Blithbury (n.) A look someone gives you by which you become aware that
they’re much too drunk to have understood anything you’ve said to them
in the last twenty minutes.”
– Douglas Adams and John Lloyd: The Deeper Meaning of Liff –
After my sober March, I was now drinking again, but I was much more in control – avoiding drinking during the week but making up for the Sunday-Thursday (relative) abstinence with a decent bottle of wine or three on Friday and Saturday nights.
Of course, inevitably, there were a couple of mortifying incidents once I was drinking again, the first of which is now forever immortalised in family legend as Spanx Night.
Spanx Night was my first night out since E had left, and the first night I’d had a drink since Sober March. First of all, it needs to be understood that I don’t sing, or dance, unless I’m pissed. Secondly, when I’ve had too much to drink, I can’t stop talking (until I’ve really had too much, at which point I fall asleep). Thirdly, it needs to be clear that I don’t have an ‘off button’ when it comes to alcohol. Most people can tell before they’ve had too much to drink that they’ve had a bit much and that they need to slow down/stop. Not me. I can only tell that I’ve had too much to drink about half a bottle of wine too late. By the time it’s caught up with me, even though I’ve usually stopped drinking, the effects are irreversible – no amount of coffee, water or toast will undo the damage. Because I know this, and because, in the past I have frequently fallen victim to it, I’m older and wiser now and I usually watch what I’m drinking very carefully and know pretty much exactly how many glasses of wine I can safely have in one session.
Anyway, this first night out was to a karaoke night at a local pub. Fatally, I was going with a couple of friends from work – at this point I’d only been working there for a couple of weeks so the last thing I wanted to do was make an arse of myself. However, I’d just had a whole month off the booze, so I was (madly, as it transpires) confident, that I’d pop along, say hello to a couple of people, maybe have a couple of glasses of wine and then head home for camomile tea, toast and bed.
The evening started fairly well. I’d lost a fair few pounds since E left, so I’d treated myself to a new dress. The dress was a wrap dress, and a tad clingy, so, in addition to not eating all day, I’d also manhandled myself into a pair of Spanx – this mean a lot of undignified grunting and wriggling every time I went to the loo, but I consoled myself with the fact that it did make the dress look good, plus if anyone heard me in the loo, they might think I had a far more exciting life than I actually had. I’d blow dried my hair, put make up on and threatened youngest son with disconnecting the internet forever if he played Youngest Daughter up (Youngest Daughter was ‘babysitting’) and headed out feeling like everything was great.
My first mistake was buying wine by the bottle not the glass. Obviously, it’s better value for money that way, but it’s also easier to drink much more than you realise – especially if everyone else at your table is doing the same thing and topping up your glass. Anyway, after 45 minutes there were at least four empty bottles of wine on the table, and I’d told anyone who would listen what had happened with E.
After another hour or so, I’d lost count of the bottles (bloody bar staff kept clearing up) and I found myself in the main body of the pub, in a big group watching some other brave souls sing. It wasn’t long before the inevitable happened and one of my friends persuaded us to so a turn. My memory is sketchy, but I think we ‘sang’ twice. My overriding memory is of our version of Don’t You Want Me Baby. There are many words to describe it, but for now I’ll stick with ‘unforgettable’.
In the meantime, I also appeared to have pulled. A man that I’d never met before, had appeared out of nowhere and seemed to constantly be putting his arm round me, telling me his name, and asking me questions (he was so familiar with me that my friends from work assumed he was someone I knew). I was trying to be polite but firm and tell him I wasn’t interested, but he seemed very keen. He wasn’t pushing things, just being friendly and flirty, but it completely freaked me out – this was my first night out since E had left, and, flattering though it was, it was the last thing I needed.
In the end, and after I’d managed to launch a full wine glass across the pub – it literally flew out of my hand whilst I was wildly gesticulating (another drunken trait of mine: I talk with my hands at the best of times, but after a drink, it’s like being with someone doing some sort of mad whole-body semaphore). At this point, I realised I had reached Peak Blithbury and that I probably needed to get home.
If I’d felt a bit tipsy in the pub, when the fresh air hit me I was suddenly full in blown drunk-lurching-stagger mode. I don’t remember much about the walk home, other than holding onto my gorgeous friend’s hand very tightly, apologising lots, and bumping into her several times en route. (I know she reads this blog and I’d just like to say ‘thank you’ to her again for getting me back safely.)
The next morning, I woke up, in my pyjamas, with a glass of water and some paracetamol by my bed. For a beautifully brief moment I was very impressed with Drunk Me. However, as I reached, gratefully, for the water, I realised that my hand was really, really hurting. I focused my bleary eyes and realised that my thumb joint was four times its usual size and, in fact, my whole right hand was horribly bruised. Memories came filtering back and, as if I was watching slighty scratchy cctv footage of the night before, I saw Drunk Me stumbling into the ensuite, pyjamas in hand, and attempting to get undressed (whilst Youngest Daughter, who had let me in, when I was unable to make my front door key ‘work’, put water and paracetamol on my bedside table). Drunk Me managed to unwrap the wrap dress. Drunk Me managed to remove tights and bra. Drunk Me then attempted to remove the Spanx. After much stumbling and rebounding between the loo, the bath and the wall, Drunk Me finally got the Spanx down to my ankles. Drunk Me then tried to move towards the sink, but my feet were tangled up in the Spanx, there was then a resounding crash as Drunk Me fell helplessly forwards, over the bidet (I had a nice bruise on my hip as witness to this) and splayed my right hand (it’s a wonder I didn’t fracture it) on the sink unit in an attempt to stop myself banging my head.
A quick investigation of the ensuite confirmed my fuzzy recollections – there was the dress, in a crumpled heap on the floor, my tights and bra were in the bath for some reason, and, as for the Spanx, they were nestled fearfully under the loo, where they’d been when they so cruelly grabbed my ankles and caused my fall.
Youngest Daughter then appeared and asked how I was – I showed her my hand, and she looked relieved and said “I WONDERED what on earth you were doing in here, all I could hear was crashing!”.
I spent the rest of that day drinking water, eating toast, running the whole night before over and over again in my head and swearing that I’d never drink again. On reflection, I thought (hoped) I’d just appeared chatty, happy and a bit tipsy, the real drunkenness had hit when I left the pub (as my friend will testify). I hoped I was right because I had to face most of the people I’d been in the pub with at work on Monday.
I was probably more nervous about going to work after Spanx Night than I had been on my first ever day, but in the event, whether from kindness, or because they had also been drunk and didn’t remember much, nobody at work said anything. In fact, when I walked in on Monday it was like nothing had happened. I’ve never been so grateful in my life.
I’d like to say I’ve learned my lesson, and, to be fair, I no longer wear Spanx when heading out for a night that’s likely to involve copious amounts of wine, but sadly, whilst generally I’m quite grown up with drinking these days, there are still occasions where I make a complete tit of myself. I suspect I’ll have to learn to live with that…