Enter your keyword

The Four Hour Benchmark – Partying Sober

The Four Hour Benchmark – Partying Sober

The Four Hour Benchmark – Partying Sober


I was always a good four hour drinker. If I had a glass of wine or two getting ready and a roadie for liquid courage, I’d arrive at the party with a little buzz and about four hours until the witching hour, when I sneaked out the back door. I was famous for ghosting. I’d hit that benchmark where things were starting to get fuzzy and I’d think, “I had better get out of here now, or I am going to do something I’d regret if I could remember it in the morning…”


There were occasions I didn’t listen to my own good advice, but those were the times I blush to think about (it takes four guys to lift me off the floor when I’m in my cups). It was always better to get the phone call saying, “What happened to you last night? You disappeared.” The alternative usually involved ice packs or police lights…


Anyway, it occurred to me this weekend, that I am a good, four hour sober partier too. If the get-together does not involve sack races or watching back to back pirated movies in a viewing room, I am frankly bored. After four hours of teetotalling, I’m ready to politely thank my host and hightail it out of there or crawl out of my own skin.


Here’s Why:

Hour One: There is parity in the first hour. Even if your friends had a cocktail while perfecting their vogue looks, they are usually not tipsy in hour one. They might have a glass of wine or a beer to break the ice. Anyone who is doing keg stands or shots in hour one is not your friend anyway, so they are to be ignored. You grab a gassy water in a wine glass and mingle. For me, this is always awkward – one of the big reasons I used to drink as much a I did was because I felt uncomfortable in a social setting.


Hour Two: In the line up at the open bar, you notice people are getting a bit friendlier. Your second and third club soda (lemon in one, lime in the other!) goes down the hatch smooth as silk. You’ve talked to some folks you know and a few others, emboldened by their beer, come to talk to you. You’ve only looked at your watch once. You are still having fun, especially if there is a boat ride or antique cars or a performance. At this point, I begin to realize there is a bit of a disconnect. It might just be me.


Hour Three: The volume has increased in hour three and you have switched to soda with “a splash of orange juice”. How much gassy water can one person consume? Dancing has begun, even if it isn’t a dance party. You check your watch surreptitiously – twice. People are cozier still. A friend who is also in recovery asks, “So, how far in would you be if you were still drinking?” and you laugh and say, “Oh God – eight wines?” You nod at each other, stand and watch the proceedings and it goes without saying that you are better guests now that you are sober…


Hour Four: The witching hour happens whether your friends are big drinkers or not. It is just not the same to be at a party without a glass of wine. At hour four, drinkers are repeating their stories and draping their arms over your shoulders. If there is going to be drama, it will happen now. You are beginning to think about your exit strategy and you are back to plain club soda – no bloody citrus wedge, okay? It crosses your mind just once that it would be nice to feel a glow and then you remind yourself that your “glow” was a conflagration…



A “glow” would be nice… the street theater in my mind…


Street Theater in My Mind

No one understands the little, street theater that goes on in the head of a person in recovery. Except another person in recovery. I do not want a drink. But the longer I am at this sober “thing” the more I realize the occasional challenge I face. As I sit at a party, I am bombarded with mental images. I see the face of a therapist, there is a flashback of a time I was drunk, a warning aphorism blinks like neon, I watch someone swallow, I play a drinking scenario through to its natural conclusion, I tell myself I am strong, I tell myself to get out there and make new friends


You get the picture. It’s tiring. And I think it’s fair, that after a few hours of earnest, well behaving I can go home. I can protect myself. Out the front door – no ghosting. The perfect guest. A lovely party. But please – no more than four hours…


Today I’m not drinking because I am looking at my watch…


How come you’re not drinking?


Related Posts

Comments (6)

  1. Avatar
    Aug 12, 2016

    I bet Lacroix and Pierrier have made a significant profit since the two of us stopped drinking. But thank God for it, in the early days when my tummy was upset from medicine and you were just upset , we drank gallons!

    • Marilyn
      Aug 12, 2016

      I know. The problem is that it doesn’t give the zing for a long period of time. I have realized that without wine, parties are just not as fun – at least not for more than a couple hours… But damn if I’m not well behaved!

  2. Avatar
    Aug 12, 2016

    I’m not drinking because I just plain do not drink any more. I still live in a Drinking World, and we still have the classiest bar you’ve ever seen. I keep my non-alcoholic drinks in it also. One of my favorite clean drinks by the way, is DIET TONIC (regular has too much sugar) with plain bitters. Very tasty, or TONIC with a good splash of a diet grapefruit or diet cranberry. Four hours is too long to stay at a party. No one is THAT interesting.

    • Marilyn
      Aug 19, 2016

      I hear you. I was being kind. I rally am sort of done in two. And I still love me some gassy water. It’s just that after 4 or 5 you start to feel, well, GASSY…Keep it up!

  3. Avatar
    Dr. Steve
    Aug 26, 2016

    How come you're not drinking?
    Recovery is so much better......life is so much better....
    I loved this article! Being a person in long-term recovery I know the feeling of the 4 hour party. Most of the time I don’t make it past 3 hours. By that time everyone is more than well on their way to stupidity (something I have done too many times in the past!), and I just have to leave.

    Keep them coming.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.