Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Day. But I’ve had a lot of beer.

You see, I made myself a last-minute New Year’s resolution that I wouldn’t drink any alcohol until I finished my next book. This was a self-motivational deal with myself, made under the assumption that it would take about another month to finish up the book. Well, it’s been almost six months and I’m still not done. Whoops.

Alcohol for me means beer. It’s really the only alcoholic beverage I ever drink. I will have a Bloody Mary on special occasions, but mostly because I am asked to make them, since I happen to make the world’s best Bloody Mary. (Not meant to be boastful – simply the truth.) Other than that, it’s beer. I don’t really know if that’s because I don’t really care for wine and spirits, or because I just love beer. Probably a little of both. I have always liked beer - literally from the moment I took my first sip from my dad’s can of Coors when I was a boy. I remember thinking, “Man, that’s good! I can’t wait to grow up so I can have a whole one!”

Well, I grew up, and I have been enjoying beer after tasty beer from the time my incredibly good college fake ID said I was 21. Little did I know as a young lad that there were so many choices! Coors is good and all, but I might have exploded with joy if my dad had been a Guinness drinker.

Anyway, due to my love of beer, I figured a drinking moratorium would be a very motivational way to encourage some extra effort and finish up the book. What I said to myself was; no beer until I’m finished. What I naturally meant by that was no alcohol until I was done, which I foolishly thought would be the motivating factor, since beer and alcohol have always gone hand in hand. I did not count on the unexpected happening.

I didn’t miss it at all. I cruised right through the first month. I was shocked. My wife was shocked. My friends were shocked. People who didn’t even know me very well were shocked. If we had a dog, it would have been shocked.

Then, the totally unexpected happened. We had a party at our house, and one of the guests brought over two six-packs of Clausthaler, a German non-alcoholic beer. I looked at it and snickered, like any true beer-lover would do. It never even occurred to me to try one, until my wife said, “Well, you could have one of those, couldn’t you?”

I thought about it for a second, and decided that I could, since my “no drinking until I’m finished” rule really applied to alcohol, and not necessarily a brewed malt beverage that didn’t have any measurable alcohol content to speak of. So, on a whim, just to see how bad it was, I held my nose and took a swig.

Then, the truly, totally, wildly unexpected happened. I liked it. It tasted just like beer. After the first delicious German-brewed sip I realized all at once that I really missed beer. I really, really missed beer. I just didn’t miss the alcohol. Go figure!

I have probably drunk more beer in the last three months than I did in the entire previous year. I used to think of myself as a true beer lover. In my old world, non-alcoholic beer was something to be scoffed at. I am now enlightened. For a true, true beer lover, non-alcoholic beer is awesome. It opens up a whole world of new beer possibilities. Want a beer at lunch on a work day? No problem. Thirsty and want to crack one open while driving home from the store? Sure. Want beer on your Cheerios for breakfast? That’s gross. But you could totally do it! Plus, it’s about half the calories of regular beer, so your beer gut grows half as fast!

In fact, there are only two problems I can find with it. It costs as much or more than beer with alcohol in it. That seems wrong at first, but it’s probably because they have to take the alcohol out after they brew it, so it’s really more work to make it. Nothing we can do about that, I guess. Secondly, due to having no alcohol, there is no clearly defined stopping point. I found this problem at my good friend’s 40th birthday party. His wife rented out a bar, and we were there for over five hours. As the party was winding down I was feeling unusually bloated. When I paid my tab I realized I had downed ten O’Doul’s over the course of the evening. Maybe paying cash as I go would be a good solution to that one.

Last month, in the midst of all my non-alcoholic beer enlightenment, I, too, turned 40 years old. I had always planned on “cleaning things up a little,” health-wise, when I hit 40, and one of the items on the checklist was soda. I drink waaaay too much Coke. Over the course of many years, I have apparently stopped getting my nutrients and energy from food sources the way God intended, and have instead become the human equivalent of a fat, slow hummingbird. I exist almost entirely on sugar-water. I’m no physician, but I know that can’t be good.

Life is funny sometimes. I quit drinking alcohol almost by accident, and that went really well. I am currently trying to quit drinking caffeinated soda, and it couldn’t be more difficult. I feel like I’m detoxing from morphine. My temples are pounding, my vision is blurry, my palms are sweaty, and I’m walking around with my head in a cloud where I constantly feel like I’m forgetting something. I’m thinking about starting to use heroin just so I’ll have something easier to quit.

I know I need to be done once and for all with my daily soda intake, but this is ridiculous. I don’t think the motivational “take something away” plan will work this time. I already quit drinking, so I really don’t have anything left to take away, anyway. I refuse to give up my non-alcoholic beer, so I’m kind of stuck.

Maybe, instead, I’ll do some kind of motivational rewards program. I could always substitute in real beers for the Cokes as an incentive. That might have some merit... It will either work on its own, or I’ll end up drunk in the middle of the day, get fired from my job and have no money to buy any beverages.

Either way, I’ll get off the Coke.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Hi Marc, you CAN quit soda; I haven't had any in years. It is hard at first, but once you are off it for a few months, when someone offers you a taste just because you are thirsty, it will be the most vile thing, ever, you put in your mouth! Good Luck and keep the posts coming.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Laina! I'm off to get an Advil and a beer.