When I was in basic training, one of my favorite cadences said, “Beer, beer, beer, said the private. Merry men are we…”
I was a merry man for a long time, but I recently went 40 days and 40 nights without flooding my body with alcohol.
In fact, my body experienced a drought for 40 days and 40 nights, and, the truth is, I never felt better.
On the 41st day, however, I caved in and had three beers.
Ok, that sounds a bit dramatic.
One of my lifelong friends came over to my house to help me do some handyman work.
(Actually, he did the work and I just stood there, because my handyman skills are lacking).
Once the project was completed, we did what many guys do to celebrate the completion of a project: we drank beer.
He brought over a 6-pack of really good, quality beers.
However, we managed to share only three of them.
No, we didn’t use straws and we sure as heck didn’t sip from the same bottle.
We poured them into a couple of beer glasses that I’d acquired from microbreweries from across the country, so I really only had one and a half.
Two weeks later, the other three are still in my refrigerator.
The last three times I cut the grass, I celebrated with a large glass of lemonade while sitting in the sunshine on my deck, and I’m here to tell you, it was just as satisfying as a celebratory beer.
I didn’t drink every night.
Most weeks, it was only one night out of the week, but I would drink enough that particular night to keep a small brewery afloat.
Many of us have experienced those next day regrets after a night of excess consumption. Lord knows I have.
At my age, those regrets spill over a couple of days, physically, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Did I mention physically?
I haven’t quit. I never said I quit.
I’m disciplined in so many areas, so I just decided to add the consumption of alcohol to that list.
Knowing that the 10 biggest regrets of my life involve alcohol has a sobering effect (pun intended) on me.
I can’t take any of them back. I can only learn and move on from here.
For the record, no one was ever hurt; I just made some dumb decisions.
On the other hand, the only time alcohol ever got me in trouble was likely the best thing to ever happen to me.
When I was 19, I was arrested for underage drinking which ultimately led to my decision to join the Army.
I feel confident that this new me is here to stay.
I’ve been in some situations recently where I was able to maintain my discipline, whereas in the past, that would not have been the case.
I’ve frequented my favorite watering hole in Opelika on three different occasions since making the decision to scale back without falling back into the trap.
Water with lemon is just as good, and so are the laughs with the fellas.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent four days and three nights in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada, without consuming a single drop of alcohol.
That’s the equivalent of a police officer going an entire shift without a single doughnut.
It’s simply unheard of.
On Sunday, I began my journey to Arizona for the National Stuttering Association’s 30th annual conference.
Because of my love of quality beer and BBQ, my cross-country escapades usually involve quite a bit of each.
I drove only a short distance that first day. I stopped in New Orleans to stay with my buddy and his family.
The family stayed at home, while he and I went down to the French Quarter and ate at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA, which was an absolute joy.
I did have one really good local brew before dinner, but only because we had to wait a bit before being seated.
We also had Emeril’s New Orleans BBQ Shrimp for an appetizer.
One beer in New Orleans is like one pair of jean shorts to a Bama fan. It’s simply unheard of.
I had dinner with water and a friend at The Cheesecake Factory in San Antonio on day two.
We had a great dinner and conversation, in spite of the absence of alcohol.
In the past, that would have simply been unheard of.
On day three, I drove the final 15 hours and arrived at the conference around 11:00 PM.
I’m sure some interesting stories will arise from this week’s conference. They always do.
For example, did you know that when there are three stuttering guys in a small room that the lights start to flicker?
It’s a phenomenon similar to the Northern Lights. Now you know.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I had three beers last night, although it wasn’t entirely my fault.
I ordered just one, but my stuttering prevailed and the bartender misunderstood me.
“Beer, beer, beer, said the captain,” he thought.
I’m convinced that the secret to happiness is discipline.
Whether it’s beer, BBQ, fishing or women, quality is always better than quantity.
Speaking of quantity, I just realized I’ll have to cut the grass when I get home.
Oh well, at least I’ll have an ice cold glass of lemonade waiting on me afterwards.
Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.