Tonight, I had the pleasure of hoisting a pint at what was long Derry Hegarty's Pub on Bluemound Rd. in Milwaukee. Going to a bar once or twice a week for a beer or two isn't the most common of New Year's resolutions. But it's one of mine. I'd gone to Brookfield Square and was driving back along Bluemound. I wanted to stop for a beer and possibly something to eat.
You see, even a venture like that is a little difficult for me. I tend to find places and keep going back for years and years. I feel like I need to know where to sit or stand, how to order, and how to behave in general in order to feel comfortable. Going to a new bar or restaurant and deciding to enjoy myself no matter what requires some effort and discipline. And I enjoy myself more sitting alone than I would trying to talk to someone over loud music and voices.
So I've been trying to go to a new bar at least once a week. A couple of months ago, I started going to the Harp on Juneau Ave. and enjoyed it very much--maybe too much for the purposes of this exercise. I went back several times. One time I was going to walk in, the music was too loud for me and the habit was broken. Since then, I've been fortunate to find some nice places away from the overpriced Water St./Old World Third St. scene, a couple of which I've mentioned here.
My family background is fairly anti-alcohol, about as much so as it gets among people who aren't teetotalers. That was the case with my grandparents, at least my maternal ones. My Grandpa had worked for Blatz Brewery in his youth and apparently got cases of the beer free or at a discount. When I was a kid, they had cases that had been there for what seemed like decades. They would pull a bottle or two up for company now and then. When I was about thirteen, I surreptitiously broke into the stash. I'm sure it was about two hours before I either was discovered or, more likely, confessed.
Now at almost 40, one night when I was visiting my parents in Arizona, I had two cans of beer before bed. (This might have been New Year's Eve.) I was sleeping on the living room couch, and my Mom commented on it. It seemed like it might be the kind of comment that indicated the dial of opprobrium was being turned on. It was the sort of opprobrium that you either refute or drink an extra one to forget. I can see how that becomes thin ice for many people.
Christmas week, I'd posted to this blog that I have a drinking habit. I was so worried about giving the wrong impression, I stayed up an extra hour on a work night removing all traces of the post so that no one would see it on Facebook. I'd meant exactly what I wrote--a habit of drinking. Like, one a day or possibly two. Quite distinct, to my mind, from a drinking problem. A drinking problem earns one a place in the store window of my family's ridicule. Another reason why walking into a bar hardly seems like a casual affair.
Yet, for me the risk of not enjoying the occasional drink seems greater than that of doing it. With appetite control I find that the less I think about it, the better off I am. For me, the wise choice is surely to accept that there will be cycles of fatter and thinner, imbibing and not imbibing, and brighter and bluer times.