The Existential Expert on how to quit day drinking … and problems with pugs

The Existential Expert responds to your questions. Photo: Pixabay/LEEROY Agency.

The latest instalment of The Existential Expert looks at the issue of day drinking during lockdown … and what to do when your significant other wants to adopt a pug – when you can’t stand pugs!

Q: I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired – and by that I mean hangovers. The uncomfortable truth is I’m drinking every day during lockdown. I just can’t seem to stop day drinking while working from home. Part of me thinks it’s ok, everyone’s doing it, but I don’t want to live like this forever. Do you have any advice? Thanks in advance. 

Amy, via Twitter  

EE: Dear Amy, 

Thanks for your question. 

We’ve been there – and, as you say, you’re not alone in routinely having a cheeky glass of something to stave off the mid-arvo slump. We’re all coping in one way or another. 

Our advice isn’t revolutionary – but it works. The best way to stop drinking at home is to make booze as inaccessible as possible. Obviously, with liquor seemingly more readily available in this country than fresh water or even Harvey Norman ads, that’s not easy. 

Nevertheless, try to keep it out of your house: pour your remaining vino away and delete the delivery apps from your phone. It’ll be easier to resist the urge for wine if, when the moment of temptation comes, you realise you have to drag yourself to the bottle shop and face the ‘Oh hey, it’s you again’ look in the eyes of the server.  

The other thing that might help is to crystalise exactly why you want to stop drinking. 

We suggest writing out the pros and cons of continuing drinking – then also writing out the pros and cons of stopping. 

Considering the matter in this way can help get to the nub of the situation – and deal with this habit at a personal level. 

It may extend to your broader drinking habits. A couple of weeks off can’t hurt. In the long run, you’ll enjoy greater clarity, optimism and energy – which is, after all, in short supply right now. 

Be kind to yourself. In the short term there might be a little, well, angst. With that in mind, we strongly recommend consulting with your GP prior to quitting. We’re not saying you’ve gone full-blown Barnaby Joyce, but your doctor will be able to help safely manage your withdrawals.   

All the best on your journey. 


Q: My girlfriend wants to get a pug. How do I tell her I don’t like small dogs, especially pugs, which snort and dribble all over the place? The idea of a pug in our house disgusts me!

JK, via Twitter

Photo: Free-Photos/Pixabay.

EE: Dear JK, 

Firstly, if you’re definite about your loathing for your these creatures – then coming clean to your girlfriend is the best policy. 

In all fairness, pugs are normally low-key, friendly, small dogs (unlike, say, chihuahuas). But while we generally endorse people getting pooches (especially rescue ones) if you’re just not feeling it, some commitments really are best avoided. 

Actually, we have the pug’s interests at heart here – if it turns out the missus is not fully up for it (and you certainly aren’t), there’s going to be collateral damage and that may well be doggo. 

Typically, the thing that’s problematic with dysfunctional small dogs are dysfunctional small dog-owners. They don’t take full responsibility for their animals and don’t pay them enough attention. They turn them loose at parks, they let them piss on small children, etcetera.  

In worst cases, what you end up with is a neglected yet entitled brat acting out to try and get some attention – the canine equivalent of Donald Trump Jr or Victorian state politician Tim Smith. Like we said, pugs are typically very genial small dogs, but that might not stop yours from becoming a pointless trainwreck. 

This will also have a longer term impact on your relationship. Yes, you can have a disagreement about, say, whether or not to get a particular coffee table – but you don’t have to take a coffee table out to take a dump every single morning at 6.30am.

When it comes to your ‘frank discussion’ with your girlfriend, we suggest framing it according to that commitment. 

List all the things involved. There’s house-training, feeding, pet bills, grooming, the endless brown bombs scattered everywhere

Really emphasise the general monotony of the experience and how exhausting it’s going to be. It might help to use a really droney voice while you itemise all these things or incorporate some sort of PowerPoint presentation. A little effort is going to save you – and the hypothetical dog – a lot of grief in the long run. 

If that doesn’t work, you can always offer to get your girlfriend pregnant. Depending on how you feel about kids, this might be the better option. 

Good luck with your journey! 

A panacea for uncertain times, The Existential Expert is a forum where the Sentinel will address the essential questions, you – our readers – have posed. If you have a conundrum, whether it’s spiritual, philosophical or just something that makes you break out in a rash, tweet or DM us @sydney_sentinel. New columns published each Sunday – and you can check out previous ones here!

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is no substitute for professional advice, and should not be treated as such.