“Would you like a bag with that, or a medal?”
Roller Grill RollerDerby!
Cringe-warning. I am going to tell you exactly what I buy when I stop at gas stations. Anytime this comes up with coworkers or friends, I absolutely 100% abbreviate telling what I purchase to make it seem more societally tolerable. Since I stopped drinking, stopping at a gas station is my new bar. It brings me almost an absurd dopamine rush, as if I’m about to get a rub and tug from a snack instead of just buying snacks. It’s similar to a bar in that I recognize and often make friends with the person behind the counter. Often times, your timing coincides with others, making it a climate where “everyone knows your name” or, maybe not name, but at least recognized and perhaps nodded at. Next to a grocery store, I believe an unbelievable amount of humanity occurs at a gas station. Just ask truckers.
I think the reason why I find my purchase at gas stations so laughable is the sheepish feeling that I have in continuously moving the energy drinks or candy forward is similar to what I’d feel at a liquor store. Despite the cashier not caring whatsoever, you still feel judged and you still feel that sinking feeling in which you somehow want to explain or justify yourself. So, you do what any healthy, level, balanced, non-addicted adult does. You lie. Hell, when you have an addiction, lying comes so natural you’re practically bi-lie-ngual (yep). Buying four little bottles of Fireball nips as if you’re some preppy homeless man? “The boys are gonna love this at the tailgate!” [Its winter]. Buying one of those decently ludicrous plastic-wrapped nip ten packs? “Big golf trip coming up!” Buying two bottles of wine on a Tuesday? “In-laws coming, ugh, you know how it is!” Back the next day already? “Man, my wife spilled the whole bottle by accident! Expensive mistake, amIrite?” (This one comes out as second nature because it would be one of my “second layer” last-ditch excuses before, say, the atomic option would have to come out.) “Brett, weren’t there four IPAs in that package?” “Ugh, yeah, I accidentally spilled one while cleaning. I put the fourth in the OTHER fridge.” (The atomic option would be something like blaming my antidepressants for being tipsy, making up some prescription change, or blaming CBD or Viagra for having a red face — i.e. bringing up yet another unknown secret or lie for sake of protecting my drinking).
Back to the Gas Station Supermarket Sweep, I would slide over TWO five-hour energies, a red bull, a diet coke, mentos, twizzlers, doritos, and to balance out the five food groups of course some sort of chocolate — either Kit Kats or M&Ms. If I’m away from home, it’s Reese’s Cups as my son has a peanut allergy. If I’m at say, CVS, and buy one of those insane six-pack or ten-packs of five-hour energies, it comes with the disclaimer, “yeah, the guys at work love these!” or “Don’t worry, not all at one time!”
The reason I thought of writing this was because on one of those vulnerable Saturday mornings (I think Saturday’s are tough for me because it would be day-drink central and now it seems like I’m Tom Hanks on an unthinkably long visit to a marooned island — which would make candy take the place of Wilson), I simply told the nice guy at the gas station behind the counter, “I stopped drinking. Ever since, I have a decently insane sweet-tooth. Living my day like a twelve-year old boy surprisingly gets me by.” Instead of just nodding or pretending to care, he stopped what he was doing and said, “Man, good for you. It’s worth it.” It was as if some priest just absolved me of my sins. It felt refreshing and thrilling. I wanted to tell him all my life story travails — all the lows, all the ideation. Yet, like we all learn, its one day at a time and one moment at a time. No need to floodlight a man that lives in constant headlights. I have read several times that giving up drinking needs to be replaced with SOMETHING. For a lot, its sweets. Longer-term, hopefully its more with a hobby or exercise (without becoming one of those psycho Crossfit bros) but for now, my dentist can go fuck himself. (He’s actually a really nice guy, but you get my emphasis). Do what you need to do and string those days together. It is worth it.