Birthdays, Friends, Beer and Video Games

I’m amazed I don’t have a hangover this morning. I visited a friend last night to help celebrate his birthday – he had organised a “boy’s night”, complete with beer, pizza, a number of current and past co-workers, and video games. I say “games”, but it really just came down to taking turns playing a car racing game – driving ridiculous cars at speed around Monaca, Monza, and the Nurburgring Nordschlief (is that how you spell it?).

It was the first time I had played any sort of video game since we arranged a similar evening perhaps 18 months ago. I surprised myself at how quickly I picked the old skills back up. It struck me during the evening just how much alcohol affects judgement and reaction times – even in a video game. I remember years ago playing games, and knowing I would play better after a cup of coffee – of course beer has the opposite effect. It isn’t so much the lack of judgement – it’s the lack of accuracy it introduces. Where Monaco might usually be a finely judged dance, drifting the car between the barriers – into and out of corner apexes, after two or three beers it became an unpredictable wrecking yard.

Enough about video games.

It was lovely to see some faces I used to work with. One of them had worked with me on the London project I often talk about – that happened A DECADE AGO now. Once upon a time we were all single – little by little we are all either engaged, married, divorced, have children, or have babies on the way. It’s funny how life creeps up on you like that.

I got to about my fourth beer by about midnight, and some kind of safety switch flicked in my head – the “you really shouldn’t drink any more” safety switch – it’s probably the reason I have no hangover this morning. It was probably installed during my mid 20s after one too many nights out where the majority of next day was wasted as a result. We said our goodbyes a short while after, and scattered into the night. While walking home on my own I ate a chocolate bar I discovered in the pocket of my shorts, and smiled while replaying conversations from the evening in my head.

After getting home, I sobered up while clearing the kitchen up, made tea and coffee for myself and my other half, and joined her to watch late night TV together for a little while. I remember looking at my watch, and realising it far more than “half past my bedtime”, so headed to bed – falling asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. Beer kind of does that to me.

This morning has been what you might call a “slow start”. The children woke me at first 7am – asking if I might make them pancakes for breakfast – and then 8am to tell me the cat had peed indoors. I scraped myself out of bed a few minutes later, had a wash, dug clean clothes out of the ironing pile (that will never get ironed), and started clearing the decks once again. I have another week at home before returning to the office. Let’s try not to start counting the days down and becoming increasingly anxious or depressed.

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