Cold Turkey and Alcohol: Drink. Drive. Stop.

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Christmas has long been celebrated with alcohol in the near vicinity. It’s in the food, the desserts, and, of course, de glass in yuh hand.

For Trinis, our music during this festive season is a call to action to take ah drink and be merry – a perfect prelude to the take ah wine season. Scrunter made a living doing that!

Thing is, I don’t drink. I’m not non-negotiable on it. I just don’t really want to. I have a drink every now and then. Working in the events industry, it’s part of the socialising. Actually, let me rephrase that; I can drink. I just don’t. Such a waste really. Of all the shoes and handbags in the world, I’m going to spend my money on alcohol. Nah man.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have some sweet memories of getting wasted in my late teens into early twenties. When the hubby and I first started dealing, we used to party hard and drink harder. I went through many signature drinks, ’cause as yuh know, yuh can’t miss yuh drinks. Brown cow. Screwdriver. Rum and coke.

Then I got a bit older, and got more sophisticated. Vodka and cranberry juice. Malibu, and any kind of citrus chaser. Then, as more time passed, I felt like ah big ‘oman, so I started drinking tequila – shot after shot. I’ve never been into wine. Well not the type that goes in a glass anyways.

Then one day, I just realised that this drinking thing wasn’t making sense. Then, I was still living in Trinidad and I got a lot of stares – especially from those who had seen me do my moonwalk in the wee hours of the morning after too many drinks. Christmas was always hard because everyone was offering drinks, and each time, you’d say “no thanks”, and of course people would persist. “Yuh eh go take ah drink wit’ meh for de Christmas!” I’d just had enough of it all. Who drunk and pass out. Who talking to yuh and spitting in yuh face cause they drunk. Geed!

Then I moved to the UK, and started drinking again. Hard. Double gin and tonic. Then I dropped the tonic. My drink of choice is now a double, neat gin, with a twist of lime. The first few years I was here, I used to go out a lot. Pub here. Dinner with friends there. It’s also completely acceptable to have a gin and tonic, with your lunch if you go out. And who can resist champagne and shopping? So alcohol was back in my life again.

Then came the pregnancy. I actually remember my last drink before I found out I was pregnant. It was my Christmas lunch with my colleagues and I had a chilli and lime martini. It was lush! Lime, gin and pepper – these are a few of my favourite things!

So I had no alcohol throughout the pregnancy and breastfeeding. Now, to be honest, I am just a social drinker. I drink when I go out – which is rare.

Which brings me to ponder this pattern? Why did I start, stop and then start again? I’ve never had a bad experience with alcohol. I just embraced the ‘tightness’ like everyone else – and enjoyed it! The abstinence during pregnancy is self-explanatory, but I had stopped cold turkey before. I was in my mid-twenties, and had just gotten married a few year before. Happy. Loads of friends and loads of limes!

Then it hit me. I stopped drinking, when I bought my first car. Drinking and driving just wasn’t a sensible thing to do – not even a little. I rationalised how drinking made me feel, and I made a decision that it was not conducive to driving.

Now as Trinis, all of us can drive after we’ve had a few. But we shouldn’t. I was always bouncing meh starter, and picking somebody up to go lime. And no matter how many people going and how many driving, I was always driving. Me eh want no lift.

The driving, coupled with always having passengers, led to me stopping. But then I started again – after moving to London. Why? Because I wasn’t driving. I was using the tube, buses and taxis. So going out with my girlies and getting tight was okay, because I could just call a black cab and get home safely.

I love driving. I love the idea of controlling such a large piece of metal. I cannot have that same control if I have a few drinks. I do not have that same control after a few drinks. And I big enough to admit that and just not do it. Ah hope allyuh do the same over dis rum season. It is just not worth it. Find another loser like me to be the designated driver nah. Or be smart and always have the lime at your house so yuh bed right there. As Trinis, alcohol is pretty much in our blood. However, some of us don’t indulge due to personal preferences. For some, they stopped because a terrible incident happened. Don’t wait for that nah.

How about just being responsible? Other lives depend on it. So, as we get ready to wine up on 2011, be safe on the road and doh drink if yuh driving.

Eng out. Ah could do with ah rum and water. Mike drink one fuh meh boy, and call meh name (Mike knows who he is).

Happy New Year everyone!


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Michelle Eng Leang

Michelle Eng Leang is a Trini living in the UK. Married for almost ten years, she is a mother to a two-year-old-son. She eh really cater - and that's all you need to know. You want an honest opinion? With her, that's exactly what you are going to get. Check out her blog

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