Sunday, February 10, 2013

In Defense of Drunken Decisions




When I arrived at SeaTac airport at 6:00 PM for my 7:30 flight to San Francisco last October, everything had gone perfectly. I’d finished my work right on time, my Towncar had arrived right on time, and freeway traffic had been mild for a Friday evening rush hour. I’d tipped my awesome driver, walked straight to security since I’d checked in online, endured my usual awkward pat down to avoid the X Ray Machine of Cancerous Death, enjoyed a light dinner, and was waiting patiently to board 20 minutes before the scheduled time.

That’s when I got the news that, due to fog in the Bay area, my flight would be delayed over two hours. I turned to the people behind me, an attractive married couple in their early 30’s who were heading down to San Fran for a benefit concert.

“Well, that settles it,” I said. “I’m off to the bar to get drunk. See you guys onboard.”

Except rather than drinking alone, I started drinking with the couple instead. As soon as the man told our server, “No, she won’t have wine, bring us a round of long island iced teas,” I knew we would be friends. As it turned out, the couple managed the new Big Wheel that appeared on the Seattle Waterfront last summer. They told me there had already been numerous marriage proposals, which I thought was very sweet.

“Hey, if anyone ever wants to get married on the wheel…. I’m actually an ordained minister,” I slurred, slipping them my business card. Eventually, at long last, we boarded, and I spent the entire flight trying not to look too drunk as I chatted with the pretentious woman next to me while wishing that for my bladder’s sake I hadn’t gotten a window seat.

Drinking long island iced teas before a flight was definitely not my best decision. But a few weeks ago, when I was contacted by the couple about performing a wedding ceremony on the Great Wheel, I knew that the drunken networking had been a good decision. Had I opted to stay in the boarding area, reading alone, I would have missed out on what turned out to be an amazing experience.

My point is that enjoying the consumption of alcohol is not always a bad hobby to have. From business deals to forming new friendships to falling in love, sometimes the things that happen over a round of vodka tonics or bottles of wine turn out to be pretty great.

Recently I have been spending time with two ridiculously awesome women I met through my current job. They’ve both moved on to better things, but we still meet as often as we can, usually for drinks. One of them especially is a right winger’s worst nightmare, a breath of fresh air for me after spending six suffocating years in Idaho. One night after several cocktails, she brought up the Feminist Sci Fi book club she was helping to start. Before I realized it, I was agreeing to join.

Now, I’m no stranger to curling up with a good book. My parents had to beg me to go outside and play when I was a kid because I could never pry myself away from the latest Babysitters Club. But over the years my daily book-reading habit turned into a daily blog-reading habit. I still read books, but extremely slowly. What if I couldn’t read the book in time for the meeting and I let down my friends?

And, while education and general awareness have removed the stigma of the word “feminist” for me (sorry, but if you’re over the age of 30 and you still agree with Limbaugh’s definition, you’re an ignorant dipshit) I wondered what the hell Feminist Science Fiction would entail. I’d never read any Sci Fi before. My imagination went crazy and I envisioned books about scary futuristic worlds where men were slaves and no one wore pink.

And then I got the first book, The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin, and it was so good. So good. It was so well-written I was able to suspend reality and thoroughly enjoy it. And when we had our first meeting, even though I was by far the least experienced Sci Fi reader there (and wearing the most pink), I really enjoyed the discussion and the people (of both genders!) who showed up. We’re on our second book now, and it’s even better. I stayed up until 2:30 am reading it, in fact.

Had I not been drinking that night I probably wouldn’t have been so quick to volunteer to join the book club—not out of lack of interest or desire, just out of lack of faith in myself to read and understand something so outside my norm and commit to monthly meetings. But it turned out to be a really good decision and I am damn glad I made it. The booze didn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do, it just gave me the courage to say yes to a new experience.

I can think of plenty of regrettable decisions that have come with alcohol consumption. I have eaten things I shouldn’t, said things I shouldn’t and made purchases I shouldn’t have. But as I look back over the decade that I’ve now been legal to drink ($#@!&$%#!!!), I can honestly say the good choices have far outweighed the bad. Studies have shown that social drinkers live longer, are happier in general and even make more money. As a proud test subject for such theories, I can honestly say I see no downside to this. 

Besides, being able to say "I once got drunk and agreed to join a Feminist Sci Fi book club" is a great ice breaker at parties. 

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