My American friends gawp at me with a delectable cocktail of envy, anger, and disappointment. For most of them, I’m their heaviest drinking friend. For January, I’m the bane of their existence.
This is my third “Dry January,” a very British phenomenon which began in 2013. If Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, Dry January is surely the worst. But I want to evangelize about it for a moment.
The Wall Street Journal reports that I’m right (of course) to do it. Dry January participants lose an average of 4 lbs. over the month, and their liver function improves while their cancerous…ness declines. We get better sleep. We are mentally quicker on the draw, and by and large we are the most annoying people around all month. I enjoy that aspect, too.
Because, you see, from February 1 to December 31 I’m the guy who’s always texting my entire phonebook at around two in the afternoon.
“Drink? Trump Hotel? Morton’s? For goodness sakes, I’ll bring a bottle of whiskey to your house just let me sit on the stoop and you can talk to me from the window. Just spare me the indignity of drinking alone.” (No, there’s nothing “empowering” about doing that. It’s just sad, guys).
So now I get to exact my revenge for people being totally rubbish at drinking all year long.
Every sip you take, every drunk face you make… I’ll be mocking you.
But that’s not the only benefit. In fact, that’s the pettiest.
The truth is like a sensory deprivation tank of time, appreciation for alcohol increases greatly after January. Appreciation of sobriety can also increase, but why focus on the negatives in life?
This year I’ve added giving up cigarettes at the same time. That might seem impossible, but one vice fuels the other, like a lousy relationship where the two of you keep orbiting each other for months on end after you had supposedly broken up.
“Oh, hey, I didn’t know you were going to be here! Let’s talk all night and walk home together and then you can come and cry on my couch with me as we both realize what a horrible mistake we’re making.”
Quite a specific analogy, granted. But an accurate one, I assure you.
Some things I have noticed however, contrary to “expert opinion,” are the following:
I have built my life around drinking times, and alcohol is my much-needed lullaby. But don’t try to replace it with other substances. Melatonin might knock you out, but you’ll wake up just as groggy. I’ve found myself exercising twice a day now, because I have more energy in general, but also because it tires me out in a similar way to what drinking did. By about 11 I want the caress of my duvet. By midnight I can zonk out. The only problem is waking up in the night rubbing my abs from the stupid extra set of crunches I did at the gym because that hot girl in the sports bra was walking past again.
Now, I can’t figure out whether this is the booze, the fags (that means cigarettes where I’m from so I’m allowed to say it), or the odd sleep patterns, but my right eye is twitching like an ex-girlfriend’s did when I used to tell her I wasn’t “looking for anything serious.” Don’t act like you don’t know the type.
They (and by “they” I mean some website) say that the eye can twitch as a result of high alcohol intake, but I’ve not found anything about links to withdrawal. I haven’t significantly upped my caffeine intake, and I’ve not been staring at my screen any longer than usual. All I can hope is that it is indeed related and that on February 1 it’ll stop. Otherwise I’ll have to see an optician and these paragraphs will be totally irrelevant. I don’t know which is worse.
You make far worse food-related decisions as a result of drinking (and especially hangovers) but I’m finding myself eating a lot more now.
What I’m eating is “better,” because I’m not raiding the fridge for day-old pizza, or ordering Quarter Pounders with Cheese via Uber Eats at 2 a.m. every other night. But I have to say I’m struggling to keep enough food around to deal with my boozeless body-induced munchies.
Those who know me will find it especially humorous that I have taken to snacking on granola, bone broth, and half bagels to satiate my desires. Next I’ll be unironically attending a Hillary Clinton book signing and subscribing to JacobinMag.
Still, I don’t seem to have had a problem with weight gain.
In fact, between the failure to bloat (due to hangovers) and the more free time for exercise, I have lost another 2-3 lbs. already this week. Yes, you heard, I said this week.
I know I haven’t portrayed a particularly glamorous appeal to Dry January, especially as I said I wanted to evangelize about it, but I thought I’d be real with you. It’s hard. I mean it’s simple. But it’s not easy. And if you can do it, you will really come to appreciate your booze more throughout the year. Your liver will also thank you. As will your arm, which usually tingles and goes numb three times a day, right? (Er, maybe that’s just me.)
Dry January is also a brilliant way to prove to yourself you’re not an alcoholic, even though you are. And better still, to prove the same to your parents (even though you are).
And my favorite thing about it?
No guilt knocking all those free eggnogs and red wines and hard ciders back over the Christmas party period. Because you’re going to detox, dontchaknow? Which makes you superior to your fellow party attendees in absolutely every single way.
So cock your head back, turn your nose up, chug it up and enjoy.
Raheem Kassam is a fellow at the Claremont Institute, a writing fellow at the Middle East Forum, and author of No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You.
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