Beer, Beer, Beer

When I was in basic training, one of my favorite cadences said, “Beer, beer, beer, said the private. Merry men are we…”

I was a merry man for a long time, but I recently went 40 days and 40 nights without flooding my body with alcohol. In fact, my body experienced a drought for 40 days and 40 nights, and, the truth is, I never felt better.

On the 41st day, however, I caved in and had three beers. Ok, that sounds a bit dramatic. One of my lifelong friends came over to my house to help me do some handyman work. Actually, he did the work and I just stood there, because my handyman skills are lacking.

Once the project was completed, we did what many guys do to celebrate the completion of a project; we drank beer. He brought over a 6-pack of really good, quality beers; however, we only shared three of them. No, we didn’t use straws and we sure as heck didn’t sip from the same bottle. We poured them into a couple of beer glasses that I’d acquired from microbreweries from across the country, so I really only had one and a half. Two weeks later, the other three are still in my refrigerator.

The last three times I cut the grass, I celebrated with a large glass of lemonade while sitting in the sunshine on my deck, and I’m here to tell you, it was just as satisfying as a celebratory beer.

I didn’t drink every night. Most weeks, it was only one night out of the week, but I would drink enough that particular night to keep a small brewery afloat.

Many of us have experienced those next day regrets after a night of excess consumption. Lord knows I have. At my age, those regrets spill over a couple of days, physically, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Did I mention physically?

I haven’t quit. I never said I quit. I’m disciplined in so many areas, so I just decided to add the consumption of alcohol to that list.

I still plan on having a beer from time to time. Beer in moderation makes me happy.

I still plan on having a beer from time to time. Beer in moderation makes me happy.

Knowing that the 10 biggest regrets of my life involve alcohol has a sobering effect (pun intended) on me. I can’t take any of them back. I can only learn and move on from here. For the record, no one was ever hurt; I just made some dumb decisions.

On the other hand, the only time alcohol ever got me in trouble was likely the best thing to ever happen to me. When I was 19, I was arrested for underage drinking which ultimately led to my decision to join the Army.

I feel confident that this new me is here to stay. I’ve been in some situations recently where I was able to maintain my discipline, whereas in the past, that would not have been the case.

I’ve frequented my favorite watering hole in Opelika on three different occasions since making the decision to scale back without falling back into the trap. Water with lemon is just as good, and so are the laughs with the fellas.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent four days and three nights in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada, without consuming a single drop of alcohol. That’s the equivalent of a police officer going an entire shift without a single doughnut. It’s simply unheard of.

On Sunday, I began my journey to Arizona for the National Stuttering Association’s 30th annual conference.

Because of my love of quality beer and BBQ, my cross-country escapades usually involve quite a bit of each.

I drove only a short distance that first day. I stopped in New Orleans to stay with my buddy and his family. The family stayed at home, while he and I went down to the French Quarter and ate at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA, which was an absolute joy. I did have one really good local brew before dinner, but only because we had to wait a bit before being seated. We also had Emeril’s New Orleans BBQ Shrimp for an appetizer.

One beer in New Orleans is like one pair of jean shorts to a Bama fan. It’s simply unheard of.

I had dinner with water and a friend at The Cheesecake Factory in San Antonio on day two. We had a great dinner and conversation, in spite of the absence of alcohol. In the past, that would have simply been unheard of.

On day three, I drove the final 15 hours and arrived at the conference around 11:00 PM.

I’m sure some interesting stories will arise from this week’s conference. They always do.

For example, did you know that when there are three stuttering guys in a small room that the lights start to flicker? It’s a phenomenon similar to the Northern Lights. Now you know.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I had three beers last night, although it wasn’t entirely my fault. I ordered just one, but my stuttering prevailed and the bartender misunderstood me.

“Beer, beer, beer, said the captain,” he thought.

I’m convinced that the secret to happiness is discipline. Whether it’s beer, BBQ, fishing or women, quality is always better than quantity.

