9.19.2008

Nobody knows…. How Dry I Am… (sing if you know it!)

I don’t drink.

Now, to answer the questions I’m most often asked, from the start:

No, I’m not a recovering alcoholic… no, I’m not Mormon, or otherwise religious in any way… and no, I’m not allergic to it.

I just don’t drink. In fact, I’ve *never* been drunk.

Whenever someone asks me, “Why?”… I usually say something like, “It’s just something I never got into”, and leave it at that. Admittedly, this isn’t much of an answer. Almost sounds like I never had the access to alcohol, or was never in a situation where it was available, and just grew up feeling that’s the norm.

Oh please… I’m not, nor ever have been, THAT sheltered. I did not spend my childhood in a Sense-Dep Tank… and while my High School socialization may have been limited, it wasn’t like I didn’t have a clue where to find alcohol. Access and opportunity were not lacking in my world.

There are several reasons why I don’t drink… though if I had to pick ONE as the root of it all… the answer is simple; My dad.

Now, my dad is not an alcoholic… as one might think when I mention him as a reason. No, he never let the bottle affect work, or the normal day-to-day functioning of his life… he was just a blue-collar shmoe that liked his beer, like most people. He’d have one, maybe two in the evening after work… and when he had a day off, he’d have… more than that. If you look at all the instances or him pissing me off, upsetting me, or (when I was young) flat-out scaring me and making me feel horrible and stupid… let’s just say it’s no coincidence that those stories almost invariably begin with the words, “Dad had a few too many beers that day…”

Combine that with an already short temper, a wavering idea of personal space, and a stubbornness that borders on self-delusion… No, he’s not an alcoholic… just a complete obnoxious asshole when he *is* drunk.

Some people fall into similar patterns of libation-consumption that they witnessed growing up… Some people rebel, and go the opposite way… only to eventually end up in those same patterns… some learn actual moderation and end those patterns in a responsible way. Me: I just rebelled 100%, and never stopped.

Now a lot of people have looked at my personality and lovingly tell me I’d be a “happy drunk”, and how I most likely wouldn’t be an asshole. But you know… after years of the kind of aforementioned stories, and hearing some of the most horrible, hateful, insulting things spoken (or “yelled” would be more accurate) while under that influence… I really don’t think that’s something I care to even take a chance on. Nah, I’m all set on that.

Even on a practical level… I hate the taste. We can also attribute that to my dad. When I was a little kid, Dad would let my brothers and I have little sips of his beer. For me, I would then go about a year or so before I thought “I forgot what that tastes likes”, and ask Dad for another sip, which he’d oblige. THEN I’d remember why I went a year plus without trying it. Henceforth, it always confused me when people told me how beer was an “acquired taste”… because if you put something disgusting in your mouth… what on earth would give you the bright idea to do it AGAIN??? Jeez… little babies figure this stuff out.

Though what may be a missing piece in that story is the *brand* of beer my Dad drinks. Apparently, my “hate-the-taste” position makes sense to some people when they hear it, as it seems that brand is universally referred to as the “rat-piss” of the beer drinking world. I probably shouldn’t mention the name… but I will say that it rhymes with “Shmold Shmilwaukee”. (And if that’s a proud export of Wisconsin… they should stick to the cheese.)

Now, I’d be lying if I said I’ve NEVER had a drink (since being legal). My first one was a “Suffering Bastard”. I specifically wanted that to be my first… solely because of the name. (It seemed like it fit.) I finished maybe a quarter of it… IF that. Another time, I had a Zombie. Again… for the name (Cause zombies are cool), and still only finished a fraction of it.

I did try wine a few times… and wine was actually something I would have liked to know more about. It just seems like a very “James Bond” kind of thing to know… the years of vintage, the regions it comes from, and how to accompany it with crackers and cheese to help bring out the subtlety of the flavors. You’re not even supposed to get drunk on wine, it’s supposed to be a sipping/tasting experience. If you want to get drunk, you drink whiskey or vodka or something of that ilk… not wine. If you’re drinking wine with the intention of getting drunk… I think you’re doing something wrong. Wine is about the actual flavor… of which the few times I tried, I didn’t really like. I was given half a glass one time, and I nursed it for about 3 hours… and by that point, I’d only finished maybe a quarter of what was poured (so not even 1/8 of a glass). I wasn’t so much “drinking” it… as I was “letting it evaporate.”

I think the taste of the alcohol itself is just kind of repulsive to me. And since I’m not used to the taste of it… when it does exist in my glass, it’s pretty obvious. I’ve taken a drink of punch before, to find it had been spiked. I then found out it was *very lightly* spiked, and that no one else had been able to taste it… but I did. *shrug* I’ve been told several times that I “just need to find something I’d like”… and I’ve had many offers to “help” me with that. I don’t know… maybe there IS something out there I’d like. But I don’t think I have any interest in finding it. (And if you want to “help”… Worse have tried… and Better have failed.)

Even though, I seem to find a lot of disadvantages to not drinking. That seems like an odd statement, I know. Most people can immediately think of several reasons why it’s good to NOT drink (even though they are drinking themselves)… “It’s healthier”, “saves a lot of money”, “you’ll never do anything you regret”, blah blah blah.

