I went to a Christmas Party last night, and since I am “between” significant others in my life (or perhaps done with them entirely – I have not yet decided), I took my daughter with me. I thought it would be a great opportunity for her to get out and meet some new folks. The food was supposed to be amazing, so this looked like it would be a great evening for us both.
We arrived at the hotel during the cocktail hour; mingling and smiling and enjoying the wafting meal as preparations were well underway. Seated for dinner, we were at a table full of people that I know and enjoy being around, amid much laughter and conversation. The final couple to arrive at our table were late, but smiling and laughing all the same. Mister clearly had imbibed before they set out for the evening, and by the time the dinner was finished and the music started, he was drunk. Before much more time had passed, he was actually having difficulty stringing his words together. The trouble was compounded by the fact that he was seated right next to my daughter, and we had committed to sticking around long enough for all the door prizes to be drawn. The fellow on her other side moved his chair away a bit to give her a little room to move over, which she did, but all that did not really matter to Mister, because he managed to take up all the available space, and more than his fair share of the air, too.
Instead of enjoying the party and music around me, once he reached the slurring stage, I was hurled back immediately to my life about 3 ½ years ago, when I made the decision to leave my marriage. It was a union that had been spoiled by the effects of a drinking husband who could ruin a party, a casual conversation, a long-standing friendship, and my family. Shaking off my reverie, I looked across the table to my daughter, and in her beautiful blue eyes I could see the reflection of my own memories; sharp and painful events that have been forever coloured by the negative effects of alcohol.
I know that alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation. I do not consider it too be some kind of scourge on the human race, and I also enjoy the effects of adding it to several of my favourite recipes. When I was young and still figuring out things, I got drunk a couple of times, as many of us will. But I quickly learned that there were limits, and that the after effects – the hangover, and the knowledge that perhaps I had said or done something stupid – were enough to make me set and enforce my own limits. I did not appreciate being reminded of any of that last night. Ah well, my daughter and I had a good talk about things on the way home, and she did find enjoy getting all dressed up, as did I. Next time, we won't wait so long before departing. Live and learn.