Let's Talk Vices
What's your sweet spot? What could ruin you?
I was watching one of Korty’s Love & Lies episodes, and in the final minutes, the girl asked the boy, “What’s your vice?” Her rationale was that usually, if one doesn’t drink or smoke, then their vice is sex. I found it interesting.
A vice is something you enjoy that you know is bad for you. Google calls it “a practice, behaviour, or habit generally considered immoral, sinful, criminal, rude, taboo, depraved, degrading, deviant or perverted in the associated society.” Personally, I think these are a lot of strong words, but I guess it pretty much sums up what the word could mean.
Some say that vices are the literary opposite of virtues, and they go hand in hand. I think vices can range from tiny harmless attitudes that would make your mother frown, to serious addictions that could ruin your life. It all just starts from somewhere.
I don’t know if everyone has a vice, but I would assume there is something we all do that makes us feel indulgent and slightly dangerous, like putting one’s head out of a speeding vehicle. For me, it’s wine.
I like wine. I like how it tries to be sweet, but fumbles gracefully. I believe wine has a mad PR team that performs better than Coca-Cola at selling an image. Wine has been the subject of thousands of metaphors in movies, poetry and songs, all saying different variations of the same thing: wine is fucking amazing.
However, the first experience most people have with wine is slightly unpleasant. It tastes like warm cough syrup diluted with spirit, and there’s really not much to enjoy about that. You take a gulp, probably goaded by an enthusiastic friend who doesn’t want to feel the tantalizing grip of hedonism alone, and you’re stunned by the taste. It takes some getting used to, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, the cycle continues, pulling more and more disciples into its cult of wine lovers.
I like wine. I like how it looks disarming. The nondrinker's favourite alcoholic drink. “A glass of wine, please”, they’d say, extending an arm to the waiter and feeling self-righteous (or shy) in a multitude of people who drink gin and vodka. Yet, two glasses in and your head feels like it’s been distended from your body and has become a floating device. Wine brings out the best in people. Makes them soft, makes them horny, makes them bold. You’re talking to your friend who usually hates being touched, and all of a sudden, she’s smiling sheepishly and asking you to cuddle her. Grown men become children at its feet. Hard guys beg for softness. I love it so much.
I don't recall the first time I drank wine, but I do remember the first time I drank alcohol, a teenager at a friend's birthday party. I was so used to bottles of Eva with 0% alcohol written at the bottom, I couldn’t envisage the cup passed to me containing anything other than that. It smelled lethal, but in a sickeningly sweet way. We all made games out of drinking it. We all felt like grown-ups. Despite the exhilaration that came with the experience, I decided there and then that I didn’t like it; partly because it made me sick, and partly out of guilt. For the next two years I stayed away, till at a friend’s house party, now older and more inclined to deviance, I sneaked jello shots and drinks. It didn’t taste half as bad as I remembered, so I leaned into it.
My favourite thing about alcohol was how it could bring life to a party. It only took one person to get drunk for everyone to have something to laugh about at lunch the following Monday. We all pretended it was a punishment when we played party games, complaining about how we didn’t want to drink and how the person handling the bottle of vodka put way too much in the glass for a shot. Then an hour later, we had drank ourselves into mini Shakiras, dancing and singing at the top of our lungs. For someone who grew up extremely self-conscious, it was a haven for me to let loose and have fun a little.
I think I’m glad I didn’t have too much fun with it. Alcohol is perhaps the deadliest of substances, thanks (again) to its massive PR that has lasted since the beginning of time. It is the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among people with ages ranging from 15 to 49 years, and causes 10 per cent of all deaths in this age range. In addition, 5 per cent of all the diseases that exist today are tied to alcohol consumption. Many of us don’t know this because overexposure has made it seem less harmless than it is. Subconsciously, we believe the worst thing about it is passionately making out with our exes, and throwing up in a cab; but it can affect our lives and those of our loved ones in very significant ways.
Last month, my mother followed me to the dentist for a consultation. The doctor wanted to know if I had any vices. “Do you smoke?” He asked, and I shook my head. He nodded, ticking his board.
“Do you drink?”
I thought for a split second what responding in the affirmative was going to mean. My mother was there, hands clasped together, watching with concern as the doctor poked metals around my mouth.
“Yes,” I replied, “once in a while.”
Her response was comical. She opened her mouth wide, and I laughed, realizing there and then that she had never imagined I could be that person. It made me appreciate the human tendency to hold onto things, to freeze up perceptions and hold them dear. In her mind, I was still her sweet little eight-year-old that she’d serve Eva in a mug, telling me that the remaining was for Daddy. I tried to reassure her that it was a casual habit, and we didn’t speak on it again.
Thinking about it now, that conversation could have gone very differently if my relationship with alcohol didn’t end at casual, party fun. At the end of the day, we owe it to ourselves to think about the vices we allow ourselves to indulge in, as harmless as they may seem.
So, dear reader, what do you enjoy a little too much that you know is bad for you? Is it harmful? Will you give it up if you knew that it could really hurt you and those you care about? Or have you found ways to measure your indulgences; a little, but-not-too much?
I’m particularly curious about what your answer to the last question is, as I am aware that most vices double as coping mechanisms and can’t easily be set aside simply because an article on the internet shared some worrisome statistics.
Till next time,
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Media I Consumed this week:
This week nearly took my life. School is not for the weak.
With all that, I managed to sneak in an episode each of two K-dramas: Cheer Up, and Ghost Doctor. I won’t be continuing the first, as the dialogue and plot arrangements make me cringe a little, but the premise of Ghost Doctor seems fun enough for me to continue and see where it leads.
I read my school books. Like a bastid. #NoNovelsforTres.
I listened to a lot of Saint Jhn. I recall falling in love with him during the pandemic and it was nice to indulge in his albums again. I personally think Collection One is his best album. Lust and Selfish are too good. Good times.