Remember Fun Bobby?
If you’re like me and caught every episode of Friends in syndication throughout your childhood, you probably remember Monica’s on-and-off boyfriend “Fun Bobby.” He told the best stories, was the life of the party, and had great hair. The catch was that FB’s stories always started out with a hilarious scenario involving being plastered at a party, or something similar. So in the show, when he decided to get sober, he kind of became Bland Bobby…even kind of Bummer Bobby.
This narrative is pretty pervasive. Alcohol = fun. Sobriety = sad. Earlier this year I found myself in a quandary wherein I would be driving home from work, unable to resist the urge to drop by the supermarket on the way home and grab a bottle of wine. It seemed like an innocent task in and of itself, except that it stemmed from a place of fear. It was this tug in my brain saying, “What if you want booze later and you don’t have any? Don’t you want to get some just in case? You don’t want to have a lousy evening, right?”
I’m a control freak, so this cycle, which wasn’t all that unfamiliar but unnerving nonetheless, went straight to the top of my list of things I needed to examine about myself. I had been deep into a podcast called Throwing Shade at the time (two enthusiastic thumbs up, by the way), and they had run an interview with a comedian who had recently quit smoking and drinking. She was around my age, never had a drinking “problem” per se, but saw it as something she didn’t want to want anymore. Naturally I related.
To her success she cited an author by the name of Allen Carr, whose book The Easy Way To Quit Smoking is sort of a bible steeped in myth and wonder in the ex-nicotine community, and who also wrote self-help books on quitting drinking, keeping your kids from drinking, and even how not to lose your mind while flying.
I downloaded what I thought to be a happy medium for someone like me, a non-alcoholic who just needed to dial back my intake, his book entitled, “The Easy Way To Control Drinking.” Seemed non-committal enough. I was hoping he had some magical voodoo he could impart on me in those pages that would make me the life of the party without the weird cravings.
The first thing I discovered was that Allen Carr is a terrible writer. That’s not at all to say that the book doesn’t work – it did – but he was an accountant by trade, not a writer. The surprise twist of it all was that while I felt empowered enough in the end to have a drink with no real consequences, the philosophies outlined in the book actually worked too well, as I found myself with no desire to drink at all.
And I haven’t since. I had my last sip of tipple on April 15th of this year, and I never looked back. (It warrants mentioning that Carr’s books empower you to quit. They don’t victimize or deprive you. It’s a substantial difference in approach. That said,) I feel great, my body looks better, and to be blunt I don’t feel like shit all the time. One of the greatest hidden benefits was the effect on my credit card bill. I’m easily saving myself $300 a month on booze. And my closet has thanked me, because y’know, shoes.
But what about Fun Bobby? Has my lifestyle, my “fun-ness” been shortchanged by my choice to get sober? Absolutely. And I’m not here to tout some new found productivity either. I haven’t read any more books or taken up the art of french pastry to fill the time I used to spend tipsily melting into my couch at night.
Now I just give myself permission to wind down. I do the New York Times crossword nearly every night. I hang out with my boyfriend, my dog and the cats. We watch movies, or lately tivo’d recordings of the Tour de France. Not much has changed. Which makes me think, maybe being “interesting” isn’t really what I thought it was at all. Maybe being a happy human reads a lot more interesting in the long run than an Instagram full of fancy bottles of rosé and fuzzy memories.
Ultimately I’m a strong personality who people often think is tipsy even when I’m not. I can dance sober, be an idiot sober, hog a conversation, be goofy and trip and fall on my face, all sober. The difference is that moment when I wake up at four in the morning and mentally replay my evening, I know exactly how goofy I was. I know exactly what absurd things I said. I know I washed my face and charged my phone and took out my contacts before I passed out. And I know I’ll wake up feeling totally normal, make some coffee, walk the dog. So yes, sobriety made me less interesting, my life more predictable, and I own it. No regrets.