Monday, May 03, 2010

Beer and socializing

I love beer. On some nights when I know I don't have to work the next day, I like to sit in my recliner, watching my favorite news program, sipping on a nice cold one. Or, in the summer, out on the deck bantering with a neighbor.

When I was a kid my grandpa would give me a quarter to fetch him another. Occasionally I'd take a sip. It's neat how times change, because I usually wait until the kids are in bed before I click the tab, and I rarely send my kids to fetch another.

Although I think drinking responsibly in front of your kids is a good thing. Okay, so debate me on that if you want. Since we can't protect our kids from everything, I think the best thing we CAN do is show how to responsibly do things, like drinking beer (or spending money is another good example).

My dad and grandpa owned a car dealership, and they always kept beer in the fridge at work. When work was done, they'd sit among employee and play a game of pinachle, and drink a beer or two. I don't know if there was ever cooler bosses than dad and gramps.

Like my dad and grandpa, I am a happy drinker. Well, I am. I remember my dad telling me once that if you aren't a happy drinker, then you better not drink. If you're one of those drinkers who gets angry, or let the alcohol control you, or drink too much, you better not drink at all.

I remember dad letting me go to hunting camp when I was 10, and there was one guy walking around slobbery, grossly, inappropriately drunk, and screaming ribald advice.

Dad took me aside, smiled, breathed his beer/cigarette smelling breath on me, and said, "Don't ever get like that. All that does is make you look like a fool."

That's all dad ever said, and I heeded his advice, and example.

I don't have the luxury of having a job that I can drink while working. You can't even smoke where I work anymore, not that I've ever smoked. I never drink the night before I work either. I mean, I can't. If alcohol for some reason is in my system, and I so happen to get pulled over for a urine test, I'd lose my job. We have a no tolerance program here, which is actually a good thing. Of course this is another sign of how times have changed.

Drinking is a lot worse in the movies. I remember watching Guiding Light once and some lady drank one time in her life and was considered an alcoholic the rest of her time on the show. Usually alcohol gets a bad rap on TV, and is associated with wife beaters and wife beater T-shirts. Some people associate drinking with evil.

Well, not all people drink irresponsibly. Some people who drink are irresponsible, and they tend to show alcohol in a bad light, and get all the media. Most drinkers are responsible.

Dad is now retired, and at 4 p.m. every day he has happy hour with his friends. Still to this day I've never seen him drunk. Happy yes. Drunk no.

A few years ago I visited him. One of his cool neighbors, I observed, had a cup of vodka at his side from the time he woke to the time he went to bed at night. Now HE was a true alcoholic. He was fun, but he was killing himself with the Vodka.

Last year when I visited dad this guy had quit drinking. He had to have surgery, became belligerent because he had to go through detox, and vowed never to drink the stuff again.

Dad said, "That's what happens when you abuse the stuff. If you're wise like you and I, you won't have to give it up like he had to. Now he'll never be able to enjoy this gift again."

Wise is my father. And still the good example he was 30 years ago when I was a kid.

Still, if drinking was like it was portrayed in the movies, I don't think people would have a problem with prohibition.

However, in real life, most people do not drink to get drunk. They drink because they have kids, spouses, and stresses, and it's nice to sit down at the end of the day and knock the tip off the stress. It's nice to end the day happy.

We never drink anywhere but at home, unless there's a guaranteed designated driver. We do on occasion visit the cabin, but we have a rule: "Once you go to the cabin you have to stay at the cabin."

The problem with that is, I have to make sure my asthma is under control if I go out there. Because, not only is the cabin an asthma trigger for me, so is beer.

That's why I wrote this post. I didn't write it so some of you can say Rick Frea is a drunk because he drinks beer on occassion. If that were the case, I'd keep it to my self. But this blog isn't about keeping secrets. It's about asthma. It's about being honest about asthma.

So, beer causes asthma. Beer, while it brings joy at the end of the day, also causes asthma. So, here I am writing at 5:00 in the morning -- woke up tight. No matter how well controlled my asthma is, beer always makes me tight the next day. It's like clockwork.

Beer has fungus in it that can trigger asthma. Likewise, beer dries out your system, including your lungs, which can trigger asthma. And if I drink beer in a bar, or at the cabin where there's lots of dust mites and molds, this can make my asthma even worse. Except it's not so bad now that I'm on Singulair and Advair.

Still, though, while we want to be as normal as possible, we asthmatics still have to be careful all the time. We have to know what might cause asthma, and be wise about exposing ourselves to these things.

I like to be normal, and to socialize like the normal people in my life. Although it's always good to be a little extra cautious, and a little extra responsible whether you have a chronic disease or not.

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