the joys of one

I am discovering a deep appreciation for one drink. Singular.

To be enjoyable, a single drink seems best when it is relatively rare, perhaps once or twice a week. During the last 30 days, I have enjoyed a single drink on six separate occasions, which is a little less than twice a week. That seems about right — rare enough that it is a special treat, common enough that it is not TOO exciting.

I like to order my single drink with a meal, or after a meal so that I can sit and sip, lingering in my appreciation of the evening. I like choosing something appealing, toasting the occasion, tasting the beverage, and most of all, sharing the experience with others. I like it when I can recognize when I have had exactly enough of my drink, whether it comes halfway though the glass or right at the very bottom. I like knowing that I am not going to order a second.

I like that I do not order a drink every time I go out for a meal. Sometimes it is not in my plan, or not a good idea for various reasons. Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood. This is a small source of astonishment to me: I can be “not in the mood” for a drink.

The effects of one drink can be highly variable. Sometimes, I take just one or two sips, and feel a wave of warmth wash over me. I would not have believed I could get a buzz from just a sip or two of average-strength beer, but when the occasion is right, it can be a nice feeling. Other times, I sip without feeling much effect at all. Either way, any euphoria to be found is usually within the first half of the drink, which makes it easier to pay attention to feeling “full” (or like I’ve simply had enough) during the second half. I put several of these drinks aside without completely finishing them; more surprises at my own behavior.

I like that a single drink is not very complicated. I’ve practiced it enough times that it is pretty simple. There were a few things to learn along the way. For instance, if I find myself looking forward to it too much, obsessing over the drinking opportunity, emotionally unsettled/anxious/depressed, or recognizing that one drink is going to feel less than enough, I should probably change my plans to exclude drinking. And I have learned that my “single drink” cannot be a cocktail, because the alcohol content is too variable. Luckily, my local craft beer scene is robust enough to keep me entertained — I could try a different local microbrew every time I had my single drink, and not have tried them all in a year.

Perhaps most importantly, a single drink is something I can take or leave. Going without it does not make me feel deprived. Ordering it does not make me feel guilty or anxious, or like I am about to fall off the rails and go on a bender. It feels — dare I say it — normal. Which is the single greatest joy of one drink: learning to do this new thing, and discovering that I can do it well.

I like that I can write seven paragraphs and exhaust everything I can possibly think of to say about a single drink. It is, ultimately, not a very big deal. Which is huge.

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