A sparkling eve
December 2021 | Remote Communities & Sober Holidays | On the Cover

A sparkling eve

It was her first sober New Year’s Eve and all she wanted was a nice night out with her husband

I’d been sober in AA for six months now, and this was my first New Year’s Eve not drinking. I was spending it with my husband, who doesn’t drink and never has. He’d put up with me and my wine drinking for a long time. He never understood why I couldn’t just have a glass or two of wine and then put the bottle away. I didn’t know how to stop. It had become apparent to both of us that my drinking was causing strife and might cause us to break our commitment to each another.

I really wanted to stop drinking. But every time I stopped, I’d relapse after three or four months. I did not have a good track record. For some reason though, the third time was the charm, as they say. My husband became much more supportive and encouraging. He was proud of me. I began to feel good about my life and about myself.

This night was going to be the best New Year’s Eve ever because I was finally sober. I had on a new dress. I felt like a queen on the arm of my king. My husband and I had early dinner reservations at one of the city’s nicest restaurants. I wanted to be there before the serious drinkers arrived.

The restaurant was far from full when we got there, but they sat us in the bar. There were no other table choices unless we wanted to wait. In the bar, I watched elegantly dressed women drinking wine out of graceful, delicate wine glasses. I decided I wanted sparkling water in one of those lovely glasses, with a lime and a cherry. I’m an artist and for me, food tastes better out of bone china than on a plastic plate. It just does. When the server arrived to take our drink order I said, “I’d like some sparkling water”

“Sorry. We don’t have sparkling water,” the server said. “Do you have club soda?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. Then I said, “May I have a club soda, no ice, with a garnish of lime and a cherry? In a wine glass like the ladies at the bar?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the server said shaking her head. “The wine glasses are reserved for wine drinkers tonight.” Things got silent. “Surely you can find a wine glass for me,” I said, intending to tell her that this was my first sober New Year’s Eve.

Just then, my husband put his arm around me and gently interrupted. “We will buy the g-damn glass,” he said calmly. The server looked at him, then looked at me and nodded. She brought my beautiful glass full of ice-cold club soda with no ice and the garnish requested. She refilled my glass during our meal. Sparkling club soda really tasted better to me than fine champagne, which had been my poison of choice for New Year’s Eve.

As I drank my club soda, I paid close attention to even the small details. The bubbles, the temperature, the glass, the garnish…my husband’s blue eyes, pride, our private conversation, the moment, living one day at a time.

I told this story about my husband and our dinner to my sister. “He’s a keeper,” she said.

Did I keep the glass as a souvenir? No. The restaurant did not charge us for the glass nor for the club soda. We also decided that keeping the glass would not enhance the wonderful memory of our night. The server got a nice big tip, by the way. Happy New Year!


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