Friday as an Excuse to Relinquish Control

The cycle of things being the way they are because they’ve always been that way (yes-yes, Gasaal, that’s a cycle, do continue) is hard to interrupt or notice, just because it turns into a way of existing, and peeking over the edge of this möbius loop feels impossible due to a lack of ability to see things in three dimensions rather than two, ploughing away at driving on that never-ending highway of mundanity.

I don’t remember when I started drinking on Fridays. Gosh, it must have been so long ago that I was a teenager. I remember going into a tiny nearby courtyard after school with a few school mates, we would buy beer or whiskey or vodka. Imagine this courtyard unlooked after, only a third of it covered with asphalt, the rest — bare ground, a hopeless attempt at a garden in one part, a hidden away corner in another. If it was a spirit we were drinking — we would drink it hurriedly, to a sad little accompaniment of Coca-Cola or orange juice and the oh so Eastern European appetizer of somewhat freshly baked white bread eaten in chunks, topped with mayo. If it was beer — we prolonged the pleasure a little bit — playing guitar and singing songs that echoed in an empty space where grass was stomped out by us into ungrowth, old cracked and semi-split bricks or collaborations of bricks that used to have a specific purpose — they must have! — were repurposed into cold and uncomfortable chairs or ways to keep our school bags off the mud. The noises of us enjoying ourselves spiralled around the reverberating space made of walls of adjacent buildings. What was the point of that space? It had a small patch of grass with a lone tree, it could accommodate three, maybe four parked cars, and, around the mentioned corner, five, maybe seven kids in their early teens, getting drunk off booze that some misguided or uncaring woman sold us without asking for id or reasons. Some windows faced this internal, unlooked after, sad abomination of space, but only one had a person in it. An old woman in her, what, eighties? Whenever she’d appear — we’d serenade her. Sing inebriated songs of unexplained adoration to this old woman, who would look at us from her second story window and smile. Entertainment for both sides, I suppose. Youth appreciating age, even if it was tongue in cheek, and her accepting praise just because this was all she was going to get. Am I reading too much into it?

I must have been around thirteen when I started drinking. Why did we drink back then? To get the banalities out of the way quickly, I suppose there must have been a sense of feeling more grown up. Lookit here, these adults are treating us like children; telling us what we can and can’t do; punishing us — almost exclusively verbally, but still; making us march to their marches — again, figuratively; celebrate their victories; mourn their losses. Enough! This was a way of taking control back. We drank because we could, we drank because we knew we should not have. And then we slowly accumulated all those other reasons grown-ups used to justify drinking. It’s a way to open up, you see. Sit down in a kitchen with a few close friends, drink vodka from faceted glasses — not shots, shots are for westernized pussies — glasses. And talk about politics, the meaning of life, all the good stuff. It’s also a way to deal with a difficult week. Although, how would we know what a difficult week was for them? Self-centered, narcissistic children — we, or should I say — children. Look, man, five days of lessons eight in the morning to two in the afternoon — all I’m sayin’ it’s a difficult week — you need to unwind.

I liked to think that for me it was the conversations and I believed it too. But I can’t help but wonder if it could also have been about the maintenance of masks. You know, reader — social masks. Put on one with friends, another with co-workers, yet another with strangers. Almost like different personas. So here you have it — a solid week of wearing one overly willing to please mask for the teachers and obedient child mask with the parents — so, how much relief would you feel if you got together with friends and took the masks off. Only — all of those days of being those personas kinda make you start believing that you are these things, but the rebellious kids at school and also vaguely Pink Floyd are saying that you’re not, so maybe you need something, a lever — to pry these masks off, tear them off of their fucking hinges and let that pale face see some sun. Before you get too excited though, don’t forget to put another mask on to fit in with your friends — you know the shorthand writings on the surface of that mask — bravado, humor, charisma.