Yeah, that’s what they SAY. But I think the subconscious says something different.

Alcohol is very much a social lubricant. It lowers inhibitions and gets strangers talking, opening up a myriad of possibilities both bad and good. We walk around with our guard up all day, and to relax we want to let that guard down… and most people don’t consider the bad possibilities 100% of the time (otherwise, they’d NEVER let their guard down). Always keeping your wits about you… can be hard work and stressful on its own, so who wants to constantly worry about that? It’s nice to feel you can let that responsibility go… which alcohol can do, artificially.

Me… I’ve always got that guard up. Now, from my point of view… it’s a little tough having an intelligent conversation with someone who’s visibly inebriated. For them, I can only imagine what they’d be thinking… anything from “What a stick-in-the-mud, he’s no fun” to “I’m vulnerable and he’s not… oh my, this is uncomfortable” to “I’m engaging in a horrible vice and therefore, he must think he’s so much better than me, the bastard”, etc. Sure, they “say” it’s good I don’t drink… but they talk more/flirt more/get-to-know the other people that ARE drinking. (I *do* meet people who drink that are 100% a-okay with it and really don’t care that I’m a teetotaler... but it’s rarer than you think.)

In all honesty… I don’t care if other people drink. My “no drinking” policy is only for me and me alone. I hold NO one else to those standards. I think some of my past relationships felt a little awkward with it… being in a situation where they wanted to have a drink, but knowing that I wasn’t. Whether they felt pressured by my presence to not drink, or didn’t want to “leave me out”, I don’t know. But I want my friends to have a good time… and if that entails knocking back a few… go for it. I will never tell someone they *shouldn’t* do that. It’s our inalienable right to do whatever you want to yourself… that’s the beauty of America. If you’re my friend… especially if I’m dating you… then I’m accepting flaws, vices and all. If I’m THAT opposed to something you practice/engage in… I’ll leave or just won’t get involved in the first place. (In which case it really is an honest-to-goodness “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I don’t like the idea of asking anybody to change for me… as I don’t think I have the right.)

Yeah, there are times I do feel a little “left out”. I wonder if it would be nice to get vulnerable like that. Hell, maybe I’d have had a lot more sex in life if I did… (but I think I’d rather have sex that I *remember*… and not have to regret later)

I think it’s a trade-off.

I’ll gladly be the designated driver. Sure, maybe I’ll be a bit bored while sitting around and people-watching drunk strangers… but if I know my friends are having a good time, that’s okay by me. As long as I have my wits about me… as long as I have control over myself, I have control over the situation. There are a lot of bad possibilities that *can* happen. At least I can make sure that those things don’t happen to my friends. If you get drunk-sick, I’ll hold your head over the toilet… and when you have the hangover, I’ll bring you the vitamin B and water.

Call it another part of my inner Superhero complex. If you’re with me… you’re getting home safe… I guarantee it.

I’ve seen some people at their absolute worst while drunk… alcohol combined with medication (or even alcohol withOUT medication that they should have been on), borderline alcohol poisoning, falling off the wagon, getting violent and even acting downright stalkerish while under the influence.

I’ve also seen people become scared for their own safety, and the safety of those they love… deathly afraid that they are going to be hurt or scarred forever from someone who was drunk and not in control of themselves. I’ve seen too many tears and have heard of far too many stories of good friends turned into victims and statistics.

Since there’s almost nothing that pisses me off more than that, I say this with as much passion, rage and utmost seriousness that I can muster:

THAT WILL **NOT** HAPPEN ON MY WATCH!

(God help whoever tries to F**K with me on this one.)

3 comments:

fritz said...

Huzzah!

Another control freak who doesn't like the taste of alcohol either, here...with one exception. Amaretto. My dad's drink was a toasted almond: amaretto and cream on the rocks. Now that he's gone, it's mine.

Neither of my folks were alcoholics, but there's been talk that maybe one of my grandfathers was.

My parents always had beer with their pizza (and I got to try a sip of their beer or wine whenever I wanted, and to this day, I still hate both beer and wine...unless the wine is used in cooking).

Aside from not liking the taste, the other big reason for my not drinking: college. I'd see roving packs of fellow students (females scantily clad in the middle of winter)every Thurs, Fri, and Sat night. They were loud and obnoxious on their way to get drunk, they were louder and more obnoxious after getting drunk; they stank the next day (whether from merely spilling drinks or from puking, I don't know or care); and they couldn't wait to do it all over again. They (or their families) were paying thousands of dollars a year in tuition for the privilege of drinking away their brain cells. To quote Spock, "That is not logical."

My hat's off to you for being so non-judgmental. I'm in favor of responsible alcohol use--safety first.

Komodo Jazz said...

You've still had more to drink than I have. I've never even had a sip. The only alcohol I've ever taken was that which you get in Nyquil and cold syrup. I've just never been curious about it, not enough to find out, at least.
It's also the one area of my life that I don't want to mess up with. I've screwed everything else up. A no-drinking policy is my way of holding onto some form of purity.

Nat said...

Hear Hear!

Drinking definately falls into that catagory of "only if YOU feel like it"! Anyone trying to presure you into doing it is not looking out for you. Hats off for being willing to try it and not just automatically writing it off.