SMITH COLUMN: Acid Reflux Blues

Published 10:30 am Saturday, April 9, 2022

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Growing up in a teetotaling environment, I was never exposed to the effects of alcohol until college. Once I was introduced to beer, I found a social compatibility that heightened the good times in life. It was fun to imbibe on the golf course, when casting a hook, watching football games and “shooting the breeze.”

Fortunately, I seem to know when to turn the spigot off. I did not enjoy the hangovers which came with excess.The times when one too many beers got the best of me, I came to realize that it wasn’t worth it if it ruined the next day.

That brings about the reminder of the line from the late entertainer, Phil Harris about a person who does not drink. “Can you imagine,” he said, “Getting up in the morning and knowing that is the best you are going to feel all day.”

Looking back, I can remember the many times when I seemed to have consumed a lot of beer on occasions that connected with an outdoor experience that were emotionally engaging — golf, a Braves game, lounging on the beach or passing time at my favorite think tank — a late afternoon mixer with the greatest drinking buddy of all time, Daniel Hamilton Magill, Georgia’s lovable tennis coach, writer, friend and confidante.

I remember fly fishing in the mountains of Montana years ago when both the fishing and the beer were as good as it gets.Standing in a cold-water Rocky Mountain creek with my shirt off in a sun that was just right — warm and pleasant but not roughing up the skin — every cast seem to connect with a cutthroat trout. I was catching fish and drinking Coors beer, which maintained its chill from the cool waters of the creek. My recollection is that I must have consumed a dozen cans of beer while catching twice that many fish or more. That was when drinking became great fun.

With the passing of time, and the good fortune of travel, I had the enriching experience of sojourns to Italy and France which brought about an introduction to red wine. Heaven on earth.

There was that emotional rapture that came from enjoying handmade, fresh pasta at a family restaurant in a small Italian town that was accompanied by unlabeled bottles of wine from their vineyard out back of the restaurant. Sensazionale!

And those times in Beaune, when a Montrachet was paired with beurre Blanc sautéed fish (a French food connoisseur told me, it is okay to pair fish with red wine if that is what fits your taste), at a café overlooking the vineyards at sundown — such a golden experience. Extraordinaire!

Those excursions caused me to become a red wine aficionado.

There were times when I could enjoy a bottle of red at lunch and dinner, by myself — no digestive issues, no bad mornings after and no heartburns.

I even enjoyed stomach compatibility with Scotch when in “Land of the Gaels.” A single malt on the rocks is a delightful starter at dinner. Be careful, however, one too many will not make your day — the next day.

As I play the back nine of life, I have come to appreciate the importance of a good night’s sleep. Red wine has “reared an ugly head.” It still tastes good, but it now keeps me awake. Awaking early, dates to farm days, and I find it a great companion for a busy schedule — but a 2:30 a.m. wakeup call will ruin anybody’s day.

Apparently, it is all related to acid reflux. I don’t have to consult a physician.  If I don’t drink, I sleep well.

When I sleep through the night and make it to something like two hours before the rooster makes his debut, then life becomes restful and orderly.

There are all sorts of remedies for acid reflux on the Internet, one which sounds very interesting. That one advises that an acid reflux sufferer should simply eat an apple before bedtime.

While I am not a researcher or a doctor, I have become convinced that drinking in the evening is ill-advised. Lunch seems to be okay, but I am not on a half day work routine.  Already, I have found that no alcohol in the evening makes those memories of the good times in Paso Robles, Napa, Cortona, Amalfi, Sienna, Beaune, Bordeaux and Stellenbosch a pleasant reminder that abstinence paired with fond memories is restful.