Quitting the Easy Way

May 3, 2017

buc-eesI stop at the Buc-ee’s in Madisonville because I’ve been here before, they have clean restrooms and the wine that’ll work and it’s chilled. I choose the entrance at the opposite end from the wine because it’s the one we used last summer on the drive to Galveston with the girls. I flip flop in my flip-flops and cargo shorts, turning sideways to squeeze past the throngs, past the tee-shirts and electronics and food counters and snack aisles to the fridge and grab a four pack of Chardonnay and don’t care how unmanly this looks because I long ago stopped caring. On second thought I grab a second. One for before, one after.

Back in the car I consider knocking back a couple in a gulp or two. When they’re cold they go down so good in a way so wrong for wine to go down and so unmanly, but it’s not about the taste or the manly it’s about efficiency and keeping things more or less under control. One bottle equals one glass of wine, one beer, one shot, and you have to keep count of these things in order to get where you need to be, no more, no less. More gets you in trouble, more is for rookies, less is not an option.

sutter homeI think better of starting in the car. It’s a company car, better not risk it. That’s the whole point of the four packs, though, to knock them out fast in the car and get rid of them fast, no open container.

In the hotel room there’s a fridge, and one pack goes in there. The other isn’t cold anymore and won’t go down as well but again this is not about taste this is about getting there. I crack one and it’s gone, crack another and collapse in a chair with the book. And they really do crack, the metal caps, when you twist them, makes you happy.  The game isn’t for another couple hours and the stadium is walking distance.

easy way

the book

It’s okay to read the book before you stop drinking, says the book. It encourages you to drink until you finish it, actually, and that’s the beauty of it, why you don’t mind reading even if you don’t want to quit. You get to feel good about what you’re doing, like you’ve got permission to be bad, get to tell your wife, look, see? I got this.

The only rule the book gives you is to read while sober, and I’m sober at the moment, just having a drink. You’re not really supposed to do that either but I’m an old pro, I got this.

I’ve finished number three when the girls call, and it’s only number three but I haven’t eaten and I work fast. There’s a risk they may hear it, I might slur a word, and this won’t play well with the wife since they’ll surely be on speaker phone. She told me, the wife, she told me last night she was ready to leave me and she meant it, and she knows I can’t be trusted. Plus I just got here, it’s not even dinner time.

It’s dollar dog night at the game so I get two and a beer, my seat’s on the third base side. I eat my dogs, snap a photo of the kid a few rows down in the Altuve jersey as Altuve himself is at the plate. It ought to make a great picture but I’m disappointed with it, like with a lot things, like some people with me. And this year the Astros will go all the way, and the Rangers will stink it up, though I don’t know this yet, it’s disappointment pending.


Four innings is typical before I lose focus, get up to wander. Another beer makes six according the formula of 1 = 1 = 1, but these are more than 12 ounces, so maybe it’s more like seven. I don’t feel drunk but then my wife says I can no longer tell, and I do only realize these things in retrospect, sometimes. It’s still dollar dog night, another couple should slow things down a bit, and they’re small. Another beer. There aren’t a lot of open seats, but there’s enough, and I wander and plop for a while, get up, wander again. One more beer, full to the brim. I spill it on my shorts and flip flops and just keep walking.

The roof is closed because of the rain, but there’s a problem in the outfield seats, a little waterfall pouring in, and what’s interesting is no one other than me seems to find this interesting. I can’t take my eyes off the waterfall, everyone else gives it room to land and splash and watches the game, but I watch the waterfall. It’s 2017, we have engineering, but this rain is coming in the with the roof closed and I don’t get it. I rinse my flip-flop feet, stick out my leg to rinse my shorts, maybe wobble a little, and a woman gasps, shocked, and I’m like what, I spilled. 

My walk around the concourse brings me back where I started, nothing new to look at, nothing else to do. I’m not really looking anyway, not really seeing. I’m numb, beyond comfortably, but I get the sense everyone else is having fun. The game ends, I’m not really sure how. The time has passed, not sure where it went. Astros fans are making a woop-woop sound as they leave, and they won’t stop, though that would be nice.

