The Drunken Disappearing Act

I picked up Lauren from the airport last night. She had gone to the Army/Navy game with Laura and a group of bon vivants and ex-Navy dudes who go every year. They have their traditions: Capital Grill, barhopping, tailgating, shared hotel rooms and drunkenness. The usual behavior surrounding a big rivalry, once a year, football game.

Lauren was telling me they had lost some folks during the weekend – for example, one guy ordered a $50 steak at Capital Grill, took a bite, excused himself to “go to the bathroom” and never came back. What is that phenomenon? I used to do it all the time. It happens at a wedding or a party or a bonfire or football game – someone in the group has a snootful too much and slips away like a dying dog and just disappears.

I have left restaurants, movie theaters, parties in my honor and important milestones. Poof! There seems to be a point in the drinking spectrum, where you still have the wherewithal to know you’re in trouble, but it’s coupled with the strong need to GET OUT OF THERE before you fall down, or puke or tell the boss’s wife, “I have always despised your stupid, Pandora charm bracelet.”

For me it used to be as if a door closed. I’d be fine, chugging wine after wine, life of the party, and then the cumulative effect would hit like a Quaalude and I’d hightail it for a cab, or (God help me) my car, or I’d take off my shoes and walk for miles. The next day, someone always asks, “What happened to you? I looked around and you were gone.” You pretend you remember leaving, and you lie and you make up excuses like babysitters or early morning meetings or a headache, but everyone knows it was because you were drunk.

The feeling is worse than wanting to leave a place – it’s like wanting to leave your own skin. These days I am never the last one at the party, but I do have the sober, good grace to come up with a plausible story when I sneak out the back door… or I might even go to the host and say, “It’s time for me to leave – thank you for a lovely evening.”

Fancy that – no disappearing act, no hat trick, no hangover…

Today I’m not drinking because I want to pull a rabbit out of my hat.

How come you’re not drinking?