As I flipped through a dated issue of Real Simple magazine in the hotel lobby, I paused to look over an article titled, “How to Host a Laid-Back Game Night.” I mainly focused on the pictures but I was curious—what kind of alcohol will they suggest? I was curious because, one, I still have a slightly sadistic but good-natured desire to tease myself about what I won’t be having at any given party, and two, I like to cook and entertain and really…what would go well with the chosen meal and theme?
The article advises, “Since the sweet and spicy flavors of chili and corn bread can overwhelm many beers, serve dark and malty full-bodied brews.”
I wondered if there is a non-alcoholic replacement for a “dark and malty full-bodied brew”? No, I concluded. There is not. Not only would the flavor and consistency of that particular beer be difficult if not impossible to duplicate, but so would the elevated spirits people get from the effects of alcohol as well as the lifted mood people have just prior to drinking, when they know beer will be served and there is a party coming on.
So then I wondered—if the food were tasty enough, would the “Laid-Back Game Night” party be as much fun without alcohol as it would be with alcohol? I think, yes, possibly. With the right movie stars, roller coaster rides, live bands, naked bodies, and, oh yes, great food, an equally exciting “sober” party is possible. However, it would not be the same as the party serving alcohol.
It occurred to me then, while sitting in the hotel lobby, that what would actually go best with the “sweet and spicy flavors of chili and corn bread” was not in liquid form at all. It was obvious once I thought of it. I was focusing on the wrong items of consumption. I was focusing on what food and drink would be going down my throat. But it has never been food and drink that fulfill my deepest hungers. My deepest hunger is not to consume a substance but to allow in deep feelings of joy and pleasure from life around me—in a party situation and otherwise.
I know from my own experience that allowing in feelings of joy and pleasure takes practice. It would be unusual to suddenly, by sheer declaration of desire, experience deep feelings of pleasure. But knowing that is what you desire now makes it possible to achieve. So, just like a malty, full bodied beer needs time to brew, so should you allow yourself time to taste the flavor of your new healthier habits. You can learn to be the great accompaniment to any meal (your life) with your sparkling spirit and your own unique flavor. That way you can enjoy the party too!