Thirty days of drinking like a Ukrainian.
The very thought is enough to turn my stomach. Thirty days of drinking would be bad enough, but drinking like a Ukrainian? Who knows how this will end. Possibly facedown, in the alley that runs alongside my apartment building, like Sasha. A bald, middle-aged man with a vodka belly which threatens to daily loose its contents all over the pockmarked Ukrainian concrete, Sasha collapses in a heap every Saturday night next to the entryway of my building. Many a Sunday have I awoken in bed to the sound of angry car horns screeching at the sight of his crumpled personage blocking their path. But Sasha only drinks on Saturdays so far as I can tell, as other nights he’s nowhere to be found. Where does the man emerge from those Saturday evenings in such a state? Or, more curiously, what drives him to drink his Saturday nights away? Is he lonely? Is Saturday the weekly anniversary of some terribly tragedy or is the fact that he’s Ukrainian reason enough for him to drink the night away?
Whether tragedy or nationality, I intend to find out. I will immerse myself in this equal parts tragic/comical world the only way I haven’t yet – by drinking myself silly.
Let me state for the record that I am not much of a drinker. You need only ask my friends and relatives to validate this. I drink when the occasion suits it, and in my case, and taste, it rarely does. The challenge is thus: drinking every night for thirty nights like the typical Ukrainian male (stereotype though it may be) and lose all the scruples I have collected over my sheltered Christian upbringing. My liquor of choice will primarily be vodka, i.e. Ukrainian water, though I will not limit myself from consuming other alcoholic beverages. There is no better night to start than tonight, during the 2012 Euro Cup Final, in the Euro host city of Kharkiv, 500 kilometers east of where the drama will play out in Kiev. The next 30 days will see me in various cities and in (we hope) various new predicaments.
My challenge is to experience a state of drunkenness foreign to the rest of us- a state of drunkenness that, just maybe, might be an alternate step toward enlightenment. The challenge laid out before me, I say a prayer for the preservation of my liver – and my dignity.