Sunday, April 10, 2016

"I Wish I Was Sober"

My love you should know
The best of me left hours ago

“I Wish I Was Sober,” the third song on Frightened Rabbit’s latest album, “Painting of a Panic Attack,” released on April 8, might well end up being my favorite song on what compares very favorably with the Frabbits' best albums, but it’s certainly the most immediately arresting. As is often the case with great artists and third songs.

Shove it right into my mouth and let me smolder
Fallout and the damage done
I can't unsink the things I've sunk
Still not giving up though
I wish that I was sober

If this were a country song on modern country radio, perhaps I wouldn’t give it so much credit, but I’m arrested by this song because it’s not about alcoholism, and it’s not about addiction. It’s just about getting drunk a little too often for your own good. And knowing it. And still doing it some more.

Like a blush of love, it hits me without warning
Long nights of getting lost
I walk beneath the bridge I don't know
I need a black suit for tomorrow, I'm in mourning

I’m halfway through the second season of Marvel’s bravest superhero storyline, “Daredevil” (on Netflix), and one thing has strangely stood out to me. I can’t recall another series that so comfortably shows its characters regularly drinking to excess without there being a secret plotline. As best I can tell, there’s no plan to turn these binge drinking scenes into the “Foggy Becomes an Alcoholic” storyline or “The Night of Matt Murdock’s Scandalous Drunken Hookup.”

The three central characters in Daredevil treat drinking much like most TV shows treated smoking for most of the 20th Century: as something normal adults do, perhaps a little too often, and even though they know it’s not always that great of an idea, because it’s kinda fun... until it’s not... and even then it's still kinda fun.

Maybe in 30 years we’ll look back at how cavalierly the protagonists in "Daredevil" imbibed in the way we now see those '50s smoking dads, blowing tar and chemicals into the faces of their young children or colleagues, filling whole rooms with their cancerous smog.

But I doubt it. Because it’s real. People drink too much all the time without destroying their lives, succumbing to addiction, crashing their cars or sleeping around on their loved ones.

Drinking most often hurts us in increments we can’t quite measure or appreciate, in measurements we forget before we wake up the next morning. Fiberglass cuts into our memory, our hearts, a primitive attempt at bloodletting as a source of healing.

My love you should know
The best of me left hours ago

I'm mesmerized by the yin and yang in those lines. The first reaction when you hear it or read it is that it's melancholy and sad. The best of you left hours ago. But, for many of the world’s casual drinkers, there’s something desperately necessary in pushing the best of ourselves away for a while.

Most of us spend our days -- and, with the increase of smartphone texts, emails, social media -- our evenings and weekends -- curating and polishing the best image of ourselves for the world around us. Most of us are desperate to get some distance from that polystyrene bastard, from that pathetic creature that swallows all those comments it wants to say but doesn’t because honesty has long been deemed a value best kept framed and mounted on a wall rather than wielded like a noble knight’s sword at the gate of the kingdom.

There are days when I come home from work and yank off my tie as if it were a noose, as if I had just spent a majority of my day slowly trying to hang myself. Do I drink myself into oblivion every night, or even once a week? Nope. Because that would be Wrong.

But do I yearn, on regular occasion, for that fourth or fifth beer, or that third stiff drink, to get me to a point where I don’t mind my mask falling off, hitting the floor with a thud, leaving me vulnerable and naked with my imperfect self? Hell yes. Because the best of me needs a break. He needs to get to sleep early, but the rest of me wants some of the night to itself.

Forgive me I can't speak straight
Forgive me I can't
Forgive me it's far too late