On Drinking: Alcohol That Is; A Little Bit About the Death Benefit and Vegetables; Ending With a Coincidence

I spoke of many things with my wonderful doctor, sharing my health concerns with a man who not only listens to me but has known me for years and (despite that) respects me.(The “despite that” was an attempt at humor) What a wonderful combination to have a man in your life like that and so rare. “The time has come,” the Walrus said,

“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

We did not speak of cabbages, kings, sealing wax, the sea or pigs. We spoke of my alcohol consumption. I brought the subject up. It has been a concern of mine over the years. My very favorite aunt in the whole world, the woman who came closest to being my mother, died at sixty from the effects of alcohol. I want to learn from her mistakes.

So my wonderful doctor asked all kinds of questions and in my usual manner I answered him truthfully. It was surprising to learn that my worries are needless. That not only will my alcohol consumption not harm me; it will help me live a longer and better life. He backed up his professional opinion with scientific studies. He provided me with the studies which I read and perused. It was a learning experience. .

I am sure there will be some doubters amongst you. But I am not going to waste my words on trying to convince you except to say that 34 studies unanimously reached the same finding. The sum of these studies involved more than a million people, men and women from over ten countries and covered a span of more than ten years. The finding? “That there is a J-shaped relationship between total mortality and alcohol intake showing that a low level of alcohol consumption is significantly associated with reduced total mortality. “ Moreover, it is shown that moderate alcohol consumption is also lined to lower cardiovascular rates intake and something vaguely called better quality of life. A summary of these studies appeared in respected scientific journals such as JAMA and a Mayo Clinic publication.

I have observed over the years that there is a tendency to blame one thing or one person for all of the woes, problems and unhappinesses encountered in daily life. Alcohol is blamed in scores of people’s lives. I was briefly exposed to the hype promoted by AA and was wary of its ways. My reaction was confirmed by a podcast featuring an interview with an author by the name of Shapiro, I believe. She wrote a book on addiction that severely criticized AA’s treatment techniques. The problem with AA is their confidentiality prevents any scientific analysis of their claims. There was an amazing play at the National Theatre in London called Mother F***** With A Hat” The hero/villain of play was a man who stridently belonged to AA and did not drink and therefore he felt justified in doing anything he pleased, to anyone he pleased. He was superior because he did not drink. It was his sole justification, the source of his identity, his raison d’etre. To say the very least he was one dimensional and harmful to those around him. He was holier than thou as the expression goes.

Another play at the National Theatre in London People, Places,Things also looked at the complex picture of alcoholism. There were some wonderful lines in that play. The heroine speaks of addiction being requited (“it loves you back”) “We’re addicts because we have a toxic combination of low self-esteem and grandiosity, “People are living in war zones and here we are thinking about ourselves,” jeers Emma, the heroine who thinks that intoxication is “the only absolute truth in the universe”. The first act centered upon a rehab center but the setting at the end of the play is Emma’s parents home. It was striking to see how the parents needed her to be an alcoholic. The star of the production was Denise Gough and she was a speaker at critic Matt Wolf’s theatre course at the Victoria and Albert Museum last fall. We spoke during the question and answer period and then afterward. I usually bought the script of the plays I attended and did so for People. She signed it: To a Wonderful Woman. I will treasure it forever. I guess she signed it that way because of the questions I asked and my comments about the play.

I do remember from my pre lawyer days when I was doing family therapy with juvenile delinquents and their families in Marin County. There was a concept called “identified patient” wherein the family needed the adolescent to be a trouble maker to keep their minds off more pressing problems. It seems that needing Emma to be the alcoholic is similar to these family dynamics.The alcoholic, either in rampages or in sobriety, often serves this function.
So alcohol is not my problem. Money is not my problem because I have a defined benefit retirement program and my investments have done well. Men are not my problem because I have recovered from my obsession with a couple of men in the UK. Health is not my problem because I am in excellent health. I am not crazy says my doctor and my psychiatrist friends. So what is my problem? I fear it is success. Or perhaps just my disdain for vegetables.

I shall attempt some humor. I was discussing my death benefit with individuals here at the Panama Hotel. The death benefit is what my surviving spouse gets – guaranteed income for the rest of his life. Now this is going to be gallows humor. (hahaha). She remarked that I would have to hire a food taster, to be sure that my spouse was not poisoning me. Brilliant idea. I once wrote an ode to one of the UK guys saying that if we ever got together we would die laughing. But if you gotta go, what a great way to go. One dies laughing because of the inability to breath properly. We would be found and the cause of death for me could be determined as I would be blue. But he was, and no doubt is, black so they could not tell with him. It does give whole new meaning to the phrase black and blue.

But back to vegetables. I lunched the other day without my phone so it was impossible to take a picture of an empty vegetable plate, a habit at the Rex Whistler. I became most innovative had had my waiter Alberto sign the declaration that is attached to this posting. Please note that the soup was Broccoli and Potato, Matthew. Broccoli is my least favorite vegetable. I speak of it in a prior post on Eavesdropping.


I end with an amazing coincidence. Chris, my computer guru commented yesterday. “Done. Interestingly my wife Clare is incredibly gap toothed x”

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