It’s been a really long time since I’ve enjoyed drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. It’s been even longer since I’ve enjoyed getting drunk. I haven’t actively hated drinking – especially since I moved to Melbourne and gained regular access to Gypsy pear cider – but I can’t think of a good time I’ve had in the last 18 months that has been improved by me being drunk.
I’ve felt uneasy about alcohol ever since I was a kid – long before my teenage run-ins with Bundaberg Rum. My first serious boyfriend was a sweet guy, but a nasty drunk. In one of our many fights about his awful behaviour, I told him I didn’t like him being drunk or being drunk with him because a) he behaved like an arsehole and b) so many bad things in my life were connected with alcohol. He countered that the best times in his life were because of alcohol, and I was being unfair to deprive him of more good times. He was right, I suppose. No-one likes a killjoy, so I kept my misgivings about alcohol to myself and chose to drink in moderation or not at all.
A few weeks ago I flicked through a copy of The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. I gritted my teeth to get over the fact that true non-conformists are probably too busy being rad to read a book about not conforming and found a few good ideas in there. One was defining frugality by not spending money on things you don’t value, as opposed to things you don’t need. Guillebeau says:
My view is that if you like having a latte every morning and feel that the purchase is a good value, by all means, pick up a morning latte. It’s more important to be clear about the bulk of your spending.
Music is the greatest source of joy and comfort in my life. It always has been, and it’s certainly treated me better than any drink I’ve ever had. I drew up a budget soon after I moved to Melbourne and have a pretty good idea of my cash flow and expenses. After budgeting for bills and cutting out the stuff I didn’t value (booze, taxi fares) I realised I had plenty of money to pay for at least some of my music consumption without hurting my savings. I’ve been funnelling that money into digital downloads from Bandcamp and increasing my vinyl record collection by a steady rate of an LP a week.
Most people value paying for alcohol over paying for music, and I guess that’s fine. Pubs – particularly live music venues – have bills to pay too. Then again, for the price of two pints (in Melbourne), I got Screamfeeder bass player Kellie Lloyd’s solo album as a 180g vinyl LP, a free download of the album in MP3 format and a bonus flexidisc of the album’s lead single. I reckon that’s a better investment.