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17 Days on the Wagon

krisbierjaeger recounts the most horrific moments of his life
Features March 20, 2003      
Written by krisbierjaeger

dolores, COLORADO -

<P>nope, this is not a narrative of frontier life on the chisom trail. this is an empirical "off topic" review of some of the psychological effects of medically-induced abstinence on a presumably normal but "serious" ratebeer participant . "serious" here designates an individual who would rather plunge his tongue into an electric pencil sharpener than give up beer.

<P>the subject is identified as a 44-year-old male who previously enjoyed a daily intake of 24 to 48 ounces of strong malt beverages, in a habit going back without surcease upwards of twenty years. he's never gotten a d.u.i., never barfed in public, never gotten in a fight. doesn't even get snockered, weepy and maudlin and call old girlfriends at 3 a.m. it's true he's sometimes an arrogant insensitive ass, but any direct correlation between occasional "assdom" and alleged intoxication has not been independently verified.

<P>in twenty years, he reckons he's spent a lot of money on beer. in fact, by a sublime calculus that misplaces only a few comas and zeros, he estimates he's spent an amount equivalent to the value of one of the navy's new neptune-class nuclear powered guided missile cruisers, around 600 million dollars -- but then he doesn't claim to be an accountant. (with a boat like that, he could really bear down on a country like the azores and force some serious regime change, but why?--they don't have any good beers there).

<P>he's been a ratebeer member for just over a year (they accept anyone), he has 400 ratings, favorite style barley wine, has no philosophy or wish list. besides drinking beer, he enjoys shopping (for beer), reading (beer reviews), growing hops, and between gulps of beer still has plenty of time for breathing.

<P>recently the subject -- on the orders of a doctor -- began taking antibiotics associated with treatment of acid-reflux disease. initially the subject complained that he didn't even know what the hell acid reflux disease WAS, notwithstanding the constant barrage of highly annoying commercials on american television showing sundry retards out standing by the ocean going: "i didn't know, i didn't know...". our subject didn't know either, and thought rather that he just had a "leeeeetle bit" of occasional heartburn -- and since he had always found a couple tums to be remedial, thought the whole diagnosis thing was "flaming bullshit" and just some new fangled pseudo-malady concocted by the greedy pharmaceutical industry. he was sadly mistaken.

<P>acid reflux is a serious boom-boom. it starts with the acids in your stomach -- caustic solvents which in a healthy person can easily turn a three pound angus steak buffet with taters and grits, roll, coffee and dessert into an compact little turd the size of a snickers bar in as little as 24 hours. in some people however, this radioactive battery acid can actually dissolve the esophagus (the subject thought an esophagus was an australian rodent-like marsupial), and if left untreated, in a kind-of china-syndrome scenario -- faster than you can say reinheitsgebot all your internal plumbing dissolves allowing acids and gasses to leak out and you melt away into a slimy inert blob just like that witch in the wizard of oz. acid reflux is wicked bad we’re told, has alleged ties to osama bin laden, it's expensive to treat and it's an affliction that a patient may struggle with for a lifetime. right. whatever. the good news is that it's easier to spell than many other afflictions. but the bad news is: the treatment involves a drug regime that prohibits the consumption of alcohol for -- sweet mother of god --17 days.

<P>this wee detail that the doctor failed to mention (who is hereafter referred to as: "dr. chicken shit") was only disclosed finally when the subject was actually purchasing the med at the neighborhood costalotta pharmacy. while they checked out his insurance card, some bulbous-faced pharmacist (who had the charm and people skills of a locust) droned out the list of dangerous drug interactions, asked if he was allergic to penicillin or shrapnel or had ever developed a rash or discomfort due to prolonged exposure to religious conservatives. finally, saving the best for last, this sebaceous human compost-bin yawned and disclosed the whopper: no alcohol. none. seventeen days. no booze, you're a teetotaler. billy graham looks like a lush, partyin' hell-hound next to you. finished. how else can it be said? no drinkie-drinkie. no dogfish head. get it?

