Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
... but what if you're alcoholic?
I was making out with a guy in the back seat of his car on Mulholland Drive the other day, overlooking the lights of the San Fernando Valley. It was delightful. I would say the best part was when we were approached by a cop warning us the parking area was about to close for the night (I’m sure he did not expect a grandma - a cute grandma, if I say so myself - to sheepishly climb out of the SUV), but that wouldn’t be true. The best part was the rush of neurochemicals that flooded my brain. Kissing is one of the best drugs in the world… and I know my drugs. The California penal system can back me up on that one.
Kissing gets me high, and for good reason. I can show you fMRI scans that prove your brain reacts the same way to falling in love as it does to cocaine. Here, take a look. But Ethlie, you say, kissing isn’t falling in love! Sure, tell that to my brain. My poor, dopamine flooded brain. As biomedical researcher Lucy Brown discovered, too much dopamine makes you lose cognitive capacity, especially in the areas of judgment and long-term planning. “Love isn't just blind and addictive,” she says, “but it makes us kind of stupid."
Loss of judgment and long-range planning. Yup. Once those happy hormones get going, I lose my ability to think things through. I forget that, as with any mind-altering drug, there are side effects. Kissing isn’t illegal (unless you’re into something I would really rather not know about), but it can still follow the classic “fun/fun with problems/problems” pattern of any drug dependency. So, much as I love the feeling, I have to think it through. Is the person on the other end of that kiss possibly unreliable? Maybe dishonest? He might be unsafe. He might be on the next plane out. He might be more interested in someone else.
If you’re going to do drugs, at least know your dealer. Otherwise you could be in for a hell of a bad trip.
So I have to ignore my inner addict voice, which has a vocabulary that consists of “NOW” and “MORE.” I have to do some due diligence on the guy I’m kissing, annoying and time-consuming as that may be. Worst of all, it means I have to be willing to say “no” to a bum deal.
(This is me, by the way. Me how I mostly see myself in my mind, at least.)
Of course, the whole point of being an addict is we don’t say “no.” I told you: We say “now” and “more.” The person at the party who says, “Oh, that’s it for me, thanks. I have to go to work in the morning…” that person is not an addict. The addict says, “If I get to sleep by 2, I can still make it to work… If I get to sleep by 3, I can still make it to work… If I get to sleep by 4, I can still make it to work… If those goddam birds don’t shut up, I’m going to shoot them.”
Please don’t take any of these to mean I’m discouraging you (or me, for that matter) from having casual sex. Acknowledging the existence of sex and love addiction isn’t being “sex negative,” although I hear that sometimes from some very defensive-sounding people. All I’m saying is… know thyself. Know your blind spots, because you may not see them coming. That’s the nature of blind spots.
We can all do anything we want — as long as it doesn't hurt others, and as long as we are willing to pay the price. There are just some prices I am no longer willing to pay. I want to smile when I drive past that overlook on Mulholland. Not throw myself off of it.