pleasant and even-headed manner all night, I expected that I'd be treated with some degree of tact & respect when I moved towards the bar to settle up my tab for the evening: instead, I was approached from behind by one of the security gorillas and told in a harsh manner to "get out" before I was even able to finalize my transaction. This, along with my exchange with the gorilla that followed his initial statement really prompted me to step back and evaluate all that I've stated above after I'd returned home early this morning. Not only had I ended up spending time in a place populated by people who I probably wouldn't waste saliva spitting on, it was an environment the nature of which required that it be staffed by tactless assholes in love with the whole idea that they were bouncers at a bar; This was unacceptable, especially considering that I was spending money in such a social dynamic rather than making it (I'm willing to take a little of this kind of shit in a work environment.)
After thinking things over, I've come to the following conclusions for the foreseeable future:
-After tonight, I do not intend to consume alcohol in public unless it is in a magico-religious context.
-I will not meet friends in a drinking environment such as a bar, unless it is part of a "club" atmosphere in which I intend to engage in some dancing or stimulating and sober conversation with people with whom I have some sort of common interest with. I will not engage in drinking anything stronger than coffee, juice, or a soft drink in this environment. I will no longer waste my time, money or gas on such establishments that hold no interest for me, no matter which one of my friends is hanging out there for their own interests.
I have no doubt that my good friends will respect my reasons and my wishes where these matters are concerned.
Before I engage in my intend period of no public drinking, I intend to spend this evening enjoying a few good German beers and singing Karaoke at the Phoenix Club, which is located at:
1340 Sanderson Ave
more specific directions can be found here:
Come and sing with me.