Friday, February 18, 2011

Diary of sobriety

A night out like no other....

It starts off pretty much the same as any other night on the town, as soon as the football's finished texts begin to roll in with suggestions of where and when to meet up, requests of a bed for the night should things not go according to plan, lists of who exactly might be coming out and all the other inane details that go towards making a Saturday night out on the piss the most eagerly anticipated time of the week for a certain section of Irish society. But even at this early stage something feels not quite right, you ponder what to eat safe in the knowledge that no matter what you ingest it will remain safely ensconced in your body with no harmful fluids accompanying it and forcing it to return from whence it came. But even this thought brings little or no comfort, wasn't eating a meal fit for a king, and in the process 'lining your stomach' for the battles ahead, part of the fun? You'd fill yourself to bursting and proclaim yourself ready and able for whatever the great breweries of this world could throw at you only to be left choking on your words and your dinner just five short hours later, this was of course until you became a seasoned drinker and scoffed at the thought of wasting not only the fine pre pub meal but also the tasty beverages that followed it.

Once the arrangements have been made and you've treated yourself to the most lavish of meals preparations can begin in earnest. You lovingly lay out your most coveted threads and after much internal debate give your oh so uncomfortable shoes a quick polish in readiness for a rare outing on their part, but even as you do this you find yourself thinking that in a few hours time you'll carefully remove these expensive items of clothing in a very particular manner rather than wake up in them as would once have been the case. You shower, shave and make yourself as presentable as humanely possible before considering whether a few 'going out tunes' are in order before you brave the elemental forces that surely lie ahead, on goes the kind of song that you can only wish they'd play in your local pub and one that never fails to get you in the mood, but after a half hearted shuffling dance around your living room you decide enough is enough, sulkily grab your coat and you're away out the door, your Saturday night has just begun.

As you march in the general direction of your favourite pub, already feeling inconspicuous amongst the early evening revellers, you ring ahead to get the lie of the land, “Well, whereabouts are ye?”, “We.......n........eo.......s”, “Wha, I can't hear ya”, “IN.......G...H......”, “Grand I'll see ye there”. Despite having no idea as to the whereabouts of your companions for the night you hastily hang up as the sounds of laughter, mirth and general joviality coming from the background are almost too much to bear for your tortured soul, you consider texting but think better of it as any response is likely to be as illegible as the conversation was cryptic. And anyway you know that your friends are only ever going to be in one of a handful of pubs so you decide to track them down reasoning that this will most probably be the most fun you'll have over the course of the night as you cheerily barge and buffet your way the throngs grimacing at the sheer joy of it all.

You finally spot the reprobates you have the fortune to class as friends and after greeting them all in the manner they deserve and finding a less than salubrious pedestal to perch yourself upon it's finally the moment you have been dreading all night. “You drinking tonight then Si?”, multiple responses flash through your mind, “I fuckin am boy and I'm gonna go nuts”, “Yep think I'll get a double Jack Daniels to start”, “You know what, I just think I might”, but no these are the responses of a past you, a younger more carefree you, tonight's response is “Nah man not tonight”. They expected this answer but you still feel like you're bearing the brunt of disapproving looks from all those that are present, you tell yourself that these are your friends and they would never judge you no matter if you never drank again but still the feeling of letting everyone down gnaws at you like a tapeworm gorging on your insides.

sniggers from the table behind, sneering looks from the patrons at the bar and a general air of pity as you patiently wait for the drink which you hope can be mistaken for Captain Morgans or any suchlike before scurrying back to the relative safety of your table. You've survived this time but only barely and you feel sick in your stomach as you realise things are only going to get harder as the night progresses.

But look on the bright side you tell yourself, you're amongst friends, everyone is happy and joie de vivre fills the air, it's a Saturday night for Christ's sake lighten up!! And yes this does work for a while, you sit and chat and have the kind of no holds barred enjoyment that you can only ever have with a group of your mates, but an hour or two passes and you notice a slight change in the cadence of the conversation. Suddenly you don't quite get the jokes or even worse don't even notice that there was a joke, people are doubled over with laughter as you sit there nonplussed as to what's going on and even the mate sitting beside you who at one point had been incisive and cutting in his wit has now begun to make less and less sense as he rambles on about something that you swore he told you just the other week. There is no point in denying it for any longer, the people around you are all now well on their way to intoxication and your feeling of being the pariah of the group has returned and this time it's intensified beyond comprehension. A cowardly man would at this point make his excuses and leave but you tell yourself that ,whether through a moral duty or otherwise, you will see this night out to the bitter end whilst inwardly groaning as the first set of Jagerbombs are presented to great joy and merriment around the table.

It's now a little after midnight and rather than being 'well on' and discussing with great passion which nightclub would be best to round off this quite splendid evening you are instead feeling a little tired and have decided to switch to Ballygowan due to the various minerals making your tongue feel a little furry. Once inside the meat market that is your local nightclub you can't help but notice just how different everything appears through a sober eye, provocatively dancing women bring to mind geriatric pensioners with a bad case of the trots rather than lustful thoughts and you daren't catch the eye of that group of rough looking lads over there for fear they'll come over in search of violence. You pause for a second wondering just what this strange feeling in your chest and stomach is and come to realise that it is fear, that's right you're scared, without the gentle caress of alcohol to desensitise you from the mayhem laid out before you you can now only fully realise just how manic everything appears. It's like travelling back to prehistoric times as man is witnessed in his most primitive modern day state, you imagine yourself viewing all this from afar as mating rituals are carried out, tests of strength abound and pack mentality rules throughout. Ladies that were a lesson in demurity just a few hours ago are now lasciviously pouting their lips whilst grinding scantily clad derrieres into whomever's to hand and lads that looked every inch the apple of their mother's eye as they set off for the night are now dangerously weaving their way around the dance floor as they attempt to create their very own version of Saturday night fever.

Eventually it becomes all too much to take as a feeling similar to that of a fully clothed man at one of Caligula's parties consumes you and a discreet but hasty exit is made without any thought of informing your friends lest you be dragged into the inevitably dramatic farewells. The scene on the street is even more terrifying than the one you've left behind but you'd readied yourself for this and a head down walk fast modus operandi is enough to see you home and into the safety of a place where the nasty neanderthals can no longer bother you. You smile to yourself whilst undressing and muse that all in all it was actually quite an enjoyable night and without even realising it you'd played your part in some new stories created for future telling, but as you lay on your pillow and drift into a restful sleep the main reason for your perma grin is the knowledge that upon awakening you shall be free of the pounding headaches and volatile stomachs which are likely to plague the rest of the participants in this Saturday night out in Ireland.