It’s the same thing at every social event: Someone offers me an alcoholic beverage; I politely decline.
Instead of just leaving it be, as they would if I had declined an hors d’oeuvre, the person always feels compelled to tell me first that I “have” to drink and then, after another refusal, ask me, “Why don’t you drink?”
Sometimes I’ll lie and tell people that I’m a pregnant Mormon. Other times I’ll let them just assume that I’m the designated driver. If I’m feeling forthcoming and polite, I might say it’s because I don’t care for the taste. If I’m feeling forthcoming and rude, I might stick my nose in the air and say it’s because I don’t want to end up like the rest of these falling-down-drunk sots and consider myself too superior to engage in such a puerile activity.
It’s quite bizarre, this urge drinkers have to know why a non-drinker doesn’t drink. If someone offers you water and you decline, they don’t demand to know why. They don’t get all up in your face and want to know why you’re not thirsty or if you think you are better than people who are drinking water. If you tell people you don’t like the taste of coffee, people will shrug and chalk it up to personal preference, but if you tell people you don’t like the taste of alcohol, they can’t comprehend and you seem totally alien to them.
Australia has what I consider to be a toxic drinking culture, much like the UK does. Other cultures have traditions of heavy drinking as well, but in Germany, for example, getting drunk is traditionally seen as an embarrassing thing. Drinking too much and not being able to hold your liquor is not something to brag about the next day. They are heavy drinkers there, but they tend to be responsible drinkers (in comparison).
In Australia, the UK, and to a somewhat lesser extent, America, getting drunk is the whole purpose of drinking and the night isn’t over until you’ve prayed to the porcelain god a few times (or passed out in it). Here, binge drinking is a major problem. Australians love to drink and they love to drink to excess. Apparently, you’re un-Australian if you don’t drink. Getting drunk is considered a rite of passage, parents simply accept that their teenage children will go out drinking, and there is no shame in falling down in the street and puking all over yourself and then telling everyone about how wasted you got the next day. That’s considered a “good time”, apparently.
This is largely why I stay in on Saturday nights instead of going for my customary evening walk. It’s impossible to go out and enjoy oneself without being surrounded by inebriates. And I don’t find drunk people particularly amusing. Obnoxious is more the word that comes to mind, and that’s being polite.
In truth, I don’t have any objection to the consumption of alcohol in principle. I have an objection to unhealthy relationships with alcohol, which seem to be prevalent here. There’s a big difference between drinking to enjoy it and drinking to get wasted. But I’m not opposed to alcohol on any moral or religious grounds or anything like that and I’m happy to spend time with drinking (not drunken) friends, so long as they don’t spend the whole evening making an issue about what I’m consuming or not consuming.
So why don’t I drink?
The truth is, I’m not pregnant, I’m not a Mormon, and I most certainly am not a recovering alcoholic (but thank you very much for asking).
Mostly, the smell puts me off. I literally find it nauseating. I can’t imagine putting it right under my nose and then tasting it, too. I’ve never had an urge even to try the stuff. I don’t drink alcohol for the same reason I don’t eat fish. It makes me want to barf.
But I’m also distrustful of anything that impairs my judgment or mobility. When you drink, you put yourself in a more vulnerable position than when you are sober. That’s a fact. The more you drink, the more vulnerable you are. This is how girls end up getting taken advantage of. I like being fully aware of my surroundings and having full motor and mental function. You never know when you might need it.
I could go on and on about women who go out to pubs dressed like prostitutes and drink themselves senseless and are then surprised that they get sexually assaulted by a man who has also been drinking and has lowered inhibitions. But I’ll save that for another post some other time. Point is, a drink or two with dinner is one thing, but binge drinking, especially with strangers, is beyond stupid on so many levels.
I know people who drink who claim it is impossible to have a good time without alcohol. I don’t personally need a substance to help me have a good time. If you do… well, that’s your crutch and I won’t take it away from you, though I might look down on you for it. If you need alcohol to loosen your inhibitions so that you can be a “fun” person, then you are insecure and probably need a psychiatrist and a life coach more than you need a drink.
Then there are people who drink because they genuinely enjoy the taste. My husband, being Bavarian, is a person who appreciates a good beer, though he drinks it only once or twice a year. I know a lot of people are wine connoisseurs and love going to wine tastings. I did have a friend who was such a connoisseur that if he found one he liked, he’d drink the whole bottle by himself in one sitting and pass out, but he did it in the privacy of his own home and wasn’t making a fool of himself in public.
I don’t have a problem with people who drink simply because they like a particular beverage, just like I don’t have a problem with people who think mushrooms are the best thing ever (fungus, gross!). Having previously been addicted to Mountain Dew, I can’t judge. I knew the stuff was terrible for me, but I still had a can of it once a day, every day because it tasted so darn good.
But you know what? I’m a judgy person. It’s just my way. And I look down on wasted morons and think nasty little thoughts about them. Tit for tat. I know that drinkers judge non-drinkers. But at least my judgments aren’t born of insecurity.
The great wizard Zeddicus z’ul Zorander once said, “The worse you are at thinking, the better you are at drinking.” I can’t help but agree. Going out and getting drunk is not only stupid, but it’s also one of the most uncreative ways to have fun. And there are mindless automatons who do this near every night and imagine they have something resembling a life. I suppose they do, but it’s not anything resembling what I think of when I think of having a life. I’ve always thought having a life involved more than just looking for your next good time.
I have plenty of legitimate reasons for not drinking, but what it ultimately boils down to is that I don’t want to be those people. I don’t like what I see when I look at them and I don’t want to emulate that behaviour.
I don’t want to be the girl who drunk dials her ex at 3am. I don’t want to be the person too hungover to function the next day. I don’t want to vomit on myself or put my face anywhere near a toilet. I don’t want to find myself tagged in unflattering or embarrassing photos on Facebook. I don’t want to be the girl who can’t remember what she did last night or the girl who gets date raped. I don’t want to be the person who has nothing more intelligent to say than, “Dude, I got soooo wasted last night…”
So to all the people I’ve ever encountered who seemed to take personal insult at the fact that I don’t drink, go bugger yourself. If you need other people to join you in drinking so as to validate your own choice to drink, then not only should you probably not be drinking, but you have bigger problems than my lack of participation.