Read CHAPTER I: Introductory of The Old Game A Retrospect after Three and a Half Years on the Water-wagon , free online book, by Samuel G. Blythe, on

In a few minutes it will be three years and a half since I have taken a drink. In six years, six months, and a few minutes it will be ten years. Then I shall begin to feel I have some standing among the chaps who have quit. Three years and a half seems quite a period of abstinence to me, but I am constantly running across men who have been on the wagon for five and ten and twelve and twenty years; and I know, when it comes to merely not taking any, I am a piker as yet. However, I have well-grounded hopes. The fact is, a drink could not be put into me except with the aid of an anesthetic and a funnel; but, for all that, I am no bigot.

I look at this non-drinking determination of mine as a purely individual proposition. Let me get the stage set properly at the beginning of my remarks. I have no advice to offer and no counsel to give. Most of my best friends drink and I never have said and never shall say them nay. It is up to them not up to me. I have no prejudices in the matter. If my friends want to drink I am for that for them.

These things are mentioned to establish my status in the premises. I have no sermon to preach no warning to convey. I have no desire to impress my convictions on the subject of drinking liquor on any person whatever. That is not my mission. So far as I am concerned, all persons are hereby given full and free permission to eat, drink and be merry to such extent as they may prescribe for themselves. I set no limit, suggest no reforms, urge no cutting down or cutting out. Go to it and peace be with you! And for an absolute teetotaler I reckon I buy as many drinks for others as any one in my class.

Pardon me for inserting these puny details in what I have to say. Triflingly personal as they are they seem necessary in order to establish my viewpoint. So far as drinking is concerned I look at it with a mind that is open and tolerant except in one instance. That one instance concerns myself personally and individually. My mind is closed and intolerant in my own case. I have quit and quit forever; but that does not make me go round urging others to quit, or preaching at them, or trying to reform them. They can reform or not, as they dad-blamed please. To be sure I have my own interior ideas on what some of them should do; but I never have and never shall do anything with those ideas but keep them closely to myself.

Therefore, to resume: In a few minutes it will be three years and a half since I have taken a drink. There is no more alcohol in my system than there is in a glass of spring water. The thought of putting alcohol into my system is as absent from my mind as is the thought of putting benzine into it, or gasoline, or taking a swig of shoe-polish. It never occurs to me. The whole thing is out of my psychology. My palate has forgotten how it tastes. My stomach has forgotten how it feels. My head has forgotten how it exhilarates. The next-morning fur has forsaken my tongue. It is all over!