Even the editors of Fark, the funny repository for “It’s not news, it’s Fark” headlines and stories, selected this NPR drinking and sex story for its main page. Why? Because it’s a little known fact that one of the main reasons a lot of people don’t want to give up drinking is because of sex. Because, you know, drinking precedes sex in unofficially about 80-90% of cases. We’re not talking about college date assault — though there is sadly that — we’re including the glass or two of wine, the cocktail hour, however the imbibing gets done. Drinking and sex have been partners for a long, long while. And there’s a common fear that giving up the first means one’s ability to engage in the latter is in peril — or at least much diminished.
That’s why author Sarah Hepola’s Fresh Air story on “liquid courage” (courage because sex, which can increase vulnerability, can be scary) pressed so many buttons. The basics of Heppola’s story are in this brief fragment:
“Scared to be seen naked? Drink. Scared he doesn’t like you? Drink. Scared you don’t like him? Oooh, honey, drink up.”
Hepola gives up the drink, deciding to be “fully present” and “fully revealed” to her sexual partner. She has a revelation when she hears comedian Louis C.K. confess he doesn’t like the uncomfortable (plain wrong) intimacy of hook-up culture. But it wasn’t easy for Hepola, as being fully present isn’t easy for anybody. One of the great dramatic portrayals of the strangeness and fear of sex without drinking (for someone used to it) was when Dennis Franz, as Det. Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue, went to bed sober with Sylvia Costas. That was twenty years ago. Same dilemmas, same hard solutions.