I really wanted to spend the evening watching stupid TV. Like a show about cheeseburgers. Or a show about some infuriatingly lucky couple trying to choose a beach house. Or my recent favorite: “Marriage Boot Camp”. It’s like a horrible train wreck and yet I cannot seem to look away.
I almost made it. I shut my laptop, poured crushed cookie crumbs into a cup of chocolate pudding, and sat looking at the black screen. “Nope,” I thought. “Not gonna happen.”
You see, I have something kicking around my head. And once it starts, there is no rest for the weary.
The thing kicking around my head is the Super Bowl (pun only partially intended). Not the game, specifically, but the commercials. I could honestly not give a single hoot about football. It’s the booze ads that bother me.
Who has seen the Budweiser commercials this year? One features a horse and a puppy. Another showcases the homecoming of a Veteran.
Does this make anyone else feel ill?
The “wise ones” who have gone before me in sobriety and recovery suggest that I focus on what I can change in myself and my own attitudes and not on what needs to be changed in the world. Others remind me not to take things too seriously. Sage advice, I think, for maintaining sanity. But…and there’s always a but…I’m angry. So rather than let it eat me up, I choose to channel it productively.
On game day, millions of people will undoubtedly sit in front of their televisions, beer in one hand and chip in the other, and there will be a simultaneous “d’awwwww” as the Budweiser commercial airs. It will be puppies and ponies and love and Veterans.
No one will stop to think about the men and women on the brink of death from liver failure. In jails, hospitals, institutions, and morgues. No one will think about the irony of mixing Veterans and alcohol and how there are thousands of Veterans on the streets self medicating their PTSD.
My friend and I once gave cigarettes to a homeless man hiding away in the hills of our hometown. He fit the age bracket for a Veteran. I will never forget his hands: cold, cracked, and bleeding. His “thank you’s” echoed repeatedly off our backs as we descended the hill. Many other men looked on jealously.
It is easy to assume that I’m one of those dreaded prohibitionists. I am not. I am simply challenging people to think about the messages we send about alcohol. I am challenging people to glamourize reality rather than escapism.
A lot of people seem to get very uncomfortable when I address this issue. Defensive even.
I was recently questioned about drinking by a seven year old. He wanted to know about my age and if I ever drank alcohol and if I liked beer. “I can’t wait until I’m old enough to drink beer,” he informed me.
Why is a seven year old concerned about drinking beer? What kind of messages do we send our children? “Mommy just needs a glass of wine to relax”. “Daddy will feel better after a couple of beers”.
Alcohol is a rite of passage, a medicine, a magic elixir. It has saturated our society. It has become an answer rather than an object.
How many people have to die?
I’m sure there are people who disagree, others who may be able to fully relate to my perspective, and still others who may not totally understand but partially agree. The question is: Will anything change?
Just food for thought. Maybe I can actually watch some stupid TV now.