Now we’re getting somewhere, with or without actually getting somewhere, but that’s the name of the game. The point is to see the loop, who said anything about stepping, jumping off of it. Or maybe, maybe the point is not to leave the loop — the implication is that it’s still there, behind you, patiently waiting for you to tell it: “baby, honey, I was so wrong, please take me back into the comfort of doing the same thing over and over again until the day I die”. There is a coziness in being able to map a problem to a solution, one would even call that adult wisdom, where enough accumulated knowledge allows you to know what to do instead of being overwhelmed by anxiety. But can there be an assumed problem that you’re so used to solving on schedule that you don’t question if it’s a problem at all?

So suppose I try to throw away all the experiences of drinking booze I have had in my life. What then is the point of drinking? To stop dragging out the title for too long, since some readers well might be losing their patience — a lot of it seems to do with relinquishing control. Fine, I’ve been sucking up to my boss; pleasantly smiling to my colleagues while being dead sure that at least two of those colleagues are cunts I would never want to be in the same room with voluntarily; doing my typey-type job, say, pretending I love it more than anything in the world — more than all of the distractions of the Internet, in fact. And now I can consume this liquid that frequently tastes like a dessert or can be made to taste like a dessert to… what? To squish my level of perception gradually, more and more, temporarily pulverize the inhibitions that allow me to avoid telling my friend that she let herself go recently, so that I can be, er… myself? What kind of myself is this, really, if there’s absolutely no guarantee that I won’t wake up tomorrow and be devastated by the embarrassment of all those things that I’ve said and done. But now we’re really, honestly, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die getting somewhere. Because maybe it’s not about “relaxing” and “throwing away the pressures of the week” or “being myself”. Maybe it’s about getting an excuse to do what ever the fuck we want in that moment. Let’s uproot a STOP sign and take it home — YES, LET’S. Like a demented improv actor with no breaks and close to infinite ambitions. Don’t worry about the infinite ambitions though, did I mention squishing the level of perception? So the infinite ambitions only apply to that narrow field of things that are noticeable and the more you drink the narrower the field.

There are arguments about drinking for the taste of it, or for the slight buzz and as someone who can just barely slam the breaks on any sort of consumption once it starts happening — this is all nice and stuff, but why does it need to be alcoholic and screw up the way you function by morning? I mean look, there have to be historical roots to the whole ordeal. Maybe tribes would gather together, eat overripe fruit, experience the buzz and feel more connected to each other. This light buzz with a social aspect to it I get, mostly.

My gripe with it is this desire to distill and multiply. Those drinking for the taste of booze are recommended to try non-alcoholic beverages with similar tastes. Snobs are suggested to learn to appreciate a single sip of their beverage of choice. Those doing it for the alcohol-induced buzz can wonder why it is that we as a society have been squeezing higher percentages of alcohol into beverages. Why is it that a 1.5% beer is looked at with contempt? Within this segment of the population where the buzz is the focus — what is the need for spirits? Or beverages with more than 10% alcohol. And if it has this social aspect, a certain je ne sais quoi that helps you connect with your friends and strangers better… maybe you need to work on your social skills. Maybe if you can’t have a warm and fuzzy conversation with your friends until you down a bottle of beer or a glass of wine — you’re not really as connected to said friends. Maybe if you can’t approach a woman you find attractive without a few shots of tequila — your self-confidence can benefit from some training instead of having a constant aftertaste of booze and a tinge of headache in the morning.

My other gripe is this defaulting to solutions because these are the solutions that we have been defaulting to. Friday? Well, sounds like it’s time to get fucked up! Because… er… because how else can you really appreciate that it’s the end of the workweek other than being totally irresponsible to the extent that it might affect your functioning tomorrow, but it’s fine since it’s the weekend. Perhaps rather than have an elaborate list of inebriation methods as a response to: “How do you relax?” a way better answer would be “I never tense up in the first place”. But that would require work, wouldn’t it. Mindfulness when it comes to how you feel, essentialism when it comes to what you do, compassionate thoughtful friendship. And when it comes to getting a slight buzz — let’s be honest, booze is not the only game in town.

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A citizen of the world fostering two cats and a depression, trying to make sense of things.

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Gasaal Nglia

A citizen of the world fostering two cats and a depression, trying to make sense of things.