Crazy married moments
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2020 - 12:00am

I married someone who in my assessment, admittedly extremely faulty at times is a wonderful man. He is highly intelligent, very good-looking according to all the women who courted him before he chose to marry me. He is a wonderful singer but he doesn’t drink. He says it’s because in his youth his grandfather opened a distillery, which provided them with different kinds of alcohol. Also in his youth his mother would take her sons to cowboy movies where the characters drank themselves close to death. So one day he decided to drink as much as the cowboys in the movies. Naturally, he got very drunk, very sick and very hungover. He has hated drinking since.

Well, not exactly. He became a social drinker, drinking with his clients. He’s a retired lawyer. Or at parties. But he never really enjoyed hard drinks.

I, on the other hand, used to be a hard drinker. My granduncle taught me to drink before I hit the teens because he said many men would try to get me drunk. He was right. I learned to drink and hold my alcohol. In the end, I learned to be a heavy drinker for as long as I was with heavy drinkers. But now that I’m old and married to a man who doesn’t enjoy drinking much, I have learned to drink moderately or not at all. Once in a while I drink a little too much; but now, not anymore. I have finally learned my lesson but have not forgotten my little tricks.

One day we went to the supermarket and I was charmed by bottles that looked like cut glass. I bought two and poured French brandy into them. French brandy is expensive and much stronger than the local brands that my husband likes to pour into a coffee concoction he loves to serve. And you drink French brandy properly — in a snifter. You sip it slowly. You never take it down in one gulp like you do tequila.

One night he was getting a cold spell, something that afflicts him once in a while, so he decided to drink my brandy. He took a shot glass and drank it all in one go. It warmed him. He liked it. So the next night he took two shot glasses and drank them one after the other. These two shots worked for him, too. So on this night that I’m writing about he took three shots — one after the other — and began to hyperventilate.

We don’t have the same taste when watching television. He watches in the living room, which is only about 15 steps from the bedroom, where I watch serials on Netflix. He comes into the room hyperventilating and asks me to call an ambulance to take him to the hospital. “Why?” I ask.

“I cannot breathe. I feel sick,” he replies.

“What have you been doing?” I ask.

“I took three shots of your brandy and I feel sick. Take me to the hospital,” he demands. I am in my nightgown. I have no makeup on. And he’s drunk. He expects me to take him in that shape to a hospital or to call an ambulance?

“Take your blood pressure first,” I say. He does and it’s just a little bit high but not worrisome. I get him an icy glass of Coke Zero, his favorite drink. “Drink it,” I tell him. He begins to protest but I look at him straight in the eye and command, “Drink it!” He drinks it. Drinking an icy glass of Coke or Pepsi is a good trick for keeping sober during heavy drinking nights. Soft drinks have a lot of caffeine in them to sober you up pleasantly. It’s more pleasant than drinking a hot cup of coffee.

Then I tell him to lie down with a few pillows under his head. “Remember when I was trying to teach you to meditate? Let’s try breathing that way now.”

“I don’t remember,” he protests.

“Breathe through your nose. I will count to five. Then hold it for a count of five. Then exhale to a count of five. Let’s do it.” I count to five. He tries to follow but of course does not always do it successfully. But he calms down.

“How do you feel now?” I ask.

“Better,” he says. “Much better.”

“Still want to go to the hospital?”

“No, I’m just going to sleep now.”

“Okay, goodnight. Sleep tight.”

 Now I’m the one who feels the need for a drink to calm down. It’s not easy to keep your cool when your husband thinks he’s about to die when all he is is drunk. I go to the kitchen and look into the refrigerator. There it is. Soju, I think it’s called. It’s Korean sake. I sip a shot slowly. Now I, too, can say goodnight.

* * *

The next Mass in Munting Sabsaban is on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Silang, Cavite.

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