Saying goodbye to a lifetime of drinking beer

No more beer.

People aren’t too surprised when I say I’ve given up drinking beer. I’ve done it before, just to prove that I could. Last year, I went nine weeks without a beer, only finally giving up the booze ban because we had relatives visiting, we were going to a luau with them and what’s the point of attending a luau if you’re not going to drink all of that beer just sitting there waiting for you.

What surprises them is my answer to their question, “So, for how long are you giving up beer? A week, a month?”

A little more.

Forever.

Forever?

Yep, forever.

I have my doubters. Those who know me know of my love for beer.

“You’re never going to drink another beer? I don’t believe it.”

There is good reason for their disbelief.

Beer has long been in our family. I grew up in a loving household where we played basketball and got into fights, cheered for Notre Dame’s football team and drank beer. I’ve been a beer drinker pretty much since I took up the practice in high school, and that, I’ll say, was a few decades ago. I recall entering my first cocktail lounge with my parents at age 17, wearing a hat and carrying a brief case to look older, and ordering a beer. By golly, it worked and we celebrated with a toast. My best friend Mike and I were both 17 when we drove my 1968 Pontiac Firebird from Seattle to Canada, where the drinking age was 18, so we could sit in bars, play music and hang out for a weekend. We thought it was pretty cool as we stumbled back to our motel room. And the kegger party I had my senior year at my parents’ home, when they were gone on vacation, was the stuff of legend and finally broken up by police.

My taste for beer stayed with me through marriage, job changes, moves and a growing family. There was rarely a bar I didn’t like. Beer was the constant. Olympia, Rainier, Milwaukee’s Best, Miller, PBR were my favorites because they were cheap. And today, nothing beats an ice cold Big Wave after a 10-mile trail run. Little is better than sitting at the bar of my favorite place, Tahiti Nui, sipping a Long Board or whatever’s on tap, chatting and watching people as they come and go.

Beer, I believed, was good. No, it was great. And for many, it may be just that. Nothing wrong with a beer over dinner or a beer while watching the Broncos. A Keystone Light hits the spot right after a morning run. Carbs and proteins, too. Beer and darts can be insanely fun. So what changed?

Just this.

My folks visited us a few weeks back. As with any visit by parents, things can get a little tense, we can get a bit crabby and upset. That’s what happened on our trek up to Waimea Canyon. Long day. Everyone feeling a bit edgy — until we stopped at the Sunset Grill and Bar in Port Allen. Loved it. Had a great time. The best happy hour ever. We had several beers, ordered food and suddenly, my dad and I were laughing and smiling and joking. God, it was gloriously, watching the sunset, drinking cold brew and chatting with my old man. One of those moments you treasure forever. A good life, it was.

Until later.

“It’s probably not a good sign my mood improved considerably after drinking beer,” I told my wife.

“No, it’s not,” she agreed.

Alcoholism is the word for it.

My wife has never nagged me about my beer drinking. She’s mentioned it. Asked me to think about whether I really had to have one. She’s encouraged me to stop drinking. I brushed it off for years. But that night, I knew I had to change. I had to make a radical change. As long as I held on to the beer, as long as I drank, I would always be the same old me. My oldest son drinks beer. So does my youngest. I passed this generational curse on to them. Time to step up, be a better father, and do what I can to end to it.

Forever without beer saddens me a bit. I thought about making exceptions to my lifetime beer ban. Perhaps when I’m in Glacier National Park. Or when relatives visit and we’re at Tahiti Nui. Or after a 20-mile run. That made forever seem not so long because forever is a long time. But I knew one beer would lead to two and soon, well, my fridge would again be well stocked with Fire Rock and that alcoholic inside would sneak out again. Forever it had to be.

So, I’ve had my last beer. Nearly 40 years of drinking has come to an end. It is finished.

I will say this: Beer is good. But life without it will be even better.

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