The other day on a group text with my beloved quarantine texting group, one of the women announced she was foregoing wine for the month of January.
“It’s Dry January, I’m going to give it a go. No more alcohol for the month.”
The text responses chimed in with full support from those who could clearly care less about a cocktail anyway. But those of us who love our glass of wine in the eve, it was all quiet. Perhaps this challenge had sent each of us into a little personal drinking inventory.
“Why would you give up the wine? It seems like a small pleasure given our limited fun over this past year?” I texted her, which clearly wasn’t all that supportive.
“You know the 5 Covid wine pounds and maybe just to see if I can,” she responded.
“Should I give up wine this month I said to my husband, I so don’t want to? Martha is giving it up.”
Dry January, a month of abstinence from drinking has become such a thing that it bears no explaining.
“I’m abstaining from abstaining. I hate diets and fads. They always backfire. How could Dry January possibly benefit me? Whenever I force deprivation in the name of health, I feel trapped and restless and it makes me crave that very thing even more. Remember when I gave up chocolate for a week. It totally back fired and I gorged on it when the week was over.
And…. I mean, we didn’t even have a New Year’s party. The days of cocktails followed by a bottle of wine with friends is so last year. Haven’t we been abstaining? I feel like we’ve been living on a slow drip.”
“You’re so right honey,” my husband said.
“We don’t binge for god sakes, I mean one glass of wine, seriously? I mean that would be like giving up coffee in the morning. These are the bookends of my days. How would I begin, how would I end?”
“I know honey, so why are you even perseverating on this?”
“No one else in the text group is giving it up. Abstinence during Covid feels so cruel, after all January is the cruelest of months,” I continued. “I mean, Do I look fat? Do you think I need to drop 5? Christ, we walk 20k steps a day, I’m on the yoga mat 3 times a week. I mean, I never signed up to become a monk.” I was starting to get irritable already just talking about it.
“Listen honey,” he said. “You are fine, no you are not fat, in fact you look perfect. There is no reason to give up a glass of wine.”
My husband and I have been without our kids or a pod of friends for way too long. We have started to adapt some very routinized behaviors that look nothing like our former life, and that glass of wine seems to be the only souvenir of life before isolation.
“Well, if I give up the glass of wine, then what will we do between 5 and 7 pm?”
“You are so right honey.”
“I mean, the nightly news at 5:30 together, then cooking together with that amber Pinot, and our dinner together is such a highlight. Everything tastes so much better and feels softer with that purple haze.”
“And then our every night TV watching, I can’t take more than 2 episodes of anything any more, no matter how good it is. Without the wine I may not get sleepy.”
“Excuse me, you haven’t made it through 40 minutes of an episode in a long time without snoring,” he smiled.
“Well, maybe, but I usually wake up for the last 30 minutes of the second episode.”
“Is that a fact?”
“Well maybe we should just not have a glass tonight and see how it goes?”
“Fine honey, that’s totally fine.”
So we sat down and watched the evening news and instead of sipping on wine, we munched on some cheese and crackers (which we never do). Then we ate ALL our dinner and settled down on the couch to watch our new favorite series. After 2 episodes I was wide awake. “Do you want some raspberry chocolate chip ice cream, it’s Talenti?.”
“Wow fantastic.” My husband was thrilled, I haven’t offered up the ice cream in forever, as I’m usually asleep on the couch. He was clearly delighted.
We ate our heaping bowls and watched another 2 episodes and went to bed at 11.
“I feel disgusting,” I said to him as I lay wide-eyed in bed unable to fall asleep. I think this Dry January thing is a bust. It’s backfiring already.”
“Tomorrow night, let’s go back to our form of abstinence. One glass of joy and early to bed.”
“Sounds perfect honey, ” as he drifted off into a sugar coma.