I have accepted my role as the non-drinker at any given social event. But apparently my non-drinker status is a source of huge concern to some people. Here’s a recent example: “So you’re not drinking? At all? Really? Don’t you want just one glass?” – with a look of utter shock on her face. I insist I’m fine with my glass of non-intoxicating bubbly and give her my biggest smile. Luckily people are more interested in what’s in their own glass most of the time. So much so that people forget: 1) I didn’t drink last time; 2) I am not currently drinking; and 3) I won’t be drinking in future. Even after telling people a dozen times I don’t drink, they still offer me alcoholic beverages at parties or lunches or rugby games. It must be unfathomable that a 46-year old woman wouldn’t tipple. 😉
People make fun of me and ask me in a booming voice “Nicci, why don’t you drink, can’t handle your alcohol?” in front of the whole world – hoping to shame me into taking the glass they are offering to me. I wish I could answer them honestly (and just as loudly), but these answers are a buzz kill so I usually just smile and wave. It really is not that difficult to explain though. I could go down the route of ‘I’m on medication that doesn’t allow me to drink’ or I could say I prefer a life without waking up covered in sweat and wringing my hands as I fumble to recall what I said or did in the previous hours. Or the honest truth that out of my respect for my husband who doesn’t drink, I don’t either. Or may that I relish the benefits to sleep like a kitten and to feel clearer and calmer than my friends who had a glass or two? I enjoy beautiful mornings. I don’t let secrets slip. I don’t black out. I don’t behave badly because I am intoxicated. I don’t make poor, impulsive decisions and I don’t experience gut-twisting, head-imploding hangovers – in fact, I don’t even have the slightest headache after a social gathering the night before. And when I dance on a table I know exactly what I’m doing and I remember the songs I danced to the next morning!
At parties and social gathers when people ask me why I don’t drink, I usually just say “I don’t drink but that doesn’t mean I can’t still party with you!” And then I grin and start dancing. I hope that I don’t come over as humourless or judgmental because I don’t drink. It really doesn’t bother me that other people drink when I don’t. Some people can’t eat shellfish or wheat. But I accept that I’m largely powerless as to whether others misinterpret my choice as a disapproval of their own lifestyle. It perplexes me that people would think that though…
I want to ask anyone who will ever see me in an environment where alcohol is served: Please quit offering me ‘a real drink’. A real drink? An adult beverage? I’m a grown woman, whatever I’m drinking is an adult beverage by default! As adults, shouldn’t we make decisions based on our own preferences, strengths and weaknesses rather than allowing social norms to dictate what we drink? A lot of times people would say to me “You must think I’m an alcoholic!” In fact, I don’t think you’re an alcoholic, only that you are self-centered to believe my personal choice somehow makes you guilty of something!
My choice not to have alcohol in my life is not a commentary on anyone else’s and definitely not an issue to be mocked or interrogated at a social gathering. I may not be able to join you on your booze journey but I can promise you, I can party the life out of a social gathering without drinking a drop – ask anyone who knows me well. Whether you decide to go bonkers and drink until you turn yourself into a blabbering idiot or whether you choose to have just one glass of Shiraz ‘to take the edge off’ (or just because you really love wine!) – it doesn’t bother me one bit. Really it doesn’t. I have friends and family who are real wine connoisseurs (Christo’s cousin is a winemaker!) and I love listening to them dissecting whether a certain bottle of wine has undertones of raspberry or wood – and then when I take a sip to help them decide, all I taste is vinegar disguised as wine! Eeeeeuw!!!
A very sad reality that my hubby and I have to deal with is that we are not number 1 on people’s lists when they plan a party. In fact, we consider ourselves lucky if we get invited at all. I have been told by a friend in all honesty (which I appreciate immensely by the way!) that she didn’t invite us to her housewarming “because it was a ‘chop and dop’ and you guys don’t dop so I didn’t know how to word the invite.” I was totally flabbergasted. One of my husband’s friends stopped us on our way to our car after a social gathering one day and very earnestly asked us how we manage to tolerate drunk people when we don’t drink, “because we must really be so irritating to you.” We assured him that people who had a bit too much to drink is a great source of entertainment to us. In fact, I laughed so much at a very drunk friend two weeks ago that I almost wet my pants. We are not sour pusses, sitting discontent with our sparkling water waiting for time to go by so that we can go home. Most of the time we are some of the very last people to leave! So I promise you, we are NOT party poopers.
Of course there are always situations where somebody takes the whole drinking thing too far and it becomes unpleasant. But not once did I have to deal with such a situation myself. Usually a friend who drinks but knows when to stop, steps in and handles the situation. If it stays unpleasant, we leave. Easy as that. This has only happened twice and it was because of people that we didn’t even know and like I said, I didn’t have to handle the situation, my friends did. And really, if you want to get sloshed who am I to judge you? As long as you don’t put your hand up my skirt or shout profanities at me, I’m really ok with it. Drink away!
I don’t drink and my husband doesn’t drink and we’re not going to. We are really, really ok with that. You don’t have to ‘cure’ us and you certainly don’t need to ‘teach’ us how to drink. You also don’t need to belittle me or my husband or anyone else for not drinking. I don’t judge you, don’t judge me. Honestly, you don’t have to feel bad because I don’t drink. Because I certainly don’t. Please excuse me now, I have to go find a table to dance on!