Grinch - Tactical Ninja
Dec. 20th, 2010
10:31 am - Grinch
It's that time of year again. You know, the time of year when everyone's social schedule goes insane with engagements to celebrate the debatable birth date of some dude who changed history 2000 years ago?
In New Zealand, almost all social events involve alcohol.
While I have some issues with people getting drunk and belligerent, I don't generally feel the need to avoid alcohol and I'm not about to start moralising on anyone for indulging in their favourite (and most easily accessible) recreational drug. I feel a sort of envy that I don't get to indulge in mine so openly and without risking stigma or worse, actually. But anyway..
Most of my friends drink. Even pombagira had a few beers on Friday night, and got happy and it was all good. I am used to people drinking around me and my friends are used to me not drinking around them.
Which is why it came as a shock to me when on Friday night I was asked three times, by three different people, to explain why I don't drink. It's been a while since that happened. I think the best one was "Are you one of those people who doesn't drink because your parents were alcoholics?"
One of those people.
ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.
Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but really? Why the hell should I have to explain why I don't drink? I'm really sorry that my not going into raptures over the bottle of Jagermeister you have in the freezer is not the response you expected. I tried really hard to assure you that Yes, I'm Good, I Have A Drink, No Thanks I'm Fine, No Beer Thanks, I'm Happy With This Water, Yes I'm Driving..
.. and I didn't even pull a face when you mentioned Jagermeister. But really, I feel this is a conversation that doesn't need to happen. I don't need the attempt at hospitality to turn into a situation where I have to refuse offer after offer while trying not to say the fatal three words, but eventually I'm backed into a corner and out they come:
"I don't drink."
This is usually followed by a short silence, then a question:
I am still trying to think of humourous ways to rejoin this question, that lets the person know that actually, I shouldn't have to justify my not drinking and yes I do always get asked that and I'm kind of tired of answering it and no, being a teetotaller doesn't make me a wowser, a party pooper, a moraliser, a broken person or ONE OF THOSE WEIRDOS, while still retaining levity. It's just a choice. There is not something wrong with me. There was nothing wrong with my parents either. I am not going to start bible-bashing you or reciting the twelve steps, or judging your choices. In fact, you know, before this came up we were having an enjoyable conversation. Now I feel uncomfortable as fuck and you think I'm a weirdo. Awesome. I really wish I didn't feel pressured to make excuses for why I don't drink. I just don't, ok?
Not drinking is not abnormal behaviour. Just because almost everyone does it and enjoys it does not mean that those who choose not to have something wrong with them, or should have to explain themselves. I've thought of coming back with "Why do you?" but I actually know why. It's more or less the same group of reasons that I choose to use other things. It's fun. You like it. It's easy and it makes you more sociable. etc etc. And I can't help thinking that coming back with "Why do you?" is kind of aggressive and could come across judgey.
So yeah, suggestions for a witty, deflective rejoinder for this question would be awesome.
And for the Christmas season, for those of you who like a tipple and like to also be good hosts, here's a suggestion: If you offer someone several different alcoholic drinks and they politely refuse, don't push. We're adults and capable of finding our own beverages. Also, you could go the tack of "We also have *short list of non-alcoholic beverages here*. Whatever you do, don't push the person to say the fatal words, and if they volunteer them, the appropriate response is *short list of non-alcoholic beverages* or "Cool" in an 'I get it' kind of way, and then carry on your conversation.
Never "Why not?" Seriously. Just don't do it.
This post does not apply to my friends who all know me and don't have these kinds of issues with my non-drinking.
But if you're one of those people that wonders why anyone would choose not to include alcohol as part of every social occasion, to the point where you think it's ok to press them to justify their choice, then yes, this post is aimed at you. Please don't do it. Just enjoy your beer/wine/jagerbomb and let them enjoy their water/lemonade/ginger beer, and everything will be fine.