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Cutting It Out
How to Get on the Waterwagon and Stay There
FIRST off, let me state the object of the meeting: This is to be a record of sundry experiences centering round a stern resolve to get on the waterwagon and a sterner attempt to stay there. It is an entirely personal narrative of a strictly personal set of circumstances. It is not a temperance lecture, or a temperance tract, or a chunk of advice, or a shuddering recital of the woes of a horrible example, or a warning, or an admonition or anything at all but a plain tale of an adventure that started out rather, vaguely and wound up rather satisfactorily.
I am no brand that was snatched from the burning; no sot who picked himself or was picked from the gutter; no drunkard who almost wrecked a promising career; no constitutional or congenital souse. I drank liquor the same way hundreds of thousands of men drink it drank liquor and attended to my business, and got along well, and kept my health, and provided for my family, and maintained my position in the community. I felt I had a perfect right to drink liquor just as I had a perfect right to stop drinking it. I never considered my drinking in any way immoral.
I was decent, respectable, a gentleman, who drank only with gentlemen and as a gentleman should drink if he pleases. I didn't care whether any one else drank and do not now. I didn't care whether any one else cared whether I drank and do not now. I am no reformer, no lecturer, no preacher. I quit because I wanted to, not because I had to. I didn't swear off, nor take any vow, nor sign any pledge. I am no moral censor. It is even possible that I might go out this afternoon and take a drink. I am quite sure I shall not but I might. As far as my trip into Teetotal Land is concerned, it is an individual proposition and nothing else. I am no example for other men who drink as much as I did, or more, or less but I assume my experiences are somewhat typical, for I am sure my drinking was very typical; and a recital of those experiences and the conclusions thereon is what is before the house.
I quit drinking because I quit drinking. I had a very fair batting average in the Booze League as good as I thought necessary; and I knew if I stopped when my record was good the situation would be satisfactory to me, whether it was to any other person or not. Moreover, I figured it out that the time to stop drinking was when it wasn't necessary to stop not when it was necessary. I had been observing during the twenty years I had been drinking, more or less, and I had known a good many men who stopped drinking when the doctors told them to. Furthermore, it had been my observation that when a doctor tells a man to stop drinking it usually doesn't make much difference whether he stops or not. In a good many cases he might just as well keep on and die happily, for he's going to die anyhow; and the few months he will grab through his abstinence will not amount to anything when the miseries of that abstinence are duly chalked up in the debit column.
Therefore, applying the cold, hard logic of the situation to it, I decided to beat the liquor to it.
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