<P>patients taking this volatile medication are warned they can't even sniff an o'douls (not really advisable in any circumstance) or in any way hope to defy the prohibition: even the diminutive alcohol in a tablespoon of cough syrup can cause violent gagging and seizures and your skin will slough off and you'll turn into a pile of rancid donkey meat... and anyway, supposedly the beer wouldn't even taste right: this execrable shit even affects your palate. to this the subject (who now wants to be called "our hero") exhibited hysterical dismay and initiated a small public spectacle. these reactions were apparently involuntary, beginning innocuously with brief slack-jawed disbelief, he quickly escalated to emitting plaintive verbal exclamations that sounded like a rabbit being eaten alive by fire ants, and spasmodic lurching and flailing about -- this later brought to mind an old daffy duck cartoon -- and brought to the scene the security staff, but by the time they'd dropped their donuts and arrived to administer chemical mace, he had collapsed into feckless blubbering.

<P>the way "our hero" expressed it to us later was: "see, it was like the most trivial little detail the way that pharmacy dick said: "oh by the way, don't drink alcohol during this treatment period" -- he acted like it was weird that anyone would be inconvenienced by two weeks of forced abstinence, as if normal people don't even drink, y'know? like: "oh yeah, don't eat cigarette butts you find in the parking lot, abstain from groping any sweaty pygmies, and if you do snort ground glass and ajax cleanser, do it no more than once daily..." like, don't they KNOW i got a sixer of kalamazoo bell's java stout sittin' out in my car? i mean, what the fuck? so i said to the guy, listen you pompous suppository pusher, no fuckin' way, i don't know what you martians do for fun, but i'm fuckin' irish -- (subject is pounding his chest now) -- i drink some beer, i drink every night, okay? and i'm not apologizing for it, so you can lubricate these fuckin' placebos and cram 'em up yer pooper dude! yeah, that's what i told 'em".

<P>the subject had become red-faced and agitated, and i raised my hands in a way that might have said: "take it easy, it'll be okay", but it was actually less to be calming to him than to deflect the spittle he was firing at me like an antiaircraft pom-pom gun. (by the way we do have a transcript of that exchange at the drug store counter, and what he actually said was: "awww, nuts! gee, really? no alcohol, huh. shucks. none? i mean, i, i, sigh, yes sir, okay...").

<P>though the direct implication of alcohol on his acid reflux remains unknown, he learned his condition was exacerbated by a not-very-scientific method of dealing with occasional excesses of drinking, when, responding the next day to a "gnarly fuckin' hangover" and a "white-hot blazin' headache", he would intemperately gobble aspirins like M & Ms. (taking aspirin on a delicate tummy is like treating infected lacerations with rock salt). but of course, the point is, our hero was bereft of beer now, and after denial comes grief, and then anger. while a dartboard with a symbolic doctor/pharmacist effigy -- hastily prepared and passionately perforated -- offered some outlet, threat of imprisonment precluded further overt hostility.

<P>some have wondered if stopping drinking will improve one's health or demeanor -- will one lose weight, have more energy, be more agreeable, less sluggish in the mornings, have improved memory, score more chicks? our hero has been there, friends: journeyed to that mythical "el dorado" of supposed salubrious abnegation. and heeeee says: "fuck no, nothing changes, except your bored shitless. who wants to eat a gorgeous plate of italian food without a glass of wine? donny osmond maybe, but not ME!" and seriously, our poor friend is not an alcoholic. we know he's not because he by god says so, and appears willing to fight over it, so maybe we should just leave it there. apparently, he just really really likes to rate beer. uh-huh. he spends a lot of time staring at the empty spot where his beer used to be. he says that a glass of apple juice after a hard day's work is like giving a starving dog a rubber bone. these notes from the first night without beer perhaps reveal something of his troubled soul:

<P>our hero's rating of golden crown club soda

<P>pours quite clear, approximately the color of total fucking nothingness, no head, no lace, though carbonation is snapping like a goddam campfire. no aroma, i think i can smell the glass though, i could smell a possum fart in oklahoma before i'd sniff up a whiff of this, it's sooooo ghastly plain, it's , it's, aaaaaaaaaaaaa! just kill me now! waaaa haaa haaa, i wanna go home now. mommy? maaaaaaa-meeeeee! sob, etc...

<P>and so it goes. fifty-six hours to go. mittenstein, boto, aunt gladys and rex the safety beagle will all pass him in the ratings race, okay, so be it. he'll watch the forums with palpable aching and gnashing of teeth when he reads about heaven doing a limited release of meingottenhimmel doppelbock. but our hero will survive. hey, maybe he'll even give up beer for good. ha ha. yeah, and maybe his butt will become the regional hub for flying monkey airlines. 'cause remember, he's still got that sixer of java stout.



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