On Being Skilled in Consumption

‘I may still be drunk.’

‘I don’t remember getting home.’

‘I’m sorry for doing the things I did.’

‘You need to let me see those pictures before they go up.’

‘Where are these bruises from?’

‘I’m going to need a giant pile of grease.’

Most of us have uttered one or more of these the morning after serious booze benders. Many of us have proclaimed that we would “never drink again!” only to succumb to a caesar or a mimosa or an afternoon beer to take the edge off of a raging hangover, and to wash down the necessary starch-laden slop we consume to try to keep the spins away.

This most recent January, I did what many do right after New Years – I gave my liver and my wallet a break by inducing a dry spell.  For me, this wasn’t a resolution (because, as I’ve said before, they’re bunk), but was me acting upon a realization that I had been expressing variations of the above phrases FAR too often. It had become clear that I needed to devote some time to being able to ‘be the party’ without ‘winning the party.’

I had a few friends that had expressed concern, and a dear Momma that was patient with the number of times I’d be in ‘rough shape’ for our Mother/Daughter brunch dates. I had grown tired of having to say sorry. I wanted to examine a bit why these expressions of extreme intoxication had become so prevalent, and more importantly, so accepted.  Why were we all okay with needing to get blackout drunk in order to have a great time?

Edward Keenan’s recent piece in The Grid sort of summed up for me how I felt when I made the decision to take a month off after New Years. “[You] have this issue—this booze thing—compartmentalized from the rest of your life. If you’re a certain kind of binge drinker, you can easily convince yourself that the problem is that you got drunk, not that you are a drunk.”  I didn’t want to turn into the latter.

My ‘Dryuary’ involved my own version of AA: art and athletics. I had some incredibly supportive friends who would go to all the art openings, concerts, and talks we could handle, and would encourage and support me when I’d be downing bar juices and sodas in all their myriads of combinations. I went to craft nights, hosted dinner parties, and tried my best to jog in the alleys when there wasn’t snow. I talked about it freely, and made sure people realized I wasn’t getting all puritanical on them. I wanted others to continue drinking as much as they felt like, and I could be there partying with them, but I needed them to know about and support my own decision to abstain for the time being.

This dry spell didn’t last. I still drink now, and I love it. I love exploring new, amazing locations for delicious craft beers. I love the taste differences between an oak-aged beer, a hoppy pilsner, the tartness of a dry cider, and how they can all be the best drink choice at different times. I like pairing wines with cheese, and trying out new cocktails by talented flavour combiners.  I’m a big fan of a finger of scotch in my tea to lull me to sleep on a rainy night. My Dryuary allowed me the space to build a new relationship with alcohol that I’m really quite thankful for.

In fact, that’s part of the reason I pushed for this issue of Provocative Penguin to be about booze. Most, if not all, of the contributors to this site would consider themselves skilled in consumption. We tend to devour “all of the things” ranging from booze, to good eats, to news, to music, to events.

In having most of the articles this month be about the actual liquid booze, we’re not telling you to go out and drink more/get blasted. You can still be gloriously hedonistic without forgetting your times of indulgence.

Basically, we’re just hoping that;

– if Whisky is your drink of choice, that you’re significantly more knowledgeable about it.

– if you’re going to drink, you should probably know how to enjoy it.

– if you love Tom Waits for his warbling piano, that you consider that perhaps he’s a bit of an arse for making you wish you’d heard it the way he did.

– you realize that there’s an incredible aesthetic beauty to the way that booze is packaged and presented.

– when you go out drinking, you sometimes get ideas for fantastic comparisons like Dumb and Dumber V.S. War and Peace

In a time when our own mayor is seemingly having a not-so-secret problem with alcoholism, I think it’s important to keep talking about it. “Deflating the elephant in the room,” is not just about keeping drunk drivers off the road. There are many ways to have fun and even more ways to experience challenges with drinking. Whatever your relationship with booze is, I just ask that you stay open about it. We’re all friends here… so let’s meet up at an event, share a boozey tipple or a fancy juice and discuss it all a bit further…

Until then,



About Lee-Anne Bigwood

Lee-Anne Bigwood is an observer and a participant of too many things in Toronto. She used to copy definitions out of the dictionary and has started, but not filled, almost as many journals as the number of years she’s been alive. She is an only child, an Aries, and an ENFP. She is perfectly aware, thank you, that referring to her astrological sign and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator makes her bio sound like a dating profile. [More on PP by Lee-Anne] [Lee-Anne's Blog]