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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Could You Give Up Beer For 40...err 46 Days?

The following story was written (and well written at that) by Rob Symes, a friend and semi-regular guest contributor to this here 'ol blog, about his experience in giving up beer for Lent.  Enjoy...with a beer in you hand!

Troy’s too busy doing other stuff to spend time with you, dear readers, so he’s twisted my arm and told me to write about my decision to give up beer for Lent. The good news is that this post isn’t wishing someone a happy birthday! The bad news is… well there isn’t any bad news.

I’m not even sure what Lent is… something about forty days in the desert avoiding the temptations of the devil? The timing didn’t jive, though. The first day of Lent begins the day after Shrove Tuesday and runs through until Easter, which is a period in excess of forty days. A bit of research brought the revelation that Lent doesn’t include Sundays. Here was a way out… no beer all week, and then a massive bender every seven days to make up for it. With a bit more thinking (and some wise words from the wife) I figured it was worthwhile to abstain on Sundays and extend the beer-free period to a shocking forty-six days; after all, I highly doubt this Jesus fellow left the desert once a week to whup it up in the city.

Ironically my last beer was Péché Mortel, which French immersion students everywhere will tell you translates to ‘mortal sin’. Not a bad beer to herald the coming arrival of my longest dry spell since turning 15. The initial few days were tough – I didn’t really crave a beer, but I was in the habit of grabbing one in the evening while I relaxed. To reduce the temptation I moved all my bottles out of the fridge, prompting my wife to remark that we now had room for vegetables (benefit number 1: increased regularity). After a few days the habit had been broken and I didn’t really think of it too much, but bigger tests were to come.

Not drinking beer makes a man realise what a wonderfully social drink it really is. Beer has been bringing people together for centuries. Friends meet and share good times, relationships are cemented with a communal drink, and T-shirt designers are able to write things like: “Beer! Helping ugly people have sex since 1862”. Why 1862 I do not know. Anyway, truly a social drink. So I find myself in Troy’s apartment (happily staying as close to the start of the earlier sentence as possible) and he’s shoving a glass of Garrison Imperial IPA under my nose and telling me to breathe in its hoppy goodness. Indeed, friends always show their true colours in times of crisis. I sit and drink sparkling pomegranate juice and doubt whether this whole venture is worthwhile. A few days later I spend almost 4 hours in a bar with friends and consume so much coffee that I decide to scrub the kitchen floor at 3 a.m. (benefit 2: sparkling tiles).

All this passes, and as the days mount up I’ve got the big mo behind me. There’s really no point getting this far and giving up – just think of all the wasted drinking days for naught. Instead of drinking 5 nights a week, I’m going to the gym 5 times a week. I can now run, which should make it easier to get to the bar before closing time. Carrying 2-4s should be a breeze too. There are other beneficial side effects too: I feel more refreshed in the day, I’m now familiar with dozens of juice brands (who knew there was a black cherry flavour) and I was finally able to finish my proposal for a lasting peace in the Middle East (the State Department have yet to return my calls).

All things considered, its been a great experience, but probably not one I’d repeat. I don’t mind not drinking at home, but I miss the experience of going to the bar, drinking a couple pints and shooting the breeze with a few friends. I also miss not being able to pair a beer with the moment – a beautiful sunny day calls for a Denison’s Weissbier on the patio, huddling from a winter storm in front of the fire is the perfect moment to bring out an imperial stout or barleywine. I know there are substitutes but they’ll always remain that.

Here’s to beer! (picture above of me in better times)


Rob said...

I'm currently drinking chocolate milk.

sstackho said...

Let the record show that Mr. Symes is consuming a box of wine daily during this anti-bender.

Well written piece, though!

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