In honor of the recently passed New Year’s Eve (or as a former bartender friend called it, “Amateur Night”), I wanted to write about why I don’t drink alcohol. It’s funny to me that this is even an issue or a question, but it is. The fact that I do not consume this highly regulated, age-restricted, mind-altering beverage comes up literally every single time that I am at a party, a restaurant, or any other kind of social gathering.
“Would you like a drink?”
“No, thank you, unless of course you have Diet Mountain Dew . . .” (trying to distract them from the inevitable question)
“Oh, you don’t drink? Not at all??”
For a few years, I had a great answer that immediately satisfied people: “No, I’m pregnant/breastfeeding.” Done. Conversation over. But I can’t use this excuse anymore.
People seem fascinated; they want to know why exactly I don’t drink. Am I an alcoholic? No, but what would they say if I answered yes? It’s called Alcoholics Anonymous for a reason. Am I one of those people who loses control when they are drunk? (Side note: If you’ve ever seen that 80s movie “Blind Date” you’ll know that I’m hearing Phil Hartman’s voice in my head as I write this: “She loses . . . control . . . COMPLETELY!”) “No” on that account, too. Although there was one Goldschlager-fueled New Year’s Eve that I spent curled up and heaving on the sidewalk in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville (thereby exemplifying “Amateur Night”), that particular incident was over ten years ago. It was also the last time I was drunk.
So here, for the record, are the reasons I don’t drink:
- Aforementioned Goldschlager incident. The very idea of a cinnamony, gold-flecked shot still makes me shudder.
- With no sense of smell and a much-diminished sense of taste, most alcohol tastes terrible. Who wants to pay eight bucks for a glass of wine that might as well be vinegar or five dollars for a beer that just tastes like bitter water?
- Having my two little boys tackle me in bed first thing in the morning when I’m hung over sounds like pure hell. No way I could function as a mama, no way.
- Members of both sides of my family have struggled with alcohol. I already have some obsessive/addictive tendencies, so why tempt more?
- I have control issues. As in, I don’t like to lose it. (“She loses . . . control . . . COMPLETELY!!”) Not me.
- I don’t have to drink to have a good time. I can already get silly or dance my butt off with very little prompting, thankyouverymuch.
- After all these years, I don’t have much tolerance for alcohol. Two drinks and I’m sooooo sleeeeepyyyyyyy . . . I’d be lucky to stay awake long enough to get drunk.
- If I do stay awake long enough to get drunk, I’ll start an argument with you. I’m not one of those chicks who starts barroom brawls, but I have a tendency to argue politics, so that’s always a good time.
- I am adamantly against drinking and driving. I don’t care if you’ve had only a few beers and don’t feel drunk. I don’t care if you were too lazy to line up a designated driver. I don’t want to hear it. In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 53 minutes (stat courtesy MADD). No excuses. Don’t do it.
I struggle a bit with how to model responsible drinking for my kids. On the one hand, as it is now, I’m modeling not drinking. I guess they will see me as a teetotaler. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t plan to send the message that alcohol is evil or that they must be teetotalers, too. My kids are only two and four so I have some time to figure this out, but I’m counting on my mister to help model this so the boys can see two acceptable ways of dealing with social drinking.
So this past Monday night, I hope your Facebook news feed looked like mine, strangely absent the drunken partying pics (I saw only one and you know who you are!!). This year, those posts were far outnumbered by friends pleading friends not to drive drunk and posts with AAA’s phone number for a safe ride home. Maybe I’m no longer the only non-drinker around or maybe we just come out of the woodwork on New Year’s because it’s an easy time to be self-righteous about it. More likely, people have just wised up about posting drunk pics on Facebook where their families and employers can see them.
I’m not a prude about alcohol. As long as you aren’t driving, I couldn’t care less if you get drunk. I can tell you, though, that I will laugh at you if you are completely shitfaced. Oh, and I might take pictures and put them on Facebook.