The hotel is too close, so I pick a direction and start walking with whoever, going wherever. There’s not much around the stadium, and every few steps I lose a few friends until I’m walking more or less by myself. It’s not late but there’s nothing to do, nowhere to go, and the word for being left alone as a crowd disperses is despair.

The four pack in the fridge is a three pack when I return because the bottles fit in cargo short pockets and no one’s the wiser — that one was in the bathroom while the anthem played, forgot to count that one. Two left as I crack one and lay back in bed with the book, and now I’ve thrown the rules out the window but I read anyway. If I time it right I’ll finish the last bottle in the last few pages. It’s okay because I’m almost done, and know how the book ends, it says “now take your last drink,” I know because I’ve read it before.


41 thoughts on “Quitting the Easy Way

  1. Oh this is good. The subject matter is close to my heart and I appreciate the way you captured the surprising amount of thinking that goes into that much drinking. The last line is a killer. I never read this book but heard high praise for that and Jason Vale’s Kick the Drink…Easily! Easy in both titles, but it’s not, is it? This is a beauty of a post here, right down to the Bukowski tag.


    • Thank you, Kristen! I know from reading your posts that you can relate. It is actually a very good book, very helpful, but like with any book, you have to be ready for it or it won’t click with you. I like to play with the tags, glad you caught that!

      Liked by 2 people

      • But isn’t it dumb to sell folks the idea that there’s an ‘easy’ way? Same with easy weight loss and a host of other maladies you want to rid yourself of. There isn’t an easy way, is there? They’re selling a dream, at best.


  2. I was never a functional drunk which makes me grateful – for coming out alive and for hitting bottom so quickly (took about a decade, but at least not a lifetime). Although, like smoking, I quit numerous times until the next time. I think it must be easier to rationalize continuing if you’re not falling down, getting in fights, and throwing up in the front seat of your car. But boy, does it screw up relationships. I don’t trust books that promise something “easily”.


    • I don’t think I was aware of that, Michelle, thanks for sharing. The hardest part of quitting is wanting too, I think. If you don’t really want to quit, no amount of will power and no book, no matter the title, will help. This particular book does a good job of changing your mindset by the time your done with it, and that plus the desire goes a long way. But you’re right, it’s never “easy.”


  3. I like this new voice of yours. I like the other one, too, though. And that other one.

    That said, this post must have been a hard one to write.

    I hope you are well.


    • It wasn’t hard to write actually. I didn’t put a lot of thought it into, just spilled it out, then wondered whether it was a good idea to post it, and said what the hell. But glad you like them, the voices. They are in charge, whoever they are. I’m good, thanks! Neighborhood pool isn’t officially open yet so I might have to hop the fence tomorrow, too nice out to wait.


  4. Wow. That was amazing. What a powerful read.

    (I can’t pretend to understand exactly, but as an ex-smoker I can relate to some of this. Especially the Allen Carr books, haha. Someone recommended the one on quitting smoking to me and she said so effusively “it was so important in helping me quit!”

    Yeah… we were on a smoke break together at the time.)


    • I tried the Allen Carr book on drinking because of someone who swore by the one on smoking, said it really helped her quit. I quit smoking on my own, but it was super hard. Harder than quitting alcohol, I’d say.


  5. This is at once raw and honest – even when the voice is self delusional. The detailed thinking is what gives the piece its heart, that way of viewing the world and viewing yourself, being aware of the shame, wanting to take a step away but not yet being ready. I’ve never had a problem with alcohol but I’ve seen it from the outside – that measured knowledge about how much to drink and when (the purchase of the mini wine bottles is so telling) and where to stow the empties. We’ve come out the other side, but it’s a painful road. So glad this is all written from a year ago Walt and glad to hear how well you are. Thank you for sharing this.


  6. Well happy anniversary mate! Was enthralled by your story here and the reality of it, thanks for sharing. Was like there, in more ways than one.


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