In 2009, I became a parent to a beautiful daughter. She is the light of my life. From 2010 to 2015, I lived two very separate lives: Daddy PJ and Partyin’ PJ. When I’m with my daughter, I’m on my Ps and Qs; I don’t even drink when she’s with me unless her mother is around OR my parents are present and even then it's minimal - we’re talking a beer at most. But when I was Mr. Solo Dolo, well, we’ll get to that.
In 2015 (and 2016) I welcomed two beautiful baby boys into my life who have added to the light of my life and shine in their own ways. My family is and has light. Et facta est lux. Family life has become my ministry. I’m home with my family every day, b. And do you know what this means?
Drinking, and getting drunk in particular, is that bullshit. Let’s shenaniganalize a little bit, shall we?
There was a point in time where two of my sisters thought I might need an intervention. My Instagram feed was full of more drinks than a staged Love & Hip-Hop restaurant scene. Back then, I wasn’t a raging alcoholic or anything, quite to the contrary actually (put a pin in this), I just rolled with a crew - a crew that is still very much the homies - who pretty much bonded, almost daily, over a libation and all shenanigans were documented with intentionality. Sundays were a particularly libatious day. Sunday Funday is a thing after all and we romanced the shit out of it. It really didn’t matter what day of the week it was, either. If I was available and the Bat signal appeared, I was on somebody’s rooftop or outdoor patio with a glass of Bulleit and ginger-ale regaling the good life I was living.
It wasn’t unusual for me to leave work at 6pm, be out until 2am, and up again at 6am to be out the door to take my daughter to school the next morning. My tolerance was on a hundred, thousand, trillion. Taking upwards of seven or eight shots of Jameson per outing wasn’t really an issue so much as an expectation. And I wasn’t even the person who could drink the most. I’ve got friends who I’ve seen drink nearly twice as much as I’d ever drink who I can honestly say I’ve never seen drunk. Liver gang.
Full disclosure: This isn't to say that I was never washed. There are epic stories of some nights where that last drink was a bridge too far. I have a hat that made its way around DC while I was once asleep at a bar. And behind a bar. Also, there's the night I tried - unsuccessfully, of course - for several minutes to unlock my neighbors door and became frustrated that I couldn't get into my home. Any given Sunday, fam.
Interestingly though (back to the pin), I almost never drink at home or by myself. My liquor shelf isn’t impressive. When I do “drink” at home, it’s usually in the form of beers others have left behind after an event and even then I find it difficult to finish them. I take a few sips and pour out the rest because I never really wanted that beer to begin with. I don’t drink wine and kind of hate champagne. I’m a professional social drinker. Or was.
I’ve learned over time that while I’ve always had fun drinking, the parenting and family ministry part doesn’t really mix well with it, for me anyway. And by parenting, I mean the part of parenting that involves being awake at ungodly hours like 2, 3, 4, or 5am after you’ve just downed two shots of Johnny Walker Black on top of the four or five other drinks you’ve had. Nothing says “FIX MY LIFE, IYANLA” like getting home at 4am wasted and your children are up at 6am as you prepare to take your son to a soccer class at 9am and pray that some super-strong 3-year-old accidentally kicks you in the head with a ball so you can pretend to be knocked out so you can get some sleep. They don’t, don't show, and don't care what time you come home, they just know your ass better be ready to play “roll around” when they’re ready.
I’m a very light sleeper. This means I’m up at all hours of the night with my children (for the most part unless one is sick which is where mommy does all the heavy lifting because mom). I get the late night bottles. I do most of the late night put them back to sleep duties. When my son tries to run into our bedroom for the fourth time, it’s me who picks him up and tries to rock him back to sleep and then place him back in his bed. And it doesn’t bother me. Again, I’m a light sleeper (thanks to my daughter’s baby and toddler days) so I’m going to be awake anyway. And I still function quite well on four hours of sleep. But the problem for me is that I’m still a light sleeper even when drunk. This sucks. Sleeping in is something I’m not very good at doing. My recovery time is ALREADY way worse than it was just two years ago as my tolerance has already diminished because I rarely drink. This means that if I get drunk and get in late, my ENTIRE next day is going to be a lethargic, exhausted fog.
The only plausible solution for me has to been to cut back on drinking, almost altogether. And by drinking, I mean liquor. I’ll drink a cider, like Angry Orchard or Bold Rock, though I’m not sure that constitutes “drinking”. It’s been easier for me than most since I’m pretty much only a social drinker and don't go out as much as I used to and don’t drink wine or anything else that people typically drink at home to unwind. I just drink my water and juices and call it a day.
Even when I do go out now - I still throw parties - my rule is to drink before midnight (and again, by drink I mean drink a few beers at most) and then drink water for the rest of the time so that I feel almost nothing the next day. And it works. Even on my birthday I managed to take only one shot of Jameson (and another much weaker shot because my friends do, indeed, love me) but felt just awesome the next morning, and I’m a dude who has been literally carried out of the club on his birthday before. (To be fair, on that particular birthday, I was managing the nightclub and the goal was always to get the managers as trashed as possible - I promise I took about 10 shots of Patron ON TOP of the regular drinks people kept putting in my hand.)
The title of this piece has “Asterisk” in it. This is for a very good reason. When I’m out of town and don’t have my kids, I am willing to let myself turn up, even if it happens fairly irregularly. It ain't like I refuse to drink on a principle. But if my kids are present, it’s just waters and juice boxes and smooth sailing the next morning as far as I’m concerned. And to tell the truth, I don’t even really miss drinking that much. There’s something about remembering everything that makes you feel alive. And frankly, the taste of liquor isn’t as sweet as it used to be.
I don't know if this counts as maturity or functionality, but whatever the reason, I'll take it.
Now somebody pass me some O'Douls.