I had considered ignoring this particular post because I figured the time that had passed between my initial fire and the actual expression of my feelings towards the soon-to-be revealed topic had sort of aired out my enthusiasm. Yet here I am.
For as far back as I can recall, I have haboured a special abhorrence for alcohol. When I psychoanalyze it, it has a bit to do with a diabetic father figure who struggled to stop drinking because of his condition. As far as my childhood is concerned, I never saw my grandpa drunk, he never hit his wife and was never a source of disgrace to the family; he only enjoyed his occasional can of beer or tot of whisky mixed with cola. Yet, he was my father figure, the one man I grew up wanting to become and, later, the man after whom future suitors were measured. In the mind of the little girl that was Sharon, David Ogugu was a demi-god and a choice gift of heaven to humanity.
Let’s take a leap to my high school and campus days, after grandpa’s passing, and we find that my dislike towards alcohol had grown some. I’m not sure why. I got into a feud with a girl I didn’t quite like, mostly for her smart mouth and carefree spirit, all because she had a tipsy friend playing some board game in the room while I was trying to fall asleep. She was my roommate and we disliked the bile out of each other for several weeks before we became fast friends; more like sisters because we have met each others families and hardly go a day without chatting.
Last night, while I was walking through my come-to-life-after-sunset neighbourhood, I felt that same old tinge of loathing for alcohol that I did when I was in college. I watched a handful of friends and acquaintances make fools of themselves and attribute it to a beer bottle, keg stand or several glasses of whine. Some of these foolish doings included bringing children into the world, spending a night in a trench, blacking out at a pub, falling into a pool at a formal dinner, vomiting all over the floor of an auditorium at a school event, getting arrested for pulling daring stunts in the presence of Kenyan police, forcing themselves on a girl and drunk dialing an old friend then feeling rather stupid about it hours later.
Each time my friends talk about getting drunk or high as a way of dealing with something, I cringe. It is not my judgement on their escapism – I could win six grammies for that. It’s only that I have always assumed that the consumption of alcohol is harmful to more than just your physical health. I think booze, and other recreational substances, are like a bad girl with an agenda, a nasty attitude and baggage from here to Timbuktu. Or a guy with a gun, a tendency to disappear and an ugly temper. These two characters reek of foreboding.
In campus, my argument had been that there was no need to engage in a habit that required me to yield a great percentage of self and control. Then there was always the issue of being able to sustain social drinking. My cheaper options were often a sleepover at Koki’s with my two roommates, a series/movie, a shared kitchen budget and lots to talk about; sandwiches and juice at Simon’s over a chatty session and shared bill and a movie; a day at the Safaricom Classical Fusion with fellow music lovers and mutual friends who know how to have a good time; a night of cooking, talking and psychoanalysis at Lydia’s complete with pancakes and several cups of hot tea for breakfast.
Whenever we had an end-of-semester get together, we would turn up the music, cook for hours, drink lots soda and water, talk endlessly, argue and fall asleep on whatever bears a semblance to a resting area (or watch movies through the night) before leaving for home or heading to campus to pack.
I’m always for staying as young and innocent as you can for as long as you can hold it off. Because life is bound to get complicated anyway, why rush the process? Maybe I’m nostalgic for the innocence and harmless adventure that youth used to have. Maybe I simply miss our more conservative age. Maybe I long for the old times I hear about from my mother and her peers.