great advantage

p. 82:

It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation. In my younger and less vulnerable years, I was invariably sober among all manner of intoxication. ‘You can hold your tongue and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don’t see or care.‘ Obviously if you have a problem maintaining discretion, you shouldn’t drink, but the other way of saying this is that sobriety is for people with something to hide.

Later I had older and terribly vulnerable years, where I wanted to both find and show how hard drinking could get. If I had anything to hide I surely failed to do so. And sometimes I would see the person who was once me, drinking nothing but water or clutching the same glass of poison all night as if it were a talisman against chaos. It is a curious exercise, not drinking in the company of people who drink. Drunk people are tiresome, loud and self-absorbed, why spend the time with them? There is a sad secret to the sober companion in the drunken crowd – sometimes the only way to be yourself in the company of people is to be in the company of people who cannot see you.

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