Saturday, 3 January 2009

A sober night out

I managed it without too much incident. Constructing the night as a bit of fun, a "first date", distracted from the overhanging knowledge this was the first time I'd been out for the night not planning to have a drink. We met in an old favourite, a pub which has just reopened but is full of memories, the vast majority based around drinking, naturally. The half of lemonade was sickly sweet, but it passed okay.

Three games of bowling down and the three glasses of wine are visible in her nature. I hate this bit. Not in her, but in me. I seem to become hypersensitive to all the signs of drunkenness in others when I'm out sober. It's probably why I've always felt too uncomfortable to do it; drunks irritate me in a million ways. My English sensibilities make me shy away from their exuberance and beg for a little dignity, but it's not forthcoming so I'm forced in the company of the sort of person I am not.

We ran into four of her friends in a quiet pub and a flash of panic kicked in - would this be the first time I'm fully exposed to a group of drunks? I'm not looking forward to it at all. Shouts and laughs from every direction and none of them making sense; I really want a drink to help me make sense of the noise, or at least just cut out the noise and help me focus on one. As it was, they were pretty sedate themselves, to the point where I was carrying the conversation - so much for sober reserve. If only the pounding headache would go, most likely a reaction to the awful sugariness of the lemonade. What else is there to drink? I feel like I have a hangover and all I've had is four lemonades.

We finished the night in a loud pub - a bad choice on my part. It's past midnight and the noise and the lights are feeling quite enough, and I feel my concentration drifting. Fewer and fewer thoughts are popping into my head and I begin to feel the first pangs of self-consciousness in a pub, as if I've a sign on my head making it clear I don't belong there. Time to go, I think. I'm sure the significance of the night hung in the air as we went our separate ways, but it went unmentioned and I'm happy about that. There are no words to really say about it all that don't just seem to attract unwanted attention.

It's only one night, but at least I've an idea what it's like being the designated driver now.

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