My family doesn't drink. The few times I've ever seen them consume alcohol, it was a drink, not enough to get affected by the alcohol. I'm not really an exception, either. I drink alcohol maybe half a dozen times a year (and I never had any until I was well into my college years). Drunkenness is just not something I grew up with. I never saw it; I never learned to recognize it. I still have trouble realizing when somebody is under the influence.
Tonight I saw it, though. I saw a person who was drunk, but not belligerent or obnoxious. I noticed the little things: a tiny stumble, plopping into furniture, the slightest slur, the head hanging down. Things I might not even notice, or otherwise mistake for exhaustion.
My first thought, upon this realization, was that I always thought I was so slick, so able to hide when I was drunk from other people, but I obviously can't. No matter how hard you try, when you're incapacitated, you're incapacitated.
My second thought was how sobering a realization that was (and my third thought was how unbelievably ironic that was, considering the subject matter). I'm not above the rules. I'm just not. I'm a human being, so whatever affects people as a whole, affects me in particular.
Sobering thoughts are like that. They pull you out of that delirium of invincibility or self-exception. They make you realize that you're just like everybody else. I guess that's why they call them sobering.
I also think they're pretty amazing. When you have a sobering thought, it's because you've realized that something applies to you. That's always a good sign. It means you're paying attention. It also means you realize that you can learn and grow. Definitely a quality that writers should have.