Functional Alcoholism: The Whither-tos, Why-fors, and What-have-yous.

When I say I’m an alcoholic, I typically make sure to toss in words like “semi-functional,” and, “well… not really” (with a sheepish look on my face, white-knuckled hands clutching at gum or a stray cat), or “I’m still a good (read: non-abusive) father and husband,” and other things that attempt to mitigate the damage that the word “alcoholic” can do when attached to yourself.

“Who you callin’ drunk?”      -Dad

If I’ve learned anything in these thirty-odd years of mine, it’s that I have a twisted sense of humor, a dark and bizarre take on life, and the inability to see how much I scare other people when I express those two things. Anyway, here goes: I don’t know why, to my mind, one could not be a “functional alcoholic” (relative to my definition of both “functional” and “alcoholic”) as well as a father, teacher, a responsible and tax-paying citizen, a loving husband (who gives pretty damn decent foot rubs, I’ll add), a good son and brother, etc. What does one have to do with the other? I suppose it’s the few (read: millions) of bad eggs who couldn’t control their shit and wound up: kicking a dog, physically or emotionally abusing a spouse or child, losing their job, giving ZJs under a bridge for loose change and turpentine, etc.


This guy, however, has apparently figured it out. However, my definition of alcoholic is probably different than yours. For example, I can recall in high school that I was taught, “If it interferes with your life; if you get fired from a job or lose relationships because of it; if you find yourself hiding alcohol in your car, dresser drawer, place of business, toilet tank, or tube of toothpaste… you have a problem.” I don’t do any of those things, so I’m good, right?

My other saving grace is the constant battle to lose weight. Hey, for the record, it’s happening, man. Slow and steady wins the race, after all! So wifey and I do a pretty good job of staying away from the sauce… oh… let’s say 38% of the time.

The real terrifying bummer for me is: there’s always that burning desire to have a drink. And, I mean, in some fairly terrifying ways.

Weapon of Choice

Here’s something that’s a little scary: I like the taste of booze. That’s right! vodka or gin straight from a plastic handle? Yes, I like it. Straight. Usually with a little ice, but I’d drink it without. Let’s not forget bourbon, whiskey (generally speaking), scotch… most of the hard stuff. Cheap beer? Sure thing! Expensive beer? Most definitely! I love wine and wine tasting, but I guess I’d have to be pretty hard up to drink a Boones Farm or something as abrasive as that. In other words, I’m like the Martin Luther King, Jr. of alcohol: love your friends, love your neighbors, love your enemies… shit, love ’em all!

I’ll take one of each, please and thank you.

It’s 7:30 A.M. Somewhere…

When do I like to drink? Try FUCKING ALWAYS! I mean it, truly, I do. Unless I’m horribly hungover (although, honestly, I’d prefer a drink even in most hangover situations), I could throw some bourbon and/or Irish cream into my coffee, drink a Bloody Mary, pound about four and a half gallons of Mimosa, or even have a beer. I kind of never left college, where our society’s parties often involved a shot of Jose Cuervo at 9 or 10 A.M. as your entrance to the party (and if you’ve never tried Skip n’ Go, you’re missing out). One of my favorite memories involves horrifying my mother in-law (she took it pretty well) when I ordered a pint of Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale while we were WAITING to be seated for a breakfast.


Fuck. Yeah.

Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that lunch beer, midday snifters, pre-dinner Martinis and aperitifs, as well as post-meal digestivos are prized opportunities to consume. Really, Winston Churchill and I have a lot in common.

Indeed, Old Man!

The Struggle

Yeah, it’s real, alright. The fucked up thing is: I’m winning! I know people who actually drink a ton more than I do, in terms of frequency and quantity; yet, to my knowledge, they don’t have the nagging voice telling them to take every opportunity to have a beer with a co-worker or find every excuse to have a drink… at least, they’re smart enough not to publicly admit that. So… that’s good, right? Truly, I fear that I terrify wifey with my burning desire to quaff at all hours of the day and night. She is not disposed to this lifestyle, at least not since college, so my appetites are hard to relate to.

Yes, Justin… winning….

Here’s where I quit my rant and pray to the Blog Gods (above and below) that SOMEONE sounds off. Can you relate to my “alternative lifestyle?” Have you behaved this way since college? Am I morally bankrupt? Does it piss you off that, even though I destroy my liver and drink like an Irish sailor on shore leave during Mardi Gras, I am in pretty damn decent physical shape? Is there no RIGHT way to do this life thing?

Let’s hear those thoughts!



2 thoughts on “Functional Alcoholism: The Whither-tos, Why-fors, and What-have-yous.”

  1. My wife was 31 when I found out she had been secretly drinking (in addition to the drinks we had on the weekends). Except that she wouldn’t drive (nobody understood why at the time) she was very functional. Until I found out, she turned yellow a few days later, she walked into the hospital and never walked out. She was extremely healthy, until she suddenly wasn’t.
    Do as you are going to, but liver failure and the resulting cascade of other organs failing is not a pleasant way to go, for you or those you care about. Maybe your liver will be able to take it all. Who knows?
    Either way, I wish you the best,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it only takes one story like this to make me want to put my foot so far into my mouth that… (you complete the joke). Anyway, my condolences for your experience and loss.

      As I tried to explain, “alcoholic” is relative and I don’t believe that I’m doing any irreparable harm to my body. The bigger concern for myself and, I presume, my wife, is the fact that I want it all of the time and have no problem consuming in mass quantities on, say, a week night or during a Sunday mass. I hope I described that well enough as to not be offensive toward anyone who has actually endured legitimate alcoholism.


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