Speaking of quantity, I just realized I’ll have to cut the grass when I get home. Yuck! Oh well, at least I’ll have an ice cold glass of lemonade waiting on me afterwards.

Cheers!

PS…I didn’t really have three beers last night.

Only one drink so far at the NSA conference and that was this glass of wine.

Only one drink so far at the NSA conference and that was this glass of wine.

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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The Gambler…No, no, not that kind.

Usually when I write my column, I’m at home, sitting at my desk, staring at the wall.

Today, however, I’m on the 19th floor of Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, sitting on a chaise lounge, staring at the incomparable Las Vegas Boulevard.

vegas pic

Life is good, especially in Vegas.

My name is Jody Fuller, and I’m a gambler.

No, no, not that kind. I’ve been here three days and haven’t even played the penny slots, although I almost lost it all upon my arrival at McCarran International Airport.

After purchasing my round-trip tickets for the hotel’s shuttle bus, I crossed the street and stood in the appropriate line. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my wallet. I began to panic. My heart started pounding. I felt ill.

My wallet contained my driver’s license, military ID, cash, credit cards, debit cards, and much more. I began to think of all the terrible scenarios that could come from this mishap. I’m a Master Resilience Trainer for the Army National Guard, and we refer to this as catastrophizing.

I hurried back across the street, but failed to make it half way across, because the clerk from the shuttle bus kiosk was crossing the street to find me.  She handed me my wallet, and, in return, I gave her a bear hug. It’s nice to know there are still honest people in Sin City.

On past trips, I would gamble just enough to keep the free drinks coming but not this time. In fact, I haven’t even had a drink.

Still, I dropped a fair amount of money on this trip before ever leaving Alabama. I showcased at an event that could potentially lead to future opportunities, which would in turn pay for this trip many times over. On the other hand, I might not get any bookings, but that’s ok. Some risks are simply worth taking.

My gambling history isn’t very extensive.

The biggest gamble I ever made in my life was joining the Army. I was 19 years old and was headed nowhere, quickly. My future was bleak at best. At the time, I had very few friends in the military and had no idea what I was getting myself in to. It was the equivalent of going all in on a blind bet when you don’t even know how to play poker.

Basic Training

I got lucky and was dealt a winning hand from the start, and as many of you know, joining the Army turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

Although I only serve in a part-time capacity now, there is nothing greater than serving in our armed forces. The intangibles are unparalleled.

While awaiting my flight in Atlanta, the announcement was made that our flight was delayed due to bad weather.

Later on, another announcement was made stating the same; however, this time, they announced that the flight was overbooked and asked for volunteers to give up their seats.

The wait for the next flight was not very long, so I volunteered. In return, I received a voucher for the cost of my flight plus $300. I’d gambled and won.

Still, I’d yet to hit the jackpot.

The second flight wound up getting delayed, too. The frustration was setting in, and I was beginning to second guess myself.

My phone was dying and was in need of a charge, so I meandered about until I found an empty outlet.

I stood next to my phone as it was being charged and laid my usual carry-on, my handy-dandy, camouflaged Army backpack, at my feet.

The backpack drew the attention of a sweet little girl standing next to her grandmother. I heard her whisper, “Nana, is he a soldier?”

“I don’t know, Jayden. Why don’t you ask him?” Nana replied.

“Excuse me. Are you a soldier?” Upon confirmation, she smiled and said, “Thank you for protecting me.”

Jackpot!

I can’t remember how I responded but I’m sure it was goofy but heartfelt.

Once again, I heard her whisper, “Nana, can I give him a hug?”

“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?” Nana replied.

Upon confirmation, Jayden gave this teary eyed soldier a hug.  I needed it. She was such a blessing.

There is nothing greater than serving in our armed forces. The intangibles are unparalleled.

I reached over and removed the US Flag from my backpack and gave it to her. She was so happy. I still had tears in my eyes and so did Nana.

Jayden

I gambled 21 years ago when I bet it all and joined the Army.  Some risks are simply worth taking because the payouts never end.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.